With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas done and behind us, my girls and I decided we needed to take a day off from chores and errands, so we headed up to Hammond.

The first stop on our trip was the Indiana Welcome Center, where I have recently started as an intern. I knew that my girls, Holly and Jenna, would enjoy seeing where I work and I was positive my 21-month-old grandson, Owen, would be enchanted by the "A Christmas Story" Comes Home displays. I was right - we could barely convince Owen to go past the first display! He was so taken by the lights and moving toys that he could have sat there for hours. If it was allowed, I'm sure he would have climbed right into the window and started playing.

Eventually he was agreeable to checking out the other windows and all of the artfully decorated Christmas trees in the W.F. Wellman Exhibition Hall. Our favorite was the window with the Bumpus hounds on the table. Seeing the wonderful displays made us all want to go home and watch "A Christmas Story" again!

A stop in the gift shop was next on our agenda. There were so many cute toys and interesting items. My younger daughter loved the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story." It'll make a great birthday present for her! Owen's favorites were the Audubon birds - he loved pushing the button on each and listened intently to the birds' calls.

Much to Owen's chagrin, we left the building and stopped to check out the statue of Flick sticking his tongue on the flagpole. It was fun to watch other visitors posing by the statue and getting their picture taken. Owen was more interested in the cool bench near the statue - brightly colored and the perfect size for him to climb up on.

After our enjoyable visit at the Indiana Welcome Center, we headed south to do some shopping. With all of the great stores available on Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville, we had no problem finding some terrific after-Christmas bargains. I was very impressed with the variety and quantity of stores that are located there, and noticed that there are some big, new stores opening up this spring. I'm looking forward to checking out the Home Goods, Whole Foods and Gordman's when they open.

By this point, we were all hungry and a bit tired, so we headed to Tyler's Tender on Route 30 in Schererville. My grandson adores trains, so I knew that this restaurant would be a hit with him. Wouldn't you know it - he fell asleep on the car ride there!

That was actually fine with us. We laid him on the bench in our booth and got to peacefully enjoy a delicious meal and relax for a little while. I had the Chicago dog and French fries, which really hit the spot, while the girls tried the cheeseburgers.

Tyler's Tender Restaurant Schererville train at the counter

Customers that sat at the counter had their meals delivered to them on a train - the track actually circles the whole counter!

When Owen finally woke up from his nap, "WOW!" was all he could say when he saw all of the trains in the large display case in the middle of the restaurant. The look of pure fascination on his face was priceless as he pushed the buttons to make the trains go round the track. The only thing that could get him away from the train display was the sound of the train whistle signaling food being delivered at the counter.

Tyler's Tender Restaurant Schererville riding train

One of the neatest features of Tyler's Tender is the real train that the kids can ride on for a small fee. Owen wasn't too keen about getting on the train with some of the other kids until he realized that it actually went around a track. Then he couldn't wait for it to be his turn to ride! He sat in front so he could ring the bell as the train chugged around the track. After his ride was finished, he enjoyed riding the stationary train, too.

Tyler's Tender also has a large arcade for its patrons to enjoy. We decided to skip that part because we were all pretty worn out by that point. It gives us something new to do next time we visit. If you have a train enthusiast in your family, I highly recommend giving Tyler's Tender a try!

Contributing Editor: Amy Van Soest
Former Communications Coordinator with the South Shore CVA.