Indiana and maritime culture aren’t terms that usually appear in the same sentence. But for those in the know, it’s a word combination that makes sense. After all, the southernmost shores of Lake Michigan ring northwest Indiana and there wouldn’t be a national park and dozens of beaches here, nor a collection of oft-photographed, historic lighthouses, if the area weren’t as lovely as it is fun to explore.
Michigan City is the area’s cultural hub, Indiana Dunes National Park its playground, and South Bend its urban center. All are cool spots for families to get away in the Midwest, with the bonus of being accessible by train from Chicago (and far more affordable than heading to an ocean coast). If a beach vacation close to the heartland is in order, the Hoosier State is calling.