Disclaimer: This is a sponsored. However, I will always offer my readers an unbiased and honest account of my experiences. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Angel Nutter
Dexter The Dog and his travel companion Levi wrapped up their 2018 dog-friendly vacations with a visit to The South Shore along Lake Michigan. The South Shore along Lake Michigan is a perfect pet-friendly destination to relax and enjoy what the Midwest has to offer dog families.
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Dog-Friendly Indiana Attractions
The South Shore offers something for everyone, especially the well-traveled canine. We started our South Shore adventure in Whiting, Indiana, at Whiting Lakefront Park. When we arrived, we were blown away at how expansive the dog-friendly park was. Whiting Lakefront Park consists of 15 acres of walking paths, picnic areas, a concession stand, a fishing pier, volleyball and tennis courts all along a great walking path on Lake Michigan.
Whiting Lakefront Park
There were some spots that the dogs were not permitted, but they were welcome in most areas. We had a great view of the Chicago skyline and saw lots of ships on the lake. Dexter and Levi particularly enjoyed walking along the paths and had plenty of photo-ops. If it wasn’t for a sudden downpour of rain, we would have spent a few hours enjoying all that the park had to offer.
Downtown Whiting, Indiana & Bulldog Brewing
We decided to jump into the car and head to downtown Whiting. The Whiting community was filled with local business, quaint shops, a historic movie theater, and restaurants as well as Bulldog Brewing Company. We decided the Bulldog Brewing Company would be a great place for takeout.
I ordered the “Lil” Bulldog. This wasn’t your typical bar burger. This beef was 28-day aged ground chuck and brisket, apple-wood smoked bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a Kaiser roll. The burger was thick, juicy, and fresh. An order of French fries and a soda made this the perfect meal for a rainy day. Because it was raining and we had the dogs, we took the food just around the corner and sat under the covered amphitheater. It was an ideal nook for lunch.
Crown Point, Indiana
A little sightseeing and some photo-ops were in order, so we decided to check out the Kissing Couple. This 25′ statue is currently located in Crown Point, Indiana, so it was a real treat to be able to see it in person. The statue represents a famous photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of World War II. I knew it was going to be large, but I had no idea how large until I stood next to the statue. It was quite a spectacular site.
Albanese Candy Factory
Next up was Merrillville to check out Albanese Confectionery, home of the World’s Best Gummies. For over 30 years, Albanese has been making these tasty little treats. All of their gummies and candies are made at their factory, using the highest quality ingredients sourced from America and Europe, nothing from China. They offer both guided and unguided tours, because it’s a food production facility, pets are not permitted. That didn’t stop us from getting a cute photo-op of their Halloween gummy cutout.
Home2 Suites - Pet-Friendly Hotel
It was time to check into our pet-friendly hotel, Home2 Suites in Merrillville. This isn’t the first time I’ve stayed at a Home2 Suites by Hilton. I have been so happy with my experiences with this chain; I was tickled to see that Merrillville had opened a location earlier this year.
This dog-friendly hotel is conveniently located at I-65 and US 30. The modern suites offer an abundance of room for both dogs to walk around. The storage areas are huge and offered more than enough room for all of our luggage and gear. My favorite aspect of Home2 Suites is the in-suite full kitchen that includes a sink, dishwasher, microwave, cookware, plates, and full-size refrigerator. The full-size refrigerator is such a bonus since both Dexter and Levi eat fresh food.
Home2 Suites also offers a large, well-lit dog potty area which is fully stocked with pickup bags. I really appreciate that the dog potty area is close to the hotel and has lots of grass. It’s always stressful when traveling with a dog, and they need a midnight break, and the potty area is dark.
We stayed two nights at Home2 Suites Merrillville, and each morning when Dexter and I walked passed the concierge, he was greeted with a big smile, welcome, and doggie treats. The nice lady even gave me two treats to bring back to Levi.
The free breakfast was delicious. They offered artisan-style sandwiches, oatmeal, a variety of fruit and nut toppings, cereals, hard-boiled eggs, waffles, fruit, coffee, juice, and water. I enjoyed the fresh waffles with blueberries and almonds one morning and oatmeal and cranberries the next. Each pup enjoyed a hard-boiled egg. They love their eggies!
For those people traveling who like to stay fit, Home2 Suites also offers a heated indoor pool, Spin2 Cycle, and treadmill. Or you can relax out on their patio, light up the barbecue, or just sit and enjoy the fire pit. There’s something for every traveler.
Friendship Botanic Gardens
On day two, we went to Friendship Botanic Gardens in Michigan City. This dog-friendly attraction was a real delight. With over 105 acres of botanical gardens, woodlands, trails, and sprawling open spaces, this is a must-do for anyone traveling along the South Shore of Lake Michigan.
Friendship Botanic Gardens has been a destination spot since 1936, and when you drive up the winding path, you will soon learn why. It’s such a lovely park, and it’s filled with so many unique sculptures and themed and interactive gardens. We really enjoyed the historic Heritage Gardens commemorating cultures around the world.
Friendship Botanic Gardens hosts events such as Lyric Opera of Chicago concert, yoga in the garden, holiday festivities, weddings, and even a dog adoption event. It’s an ideal location for picnics, meditation, and hiking.
Wildlife, you bet. The ecologically rich forests and gardens are home to muskrats, turtles, groundhogs, squirrels, wild turkeys, deer, trout, salmon, birds, and butterflies, including monarchs. Dexter and Levi really enjoyed walking and sniffing, I’m sure they were smelling the wildlife’s trails.
Bartlett's Fish Camp and Restaurant
After Friendship Botanic Gardens we thought we would head to Bartlett’s Fish Camp and Restaurant. This dog-friendly restaurant went out of their way to accommodate us and the pups. Even though their outside seating area was basically closed for the winter, they fired up the heaters and served us hot coffee and tea. Oh, and the waiter brought the pups cheese to snack on.
I ordered the Gooey Grilled Cheese. Really, that’s the name of the sandwich. Melted Havarti and American cheese with pickled onion, avocado, tomato and bacon melted between two pieces of bread. It was gooey and good all in one.
Fair Oaks Farms
After lunch, we took a decent drive to Fair Oaks Farm. When I saw all that this dog-friendly Indiana attraction had to offer, I knew it was a must see. One of the largest working dairy farms in the nation, Fair Oaks Farms encourages visitors to spend the day exploring and learning about farming practices throughout the Fair Oaks Farm campus.
Dogs are allowed to tour the outside of the area, which offers plenty of things to see and photo-ops. The Farmhouse Restaurant’s outdoor seating is also dog-friendly. To top it off, they offer Central Bark Dog Park, which features an agility tunnel and shaded benches. We had a great time exploring, walking, and learning about Fair Oaks Farm and farming in general.
We had another full day of adventures and decided to head back to Home2 Suites to settle in for the night. The South Shore really is a great dog-friendly Indiana destination. We were welcomed with gracious Midwest hospitality at each of our adventures. We definitely plan on visiting again, maybe in the spring.
When planning your dog-friendly South Shore Indiana vacation, visit AlongtheSouthShore.com for helpful advice, brochures, and coupons.