1- Indiana Dunes State Park

What could be better than warm sand in between your toes, and a cool breeze flowing through your hair? Indiana Dunes State Park will provide just that and more for residents all over Northwest Indiana this summer. Alongside a warm beach, sandy activities, and seagulls galore, Indiana Dunes State Park is going to be presenting a handful of activities for people of all ages.

The “Grab a Backpack and Go!” activity, offered by Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, has created ten backpacks full of family nature fun. If you and your family are uncomfortable with doing crowded activities, then this is the perfect family fun filled day for you. These backpacks will be used on the Miller Woods trail, and are filled with a pond sampling set, binoculars, and much more!

If bringing your furry friends to the beach is more your style, then the “Bark Ranger Program” is definitely for you. While on the hike with your pet, you’ll learn what it means to be a Bark Ranger, and answer a few questions. From there, you can go to the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, fill out a worksheet, and earn a shiny Bark Ranger tag for you and your furry friend!

If the idea of embarking on a treacherous journey excites you, then the Three Dune Challenge is something that will surely satisfy your craving for adventure! The 1.5 mile journey through the three highest sand dunes in the park, equaling 552 feet. Once you complete the challenge, you can pick up a free sticker at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center. As well as buying a sweatshirt, for the memories.

2. Gabis Arboretum

Nature is at one of its most beautiful peaks during the summer season, and what better way to explore it than at the Gabis Arboretum! The Gabis Arboretum in Valparaiso is a 300-acre landscape full of plants, wildlife, and sculptures. The Arboretum provides education programs, which includes group visits, field trips, and self-guided tours.

This summer, the Arboretum is going to be providing their Summer Concert series, which is a handful of outdoor concerts, whilst also enjoying food and drinks from local vendors.

For kids, there is a tree song garden, which includes a handful of musical instruments within a small nook in the forest.

TimberNook camp will be offered at Gabis Arboretum this year, which is a summer camp design for children two to twelve. The summer camp options span from June 7 to July 23. This is a great way to get your child involved and learning about nature.

3. Deep River Water Park

If you want the feeling of the beach, but not the sand in between your toes, then Deep River Water Park is the place for you to go. Slides, restaurants, and rentals are all available to visitors at Deep River Water Park. For younger children, there is an interactive play complex that includes a large tipping bucket, a water wheel, and water curtains. There is also a Paddles Play Zone created for smaller children. As for children older, there are a handful of slides, whether it be the Storm Tube, the BAYOU River Ride, or the Double Dueling Cannon Bowl.

Once hunger strikes, there are multiple food services available for you and your family. These restaurants include Milo’s Icecream Shop, SurfSide Cafe, Chompy’s Pizza Place, and RiverSide Grill. This is a great place for you and your family to get your beach on, without the seagulls pecking at your sandwiches.

4. Rensselaer Park Activities

Rensselaer Parks has a number of fun activities this summer for kids of all ages. This summer, the Department is going to be providing two new activities, their History/Leisure Program series, and the Art/Leisure program series. The History program will span from June 16 to July 13, people will learn about the Battle of Gettysburg, the journey of Lewis & Clark, and what bugs can tell us about the quality of water. The Art series will span over the dates of June 2 to June 22, and will include the beginning yoga, the basics of archery, a sip and paint live, and more. Alongside these two new events, the Parks Department will also be holding Little Hands Workshop, Art in the Park, Fit Mornings, Swim-in Movie, and more! Make sure to contact Rensselaer Parks Program Director Heather Hall if you have any questions regarding the events. The dates of all of these events can be found on the City of Rensselaer Indiana website, or the Rensselaer Parks Department Facebook page.

5. Drive-In Theaters

If old school summer is more your style, then Indiana has the perfect activity for you, drive-in movie theaters. Valparaiso, Knox, and Monticello provide fun- filled movies and amenities that can be reached from your car. Named one of America’s Top Ten Drive-In Movie Theaters, 49er Drive-in provides movies and a menu of snacks. Make sure to tune into 88.5 FM for good sound quality. The Melody Drive in Theatre, provides movies and a menu of snacks, ranging from Coca-Cola products, combo meals, and novelty items, such as state fair donuts and caramel apple slices. Melody Drive in Theatre will even be hosting a live concert on June 23, with Skillet performing. Lake Shore Drive-in is another drive-in theater, located in Monticello, Indiana, with two screens and a full concession stand. In the Lake Shore Drive-in, you’re able to see two movies for one great price!

6. Fair Oaks Farms

Open rain or shine, seven days a week, Fair Oaks is a place that you want to take your kids. Whether it be learning about animals, taking a tour of the facility, or eating some delicious ice cream, Fair Oaks Farms is the place to be. Within Fair Oaks farm, you can explore the Dairy Center, the Pig Adventure, or the Crop Adventure. Alongside this, there is an on-site dog park, as well as Moonville, which is a climbing area open from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Once you get hungry after one of the tours or climbing on Moonville, there is the FarmHouse restaurant, the Cowfe, and the Icecream Shop. Also offered are experimental museums, tours, classes, and workshops. This is a great place to learn about what goes into running a farm, as well as what is on one, alongside eating yummy treats all day!

7. Chicago Street Theatre & Memorial Opera House

If you and your family are interested in the performing arts, then watching a performance might be for you. This summer, Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso will be offering both performances this summer, as well as acting workshops for kids. This summer, Chicago Street Theatre will be performing the shows Heathers the Musical and Midsummer Night’s dream. As for workshops, there are six available. The workshops range from one to three weeks, spanning for ages four to seventeen. To sign up, you can register at the official Chicago Street Theatre website. Memorial Opera House will also be putting on a handful of performances, Clue the Musical, Back to the Dean Martin Show which includes a Dean Martin impersonator, and the Parrot Tico Tango, which is a musical theater experience for children and their families.

8. Bellaboo’s, Jak’s Warehouse, & Up Your Alley

One of the most infamous activities of summer, having some fun at an arcade or family fun center! Lucky for Indiana residents, there are lots of them placed around the region.

Jak’s Warehouse is the largest indoor family fun center in Northwest Indiana. With over 70 games and eight attractions, Jak’s is the perfect place to go for a family outing of fun. Jak’s Warehouse has go-karts, laser tag, bumper cars, and their newest ride, XD Dark Ride. XD Dark Ride is a 4D interactive gaming theatre, in which participants choose from a number of films, and have to complete it in order to succeed in the game. Jak’s also has a cafe menu for when you need a break from the games.

Bellaboo’s is a family fun center for kids, offering events and birthday parties. Something fun and exciting about Bellaboo’s is that Camp Bellaboo is back! 2021 campers will be able to exclusively use the property of Bellaboo’s. Themes for the camp days range from Pirates & Mermaids to Garden & Grub. You can sign up by using an online registration form, over the phone, or the next time you visit Bellaboo’s.

Up Your Alley is the extreme entertainment center available in Northwest Indiana for people of all ages. Up Your Alley has bowling, cyber sports, a full arcade, live entertainment, laser tag, and food available. Cyber Sports and Axe throwing require a reservation. For Cyber Sports, a minimum of four people is required, and the maximum is ten. For Axe throwing, the minimum is two while the maximum is ten.

9 — Indiana Beach

If you want the beach, attractions, entertainment, and lodging all in one, then Indiana Beach is the place for you! Indiana Beach is an amusement and waterpark that is perfect for some family fun. If you want to plan an overnight or a few day trip, there is park lodging, lakeside lodging, and campgrounds. There is dining, shopping, and games at Indiana Beach. There are loads of rides at Indiana Beach, a few which include Bumper Cars, Hoosier Hurricane, Sea Warrior, Water Swings, and a splash pad for the younger kids. Once you’ve become tired of hunger strikes there are a few dining areas which include Dippin’ Dots, the Sky room, Earl’s Pizzeria, an Udder Sensation, and Sky Bar. If arcade games are more your style than compared to rides, Indiana Beach is still a great place to be. Indiana Beach has a long list of arcade games, an escape room, and Fascination set up like a parlor. To pick up some souvenirs, you can visit the handful of shops Indiana Beach has to offer, a few that are there include Boardwalk Shops, Shafer Shop, Endless Summer, and the Painted Parrot. Lastly, fireworks will be provided at night throughout the coming summer months, so make sure to check the calendar on the website. Indiana Beach is a fun place for all! Whether it be a day trip, a few family days for vacation, or a quick stop at the Painted Parrot.

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