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Meet your Neighbors: Jim and Hilary Pappas

Meet Jim and Hilary Pappas!  Jim and Hilary own and operate Miller Beach Vacation Rentals which offers year-round, short-term, luxury, beachfront accommodations for group sizes up to 30 people.  With meticulous attention to detail, they work closely together to create thoughtful and welcoming environments for their guests and to ensure their stay is perfect and memorable.  They are in the memory-making business. 

Jim is an Engineer and Commercial Real Estate Developer with a passion for designing luxury homes with functional and flowing floor plans that offer gathering spaces for grand-scale indoor/outdoor entertaining, as well as comfortable, cozy nooks for managed solitude.  Hilary is an Interior Designer and owns an Event Planning company in Chicago whose work has been recognized by Vogue magazine and Martha Stewart Weddings. 

Call it market research, but they are passionate about exotic travel and exploring other cultures by truly living like a local—staying in vacation rentals, driving, shopping at local markets, cooking, etc.  Their upcoming trip to Croatia will mark Jim’s 57th country visited.  Some of their favorites are the Algarve in Southern Portugal, the Dutch side of St. Maarten, Provence, France, and Tuscany. What brought you to the dunes? After college, Jim worked in Manhattan for six years and to avoid the sweltering summers of this “Concrete Jungle”, he and friends would rent a house in the Hamptons to escape to every weekend. After moving back to the Midwest and planting roots in Chicago, he sought the same weekend experience. Jim got his real estate license and began a targeted, beachside community search everywhere between Chicago and Holland, MI.

Driving home from one of many home viewing trips, he stopped off in an unfamiliar place that wasn’t even on his radar.  After exploring the area and talking to locals, he fell in love with its amazing sugar-sand beaches, rolling dunes, diverse ecosystem, natural beauty, sunsets, and overall untapped potential. By happenstance, he discovered Miller Beach. On some days you feel like you can reach out and touch the unmistakable Chicago Skyline that is so close this beachside town.

How long have you lived here? Jim purchased his first Miller Beach getaway in early 2003 and used it mostly on weekends and for special occasions.  Over the next decade or so, he designed, built, and renovated several other homes.  After living in a few of them, he converted the homes into either full-time rentals or vacation rentals.  Fourteen years later, he, his wife, infant daughter, and Vizsla live in Miller Beach.

What is your favorite thing to do in the area? No matter what the season, Jim and Hilary love to spend time outdoors.  Almost everything that they do revolves around the lake, the beach, or the dunes. Jim and Hilary work very long hours running their businesses.  To recharge their batteries and regain perspective, they may pop down to the beach for a sunset stroll, take the dog for a romp in the surf, hike “off-piste” in the National Lakeshore, or sip a cocktail on the terrace during sunset.

On days when they get caught up working deadlines and don’t have time for extracurricular activities, admiring the views of the Lake and shoreline is often enough inspiration in itself. Just being able to look out of the office window and see the lake, the sky, the beach, and the dunes is very moving and powerful. Being near such a large body of water is very important to them.

Tell us a secret about the dunes. The secret is that Miller Beach is still, for the most part, a secret.  Unless they live there or know someone who does, most people still have never heard of Miller Beach, IN.  Jim and Hilary have been doing their part to get the word out.  This “hidden” beachside community with its rolling dune-scape that hugs the southern shoreline of the fifth largest lake in the world, only 40 minutes from the third largest city in America, and sandwiched between pristine acres of unspoiled beauty of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (soon to be America’s 60th National Park), is not well known, yet…

Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)

  1. Our world-class beaches:  pure sugar-sand, wide, deep shoreline, sandbar that extends out at least 150 feet, no rocks, no muck, no algae, and the water temperature—warms up the fastest, stays warm the longest. Looking due north, one sees nothing but emerald greens and sapphire blues, reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea.  Situated directly on the southern coast of Lake Michigan, few other beach towns offer quite this same perspective.

  2. Merriam-Webster’s definition of staycation is a vacation spent at home or nearby.  Living in Miller Beach, IN feels like a perpetual staycation.

  3. One of our favorite family hikes is Miller Woods. It begins on the loop trail of the Douglas Center, connects with the old railroad path and winds past several beautiful small lakes connected by a little stream.  This eventually ends on the shoreline west of Lake Street Beach.  Throughout the year, there are swans, baby ducks, beaver dams, and a wide variety of plants and natural flowers.

What would you like to teach people about the dunes? One doesn’t need to board a plane or drive hundreds of miles to experience one of the most amazing places on earth.  A geographic area that truly offers something for everyone:  Lake Michigan, dunes, beaches, swimming, boating, nature trails, shopping, casinos, fine dining, craft breweries, wineries, outlet malls, theater, sports, festivals, concerts, etc.  The close proximity of Chicago’s diverse, urban culture and the serene environment of the Indiana dunes—nature in its purest form.  We are so fortunate.  The Indiana Dunes has it all and it’s right in our backyard!

Anything else? 

Miller Beach Vacation Rentals! Only 40min from Chicago, our unsurpassed Lake Michigan beachfront homes are available year-round, accommodate up to 30 guests, are dog-friendly, and border the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  We cater to multi-generational family reunions, friend’s getaways, milestone anniversaries and birthdays, corporate retreats, and intimate weddings.  Since 2008, we have hosted nearly 8,000 guests from 49 states and 14 countries.

Please join our growing 5,500+ Facebook Followers and “LIKE OUR PAGE” @MillerBeachVacationRentals.  For staycationer’s, we often post last minute rental specials and highlight interesting events and attractions within a 60 mile radius, including those in Chicago.

Visit for more information on our vacation homes, photos, amenities, availability, and pricing.


You can learn about more of your neighbors, right here!

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