Here are a dozen ways to have fun in the region this summer:
1) Fly a kite. Find an open area or head to one of the region’s beaches to see how high you can make your kite go. You can find smaller kites available at the dollar store and more elaborate versions can be found at department and sporting goods stores.
2) Take a bike ride. Be safe and rather than riding in a road or having to cross busy intersections, take advantage of one of the region’s bike trails. Find more information on the Pennsey Greenway at www.indianatrails.org/pennsy_nwi.htm.
3) Visit Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland for a short hike or a peek at the indoor exhibits.
4) Enjoy some ice cream. Some great spots to try out are Gayety’s and Dairyville in Lansing, Dairy Belle in Hammond and Valpo Velvet in Valparaiso.
5) Go Bowling. On those rainy days when you can’t enjoy the outdoors, head in to a bowling alley for a little bit of fun. Go to www.kidsbowlfree.com to find places in your area that offer free bowling sessions in the summer.
6) Play at the park. Throughout the region, you’ll find lovely parks with great amenities, fun playground equipment and beautiful scenery. Some of our favorites are Erfert Park in Lansing, Centennial Park in Munster, Pheasant Hills Park in Dyer and Redar Park in Schererville.
7) The 49er Drive In. A drive-in movie experience is something this generation may not be familiar with. Check out this cool, nostalgic outdoor theater in Valparaiso. Also, check with local park districts on Movie in the Park nights.
8) The Port Drive-In restaurant. I was sad to see that the Blue Top Drive-In in Highland closed recently, but take the time to stop out in Chesterton at The Port Drive-In for a burger and shake delivered via car hop.
9) UPick. Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan are great places to visit a farm and pick your own fruit. Strawberry and cherry seasons are done, but blueberry season is here and peach and apple season are coming next month.
10) Munster Pool. I really miss having a community pool here in Lansing, but love spending lazy afternoons with my kids at the Munster Pool. It’s not huge and overcrowded like some of the modern water parks — perfect if you want to swim for a couple hours rather than an entire day.
11) Tyler’s Tender in Schererville. If you have fans of trains in your family, this cute choo-choo themed restaurant has model trains, a small train to ride and a train to deliver food at the counter seating. There’s also an arcade for older kids to enjoy. So, when the weather keeps you inside, think trains.
12) Hoosier Theater in Whiting. As a teen, I spent countless evenings at the Dolton Theater, which closed many years ago. While we now have huge theaters with a dozen screens, there aren’t many nostalgic theaters left. I love the character and feel of yesteryear at the Hoosier Theater, built in 1930.
Don’t feed the wildlife
Our family really enjoys spending time outdoors in the summer and one activity we’ve been taking part in, not realizing the negative effects, is saving stale crackers or bread and feeding it to local ducks and geese. In a recent article I wrote about picnic spots, I mentioned bringing along some extra bread for ducks. I received a couple of emails informing me of how harmful it is to feed bread and crackers to wildlife and that it is prohibited at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where you can be issued a citation for doing so.
I did some reading online about why it isn’t good to feed the wildlife (i.e. no nutrition in bread and crackers that can cause malnutrition, overpopulation, spread of disease.) This article explains it pretty well: http://birding.about.com/od/birdfeeders/a/feedingducksbread.htm