Feature photo: Calumet Trail right off Dunes Hwy. 12
November is the perfect time to get out and really discover the Indiana Dunes. Not sure where to go? We’ve got a full day itinerary set up just for you.
You can’t go out for a full day exploring on an empty stomach. Our first stop is breakfast, and we recommend Red Cup Cafe in Chesterton for coffee and a light bite, or Third Coast Spice Cafe (also in Chesterton) for a delicious full breakfast. You can’t beat their omelettes and if you’re in a hurry you can grab the commuter sandwich to go.
After breakfast it’s time to get out and hike. Cowles Bog is a nice long loop and it’s much less crowded in November. You can do the full loop for a 4.7 mile hike, or cut it short for about 3. Explore several habitats including ponds, marshes, swamps and the last stop (on the long loop) being a steep sand dune that will take you to the beach. The colors are beautiful on this trail and you’ll be sure to get some great photos. Quick fact: The bog is not actually a bog, it’s a fen. The difference? Bogs are enclosed depressions filled by rain water while fens are fed by a steady source of ground water.
The Cowles Bog Trail is one of the longer trails in the Indiana Dunes National Park
After your hike you might want to do some shopping. Continue down beautiful Dunes Hwy 12 until you reach Over Yonder Dunes Gift Shop. There you will find all sorts of gifts and souvenirs from local artisans. Be sure to check their winter hours as lots of spots in the area close during the week during the colder months.
Hungry again? You can make a pit stop at Goblin & The Grocer. Grab a nice cold beer or a cocktail and maybe a charcuterie? Or, if you are looking for something more casual Joe’s Bar & Grill has recently gone no-smoking and can serve a delicious burger. If it’s not quite lunch time, be sure to head into Beverly Shores and take a look at the Century of Progress Homes. There are also a couple quick hikes nearby including the Dune Ridge Trail which will take you to an overlook of the marsh that can’t be beat. You can also drive along the shore and hop down to Kemil beach to collect some beach glass or crinoids.
The beach and Lake Michigan look different every day!
After lunch, head back towards Porter for a quick stop to see a different beach. If you park and walk East you can see the pavilion and the Indiana Dunes State Park. (The State Park is located within the boundaries of the National Park). Then, hop back in your car and head to Chellberg Farm and Bailly Homestead. These two historic sites are set side by side with lots of gorgeous trails in between. Take your time and see the animals or set out for a 4-5 mile hike which also includes the Little Calumet River Trail. These hikes are especially beautiful when the leaves are changing. You will cross numerous bridges and stairs that take you over river and a nice walk through the Mnoké Prairie.
The Mnoké Prairie is beautiful in all seasons, but fall is one of the best!
Depending on the time, you might want to zip back to the beach for sunset or just head straight to dinner. For this itinerary we will send you back to Chesterton for a burger at Octave Grill, or if you are looking for something a little more upscale, consider Lucrezia Cafe for a delicious Italian meal. There are lots of other options including Chesterton Brewery, Ivy’s Bohemia House and Duneland Pizza.
Ready for another day at the dunes? Where should we go next? We’ll definitely want to take you out to Miller Woods and the Douglas Center, but we’d love to hear some of your suggestions!
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