Outdoor Activities for Families

Experience all kinds of outdoor activities for the family. See animals at the zoo, splash at the waterpark or the beach, camp under the stars, ride go-karts and so much more!

Washington Park Zoo

Washington Park Zoo

You don’t have to go to Chicago to see wild animals…Washington Park Zoo located just off Lake Michigan’s shore houses approximately 250 animals that are non-releasable wildlife or rescue exotic pets, some are also Species Survival Plan animals or members of designated endangered species groups. The zoo spans 15 acres through meandering tree-covered pathways. Among the 250 animals, you’ll see exotic species from around the world including cougars, wallaby and emu as well as zebras, lions, tigers and bears. 

The zoo is right by the beach, splash pad and restaurants, too.

Deep River Waterpark slide

Deep River Waterpark

An afternoon of splashing, sliding and floating await you at Deep River Waterpark. The Chicagoland area’s largest waterpark has speed slides, tube rides, a racer, wave pool and river rides. Mayor Byrdovich’s Courthouse offers an enormous water play area for kids who may be a bit frightened by the “big kid” rides.

Find out more about splashing at WhoaZone, an on-water floating obstacle course and splash pads throughout the region on our “Splashing Around” page.


There are plenty of outdoor adventures at the Indiana Dunes National Park and county parks throughout the area for families. Playgrounds, hiking trails and trips to more than a dozen beaches.

For something your family may not be expecting, try disc golfing at Lemon Lake County Park. This activity is perfect for all ages and Lemon Lake offers one of the nation’s largest disc golf courses.

Caboose Lake Campground


For a day-into-night adventure, we recommend camping! Caboose Lake Campground in Remington has cabin rentals and sites for RVs and tents. This one-stop-shop camping facility has fishing boat rentals, volleyball, paddleboats and a 20-acre lake to enjoy. The Summer Beach Family Fun Zone is located on-site and has water wars, slides, inflatables, bumper boats and a dunk tank! When the State and National Park campsites fill up try Lakeshore Camp Resort for full-hookup campsites and 12 cabins. Check for weekend entertainment and enjoy mini-golf, beaches, fishing and your choice of four on-site pools.

Dragon at Zao Island

Zao Island and Zig-E's

Kids and adults can enjoy a round of miniature golf or riding go-karts at Zao Island in Valparaiso or Zig-E's in St. John. They both have game rooms filled with arcade games and classic ones like “Whack & Win.” Laser tag and batting cages are also available for those looking for a bit more physical activity.

At Zao Island, stop and see the alligator exhibit with 45 real alligators before you leave!

More Outdoor Adventures


There are miles of beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan's South Shore, including the Indiana Dunes. 

Bison at Kankakee Sands

The Nature Conservancy has an extensive bison conservation program, with herds now found on 13 preserves…

Winter Activities

Winter along the South Shore of Lake Michigan brings rosy cheeks, fluffy snow and lots of outdoor fun…

Public Gardens

The South Shore has a number of public spaces featuring formal gardens, Japanese gardens, prairies, woods and…

Biking & Hiking Trails

Northwest Indiana and parts of Eastern Illinois contain 125 miles of biking and walking trails.

Charter Fishing

Proven each spring, summer and fall, Indiana's 3 percent ownership of Lake Michigan can be one of the most…

Orchards and U-Picks

Pick berries from summer to fall or apples, squash and pumpkins during harvest season!