Don’t let the chilly air hold you hostage in your home! Get out and explore the South Shore’s outdoor adventures, culinary treats and winter activities. We’ve put together an A to Z list of things to do this winter.

Header photo from Indiana Dunes National Park

  • Arboretum - The South Shore has its very own arboretum – Gabis Arboretum at Purdue University Northwest with walking trails, wetlands, woodlands, and formal gardens; a beautiful place to visit any time of year. Please note the gardens are closed over the holiday but reopen on January 2nd. 
  • Brewery Trail - Visit one of the ​South Shore Brewery Trail's stops for a new release, long-time favorite or award-winning beer this winter. Find a location near you, dining options and more by using the South Shore Brewery Trail App.

    A Chesterton Brewery beer awaits visitors along the  ​South Shore Brewery Trail.
  • Carryout - Spend an evening in with your favorite foods and your favorite people. You aren’t limited to just pizza as a number of South Shore restaurants are offering take-out daily.
  • Desserts - Don’t forget dessert! Cupcakes from Cute as a Cupcake, hot cocoa topped with marshmallows or handmade ice cream, or maybe a variety of confections from local bakeries will make your list of favorites. Read our blog for other ideas.

    Cute as a Cupcake Merrillville  
  • Explore - Set your GPS for somewhere new. Discover one of the South Shore’s historic sites, parks or rare landscapes.
  • Farmhouse Igloo - Don’t just dine out, dine in a private igloo with views of the countryside at Fair Oaks Farms. Reservations must be made in advance. Embers Station and Byway Brewing are also offering enclosed outdoor dining options.

    Friends enjoy laughter and drinks inside a Fair Oaks Farms heated igloos.  
  • Geocaching - Get out and play! The Indiana Dunes National Park hosts a number of Geocaches and EarthCaches for you to find. Learn more about Mt. Baldy, Chellberg Farm, the singing sands and more here.
  • Hiking - The Indiana Dunes and the surrounding areas offer hundreds of miles of trails. If you’re up for a challenge, hike Trail 7 at the Indiana Dunes State Park – otherwise known as the 3 Dune Challenge.
  • Ice Skating - Skate the Plaza at Deep River Waterpark (November through January, weather permitting). Skate rentals are available onsite. *For the 2020 season, admissions must be purchased in advance. 

    Visitors enjoy time on the ice at the Deep River Waterpark Plaza.
  • Jasper-Pulaski - Witness one of the largest migrations of Sandhill Cranes at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. Peak viewing for the crane migration is in November, but you can often find cranes socializing here. Make sure to bring your binoculars! More than 8,142 acres of wetlands and woodlands make this location ideal for not only migrating birds, but for hunting and fishing as well.
  • Kankakee Sands – More than 70 bison roam Kankakee Sands and graze on more than 1,100 acres of prairie. The bison viewing area is the best spot to learn more and see the bison herd. Walking paths are also available throughout the Kankakee Sands restoration area.

    A herd of Bison brave the winter cold at Kankakee Sands restoration area.
  • Lake Michigan Shelf Ice - The beach isn't just beautiful in the summer, but also in the winter. When the temperatures drop shelf ice will form on the waves that crash into the floating ice, mimicking the landscape of arctic regions. *Beware if you venture out to see the shelf ice do NOT walk on the ice. It is extremely dangerous!

    Shelf Ice along the shores of Lake Michigan create an other-worldly landscape.
  • Make a Bet – May the odds be in your favor when you visit one of the South Shore’s five casinos! Play a hand of poker, spin the roulette wheel or place a bet at one of the new sports betting locations within the casino. Good luck! 
  • Nature - After a snowfall, you can spot animal tracks on a quiet walk in the South Shore. We recommend a trip to the Indiana Dunes or bird watching at Gibson Woods Nature Preserve. Call ahead and reserve their Private Bird Room on select Wednesdays and Fridays.
play video NWI Plays - Gibson Woods Nature Preserve

NWI Plays - Gibson Woods Nature Preserve

  • Oink! - Pop in to Fair Oaks Farms for an adventure through modern-day farming including the Dairy, Pink and Crop Adventures. 
  • Photo Opportunities - Whether it’s a snapshot of Lake Michigan, the lighthouse in Michigan City or larger-than-life murals along the RenArtWlk, the South Shore’s photo ops are a great way to get out and explore.

    RenArtWlk Max Sansing: key necklace
  • Quiet Walk - Venture outdoors for a reflective walk at the Indiana Dunes, Friendship Botanic GardensGabis Arboretum or one of our walks to remember. Visit any one of these locations again in the spring to see wildflowers bloom!
  • Rotblatt-Amrany Trail - This trail will take you through northwest Indiana and Chicagoland where you will find detailed works of art from the Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany. See Flick from the holiday movie classic, “A Christmas Story”, or sit with Orville Redenbacher in Valparaiso.
  • Sledding - A favorite pastime and a rite of passage growing up in the Midwest. Find your nearest sledding hill on our blog here.
  • Tea - Enjoy a cup of tea and scones at the Merrillville Florist and Tea Room. The Tea Room also serves brunch in a charming setting. You can enjoy the locally owned Truly Teas at a local shop or brew at home, too. Order online from the convenience of your couch or enjoy a cup at a local coffee shop or specialty store. 
  • Unique Stays - Make an escape right here in the South Shore at a private vacation rental by the beach, a room at the Brewery Lodge, a 1900’s freight station-turned-B&B or a romantic cabin at Serenity Springs

  • Veterans Memorial - Walk the self-guided trail at Community Veterans Memorial at your own pace. More than six acres feature bronze and granite sculptures depicting major military conflicts that shaped the 20th Century. 

    A bronze statue of a soldier is one of many installations at the Community Veterans Memorial in Munster, IN.
  • Winter Lights - Gaze at twinkling lights throughout the South Shore. Drive through Harvest Tyme Farm Park’s or Sunset Hill’s lighted wonderland or stroll through the lights at Fair Oaks Farms on foot. Don’t worry, they have warming stations, s’mores and hot cocoa along the way!
  • X-County Skiing - Go no further than one of Lake County’s parks for cross-country skiing. Lemon Lake, Stoney Run and Oak Ridge Prairie County Parks all offer trails perfect for skiers. Lemon Lake and Stoney Run offer ski rentals, please call ahead for availability.
  • Young at Heart - Get in touch with your inner child (or let your kids tag along) to the South Shore’s very own candy factory - Albanese

    DTN - ROS - Albanese Candy
  • ZapUp Your Alley offers laser tag, cyber cars, arcades, axe throwing as well as bowling. Zap your opponent in laser tag, try to get a 300 score or jump in a cyber car to play Cyber Sport. Schedule your favorite online here.