When a place is on the shortlist to become the next National Park you know it has to be pretty good. Well, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has the honor of that designation. It’s pretty easy to see why this National Lakeshore is so popular with visitors and residents alike. 

First, is it’s location. Unlike most National Parks, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is easily accessible from a major city. It’s only about 40 miles from downtown Chicago. So it’s no wonder this park sees over 1.7 million visitors each year. 

Now, beyond being easy to get to, there are a lot of other reasons why Indiana Dunes is a great spot to visit. In this post, we’ll cover a few of the reasons why. 

Lakeshore Life

The sand dunes at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on a clear blue day

What might be most incredible about Indiana Dunes is just how large it is. The park runs up against Lake Michigan, providing 15 miles of protected lakefront. Visitors can explore over 15,000 acres of protected land. The jewel of this is the lakefront and its beaches.

This makes it a really popular option for beachgoers, especially families. The eight beaches that are part of the National Lakeshore are safe and protected, offering miles of sand and mild waves.

Also, there are lifeguards on duty during the summer months as well as a pavilion that includes restrooms, bathhouses, and concession stands, though you’re certainly able to bring your own snacks.

You can’t mention anything about this park without highlighting the dunes. These sandy dunes form rings around the waterfront and in some cases can reach over 100 feet high! The dunes are fun to explore.

Things to Do

If you prefer to spend time outside of the water, there are plenty of other options. Indiana Dunes offers miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding too. Hikers can explore 50 miles of trails on 14 routes. Horseback riders can spend the spring and summer on designated trails and in the winter these trails open to snowshoers and cross-country skiers.

And, of course, don’t forget about checking out the local wildlife. This area is a perfect spot to practice bird watching, both of seabirds and other migrating birds to and from Canada. 

If you love history, you’ll find some here. There are some historical sites and buildings scattered throughout the park, many of which are from the 1933 World’s Fair.


Young happy couple sitting and smile next to the campfire

Of course, there is plenty of camping available as well. If you’re interested in spending some time enjoying the peace, you won’t find a better spot in the area. The campsite has over 60 places offering a combination of drive in, walk in, and mobility accessible options.

Getting There

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is easily accessible by both Interstates 94 and 90 as well as Routes 12, 20, and 49 in Indiana. It’s approximately 45 minutes by car from downtown Chicago, just under an hour from South Bend, Indiana, and 2.5 hours from Indianapolis. This makes Indiana Dunes a perfect spot for a day trip or a quick overnight getaway during the summer. 

Whenever you decide to go, there’s no doubt you’ll have a great time at Indiana Dunes! If you need help finding good places to stay during your trip, take a look at our sister site, HotelCoupons.com, for the best hotel rates.