Sunny beaches, rustling grasses and woodsy campgrounds are the claim to fame at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore which stretches along 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Swimming is allowed anywhere along the expanse. A short walk away from the beaches, several hiking paths crisscross the sand and woodlands. The best are the Bailly-Chellberg Trail (2.5 miles) that winds by a still operating 1870s farm, and the Heron Rookery Trail (2 miles), where blue herons flock. Oddly, all this natural bounty lies smack-dab next to smoke-belching factories and steel mills, which you'll also see at various vantage points.
Stop at the park visitor center for beach details and to pick up hiking, biking and birding maps.