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Thanksgiving week is full of activities between cooking, eating and starting your holiday shopping. But if you’re looking for more to do this week – either for grown up fun, entertaining visiting friends and family or just something to keep the kids busy during the long weekend – we got you covered!


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. 


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.


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.



Photo copyright Christopher Jordan

While visiting the east coast this past December, my family took an evening drive to a “Winter Wonderland.” For $18, we were able to drive through three miles of outdoor light displays. Holiday tunes played in time to the light display. The displays were made of silver, blue, red, green and gold lights welded to metal frames in the shapes of larger-than-life castles, horse drawn carriages, poinsettias, wreaths, snowmen, St. Nick, the Grinch, pine trees, leaping deer, dinosaurs and exploding volcanoes! 



When you have a four-legged companion during your stay in Northwest Indiana, you'll want to make sure he has enough exercise. Gabis Arboretum is the perfect place to let your dog stretch his legs. Hike through four miles of trails or enjoy the quiet gardens, woodlands, prairies and wetlands. Look for native and hybrid plants, flowers and trees during your visit and view Gabis's variety of formal gardens. 


Sunday bike rides are a tradition in our family, especially during the summer months. There are quite a few trails around the northwest Indiana area and we love exploring them. So, as per tradition, this past Sunday my father and I smeared on the sunscreen, loaded up the bikes, and drove out to where the Oak Savannah Trail starts in the Oak Ridge Prairie County Park. Completed in 2015, this trail runs between Griffith and Hobart. It is about nine miles one way and connects with the Prairie Duneland Trail in Hobart. The trail ends at N. County Line Road. 


I own two mountain bikes and rarely ride them.  I want to change that! The improvements that have been made to our miles and miles of bike/walking trails are phenomenal and inspired me to break out of my comfort zone … and ride my bike to work (and back).