Location: The National Lakeshore contains over 13,000 acres, not all contiguous. Get yourself a map at the visitor's center at the corner of US 12 and Kemil Road, between Michigan City and Gary.
Description: Indiana's only National Park, along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, is an attempt to preserve the unique sand dunes ecosystem that is concentrated along the southern and eastern shores of the lake. Yes, this is a great place to see migratory birds in the spring. Yes, it's a great place to study an unusual ecosystem. Yes, it offers remarkable insights into the interaction of waves, water, and stone in a land sculpted by the last ice age. But, hey, loosen up!! This is your childhood dream come true--an ocean, right here in Indiana, with miles of sandy beach perfect for sand castles. So have some fun, dammit! Try climbing Mount Baldy without falling down--a huge dune of deep, loose sand. Go swim in the lake--it finally gets warm (sort of) sometime during July. Then, when you've worn yourself out, you have my permission to get serious and learn stuff about biotic succession. Also try to get a reservation for the tour of Pinhook Bog - it is a fantastic place, and you can't get there any other way.
Nearby Points of Interest: Little Calumet-Langeluttig Marsh; Deep River Nature Preserve; Indiana Dunes State Park . The nearby town of Chesterton has a shop entirely devoted to the Wizard of Oz (movie version).
Cautions: Swimming in the lake is often verboten due to high coliform bacteria counts.
Ownership: US Dept. of the Interior Parks Department