Here's an easy day trip to the country, perfect for
La Porte, Indiana, located less than 1.5 hours from
Chicago, offers a little bit of everything for everyone in your
family: spooky trains for the toddlers, an old-fashioned diner for
the tweens and apple and pumpkin picking for all.
Our family started our trip with a visit to
the Hesston Steam
Museum, where we boarded an old-fashioned steam
train that led us through a spooky, haunted forest. In actuality,
the forest was everything but scary. It was lovely, bathed in late
fall sunlight and glowing in reds and yellows. Every once in awhile
we passed by a scarecrow, a ghost made of an old sheet or a
hay-stuffed witch. It was just spooky enough for my 4-year-old
daughter and just corny enough to get many chuckles out of my
12-year-old son and his pal who tagged along with us. While the
haunted train only runs on weekends in October, the museum is a
must-visit for train lovers year round and features a number
of fun, family
centered events throughout the year.
For lunch, we headed to downtown La Porte, where we
ate sandwiches at an old-fashioned diner, B&J's American
Cafe. Not much has changed in this diner since it
opened in 1915. The kids loved the zinc countertops and the
old-fashioned soda fountain. We tucked into burgers, fries and
shakes, and saved room for the delicious pies. If you're heading
out of Chicago earlier in the morning, consider skipping breakfast
and heading straight here for a tasty diner-style
Finally, we headed to Garwood Orchards
to gather a few pumpkins, only to arrive and discover that
the Fuji apples were ripe for the picking! We grabbed a wagon and
headed out to the orchards.
My daughter loved that many of the apples were low
enough to the ground that she could just reach up and grab one from
the branch. With a little help, she also climbed the ladder to
reach some that were a bit higher up.
My son and his pal had a blast positioning and
climbing the taller ladders to reach the big Fujis that were hiding
in the upper branches.
The apples were so sweet and crispy; they tasted
We left La Porte with lots and lots of apples in
our bellies, a gallon of fresh apple cider, 10 pounds of apples,
and a few pumpkins and gourds in the trunk.
A fall day to La Porte makes for a beautiful and
fruitful family experience!
Amy Bizzarri is a writer, Chicago public school teacher and mom to two kids - a preschooler and a middle schooler - living in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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