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From Illinois to Indiana…why we moved to the dunes.

Submitted by: Debbie Barkowski

“Why did you move to the area?” Almost everyone I meet asks that same question, wanting to know why my husband and I moved from the west suburbs of Illinois to Long Beach, Indiana. Having become first-time homeowners in the last year, I have some standard responses:

• To enjoy the outdoors along the lakefront. • We have friends who often vacation here. • To be within an hour of family and friends in Illinois. • We could commute to our jobs in Chicago.

After this past year, exploring more intimately the beauty of the towns and meeting the people who make up my new community and surrounding areas, I have discovered why many people are returning, and what makes this a special place to call home for newcomers like us.

What made a profound impression on me is the sense of community among the people we have met. It is easy to meet new friends and stay connected, celebrating local traditions and events. From my first 4th of July parade and festivities to the nightly gatherings for sunset viewing, I feel a sense of pride in being part of my new hometown.

thumbnail_Debbie and Brian Barkowski Shelf Ice

Along the lakefront and into the main streets, there is so much to do year round, including a couple of my favorites from the winter – Shelf Ice Fest in Michigan City and stargazing at Kemil Beach, hosted by the National Park Service. A focal point of anything we do involves enjoying the outdoors – the dunes, lakefront, and beaches. Like most people, I’m connected to a computer for work, and the ability to unplug while walking along the trails and beaches of a national lakeshore are not taken for granted.

While the discovery of new places to explore continues, a growing list of “favorites” includes these gems:

  1. Burn ‘Em Brewing – Great beer, super friendly staff. Listening to some vinyl on the patio with friends is the perfect way to end a work day.

  2. Cowles Bog – My favorite hike so far – challenging with the reward of a vast, quiet beach to soak in the sun.

  3. Fiddlehead – In addition to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, Fiddlehead supports veterans through their employment program.

  4. First Friday Art Walk and Uptown Arts District (UAD) – Everything that is making the heart of Michigan City come alive – artists, shops, restaurants, music, community – can be found as you stroll along Franklin Street.

  5. Lakefront Career Network (LCN) – Professionals from the Michigan City and surrounding come together to meet new people and support economic and community development.

  6.  Watching the breathtaking hues of gold, blue, orange, and pink in a sunset along the lake.

As we celebrate a year of many firsts, we look forward to enjoying what we have yet to see and do here in Northwest Indiana. And not so secretly we are hoping that more friends and family will at some point be asked, “Why did you move to the area?”

Debbie grew up in the west suburbs of Chicago and moved to Long Beach last summer with her husband, Brian.  She graduated from Elmhurst College with a degree in French.  She is a writer who enjoys reading, road trips, baking, and running/walking the hills of Michigan City and Long Beach.  Debbie likes to explore new places, restaurants, and events in the area, and she looks forward to hiking all of the dunes.

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