From the National Geographic book The 10 Best of Everything-National Parks

Most people, even dedicated urbanites, need a break now and then from concrete jungle, round-the-clock noise, and exhaust fumes. Some American cities are lucky enough to have units of the National Park System right on their doorsteps, offering recreation and natural beauty within easy reach of millions.

#7 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Gary and Michigan City, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois

A very high percentage of the nearly two million annual visitors to Indiana Dunes come simply to sunbathe or swim along 15 miles of sandy Lake Michigan shore. In itself, that resource makes the park a treasured getaway for residents of Chicago and nearby cities such as Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

Beyond the beach, though, trails wind through natural habitats of surprising biodiversity, with rare plants and butterflies living among the dunes, savannas, marshes, prairies, and woodlands. Miller Woods, Cowles Bog, Heron Rookery, and Lyco-ki-we are among the best trails for nature lovers, while the Mount Baldy Trail ascends a 126-foot dune for a panoramic view of Lake Michigan. Mount Baldy is a "moving" dune, pushed about four feet a year by prevailing winds. For a glimpse into the area's past, visit restored Chellberg Farm, where three generations of a family of Swedish farmers lived.