"With the weather warming, many great family friendly opportunities come to life along the south shore. From hiking at the National Lakeshore to taking in a Gary RailCats game, there are fun opportunities for families within all price ranges," said Nikki Makowski, Director of Public Relations for the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. "May 11 at the Indiana Welcome Center, families are able to take advantage of a one stop shop at ‘Explore the Shore.' Over 15 area attractions will be at the event to showcase their events and attractions."
If you want to spend a couple days playing tourist around the region this spring or summer, here's a two-day itinerary that will help you see the best of the region.
Start your day at the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond, where you can pick up literature, maps and event calendars and explore the free Civil War exhibit "Region United, Nation Divided: Civil War in the South Shore." You can also take some time to peruse the John Dillinger Museum, also located in the welcome center. Stop next door for a hearty breakfast or brunch at Cracker Barrel or head over to Loubie's Pancake House, 1229 165th Place in Hammond.
Visit Wolf Lake Memorial Park (HAMMONDMARINA.COM) for a leisurely walk or bring your fishing poles. The Wolf Lake Aquatic Play Center opens for the season May 26 with 1 hr. and 45 minutes sessions at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Make a shopping stop at Cabela's, where kids will enjoy checking out the fish and trying out the shooting gallery. Grab a bite for lunch in the café, where buffalo and elk burgers are among the menu items or make a stop El Taco Real, 935 Hoffman in Hammond for an authentic Mexican meal.
Take in the historic beauty of Marquette Park, 1 North Grand Boulevard in Gary, which includes Patterson Island and the Gary Beach Aquatorium. Following your visit, take in a game of the Gary South Shore RailCats. Visit RAILCATSBASEBALL.COM for a full game schedule. Opt for a hot dog at the stadium or try one of the area steakhouses where the kids can get their fill of peanuts and leave their shells of the floor (Texas Roadhouse is in Dyer, Texas Corral is in Highland or Merrillville.)
Start the day with some fruit picking at one of the area U-Pick farms. Strawberry season will soon be upon us and Johnson's Farm Produce, 8960 East Ridge Road in Hobart is a great place to spend a morning filling buckets with your family. Visit JOHNSONSFARMPRODUCE.COM for updates on picking hours.
Now that you've picked some natural sweets, make a stop for more sweet goodies at the Albanese Confectionery. Self guided tours are free and available during regular hours at the candy factory at 5441 East Lincoln Highway in Merrillville.
Tyler's Tender in Schererville is a fun lunch stop for little choo choo fans. The kids can take a little train ride and play in the arcade and have their meal delivered via train if you can snag a
This one is out of the Lake Country boundary, but so worth the trip. Fair Oaks Farms combines agricultural education with fun exhibits and offers a look at a modern dairy farm. You could
easily spend an entire afternoon there, but if you have a little spare time before dinner and the weather is warm, head north to Whiting's Whihala Beach for a dip in the water or some playtime on the sandy beach.
Introduce the kids to a meal at House of Kobe, with Merrillville and Schererville locations, a
Japanese steakhouse where they can see their meal being prepared by enthusiastic chefs that put on quite a show.
Order my new book - "Mom Moments: a compilation of columns from the Northwest Indiana
Times" - Available on bn.com or amazon.com.
Find me on Facebook at "Mom Moments," "Chicago Foodie Sisters," "Midwest Family
Traveler," "Images of America: Lansing, Illinois" and "Images of America: South Holland,
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/carrieste and twitter.com/travelmidwest