12 Exciting Activities For Kids To Do In Northwest Indiana

things to do in northwest indiana for kids

Looking for some exciting activities to keep your kids entertained in Northwest Indiana? From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, there's never a dull moment for little ones in this exciting region. So, get ready to explore 12 of the most thrilling and family-friendly activities that Northwest Indiana has to offer. From wildlife encounters to amusement parks, this list has something for everyone! So, buckle up, and let's dive into the top 12 things that your kids will love to do in Northwest Indiana!

Activity Age Range Description
Zao Island All ages Mini-golf, go-karts, arcade, batting cages, and pizza
Indiana Dunes National Park All ages Beaches, hiking trails, and camping
Deep River Waterpark All ages Water slides, pools, and lazy river
Imagination Glen Park All ages Playgrounds, splash pad, and BMX bike track
Friendship Botanic Gardens All ages Botanical gardens with walking trails, pond, and outdoor sculptures
Challenger Learning Center Ages 5-18 STEM programs and simulated space missions
Buckley Homestead All ages Historical farm with tours and living history demonstrations
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens All ages Nature trails, gardens, and seasonal events
Albanese Candy Factory All ages Factory tours and candy shop
Portage Public Library All ages Children's programming and storytime


Explore the Dunes National Lakeshore

Source: friendsofsleepingbear.org

Northwest Indiana is an excellent location for kids of all ages to experience some of the best outdoor activities in the Midwest. One of the most exciting destinations in this area is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Here are some of the reasons why you should explore this natural wonderland on your next family vacation.

Location and History

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is located alongside the southern shore of Lake Michigan, only an hour's drive southeast of Chicago. This national park boasts an impressive 15 miles of beautiful beaches and 15,000 acres of diverse habitats, including sand dunes, forests, wetlands, and prairies.

The Indiana Dunes area has been a popular tourist destination for over a century. However, it was not until 1966 that the National Lakeshore was established by the U.S. Congress to preserve the natural and recreational values of the dunes.


The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has plenty of activities that the whole family can enjoy. For a full day's fun, pack a picnic or grill-out and spend a day on the beach. There are over ten beaches to choose from, and each one offers something different. You can go kayaking, swimming, or even fishing.

The park also features over 50 miles of trails with varying difficulty levels. You can take a leisurely stroll through the woods or hike the rugged dune landscape. For the more adventurous types, consider sandboarding or sledding in the dunes. Kids will love the exhilarating experience of sliding down the steep slopes of the sand dunes.

In addition to outdoor recreational activities, you can also participate in ranger-led programs designed for children. These programs include scavenger hunts, nature walks, and educational sessions about the park's plants and animals.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is an excellent place to explore for those who are interested in local history. The park has a dedicated facility, the Chellberg Farm, that is primarily a living history museum. The farm depicts the life of early 20th-century farmers in the dunes.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is an excellent destination for families looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway. With its beautiful beaches, diverse habitats, and plentiful recreational opportunities, the park has something for everyone. If you're looking for an enjoyable outdoor activity that your kids will enjoy, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is definitely worth your visit.


Visit the Deep River Waterpark

Source: www.visitindiana.com
Characteristic Description
NameDeep River Waterpark
TypeWater park in Merrillville, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.3 / 2,568
Address9001 E Lincoln Hwy, Crown Point, IN 46307
Phone(219) 947-7850
HoursFriday - 10 AM–5 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–5 PM
Sunday - 10 AM–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 10 AM–5 PM
Tuesday - Closed
Wednesday - Closed
Thursday - Closed

Northwest Indiana is a great place to take kids for a fun-filled day out. There are lots of family-friendly attractions to explore, but perhaps one of the best is the Deep River Waterpark.

Located in Merrillville, Indiana, this waterpark offers a wide variety of water-based activities that are guaranteed to keep kids entertained for hours on end. With waterslides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and more, the Deep River Waterpark is the perfect destination for families looking to beat the summer heat.

One of the highlights of the park is the thrilling Dragon's Den, a water coaster that takes riders through a maze of twists and turns before plunging them into a pool of water. For younger kids, there's the Buccaneer Bay, a pirate-themed area with smaller slides and water play features.

In addition to the slides and pools, the Deep River Waterpark also offers plenty of amenities to make your day as comfortable as possible. There are shaded areas for taking a break from the sun, as well as food and beverage options available throughout the park.

If you're looking to make a whole day of it, consider renting a cabana or a pavilion, which offer private spaces to relax and enjoy the park with your family. And for those who want to take a break from the water activities, the park offers a mini-golf course and go-karts.

All in all, the Deep River Waterpark is a fantastic destination for families in Northwest Indiana. With its wide range of water activities, amenities, and attractions, it's easy to spend an entire day here and still feel like there's more to explore. So grab your swimsuits and sunscreen, and head to Merrillville for a day of summer fun that your kids won't soon forget.


Take a train ride at the Hesston Steam Museum

Source: panoramanow.com
Characteristic Description
NameHesston Steam Museum
TypeMuseum in LaPorte County, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.7 / 690
Address1201 E 1000 N, La Porte, IN 46350
Phone(219) 778-2783
HoursFriday - Closed
Saturday - 11:30 AM–5 PM
Sunday - 11:30 AM–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 11:30 AM–5 PM
Tuesday - Closed
Wednesday - Closed
Thursday - Closed

Northwest Indiana is a great destination for families with kids. One of the best experiences you can have with your kids is to take a train ride at the Hesston Steam Museum.

Located in LaPorte, Indiana, the Hesston Steam Museum is a museum that focuses on the history of steam engines and their impact on society. The museum has a collection of steam-powered vehicles and machines that have been restored and preserved, giving visitors a glimpse into the past.

One of the highlights of the Hesston Steam Museum is the train rides. The museum has two steam locomotives that are used to run the train rides. The trains take visitors on a scenic trip around the museum's grounds, giving them a chance to see the steam engines and other exhibits up close.

The train ride lasts around 20 minutes and takes visitors through a wooded area, across streams and through open fields. The locomotives are impressive in their size and power, and the sound of the steam engine chugging along is mesmerizing.

The train ride is not just a fun experience for kids, but also educational. Children can learn about the history and science behind steam engines and how they work. The train conductor provides interesting information about the locomotives, the tracks, and how they are maintained.

Apart from the train ride, the Hesston Steam Museum has other activities that kids can enjoy. There is a playground, a petting zoo, and a museum store where visitors can buy souvenirs.

Overall, taking a train ride at the Hesston Steam Museum is a unique and unforgettable experience for families with kids. It combines history, science, and fun, making it a perfect destination for a day out.

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Tour the Indiana Dunes State Park

Source: confedmo.org

If you're looking for an adventure-filled day with your little ones, look no further than the Indiana Dunes State Park. Located in the northwest corner of Indiana, the park offers plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Begin your day by exploring the park's stunning beach. With 15 miles of sandy shoreline along Lake Michigan, you can spend hours building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, and taking a refreshing swim in the clear waters.

After a morning of beach fun, take a break for a picnic lunch at one of the park's designated areas. With plenty of tables and grills available, you can enjoy a family meal while taking in the beauty of the park's dunes and wooded areas.

If you're up for some hiking, the park has miles of trails that wind through its dunes and forests. These trails offer breathtaking views of the lake and the park's unique ecosystems. Look out for the park's resident wildlife, which includes deer, rabbits, and a variety of bird species.

One particularly popular hike is the 3 Dune Challenge. This challenging trail will take you up the highest dunes in the park, offering stunning views of the lake and surrounding areas. Although it's a tough climb, completing the 3 Dune Challenge is a great accomplishment for both kids and adults alike.

For a unique experience, the park offers guided tours of the Indiana Dunes. These tours offer a chance to learn about the history and ecology of the park, as well as providing opportunities to get up close and personal with its wildlife.

No matter how you choose to spend your day at the Indiana Dunes State Park, it's sure to be a memorable and exciting experience for the whole family. With so much natural beauty and adventure to explore, it's no wonder why this park is such a beloved destination for families in northwest Indiana.


Visit the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Source: www.fawilhelm.com
Characteristic Description
NameThe Children's Museum of Indianapolis
TypeChildren's museum in Indianapolis, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.7 / 14,104
Address3000 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone(317) 334-4000
HoursFriday - 10 AM–5 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–5 PM
Sunday - 10 AM–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 10 AM–5 PM
Tuesday - 10 AM–5 PM
Wednesday - 10 AM–5 PM
Thursday - 10 AM–8 PM

Northwest Indiana is a great place for families with kids. There are plenty of fun activities to do and exciting places to see. One of the most popular destinations for families in the area is the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. With over 120,000 square feet of exhibit space, this museum is one of the largest children's museums in the world.

The exhibits at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis are designed to be interactive, educational, and engaging for kids of all ages. From real-life dinosaurs to space exploration, there is something for everyone at this museum. Children can explore the world of paleontology in the Dinosphere exhibit, learn about history in the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit, and discover the wonders of outer space in the SpaceQuest Planetarium.

One of the most exciting exhibits for kids is the Hot Wheels: Race to Win exhibit. This exhibit is all about the world of Hot Wheels and features real-life cars, tracks, and obstacles that kids can play with. Kids can design their own cars, race against friends, and even test their driving skills on a virtual track.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis also features a number of hands-on exhibits that help kids learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Kids can explore the world of robotics in the Beyond Spaceship Earth exhibit, build their own creations in the ScienceWorks exhibit, and learn about the importance of water in the Take Me There: Greece exhibit.

In addition to all of the amazing exhibits, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis also hosts special events throughout the year. From holiday-themed activities to cultural celebrations, there is always something new and exciting happening at the museum.

Overall, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a must-visit destination for families with kids in Northwest Indiana. The museum provides an enriching and entertaining experience for kids and adults alike. With so many exhibits to explore and activities to participate in, it's no wonder that this museum is consistently rated as one of the best children's museums in the world.


Go skiing at Pines Peak Family Ski and Snowboard

Source: pikespeakoutdoors.org

If you're looking for a fun winter activity that the whole family can enjoy, head over to Pines Peak Family Ski and Snowboard in northwest Indiana. This ski resort offers a variety of slopes for skiiers of all skill levels, as well as snowboarding and tubing areas.

Pines Peak boasts 6 slopes, ranging from easy to difficult, so even if you're a beginner, you can still enjoy skiing down a gentle slope. More experienced skiers will enjoy the challenge of the black diamond trails. There are also 2 terrain parks for snowboarders and skiiers who like to do tricks.

One of the best things about Pines Peak is that it's affordable. Lift tickets are very reasonable, at around $30-$40 for adults and less for kids. You can also rent skis, snowboards, and helmets for a very reasonable price. If you're new to skiing or snowboarding, lessons are available for both adults and children.

Another great feature of Pines Peak is that they have a tubing hill. Tubing is a fun activity for all ages, and Pines Peak's tubing hill has two lanes. You can purchase tubing tickets separately or combine them with your lift tickets for a discounted price.

One thing to keep in mind is that Pines Peak is weather-dependent. If there hasn't been enough snowfall, the slopes may not be open. Be sure to check their website or social media pages for updates before making the trip.

Overall, Pines Peak Family Ski and Snowboard is a great option for a winter activity in northwest Indiana. It offers a variety of slopes for skiiers of all levels, as well as a fun tubing hill. Plus, it's affordable and family-friendly. So why not grab your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes this winter?


Visit Washington Park Zoo

Source: www.wmta.org
Characteristic Description
NameWashington Park Zoo
TypeZoo in Michigan City, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Address115 Lake Shore Dr, Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone(219) 873-1510
HoursFriday - 10 AM–3 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–3 PM
Sunday - 10 AM–3 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 10 AM–3 PM
Tuesday - 10 AM–3 PM
Wednesday - 10 AM–3 PM
Thursday - 10 AM–3 PM

If you're looking for something fun to do with your kids in Northwest Indiana, look no further than the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City! This family-friendly attraction is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, and with over 90 different species of animals, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Upon arriving, you'll be greeted by some of the friendliest zookeepers around - they'll be happy to answer any questions you have and help guide you on your journey through the park. The zoo is split up into several different sections, each with their own unique animals to observe.

One of the most popular areas of the park is the African Safari, where you'll see animals such as zebras, giraffes, and rhinos up close. Your little ones will be thrilled to see these majestic creatures, and you'll enjoy the opportunity to take some amazing photos.

Another must-see exhibit at the zoo is the Australian Adventure, which features animals native to the land down under. Kangaroos, wallabies, and emus are just a few of the animals you'll see here - and make sure to stop by the kookaburra exhibit, where you can hear their distinctive calls.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the Washington Park Zoo has plenty of other attractions for kids to enjoy. The zoo offers animal encounters, where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the animals. There's also a train ride that takes visitors on a tour of the park, and a playground where kids can run around and let off some energy.

If you're planning on spending a full day at the zoo, be sure to take advantage of the on-site concessions - they offer everything from burgers to ice cream, so you won't have to worry about hungry little ones.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a fun and educational experience for your family, the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City is a great choice. With a wide variety of animals and attractions to enjoy, you're sure to have a memorable day with your kids. So pack up the car and head on over for an adventure you won't soon forget!


Try your hand at archery at Marengo Cave

Source: www.visitindiana.com

If you're looking for a family-friendly activity in Northwest Indiana, why not try your hand at archery at Marengo Cave? Located in Marengo, Indiana, this unique attraction offers an archery range for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

Archery is a great way to improve hand-eye coordination, focus, and patience. Marengo Cave's archery range is open to visitors from April to October each year, and is perfect for families with kids looking to try something new and exciting.

Before heading out to the range, visitors will receive a safety briefing from trained instructors. They'll learn how to properly hold and shoot a bow and arrow, as well as any important safety rules to keep in mind. Once the briefing is complete, it's time to start shooting!

The archery range at Marengo Cave features a variety of target types, including traditional bullseye targets as well as more challenging objects like foam animals and novelty targets. Kids (and adults!) can choose to shoot from a variety of distances to increase the difficulty level as they improve their skills.

In addition to the archery range, Marengo Cave offers a variety of other attractions for families to enjoy. Visitors can go on a guided cave tour, explore the hiking trails, or even pan for gemstones at the on-site mining company.

Overall, archery at Marengo Cave is a unique and exciting family-friendly activity, perfect for visitors of all ages. So next time you're in Northwest Indiana with your kids, be sure to add this attraction to your itinerary!


Go on a hike at Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Preserve

Source: nwi.life
Characteristic Description
NameCoffee Creek Preserve
TypeHiking area in Chesterton, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.7 / 908
Address2401 Village Point, Chesterton, IN 46304
Phone(219) 926-1842

Northwest Indiana is an amazing place full of fun and exciting activities for kids. Among those activities, one of the best things you can do as a family is to go on a hike at the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Preserve.

Located in Chesterton, Indiana, the preserve area spans across 157 acres of rolling terrain, including forests, wetlands, and open meadows. It offers over five miles of well-maintained hiking and walking trails to explore, making it a premier destination for families who love to hike.

The preserve is home to a variety of animal species, including several species of birds, whitetail deer, fox, muskrats, coyotes, and more. Near the entrance, you'll find an educational center with interactive displays and educational exhibits about the local flora and fauna.

As you hike along the trails, you'll see beautiful wildflowers blooming along the paths during the warmer months. There are plenty of benches along the trail, so you can take a break and appreciate the scenery. There are also great photo opportunities, so don't forget to take your camera!

If your family enjoys birdwatching, Coffee Creek is a great place to spot local bird species like the Great Blue Heron and Red-tailed Hawk. Additionally, the preserve offers wildlife programs and nature walks throughout the year.

The Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Preserve is open from dawn till dusk daily, and admission is free. So there is no reason to miss out on the fun! Whether you’re looking for an afternoon adventure or a full day of exploring, Coffee Creek has a little something for everyone. Just remember to dress appropriately for the weather, bring plenty of water, and wear comfortable shoes.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a fun and educational experience in Northwest Indiana, head on over to Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Preserve for an enjoyable hike with your family. It’s an experience that your kids will cherish for a lifetime.


Have fun at Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Source: www.southshorecva.com
Characteristic Description
NameSky Zone Trampoline Park
TypeAmusement center in Schererville, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.2 / 1,512
Address1035 Eagle Ridge Dr, Schererville, IN 46375
Phone(219) 440-7587
HoursFriday - 3–8:30 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–7:30 PM
Sunday - 10 AM–8 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - Closed
Tuesday - 3–8 PM
Wednesday - 3–8 PM
Thursday - 3–8 PM

Northwest Indiana offers an array of family-friendly activities that will keep your kids entertained, but one of the best ways to get them active and having fun is by taking them to Sky Zone Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone Trampoline Park provides a fun and safe environment for children to enjoy themselves. Unlike outdoor trampolines and bounce houses, this indoor park, located in Schererville, allows kids to jump and play on trampolines without worrying about inclement weather, injuries, or the time of day.

Your children can jump, bounce, fly, and climb their way through a range of exciting activities. At Sky Zone Trampoline Park, your kids can try everything from classic dodgeball, basketball, and volleyball to more innovative activities like the Foam Zone and SkyHoops. With a variety of fun and physical attractions available, there is truly something for everyone.

In addition to the jumping activities, Sky Zone Trampoline Park also has an arcade section for kids to enjoy when they need a break from the trampolines. They can challenge their friends, test their skills, and even earn tickets to redeem for prizes.

To make the most of your visit, consider purchasing tickets online to avoid waiting in line, and make sure your kids wear comfortable clothing that allows freedom of movement while jumping. For added safety, all participants are required to wear SkySocks, which are available for purchase at the park.

Sky Zone Trampoline Park is an excellent option for families looking for a fun and active day out. Regardless of the weather or time of year, your children are guaranteed to have a great time jumping, laughing, and playing at this entertainment facility in northwest Indiana.

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Go on a family bike ride on the Marquette Trail

Source: www.nwitimes.com

If you're looking for a fun outdoor activity to do with your family in Northwest Indiana, look no further than the Marquette Trail. This scenic trail is perfect for a family bike ride or hike, and offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure.

The Marquette Trail runs approximately 20 miles from Michigan City to Porter, offering beautiful views of the Indiana Dunes along the way. The trail is paved and relatively flat, making it a great option for families with kids of all ages.

To start your adventure, head to one of the trailheads located throughout the area. Try the Michigan City trailhead near Washington Park, where you can enjoy a view of the lake before setting out. Or, head to Porter and start your ride from the Indiana Dunes National Park Visitor Center.

Once on the trail, you'll be surrounded by lush greenery, wildflowers, and stunning views of Lake Michigan. You may even spot some wildlife along the way, such as deer or birds.

If you need a break along the way, there are plenty of rest stops and picnic areas along the trail. Take some time to enjoy a snack or simply relax and take in the scenery.

One of the highlights of the Marquette Trail is its proximity to the Indiana Dunes. If you're up for a detour, consider taking a side trip to explore the dunes. You can even rent a sandboard and try sandboarding down the dunes – a thrilling experience for kids and adults alike.

Overall, the Marquette Trail is a fantastic option for families looking to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Northwest Indiana. Whether you choose to bike or hike, you're sure to have a memorable adventure on this scenic trail.


Try your luck at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City

Source: www.chicagotribune.com
Characteristic Description
NameBlue Chip Casino Hotel Spa
TypeCasino in Michigan City, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4 / 9,783
Address777 Blue Chip Dr, Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone(219) 879-7711
HoursFriday - Open 24 hours
Saturday - Open 24 hours
Sunday - Open 24 hours
Monday(Memorial Day) - Open 24 hours
Tuesday - Open 24 hours
Wednesday - Open 24 hours
Thursday - Open 24 hours

Northwest Indiana is a great place for families with kids as it offers a wide range of activities suitable for all ages. One exciting activity is heading to Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, which is not just for adults but also an excellent destination for kids.

The casino offers a variety of games that children will find entertaining, including video games, classic arcade games, and even slot machines. While the children are indulging in the games, parents can try their luck at the casino tables or slot machines nearby.

To ensure the well-being of the children, the casino provides Family Time Out wristbands. These wristbands allow parents to set time restrictions on their children's access to the gaming room and indicate that the children are under parental supervision.

But the fun doesn't stop there. Blue Chip Casino features an incredible outdoor pool area that offers a perfect way to cool off and have fun on hot summer days. The pool has different sections for kids of all ages, and the lifeguard on duty ensures the safety of everyone.

If your family enjoys live music and entertainment, Blue Chip Casino also features exciting performances and shows. From comedians to musical acts, the casino has something to offer everyone in the family.

Additionally, Blue Chip Casino has a vibrant and enticing array of dining options suited to different tastes, including family favorites like Shake Shack, Five Guys, and Ben & Jerry's.

In conclusion, Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana, is an ideal destination for family fun. From gaming for kids to a wide range of dining options and entertainment, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Moreover, parents do not have to worry about their children's safety at this family-friendly casino. It is worth a visit with the family for an unforgettable experience.

Frequently asked questions

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Northwest Indiana. Your kids can go hiking in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, have fun at Deep River Waterpark in Crown Point, or explore the trails and wildlife at Munster's Centennial Park.

Yes, there are many indoor activities and attractions for kids in Northwest Indiana. Your family can visit the expansive exhibits at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, explore the fascinating displays at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, or get creative at Color Me Mine in Merrillville.

Northwest Indiana has many educational and historical sites to take kids to. You can visit the Indiana Aviation Museum in Valparaiso, explore the historic Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, or learn about the local ecology of the region at the Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in Valparaiso.

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