Rating 4.0 (45) Overall, there's a bit of fun, but not much. Unless you're in the area, it's not worth doing everything possible. In short, absolutely, but with some caveats. If you're visiting Indiana Dunes to enjoy the beaches and water, you'll want to plan your visit during the months of May through September.
Just a heads up: the park's configuration is a little different and can be a bit confusing when planning a trip for first-time visitors. To walk through the steep sand dunes of the forest is to experience one of the best mixed topographical metaphors of Mother Nature and also to have your calves remind you of their daily contribution. My two favorite Indiana Dunes spots, in addition to the spectacular Trail 9, where the wind has eroded the sand at the bases of several trees and exposed the roots, making the trees appear to be tiptoeing away from the trail, were at both ends of the park. From the Nature Center parking lot, those who dare can go out and walk Trail 9, a challenging route that crosses a maze of dune progressions and tree-covered areas with varied terrain to give it an extra kick in the ass.
Another great thing to do at Indiana Dunes State Park, especially if you're visiting with children, is to visit the Nature Center. If you like the outdoors, you won't be short of things to see and do at Indiana Dunes State and National Parks. The park is comprised of state and national parks, with beautiful beaches and concentrations of sand dunes in each of the park's areas. If you'd like to enjoy the parks, but you're not very interested in camping, there are also plenty of hotels in the park area for you to stay in.
This is the biodiverse part of the park that, in the late 19th century, was the field laboratory of ecological pioneer and University of Chicago botanist Henry Chandler Cowles. Known as the most dynamic of the dunes in the area, Mount Baldy is located at the east end of the park. One of my favorite things to do at Indiana Dunes State and National Parks is walking among the gigantic sand dunes. Unlike many other places in the National Park System, it's very easy to get to this one if you fly to Chicago and rent a car if you're outside the driving distance.
They have a couple of short films that teach about various aspects of the park if you're lucky enough to see a clip. Other than that, be sure to take some time to learn the history of the dunes, from the legend of Diana of the Dunes to the Ball Mason jar factory. When you park your car at Baldy's base, you encounter the sight of mature oak trees whose upper two-thirds stick out of the dune, as if swallowed.