5 Best Things To Do In Northern Indiana (2024)
The northern part of the beautiful state of Indiana is often referred to as the ‘Cool North’ and very rightly so! After all, with so many fantastic attractions, unique and stunning landscapes, along with exciting activities the region has to offer, who wouldn’t want to spend their time exploring this incredible part of the state? You get to explore the historic University of Notre Dame, the mesmerizing Lake Michigan, the unique landscape of the newest national park of the US – Indiana Dunes National Park, and much more. When in Northern Indiana, there won’t be a single minute to waste as there is just so much to see and do.
5 Best Things To Do In Northern Indiana
Here are some of the best things to do in Northern Indiana:
1. Indiana Dunes National Park
The Indiana Dunes National Park overlooks the beautiful southern shores of the stunning Lake Michigan and is one of the most beautiful places in Indiana. Sprawled over 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes National Park is considered to be the hidden gem of the Midwest US. Indiana Dunes National Park is home to some of the most adventurous locations and most diverse habitats in the state of Indiana. It is also one of the newest national parks in the US, and it is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most fun parks to visit, especially in the summer months.
Indiana Dunes is home to one of the most unique landscapes in Northern Indiana. As you watch the gentle waters lapping the shores and lakeside landscape, making it possible to indulge in a wide range of outdoor activities, this is one of the most common picnic spots and attractions for visitors and locals of Indiana. What’s more, the nearby state park of the same name also provides many opportunities for biking, hiking, and beach-going.
For those who love hiking or biking, don’t forget to explore the Calumet and Porter Brickyard Bike Trails which turn a riot of colors in the fall when the leaves from all the deciduous trees change color. Fall and springtime (in April and September) are also the seasons when you will find many migrating birds flocking across the skies. Many of these migratory birds take up residence in the beautiful bird boxes you will find throughout the park. If you are lucky, you can spot the six-lined race runners, a type of lizard, and a native species of prickly pear cacti as well. And tor those adventurous souls who want a challenging experience, the Cowles Bog Trail is perfect for checking out the park’s ecosystems. Explore this 4.7 mile that takes you through ponds, marshes, beaches, and swamps, and also through black oak savannas.
The park is the perfect place for bird watchers who throng to the Heron Rookery Trail in the park, which is home to a huge variety of birds. You can also indulge in boating, kayaking, powerboating, and sailing on Lake Michigan. In the winter, cross-country skiing is a popular activity at the park, and the trails get busy with many visitors coming to enjoy winter sports here. For those who want to spend the night at this beautiful national park, overnight camping remains open from April 1 to October 31.
2. University of Notre Dame
The renowned University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 in South Bend and chartered by the Indiana legislature in 1844. The university has remained one of the biggest physical and cultural icons of South Bend ever since the inception of the institution. It is also one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. When you visit the campus of Notre Dame today, you will find the stunning collegiate Gothic architecture and the sprawling campus to be filled with students.
Visitors to the campus can enjoy doing many fun activities, including getting free admission to the incredible Snite Museum of Art. In the late summer and fall, come Saturdays, and you will find almost the entire city enjoying and taking part in the athletic spirit at the Notre Dame Stadium, cheering the home football team Fighting Irish. One of the must-see attractions on the campus, especially for those who admire the great architecture, is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which is a breathtaking Roman Catholic Church that will be sure to stop you in your tracks. The Compton Family Ice Arena is another family attraction. It has separate time slots every day during which outsiders can use the arena for skating.
3. Michigan City Lighthouse
The Michigan City Lighthouse is the most inspiring attraction in Northern Indiana for painters, photographers, writers, and anyone who loves a pretty view. The Michigan City shoreline on Lake Michigan seems to be just out of a postcard image. This century-old lighthouse adds to the scenic appeal of this place, along with the eye-catching catwalk that is used to access the lighthouse. The lighthouse is still in operation today, and it guides visitors and tourists to this beautiful lakeside community.
4. Museum of Art and the National Studebaker Museum in South Bend
The northern town of South Bend is famous for its museums, especially the South Bend Museum of Art and the National Studebaker Museum.
The South Bend Museum of Art is a hidden gem in the heat of the city. Sitting downtown, this art museum has three stories inside, and there are five galleries that take you through both regional and local Indiana artists. The museum also carries works of artists from all over the country.
The halls of this museum of art can be easily navigated, and when you visit here, you will find yourself become immersed in the overall artistic environment of the place. There are many notable and regular events that are organized here. For example, the outdoor Art Festivals and First Fridays. The South Bend Museum of Art is located within the Century Center, which is home to many major events and conventions, including seminars, political rallies, and holiday musical shows as well.
Meanwhile, Studebaker has a long history and connection to the town of South Bend. The history of this famous American car manufacturer is on display at the National Studebaker Museum. Open all through the week except on major national holidays, this famous museum is an education space for anyone who wants to know about the classic Studebaker models. You will find many military vehicles and the most extensive collection of US Presidential Carriages in the world in this museum. One of the biggest highlights of the museum is the Barouche, which is the carriage that former President Abraham Lincoln used on the night of his assassination at the theater. The incredible collection at National Studebaker Museum also includes an awe-inspiring archive of design and development drawings.
The National Studebaker Museum also plays host to many events and programs throughout the year, including hosting a speaker series and an annual Hall of Champions reception and dinner. The museum is also involved in the Concours D’Elegance at Copshaholm, during which hundreds of vintage automobiles are put on display outside on the museum grounds.
5. RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart
Located in Elkhart is a museum like no other. The RV/MH Hall of Fame takes you on a journey through a century of the automobile history. This is a one of its kind museum where you get to discover a wide variety of vintage vehicles and other automotive industry-related artifacts. Spread out over 100,000 square feet, this unique museum is home to many historical, recreational vehicles from Winnebago, Airstream, and many other American manufacturers. The museum’s goal itself is to “create a display of historic RV/MH products in a museum for the enjoyment and education of the public.”
The museum was founded in 1972 and was called the Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Housing Heritage Foundation at that time. Today the museum is home to many RVs that are over 100 years old, with the oldest vehicle displayed here hailing from the 1913 Earl Trailer, and it is the oldest surviving vehicle of its kind. Another exclusive vehicle on display here is the 1931 Chevrolet Housecar that was offered as a bribe by Paramount Pictures to Mae West to get her to agree to make movies. You will also find the smallest Airstream ever built and the oldest Winnebago in this museum. This museum is truly one of those places where you get an once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience that you will remember forever.