Road Trip: The South Shore of Indiana

The South Shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana is home to many entertaining and interactive places to visit with the kids. Here are some places to visit with your family the next time you’re looking for a quick northern Indiana getaway!


Mascot Hall of Fame

One of the more unique museums in Indiana, the Mascot Hall of Fame is dedicated to celebrating the art and science of sports mascots. All ages will find something engaing about the museum, but it is especially geared toward kids. It has lots of playful and interactive exhibits, and blends education, entertainment and sports history, all in one fun space.

The museum pays tribute to the role that mascots play in sports culture and events, recognizing them as ambassadors for their teams and as beloved, often iconic, figures in the hearts of fans. Through its exhibits, the Mascot Hall of Fame showcases the creativity, athleticism, and spirit of these characters.

Visitors to the Mascot Hall of Fame can engage with a wide array of interactive displays and experiences. These include activities such as designing and performing as a mascot, learning about the history of famous mascots, and understanding the behind-the-scenes work that goes into being a mascot.


Albanese Candy Factory

Ready to be as happy as a kid in a candy shop? Then a visit to Albanese Candy Factory is a must! Albanese has been making iconic gummies, chocolates and candies in Indiana for more than 30 years, and their factory in Merrilville houses a head-spinning amount of sweets for your purchasing pleasure.

The store offers thousands of options including bulk candy, nostalgic candy, nuts and mixes, gift items, and of course the World’s Best Gummies and chocolates. They even offer samples of their delicious creations. Although the word “factory” is in the name of the store, there are no factory tours. However, there are windows located around the store that look into the factory. If you look closely, you might be able to see people at work making delicious treats!


Bellaboo’s Play & Discovery Center

Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center offers fun, self-directed activities for children from infancy through age nine. Developed by the Lake County Parks and Recreation Department in Indiana, Bellaboo’s mission is to provide kids with learning opportunities while playing. There are over 20 unique areas for children to play, imagine, and learn at Bellaboo’s.

Families can enjoy outdoor adventures, like digging for fossils in the dinosaur sand pit, learning how to care for a garden, driving a pedal car, riding around Busy Boo Avenue, and climbing inside Bellaboo’s handmade tree house.

Indoor activities include hands-on learning fun, like a water room with water tables, a child-sized supermarket, pizza parlor, and other areas for imagination play in the pretend village.  There is also a huge indoor playground plus a baby zone for the youngest guests. 

BellaBoo's Children's Play & Discovery Center

Indiana Dunes

On Lake Michigan’s southern shore, Indiana Dunes State Park offers natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and relaxation. The 2,000-acre park is known for its sand dunes, diverse ecosystems, and lake views. It’s a memorable destination for all ages with various activities and beautiful landscapes.

The park’s main attraction is its 3-mile sandy beach on Lake Michigan. Families can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking along the shore.

The park offers camping sites, RV sites, and modern restroom facilities. Nearby lodging options include hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. The park’s Nature Center provides interactive exhibits and educational programs for children.

Fair Oaks Farm

A little farther down south is Fair Oaks Farm, a working farm that combines education, food, and lots of fun for families. Located just off I-65, about halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago, this Indiana hidden gem is a sprawling farmstead that offers a one-of-a-kind experience for all ages. The farm showcases local agriculture, sustainable farming practices, animal encounters and delicious farm-made food.

The Fair Oaks Farms campus is an all-in-one destination. It includes a hotel, interactive museums, daily tours, a farm-to-table restaurant, a cafe, an ice cream shop, a nature trail, and lots more.

Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe is the editor of Indy's Child and Southwest Ohio Parent magazines. She has a BA in Journalism from California State University Northridge, and has been involved in the print and digital publishing world for most of her life. Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole traded the city and sun for corn and creeks, and now lives in central Indiana with her husband, two sons and Collie. Her latest book for children, “All About Me! Art Journal” was published in 2022 by Walter Foster Jr. In her spare time, she likes traveling with her family, enjoying good food and drink, volunteering at her children’s schools and around her community, and practicing yoga.

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