Valparaiso is a city in Porter County, Indiana. The site of present-day Valparaiso was included in the purchase of land from the Potawatomi people by the U.S. Government in October 1832. Considered a vibrant college town, it is home to Valparaiso University and is about 50 miles southeast of Chicago. There is plenty of fun for everyone in Valparaiso, and we have listed several options for you below.
Looking to be in the center of it all? Then you want to visit Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza. Located downtown, it hosts year-round fun and offers plenty of space for weddings, services, entertainment needs, and more. In summer, explore the farmers market or enjoy the new splash pad. Warm summer nights also mean outdoor concerts, movie nights on the lawn, and several other significant events. In the winter, sip a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy the ice skating rink. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the statue of local popcorn king, Orville Redenbacher.
If you are looking for peace and tranquility, you found the right place. Located 25 miles from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest. It is a 300-acre botanical collection of formal gardens, woodlands, wetlands, prairies, and hiking trails. It offers aesthetically appealing vistas, relaxing villas, and hiking trails, all created to help one escape into nature. It also features a railway garden that displays seven model railways to educate visitors about horticulture and the nation’s railroad history. The arboretum offers a wide variety of events and classes for all ages. It provides a natural environment for public, educational, and recreational use. In 2018, it officially became a part of Purdue University Northwest.
If you are a beach person, and living in or visiting Valparaiso, you are in luck. Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton is approximately 13.5 miles north of Valparaiso. It is a 2,182-acre park featuring a nature center, trails, and more than three miles of beach. For the adventurous type, there are sand dunes that tower almost 200 feet above Lake Michigan.
If you want to travel just a little further, it is a 15-minute drive to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is home to 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline; 45 miles of scenic trails through dunes, woodlands, bogs, and prairies. Adjacent is the National historic sites of the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm.
There are many different walking tours in Valparaiso, both guided and self-guided. Maps of self-guided walking tours through downtown are available through the Valparaiso Historic Preservation Commission (ci.valparaiso.in.us). Take the time to stop along the way and gaze at the various historic homes and courthouse square. Have extra time? Stop in and visit one of the dazzling boutique shops, and visit the Porter County Museum. There you will learn the history of Northern Indiana through a variety of collections and rotating exhibits. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, stop in, relax, and eat at one of the upscale restaurants of your choosing.
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