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From Chicago, let’s head east into the Hoosier State. Northwest Indiana presents an eclectic mix of natural beauty and good old-fashioned Midwest warmth. Best of all, this tour winds up in the RV Capital of the World!
After leaving Chicago, head south on I-90, then I-80/94 east to enter northwest Indiana. Be sure to allow some extra travel time here or pass through at an off-hour to avoid the heavy traffic. As the locals say, “Chicago has two seasons: Winter and Construction.” Beware the latter as you make your way east, transitioning over to I-80/90. Your first stop should be the town of Portage, where you can jump head first, climb, roll down, etc. into the famed Indiana Dunes. Today, nearly 20,000 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline consists of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the adjacent Indiana Dunes State Park. Take your pick, they’re equally impressive. Here, the sand dunes, some up to nearly 200 feet high, sprawl as far the eye can see. This landscape is truly alive as the dunes are constantly being sculpted by the winds off the lake. It is one of the Midwest’s finest natural treasures, and the two parks combined offer endless opportunities for hiking, swimming, picnicking, and wildlife watching.
La Porte, Indiana, is our next stop. It’s a few miles south of I-80/90 on Hwy 35, but this little town will give you a taste of northern Indiana’s fascination with the automobile. Check out the popular Door Prairie Museum and explore more than 100 years of motorized toys. Let’s keep moving east along I-80/90 ‘til we reach the town of South Bend. Of course, anyone who knows college football will tell you this is the home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. But don’t think this college football-obsessed town is a mere one-trick pony (although the College Football Hall of Fame here is a must-see). Check out the Studebaker National Museum or the South Bend Regional Museum of Art. But, of course, much of the city’s pride is in its beloved University of Notre Dame. Be sure to sign up for a walking tour here; it’s one of the nation’s finest and most beloved institutions of higher learning.
From here, head south on US-31 until you reach the town of Plymouth. This historic town is a great place to spend an afternoon, especially within the town’s splendid network of city parks, each with its own unique signature. If you find yourself still exploring Plymouth come sundown, head over to the Tri-Way Drive-In Theater for a double feature; it’s one of only a handful of such theaters left in the state. From Plymouth, head east along US-30 till you reach the town of Warsaw, capital of Indiana’s Lake District, you’ll discover a charming collection of lakes that serve as popular getaway destinations for regional folks. One local “fave” is Tippecanoe Lake, Indiana’s deepest natural lake.
Let’s finish up our Indiana tour by heading north on State Hwy 15 to the town of Elkhart, the RV Capital of the World. Today, Elkhart is home to nearly three-dozen RV and mobile home companies, including Coachmen RV and Holiday Rambler. Without question, your first stop here has to be the RV Hall of Fame, which has recently moved into a larger facility. Another fun activity for like-minded folk is to take a tour of some of the many RV plants in and around Elkhart. Hey, maybe your rig was built here! Most tours are free.