The holiday season is upon us! Whether you have years old traditions or want to add something new to your holiday happenings, here are some events and things to do this Thanksgiving Week along Lake Michigan's South Shore.

Friendship Botanic Gardens in fall - Michigan City

Outdoor Activities

When you’re preparing to eat your weight in food on Thanksgiving, sometimes you want to go on a little (or long) walk before! If you're looking for an easy walk to get out of the house for a while, check out these trails for the lazy hiker. Enjoy the autumn landscapes at Gabis Arboretum and the Indiana Dunes Great Marsh Trail or spend some time strolling the streets of Rensselaer to check out art by muralists from around the world.

This year, Friendship Botanic Gardens is hosting their Gobble Gobble Turkey Walk on Thanksgiving Day from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Kids will get to have fun walking the trails and embarking on a paper turkey scavenger hunt for a prize at the end!

Family watching bison at Kankakee Sands

Another location to hike mentioned in the blog is Kankakee Sands, where you'll also find a herd of roaming bison! The bison were introduced to the area in 2016. Recently, the herd gained 10 new members from Wind Cave National Park! A viewing area is set up just off US Highway 41. The staff suggest planning to stay for a few hours. Start at the viewing area and you might get a good sighting. If not, drive around the pasture. If you still aren’t able to see the bison, maybe take that hike along a trail for an hour or two, and then return to the viewing area to try again.

Speaking of wildlife viewing, the number of Sandhill Cranes migrating to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area is almost at its annual peak. Last fall there were 30,000+ cranes counted at peak time! Grab your binoculars and head out to the elevated platform to watch the cranes enjoy spending the holiday week with each other.

Fair Oaks Farms Forest of Lights

Celebrate the Holidays

Take-in the Holiday Lights Trail at Fair Oaks Farms beginning November 19! Stroll through their nature path with all the trees and tractors lit up for the holidays. They have warming stations where you can enjoy bonfires, s'mores and hot chocolate. You can purchase your tickets at their Holiday Market where you can also pick up some fresh baked goods and festive décor. Admission to Holiday Lights is $10/person.

Plan a lunch or dinner with your household in their private, heated igloos right in The Farmhouse Restaurant's backyard. The igloos are all decorated with their own themes and are a great setting for small family get-togethers, date nights, or a fun night with friends!

Make a mini-vacation out of it with a stay at the on-site Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott.

Harvest Tyme Christmas Tyme Lights

Harvest Tyme Family Farm will also be bringing back their Christmas Tyme Lights display this year from November 26 to December 30, 2021! You can drive through the beautiful lights while you sip hot chocolate and even catch a glimpse of Santa Clause himself. Reservations will be available on their website here.

Crown Point Santa Parade

On Saturday after Thanksgiving, head to downtown Crown Point to see the Santa Parade beginning at 10:00 a.m. Santa will be arriving by helicopter and will be there to say hello to all the children and families before boarding Molley the Trolley to be escorted around the Square!

It’s a German Christmas at the LaPorte Christkindlmarket! Happening the weekend after Thanksgiving at the LaPark, the market will feature an ice-skating rink, curling, German food & pastries, art, Christmas trees and so much more. You can find the schedule of events here.

A tradition for many in the region, sign up for the annual Valparaiso Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning! The race will be held a little differently this year, but still a great way to burn some calories before getting extra full of turkey and mashed potatoes later in the day.

Kids checking out "A Christmas Story" Comes Home

“A Christmas Story” Comes Home is back at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond. You can stop in to see the seven animated window displays depicting scenes from the holiday movie from November 13, 2021 to January 2, 2022! Don’t forget to schedule a time to get your photo taken with Santa on most weekends starting right after Thanksgiving. You can also enjoy the holiday gift shop full of perfect gifts for everyone.

However you decide to fill your Thanksgiving Week along the south shore of Lake Michigan, stay safe and we hope you enjoy it! Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the South Shore CVA.