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The northwestern corner of Indiana, along the southern shore of mighty Lake Michigan, is an area that offers visitors a wonderful variety of cities, charming small towns, stretches of rural peace and natural beauty. From Hammond, on the edge of the great Chicago metropolis, to the small-town charm of Michigan City, the shore itself is a delight, but don’t neglect to explore further inland to see the farms and little towns that provide so many opportunities for fun and relaxation.

The South Shore is justly famous for its magnificent parks along the lake, including the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Indiana Dunes State Park. Stretching from just east of Gary to Michigan City, the combined 15,000 acres include dunes, oak savannas, marshes, prairies, rivers and forests, including more than 350 species of birds and 1,100 kinds of flowering plants. Go hiking, biking, fishing or just go swimming; in the winter enjoy cross-country skiing or view the beautiful shelf ice that builds up on this great lake. If you want to camp, there are 200 sites available, ranging from primitive (tent) areas to RV sites with electrical hook-up. Cabin rentals are also an option, or stay at a local motel while you explore the area. Washington Park, near Michigan City, is a local favorite, with life-guarded swimming along the sandy beaches, boating and fishing. The park also includes the South Shore’s only operating lighthouse, a historic rock garden and a splash park. There is even a charming 7-acre zoo—be sure to visit the river otters, where the children can go into an underwater tunnel with viewing windows so they can watch the otters at play.

Not a season goes by without something special to see and do. See the Sand Sculpture Contest at the Dunes State Park, experience the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival and the weekly cruise night of classic cars in Crown Point. There’s also the Lake County Fair and the Pierogi Fest in Whiting. Go-kart tracks, mini-golf and Maple Sugar Time celebration in the Dunes park are also great family fun. Of course, any time of year there are opportunities for great food and drink. The area is known for its many farm-to-fork restaurants and cafes, and you can also experience fine dining with a different twist in restaurants like Asparagus in Merrillville (pan-Asian cuisine), the Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake and Lucrezia Ristorante in Crown Point. Looking for a microbrewery with a great pub to sample their wares? There are so many that there’s even an app to guide you along the South Shore Brewery Trail, including news on upcoming brew festivals. The South Shore is Indiana’s special secret, but don’t keep it to yourself. Whether you’re on a road trip with friends or looking for a destination for a family vacation, the area offers a unique mix of natural beauty and small town charm, as well as heaps of things to see and dishes (and pints!) to taste.

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Eve Wierzbicki

Owner, Dig the Dunes •

Eve Wierzbicki is the owner of Dig the Dunes, a website and social media platform that highlights all the hidden treasures of NW Indiana and SW Michigan. (digthedunes.com). She is passionate about the outdoors and loves to get out and hit the beaches and trails in all seasons. She is currently on the board at Save the Dunes where she chairs the fundraising committee. Eve does marketing and promotion for many local events through Dig the Dunes and loves the idea of getting people to our area to experience the beaches, the local spots and al the fun happenings in the area.

Sara DeYoung

Executive Director, Remington Wolcott Community Development Corporation •

Sara is a writer, business owner, environmentalist and perpetual volunteer. She works for a nonprofit community and economic development organization and with the Newton County Park Board to promote and develop the natural and recreational resources of the area. She and her husband farm and own an excavating business, have two children and a chihuahua boxer mix. Sara believes in a strong cup of coffee, an excellent book and a nice dose of humor.

Dwayne Walker

Owner, ChicagoLand Popcorn •

Dwayne Walker has over 25 years of leadership experience expanding national sales channels and brands and guiding top-tier fortune companies.

Offering an uncommon blend of corporate operational and creative entrepreneurial strengths, Dwayne achieved exciting company and product launches and is recognized for his success in establishing and expanding distribution channels, revenues and profits.

After retiring from corporate America in August of 2013, Dwayne and his wife Mogda invested 13 months of planning, preparation and construction into the launch of their gourmet popcorn business, ChicagoLand Popcorn.

ChicagoLand Popcorn’s headquarters opened its doors on September 15, 2014 in Merrillville, Indiana on the heavily traveled section of US-30 between the I-65 expressway and Valparaiso. They are on 4-acres directly across the roadway from Albanese Confectionery Company & Outlet store, 2-miles west of Deep River Water Park, the largest Water Park in the ChicagoLand area, and 2-miles east of Westfield Southlake Mall, the largest shopping mall in the region.

Jeff Bogacki

Director of Group Sales, Chicago White Sox •

Jeff Bogacki is the Director of Group Sales for the Chicago White Sox, where he oversees the sales and marketing of Group Ticket Sales and Party Areas. Jeff joined the White Sox as an intern in November of 2004 and was hired on a as a full-time Account Executive in December of 2005. After the 2010 season he was promoted to Manager of Group Sales and most recently promoted to Direct of Group Sales. Jeff received his BA in Sport Administration from Ball State University. Jeff, his wife Jolene, and two boys (Blake & Jackson) are excited to share their South Shore recommendations with you.

Kaitlyn Hendricks

Sensory Scientist, Three Floyds Brewing Co. •

Kaitlyn has spent most of her life in Northwest Indiana, leaving the area to study at Indiana University. She also spent time in Ireland student teaching, where she fell in love with the brewery culture. When she returned to the region, she worked at Crown Brewing for five years and currently works at the internationally recognized 3 Floyds Brewing Company. Hendricks is a Sensory Scientist at the brewery and serves as the first female board member for the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

Hendricks collaborates with other local breweries and her dedication to the industry has earned her a place in the 20 Under 40 by the Times Media Group and the South Shore CVA's Outstanding Individual Contribution Award for excellence in the hospitality industry. When Hendricks and her husband are not traveling the world, she can be found on her canoe with some tasty beers.