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Category - Great Outdoors

Looking to spend the remainder of your good summer days outside?  I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of the best hidden-gems in Northwest Indiana, the Gabis Arboretum. Tucked away in southern Valparaiso, driving around the area you wouldn’t expect to find six miles of gorgeous hiking trails anywhere near you. Spending most of my hiking time at the Indiana Dunes National Park, it didn’t occur to me that there was a secret oasis right in my backyard. 


Photo: Butterfly Day at Kankakee Sands by Leigh Littiken

We all know that getting out in nature is great for our health, but sometimes our busy schedules make it difficult to find the time to get our “green time”. Fear not, it’s really much easier that you might think – because green time is all around you!

Getting you green time is truly as simple as standing outside and noticing the nature around you. No batteries, tools or fancy footwear required.


Nothing feels more like fall than walking outside on a cool, crisp morning to find hints of orange and yellow leaves scattered throughout the green trees. No matter how cold it will be soon, I still love every bit of fall and everything that comes with it. Bring on all the apple-cinnamon donuts, pumpkin beer, apple picking, and haunted houses, because it is spooky season!


Photo: Shooters at Oakwood Gun Club break clay targets for fun and to hone hunting skills.

It’s surprising how many hunters put down their guns at the end of the season and don’t load them again until they are uncased and ready to be carried on opening day the following year. Perhaps in the good ol’ days when rabbits, quail and pheasants were far more abundant a hunter only needed to walk far enough and shoot often enough to eventually bring home some game. Those good ol’ days must have occurred before I started hunting.


I never knew that Gabis Arboretum existed and oh man have I been missing out! This 300-acre preserve is packed with a variety of trails, gardens, woodlands, prairies, and wetlands. When I told my sister I was interested in exploring this place, she got excited because she had been there a few times with her students. She could not believe I did not know about it! We decided to make the drive out to Valparaiso on a Thursday afternoon with the dog. I was immediately impressed with the preserve right off the bat. Driving through the entrance feels like you are passing into a fairy world. The Active Times said this place is the most romantic place in Indiana and I would have to whole-heartily agree.


Photo by by Jeanette Jaskula

There’s nature to be had for all sorts of sleeping habits. For the early risers, there is bird watching. For the late sleepers, there is mid-day butterfly watching. And for the night owls, there are moths.

Now, don’t shrug your shoulders at the vastly important and diverse family of moths. In Newton County alone we have more than 900 species of moths! And they aren’t all brown – there are yellow and pink rosy maple moths, orange ornate moths, green luna moths, and black and white eight-spotted foresters.  


Dragons are all the rage these days. Friends are fascinated by the beasts in Game of Thrones. My son likes the evil, fire breathing monsters that are to be fought, slayed and conquered in the game Dungeons and Dragons. 

As for me, I delight in the dragons of the sky that that hover, glide and zoom over our Newton County wetlands, entertaining me on sunny summer’s day. 


There has been a lot of rain in this area these past two months. A lot of rain. Outdoor adventures I’ve been wanting to go on had to be put on hold. My poor dog has been so bored of late because of this. So, when I woke up last Saturday morning to sunshine, I had to take advantage of the nice summer weather. One of my favorite things to do with my dog is to go hiking and so we choose the Lemon Lake County Park in Crown Point, Indiana as our designation. 


Break out the sleeping bags, grab the marshmallows, pack your tent or hop in the RV, it’s camping season in northwest Indiana! It is time to get together with friends and family around the campfire, go on early morning trail walks, relax on the lake and roast some weenies. I know I’m excited for burnt marshmallows and lake days and have already started planning my camping trip. 

Here are a few campground options in northern Indiana to get your camping trip planning started, including two within the Indiana Dunes.


Looking for some summer fun? Mark these things to do in northwest Indiana this summer off your bucket list!

  1. Learn how to be a mascot, practice shooting t-shirts into a crowd and try all the games and activities at Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting.