Spend a day in nature

Poet Carl Sandburg found inspiration at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for good reason. Tucked amid hulking steel mills are 150,000 acres of some of the most diverse plant species in the nation and eight sand dune beaches that stretch from Portage to Michigan City.

Spring is a great time to visit because it’s not too hot or crowded, says Bruce Rowe, public information officer. But don’t bother bringing bathing suits since Lake Michigan will still be too cold even to wade in.

He suggests visiting the lakefront, particularly at West Beach, on North County Line Road in Portage, or Mount Baldy, on U.S. 12 in Michigan City, and trying some hiking. Families might find West Beach an easier walk since it features a boardwalk trail and wooden steps. Active kids will especially love climbing the 126-foot-high sand dune at Mount Baldy, he says.

But don’t limit yourself to just the beaches or you’ll miss some of the treasures in the woodland areas. Rowe says one of the nicest areas to see spring woodland flowers is near the Heron Rookery where you might be treated to Great Blue herons flying overhead. At the historical Chellberg Farm, on Mineral Springs Road near U.S. 20 in Porter, kids can interact with the farm animals. The trails there are packed wood chips, so pushing a stroller or wheelchair can be difficult.

Start at the visitor’s center, at Ind. 49 and Munson Road, Porter, or go online at www.nps.gov/indu for other ideas.

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