Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Pinhook Bog Dunes National Lakeshore
Tryon Farm Guest House
Garwood Orchards & Farm
Simplify, simplify." That was Henry David Thoreau's
advice, but Chicago-area parents don't have to go all the way to
Walden Pond to escape the complexities of urban life. The simple
pleasures of farmland and wilderness abound in Michigan City, Ind.,
just 60 miles away.
Our family's visit to Michigan City began with a hike up
126-foot Mount Baldy at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. My
two daughters, 9 and 6, ran, rolled and bounced down the sandy face
of the dune all the way to the beach, then climbed back up so they
could roll down again. "I could do this all day!" the oldest
Instead, we opted to rinse off and explore a few of the
area's less vertical landscapes. At the Heron Rookery, we looked
for herons and other water birds that feed in the Little Calumet
River. We had hoped to check out the carnivorous plants of Pinhook
Bog, but our days in Indiana didn't coincide with a ranger-led tour
(visitors to the bog must be accompanied by a park
Happily, nearby Cowles Bog-properly a fen, not a bog-was
available to visit, as were the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg
Farm, two historic sites maintained by the National Park Service.
Each fall on the third weekend in September, the homestead and farm
host the popular Duneland Harvest Festival, which features farming
and craft demonstrations by re-enactors, plus hay rides, food and
We bedded down for the night at Tryon Farm Guest House,
where the kids met the innkeeper's chickens, played on the tire
swing behind the house and wound through a rock labyrinth while I
relaxed in the outdoor shower, set in a treehouse-like enclosure
behind the back stairs.
The next afternoon, we stopped by Garwood Orchard, a
produce market and U-pick farm, where we took a breezy wagon ride
from the main building out to the picking area and back. The sun
was melting into the Chicago skyline by the time we drove home,
soothed and energized by our reconnection to nature, to enjoy the
fruits of our labors.
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