They also call it ‘the Dunes.’ Indiana’s reputation as a cornfield capital hides a surprising tourist gem: a state park with more than three miles of pristine, sandy shoreline. Indiana Dunes State Park skirts Lake Michigan at Chesterton, Indiana, about an hour’s drive from Chicago. The park’s freakishly gigantic, natural piles of sand stand nearly 200 feet tall.
Luring some 3 million people yearly, it’s the state’s top visitor attraction. For generations, families from Indiana and surrounding Michigan, Ohio and Illinois have traveled to the park to swim, camp and hike.
Flora? This place has it all. The Dunes-area claims more natural orchid species than Hawaii. Fauna? Among birders and bird-watchers, it has a reputation as one of the Midwest’s best spotting places.
A hiking highlight: Trail 9. It starts in the woods, eventually emerging among the dunes with a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of one of the largest freshwater lakes.