Top 10 Hidden Gems in Northwest Indiana

Hidden Gems in Indiana: Things to Do in Northwest Indiana

Looking for a unique destination that offers fun-filled activities for all ages and interests? Look no further than Northwest Indiana. The Indiana Welcome Center is the perfect starting point for your adventure, offering a wealth of information on historic places, the White River, and the many things to do in the Indianapolis and Elkhart areas.

From outdoor activities like hiking and fishing to cultural experiences at museums and art galleries, there are plenty of fun things to do in Northwest Indiana. And the best part? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy them.

Unique Attractions in Northwest Indiana

Discovering Hidden Gems in Northern Indiana

Indiana is a state that is full of surprises. From the bustling cities like Indianapolis to the serene countryside town of Muncie, there’s something for everyone here. But Northwest Indiana takes the cake with unique attractions like Elkhart, known for its vibrant arts scene. This region of the United States has so much to offer, and we’re going to explore some of its most unique attractions.

Crown Point: A Charming Place to Visit

Crown Point is a small city in Lake County that’s known for its charming downtown area. The historic courthouse square is surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants, making it a great place to spend an afternoon. But what really sets Crown Point apart is its architecture. The city has several buildings that were designed by famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan. If you’re interested in architecture, taking a tour of these buildings is a must-do activity. And if you’re looking to explore other cities in Indiana, Elkhart, Indianapolis, and Muncie are also worth checking out.

Pig Adventure: An Opportunity for Animal Lovers

If you’re an animal lover on the road, then you won’t want to miss the Pig Adventure display at Fair Oaks Farms. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to get up close and personal with pigs while learning about modern farming practices. You’ll get to see how pigs are raised from birth all the way through adulthood, and you might even get the chance to feed a baby piglet! Don’t forget to book a hotel nearby or stay in their house for an unforgettable experience.

County Line Orchard: A Fair Experience for All Ages

County Line Orchard is located just outside of Hobart and can be easily accessed by road. If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are several hotels nearby. During the fall season, you can pick your own apples or pumpkins from their expansive orchard or take a hayride through their pumpkin patch. They also have a corn maze and other family-friendly activities like apple cannons and pedal carts. If you’re interested in the history of the area, there’s a historic house nearby that you can visit. County Line Orchard is a popular destination in the state for families and friends alike.

Barker Mansion: A Historic Landmark in Valparaiso

The Barker Mansion in Valparaiso, located off the road, is one of Northwest Indiana’s most iconic landmarks. Built in 1905 by industrialist John H. Barker, this mansion boasts 38 rooms spread across three floors. It is not a hotel in Indianapolis or Muncie.

Family-Friendly Things to Do in Northwest Indiana

Fun for the Whole Family

Northwest Indiana, including Indianapolis and Muncie, is home to a variety of family-friendly activities that are sure to keep your children entertained. From parks and attractions to unique experiences, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to book a hotel for your stay!

Local Parks and Attractions

One of the best places to start your family adventure is at one of the many local parks. If you’re in Indianapolis, make sure to check out the beautiful Eagle Creek Park. For a comfortable stay, book a hotel in Muncie, such as the Courtyard by Marriott. Deep River Waterpark in Crown Point is also a popular destination with its wave pool, lazy river, and numerous water slides. If you prefer dry land, check out Zao Island in Valparaiso for mini-golf, go-karts, bumper boats, and more.

Experience Farm Life at the Birthing Barn

For a truly unique experience, visit Fair Oaks Farms’ Birthing Barn in Fair Oaks. The barn offers visitors an opportunity to witness live cow births while learning about modern dairy farming practices. There are also interactive exhibits where children can learn about farm life and agriculture. If you need a place to stay, there is a hotel nearby for your convenience.

Children’s Museums

If your kids love interactive exhibits and hands-on learning experiences, be sure to check out the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis or WonderLab Museum in Bloomington. Both museums offer a wide range of activities that will keep your little ones engaged for hours. And if you’re looking for a hotel nearby, there are plenty of options to choose from in both cities.

Nature Trails and Beaches

For families who enjoy spending time outdoors and looking for hotel accommodations, Northwest Indiana has plenty of nature trails and beaches to explore. The Indiana Dunes National Park offers 15 miles of pristine beaches along Lake Michigan as well as hiking trails through sand dunes and forests. The Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in Valparaiso features over 300 acres of woodlands, wetlands, prairies, gardens, and hiking trails with nearby hotel options.

Historical Sites and Landmarks in NWI

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Living History Farm in Lowell

The Living History Farm in Lowell is a fascinating place where visitors can experience what life was like on an Indiana farm in the 1900s. The farm features a variety of animals, including horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. Visitors can tour the farmhouse and see how people lived during that time period. They can also watch demonstrations of traditional farming techniques and learn about the history of agriculture in Indiana. Unfortunately, there is no hotel on the farm for visitors to stay overnight.

South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail in Crown Point

The South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail is a must-visit for history buffs. The trail takes visitors through Crown Point’s historic downtown area, where they can see several monuments dedicated to local soldiers who fought in the Civil War. If you need a place to stay, there is a hotel nearby. One of the highlights of the trail is the Old Lake County Courthouse, which served as a recruiting station during the war.

Griffith Historical Park in Griffith

Griffith Historical Park is home to several historic buildings that have been preserved and restored over the years. Visitors can tour a one-room schoolhouse, an old train depot, and even a jailhouse from the early 1900s. The park also has picnic areas and walking trails for visitors to enjoy. Unfortunately, there is no hotel in the park.

Buckley Homestead in Lowell

The Buckley Homestead is not a hotel, but another living history farm that offers visitors a glimpse into life on an Indiana farm during the 1800s. The homestead features several historic buildings, including a log cabin and a blacksmith shop. Visitors can watch demonstrations of traditional crafts like spinning wool or making candles.

If you’re looking for hidden gems in Indiana with rich historical significance, make sure to add these sites to your list! Whether you want to experience life on an Indiana farm or learn more about local soldiers’ contributions during wartime, there’s something for everyone at these historical landmarks. Unfortunately, there are no hotels located directly at these sites.

Art and Culture in Northwest Indiana

Museums Showcasing the Region’s Rich History and Culture

Northwest Indiana is a region with a rich history and culture, and visitors can learn about it through several museums located throughout the area. In addition to the museums, there are also several hotels available for visitors to stay in during their visit. The Porter County Museum, for example, showcases the history of the region from prehistoric times to present day. It features exhibits on Native American life, early European exploration, industrialization, and modern-day developments.

Another museum worth visiting is the South Shore Arts Gallery in Munster. This gallery features rotating exhibitions of local artists’ work as well as works from around the world. Visitors can enjoy paintings, sculptures, photography, and other forms of art while learning about different cultures. If you’re looking for a nearby hotel to stay in, there are several options in the area.

Deeply Rooted Community in Farming

The community in Northwest Indiana is deeply rooted in farming. Visitors can experience this firsthand by visiting one of the many farmers markets or agricultural events held throughout the year. One such event is the Valparaiso Market, conveniently located near a hotel. Here visitors can sample fresh produce grown by local farmers while enjoying live music and entertainment.

For those interested in learning more about farming history in Northwest Indiana, Deep River County Park offers an opportunity to explore a working farm from the 19th century. The Buckley Homestead also provides insight into what life was like for early settlers who relied on agriculture for survival. There is no hotel available at the park.

Strong Connection to World War II

During World War II, Northwest Indiana played an important role in supporting America’s war efforts. Today several museums, memorials, and hotels honor those who served during that time period. The Indiana Welcome Center houses a “One Region One Vision” exhibit showcasing how people came together during WWII to support each other, including the hotel industry that provided lodging for soldiers and their families.

Another museum dedicated to WWII is the Merrillville Veterans Memorial Museum which features artifacts donated by veterans themselves including uniforms, weapons, medals among others. There are no hotels in the vicinity of the museum.

Vibrant Arts Scene

Art shows and cultural events are a regular part of life in Northwest Indiana, and visitors can conveniently experience the region’s vibrant arts scene while staying at a hotel.

Food and Drink Experiences in NWI

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Dairy Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms

Fair Oaks Farms is not only a dairy farm, but also a hotel that offers an immersive experience for visitors to learn about the dairy industry. The farm has a tour that takes you through the entire process of milk production, from milking cows to bottling milk. You can also stay at the hotel and take part in cheese-making workshops or try their famous grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh cheese.

Farmhouse Restaurant Experience at Joseph Decuis

Joseph Decuis is a restaurant and hotel located on a working farm where they grow their own vegetables and raise their own animals. Their menu features dishes made with ingredients sourced directly from the farm, ensuring freshness and quality. They also offer tours of the farm where you can see how they operate.

Taste Fresh Food at The Local Cup

The Local Cup is not a hotel, but a cafe that serves fresh food made with locally-sourced ingredients. They have a selection of sandwiches, salads, soups, and baked goods that are all made in-house using seasonal produce. They also have a coffee bar that serves specialty drinks made with locally-roasted beans.

Winery and Brewery Visit at Four Fathers Brewing and Anderson’s Vineyard & Winery

Four Fathers Brewing is a craft brewery that specializes in Belgian-style beers. They have a taproom where you can sample their beers or take home bottles to enjoy later. Anderson’s Vineyard & Winery is a family-owned winery that produces award-winning wines using grapes grown on-site. They offer tastings of their wines as well as tours of the vineyard.

If you’re looking for hidden gems in Indiana, these food and drink experiences in NWI are worth checking out! From learning about dairy production at Fair Oaks Farms to enjoying fresh food at The Local Cup, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re looking for something more adult-oriented, Four Fathers Brewing and Anderson’s Vineyard & Winery offer unique tasting experiences for beer and wine enthusiasts.

Nature and Wildlife in Northwest Indiana

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Explore the Best of NW Indiana’s Natural Areas

Northwest Indiana is home to some of the most stunning natural areas in the state. From sandy beaches to wetlands, oak savannas, and prairies, there is something for everyone who loves nature and wildlife.

Discover the Indiana Dunes National Park

The Indiana Dunes National Park is undoubtedly one of the top hidden gems in Indiana. With 15 miles of sandy beaches and over 70 miles of hiking trails, it offers visitors a chance to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Midwest.

There are several unique natural areas within the park that you can explore during your visit. For example, you can take a hike through Cowles Bog Trail or Mount Baldy Trail to see rare plants such as Pitcher’s Thistle and Lake Huron Tansy. If you’re interested in birdwatching, head over to Pinhook Bog where you can spot species like Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons.

Visit Indiana Dunes State Park

If you want to experience more of what NW Indiana has to offer, check out the nearby Indiana Dunes State Park. Here, visitors can explore unique natural areas such as wetlands, oak savannas, and prairies.

One popular activity at this state park is birdwatching. The park is home to over 350 species of birds throughout the year! Visitors can also rent kayaks or paddleboards from nearby outfitters for a fun day on Lake Michigan.

Enjoy Gabis Arboretum

Gabis Arboretum is another hidden gem located in NW Indiana that nature enthusiasts should not miss. This beautiful arboretum features over 300 acres of gardens, woodlands, and wetlands that visitors can explore.

During your visit here, make sure to check out their tree collection which includes species like bald cypress trees and dawn redwoods.

Sports and Recreation in NWI

Northwest Indiana (NWI) is a hidden gem for sports and recreation enthusiasts. From water parks to casinos, historic buildings to public parks, there’s something for everyone in this region.

Outdoor Recreation

NWI offers a wide range of outdoor recreation activities for nature lovers. The region boasts several public parks with beautiful lakefront views, perfect for picnics, hiking, and birdwatching. One of the most popular destinations is the Indiana Dunes National Park, which features over 15 miles of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan. Visitors can also enjoy fishing and boating on one of NWI’s many lakes and rivers.

Water Parks

Deep River Water Park is a must-visit destination for families looking for a fun water park experience. This 50-acre park features thrilling water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and kiddie attractions. Other notable water parks in NWI include Splash Down Dunes in Porter and Zao Island in Valparaiso.


Lakefront casinos in NWI offer exciting gaming options and entertainment for visitors. The Horseshoe Hammond Casino is one of the largest casinos in the Midwest, featuring over 3,000 slot machines and table games. Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa in Michigan City offers luxurious accommodations along with its gaming options.

Mascot Hall of Fame

The Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting is a unique attraction that celebrates the art of mascots. Visitors can interact with interactive exhibits showcasing famous mascots from sports teams across the country.

Baseball at Oil City Stadium

Visitors can play baseball at Oil City Stadium, home to the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. This minor league stadium hosts games throughout the summer season.

Historic Buildings

Lake County boasts several historic buildings, including the Old Lake County Jail, which is now a museum.

Shopping and Entertainment near Southlake Mall

Shop till you drop at Southlake Mall

If you’re looking for a shopping experience that offers a variety of stores, the Southlake Mall is your go-to destination. With over 100 shops, including popular brands like H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, and JCPenney, you’ll find everything from clothing to electronics to home decor.

But that’s not all! The mall in Muncie, IN also features a gift shop where you can pick up souvenirs or unique items for yourself or loved ones.

Entertainment options galore!

The fun doesn’t stop with shopping. The area surrounding Southlake Mall offers plenty of entertainment options for visitors.

For starters, there’s the Deep River Waterpark – a 100-acre park featuring water slides, wave pools, and other fun-filled attractions perfect for families and thrill-seekers alike.

If you’re looking for something more relaxing and luxurious, check out the nearby Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago – a resort offering upscale accommodations along with gaming areas and dining options.

Fair Oaks Farms: A unique experience

Located just a short drive away from Southlake Mall is Fair Oaks Farms – an agricultural destination that provides an interactive learning experience for visitors of all ages.

From interactive exhibits to tours of the farm and dairy operations to cheese tastings, there’s something here for everyone. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to learn about sustainable farming practices and see how food gets from farm to table.

Visit Jackson: Home of “A Christmas Story” house

Just a few miles away from Southlake Mall lies the city center of Jackson – home to one of Indiana’s most famous landmarks: the “A Christmas Story” house!

Fans of the classic holiday movie can take guided tours through the house used in filming as well as explore various exhibits showcasing memorabilia from the film. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Festivals and Events in NWI

Pierogi Fest

One of the most popular festivals in Northwest Indiana is the annual Pierogi Fest, held every July in Whiting. This three-day event celebrates Eastern European culture with a variety of pierogi dishes, polka music, and a parade. Visitors can sample different types of pierogies while enjoying live entertainment and browsing through local vendors.

Special Events

Throughout the year, Northwest Indiana hosts a variety of special events that cater to different interests. Craft fairs, car shows, holiday celebrations, and food festivals are just some examples of the wide range of events that take place in this region. One notable event is the Chesterton Art Fair, which features over 100 artists showcasing their work.

Party Time

If you’re looking for a good time in Northwest Indiana, there’s no shortage of options. Outdoor concerts at venues like Wolf Lake Pavilion or Deep River Waterpark offer great entertainment during the summer months. Food truck festivals like Eat Up Wine Down provide an opportunity to try new cuisines while enjoying live music. And for those who enjoy beer and wine tastings, there are several breweries and wineries throughout NWI that host regular events.

Road Trips and Scenic Drives in NWI

Lake Michigan Beaches and Dunes

If you’re looking for a scenic drive with breathtaking views, head to the Lake Michigan beaches and dunes. The Indiana Dunes National Park offers 15 miles of pristine beaches, towering sand dunes, and more than 50 miles of hiking trails. Take a leisurely drive along the Lakefront Trail, which stretches from Gary to Michigan City, or explore the rugged terrain on one of the park’s many trails.

National Parks and Wolf Lake Cruises

For those who want to learn more about the natural beauty of NWI, there are plenty of tours available. The Indiana Dunes National Park offers ranger-led hikes and campfire programs that provide insight into the area’s unique flora and fauna. If you prefer to take in the scenery from the water, check out Wolf Lake Memorial Park in Hammond. Their pontoon boat cruises offer an up-close look at local wildlife like bald eagles and great blue herons.

Shady Creek Winery

Wine lovers won’t want to miss a visit to Shady Creek Winery in Michigan City. This family-owned winery produces award-winning wines using only grapes grown in their own vineyard. Enjoy a tasting flight while taking in views of their picturesque estate.

Kankakee Sands Prairies and Gardens

Nature enthusiasts visiting Muncie, IN should make time for a trip to Kankakee Sands near Morocco. This nature preserve boasts over 7,000 acres of restored prairie habitat with over 700 native plant species. Take a stroll through their butterfly garden or hike one of their many trails for an up-close look at this unique ecosystem.

South Shore Areas like Shady Creek Winery and Beach

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, head south along the shore towards Beverly Shores or Ogden Dunes. These quaint towns offer beautiful beaches, charming shops, and delicious restaurants.

Best Activities near Southlake Mall in Merrillville

If you’re looking for hidden gems in Indiana, the area around Southlake Mall in Merrillville is a great place to start. From unique attractions and historical landmarks to family-friendly activities and nature experiences, there’s something for everyone in Northwest Indiana.

Take a stroll through the region’s art and culture scene or explore the diverse food and drink options. For sports enthusiasts, there are plenty of opportunities for recreation, from hiking and biking to golfing and fishing. And don’t miss out on the shopping and entertainment options near Southlake Mall.

So why not plan a road trip or scenic drive through Northwest Indiana? You won’t be disappointed by the hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some unique attractions near Southlake Mall?

Some unique attractions near Southlake Mall include Deep River Waterpark, Albanese Candy Factory, Shrine of Christ’s Passion, and Lake County Fairgrounds.

Are there any family-friendly things to do in Northwest Indiana?

Yes! There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Northwest Indiana such as visiting Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center, exploring Buckley Homestead Living History Farm, or taking a ride on the 3-D Adventure Ride at Pierogi Fest.

What historical sites can I visit in NWI?

You can visit historical landmarks such as Crown Point Courthouse Square Historic District, John Dillinger Museum, Porter County Museum of History, and The Old Lighthouse Museum.

What food experiences can I have in NWI?

You can try local favorites such as Chicago-style pizza at Aurelio’s Pizza or Gino’s Steakhouse, pierogies at Pierogi Fest, or craft beer at 18th Street Brewery.

Where can I find nature experiences in NWI?

You can enjoy nature experiences at places like Indiana Dunes National Park, Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, Wolf Lake Memorial Park, or the Kankakee River State Park.

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