INDIANAPOLIS | The first image many people considering a trip to Indiana will encounter this year is a view of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter County.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development announced Friday they selected the Northwest Indiana destination for the cover of the 2015 Indiana Travel Guide, because it's an unexpected amenity most travelers don't know about.

"Indiana Dunes is one of our most popular destinations, yet many are still surprised to discover Indiana has a beautiful beach along the south shore of Lake Michigan," Ellspermann said.

"The Indiana Dunes are consistently ranked as a top-five beach destination for families and, by featuring it on the cover, we expect to attract even more visitors to experience Indiana’s natural beauty."

The cover image shows three young women strolling hand-in-hand where the sand meets the water at West Beach, described as a "picture-perfect getaway."

The guide notes the Indiana Dunes region features 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline with sandy beaches for splashing, playing and relaxing.

Potential visitors also are told they can find towering sand dunes and more than 70 miles of hiking and biking trails through dunes, forests, marshes and prairies.

"It is a great honor to have Indiana Dunes selected for the cover of the 2015 Honest-to-Goodness Indiana Travel Guide," said Lorelei Weimer, executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism. "With the stunning cover image and the great information inside, the new guide will motivate even more travelers to check out the beautiful shoreline and other great attractions that more and more visitors are discovering."

The Indiana Travel Guide is a free publication widely distributed throughout the Midwest and provides comprehensive information on attractions, entertainment, special events, recreation, restaurants and lodging options throughout the state.

The guide also will be published as a mobile device application in coming weeks.

Additional state travel information is available online at VisitIndiana.com.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.