By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 26, 2018 at 9:02 AM

You’ve been to Bradford Beach, you’ve walked the dunes at Kohler-Andrae, you’ve camped at Harrington Beach and you’ve done Door County to death, but you still want a Lake Michigan outdoor adventure. Why not head south and check out the beautiful Indiana Dunes?

Just past Chicago, along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes State Park is located in the larger Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

While there’s no admission fee to the National Lakeshore, there is a daily user fee for the state park, but it’s just $12 for out-of-state cars.

Here are five great reasons to check it out.

1. Lake Michigan

Not only can you get a new perspective on a familiar friend, you can rent boats and jet skis at Marina Shores in Portage, as well as kayaks and canoes at Miller’s Marine in Portage. Stoke Riders in Porter rents paddleboards, skimboards and kiteboards, too. Wanna really dive into Lake Michigan? runs dives down to a 1922 shipwreck located near the state park.

2. Beach

The sandy shore at the state park is a great summer playground. USA Today called it one of the 10 best freshwater beaches in the country, Coastal Living Magazine named it as one of the 10 best beaches and Parents Magazine dubbed it one of the 10 best family beaches. And it’s got a gorgeous 1929-30 pavilion (see below).

3. Trails

There are great hiking trails not only in the state park but throughout the entire national lakeshore area, too. If you’re up for a challenge, 3 Dune Challenge. A 1.5-mile trail connects the tallest dunes – Mt. Tom (192 feet above the lake), Mt. Holden (184 feet) and Mt. Jackson (176). On the trails you’ll traverse forests, beach and other lakeshore habitats.

4. Architecture

When you enter the state park, you’ll pass through some lovely art deco gatehouses and then, at the beach, you’ll find the stunning pavilion, which has been undergoing renovations recently.

During the season, the brick building is open, offering snacks and restrooms. When the renovation is complete, there will also be a restaurant with rooftop dining, a banquet space, programming and exhibits on history, too.

Don’t forget to drive east out of the state park, too, to visit the Century of Progress homes – built as model homes for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair – along the lakefront in Beverly Shores. The homes are typically open for visits each October.

5. Camping

The state park has a campground that is a quick walk from the shore and also has access to many of the trails. It makes a great base for a dunes visit.

Information on all of this stuff and more can be found online at or in person at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, 1215 N. State Rd. 49, in Porter.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.