Weekend Dog-Friendly Road Trip to Indiana
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, I will always offer my readers an unbiased and honest account of my experiences. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Angel Nutter
Dexter and his BFF Levi loved their time in Northern Indiana last year, so we decided to travel to the South Shore once again. The South Shore of Lake Michigan is the perfect dog-friendly destination. Last year we saw so many fun dog-friendly attractions, but we had much more to explore.
Our first stop was Lemon Lake County Park. Lemon Lake is located near Crown Point, Indiana. This 403-acre park is surrounded by impressive woodlands and even included 5 courses of 18-hole championship disc golf course. We enjoyed walking along the paved trail around the lake. Dexter was ready to hop in, but I had to keep him out as it was still a bit too cold for toes in.
Located inside the park is Dogwood Run Dog Park. This is an off-leash dog facility offering a large, 14-acre fenced area for dogs to play and romp. If you are visiting the dog park for the first time, please bring a copy of your dog’s veterinary records and check in at the gate.
After strolling along the lake and checking out the dog park, we headed to Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest (formerly Taltree). When traveling with dogs, it’s a lot of fun to find large and interesting places to walk. The dogs really seem to enjoy the freedom of sniffing the new grounds. I always wonder what’s going through their minds.
Gabis offers 300 acres of great sniffing opportunities for the boys. A large oak preserve of formal gardens, woodlands, wetlands, prairies, hiking trails, and even goats and turkeys. Dogs are allowed everywhere on the grounds except the Railway Garden.
While we were walking along the paths, we were drawn to the Children’s Adventure Garden. There were so many colorful and fun pots, decorations, and activities. The dogs really thought it was neat to see the goats and turkeys in their coops. I’ll bet the kids have a field day in their garden, especially when spring rolls around and everything is in bloom.
Chris and I were getting hungry, so we headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Third Coast Spice Cafe. Third Coast Spice Cafe not only has a dog-friendly patio, but their food is amazing! The cafe goes out of their way to source foods free of artificial colors, flavors, antibiotics, and hormones, and only uses the best ingredients. They provide fresh foods for every diet.
The weather was a bit rainy and cool, so we decided to leave the pups in the car and parked next to the cafe’s window. When I’m traveling, I always try to order items that are a bit different from my normal fare. I thought the Mediterranean chicken sandwich sounded like a winner. Swiss sourdough bread, chicken breast, artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, feta cheese, and hummus spread made this sandwich divine. Chris was a bit daring and ordered the BYO buffalo burger. She requested her lean bison patty topped off with caramelized onions, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes on a pretzel roll. Another top-notch meal under our belts.
Our next adventure was going to be a dog-friendly store, Bass Pro Shops in Portage Indiana. Most Bass Pro Shops are dog-friendly. I have been taking Dexter to various Bass Pro Shops since he was a small puppy. Our family loves to fish and boat, making Bass Pro an ideal dog-friendly store to visit.
Dexter and Levi had a great time looking at the large fish aquarium and getting pets and scratches from both the staff and guests. Although we didn’t try it, this location also has an indoor and outdoor restaurant, Islamorada Fish Company. Dogs are allowed on the fully covered patio. A guest told me the food is amazing!
After a full day of exploring the South Shore, we were beat and ready to head to our dog-friendly hotel, Home2 Suites by Hilton. We stayed at this amazing hotel last year and couldn’t wait to snuggle into the queen-sized Serta Suite Dreams® beds with microfiber sheets.
Home2 Suites by Hilton in Merrillville is conveniently located near restaurants, retail stores, attractions, and a quick hop to I-65 and US 30. For me, I’m all about the large space of our room and a large, grassy potty area for the dogs. Each room also is equipped with an in-suite kitchen with a sink, dishwasher, full-size refrigerator/freezer, microwave, cookware, plates, cups, and utensils. The full kitchen and refrigerator make Home2 Suites perfect for preparing Dexter and Levi’s fresh food.
It didn’t take long for us all to fall asleep. In the morning, the dogs accompanied us downstairs to the Inspired Table™ for a complimentary breakfast buffet. This hot breakfast buffet was filled with artisan-style breakfast sandwiches, freshly baked multigrain waffles, cereals, juices, eggs, and a large variety of toppings for your hot cereal or waffles.
After our satisfying breakfast, we packed our bags for our journey back to Ohio. However, our adventure through the South Shore wasn’t over yet. We headed to Anderson’s Winery in Valparaiso, Indiana. Anderson’s Winery is dog-friendly and even has a house cat named Bean. There is an outdoor sitting area among the grapevines that are pet-friendly. Anderson’s Winery is a great place to relax and sip on wine and even have a wine picnic. You can order up a flatbread pizza, homemade soup, or cheese and crackers, all while chilling with your dog. We had a nice time looking at all the great wines and gifts they had for sale. The pups enjoyed the attention and thought it was fun looking for Bean.
We continued touring Valparaiso and found ourselves at Sage Restaurant on the famous Lincoln Highway. This chic restaurant serves up handcrafted entrees and a great coffee. Sage offers a dog-friendly patio, so the boys had a nice rest as Chris and I sipped our coffee as we did a little people watching.
The dogs were ready for a stroll and snoop, so we wondered along Central Park Plaza. The town plaza has a nice paved trail and plenty of grass for the dogs to investigate. We had to stop and pose with the Orville Redenbacher statue. Orville Redenbacher lived in Valparaiso when he developed his famous gourmet popping corn. The town still celebrates him with a yearly popcorn festival in September.
Our final stop along the South Shore was Third Coast Spice Cafe. Their food is always so flavorful, we had to go back for seconds. Since it was still chilly, we decided to leave the pups in the car again. One day, they will get to experience the hospitality of the cafe firsthand.
Chris chose the garden vegetarian omelet. The local, cage-free eggs were mixed with caramelized onions, roasted red bell peppers, balsamic tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, and Swiss cheese. Let me just say, you can’t go wrong when ordering from Third Coast Spice Cafe. I ordered up The Peggy and fries. This delectable sandwich was stuffed with smoked turkey, provolone cheese, balsamic tomatoes, spinach, roasted red bell pepper, and cilantro-lime mayonnaise on a pretzel roll. Seriously. If it’s possible, it even tasted better than it sounds.
Once again, we had such a lovely time along South Shore, Indiana. We can’t wait to visit again.
When planning your dog-friendly South Shore Indiana getaway, visit AlongtheSouthShore.com for helpful advice, brochures, and coupons.
Do you travel with your dog? Tell me in the comments.
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