On Tuesday morning we loaded up our car with sunscreen and a picnic lunch and drove 1.5 hours north to check out the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore. We had zero expectations and figured it would make a fun day trip; we were blown away at what we found. There is a very good chance we will make time at the dunes a summer tradition.
I told Emily when she woke up we were going to drive to a beach and see lots of sand and water which both make her list of favorite things. She talked the whole way up about “mommy sand. daddy sand. emily sand. mommy water. daddy water. emily water”, with lots of affirmatives from the front seat.
We made a stop at the visitors center and watched the introductory movie and then paid our $7 entrance fee to get into the National Park. We had a difficult time getting Emily to leave the parking lot – the sand there was just too tempting.
After 5-10 minutes of letting her play in the shallow sand and collect and bury rocks, Andrew picked her up to help her see the really big hill of sand. It was really difficult to walk on so he threw Emily on his shoulders and ran up about 3/4 of the way. We both held her hands and helped her up the rest. It was a decent workout!
We played at the top in the shade for awhile. Andrew introduced Emily to the joys of burying our hands in the sand. She also loved picking the sand up and slowly dropping it. Andrew showed her how to make a funnel out of his hands so the sand goes down a hole.
We wandered through a sandy hiking trail (with lots of stops for Emily to play in the sand and pick up and bury rocks) and ended up on the other side of the beach. I walked Emily down the giant sand dune while Andrew took some pictures. Emily and I stood at the waters edge and looked at the waves as they came crashing over our feet. Emily loved when the water would come up and she wanted to touch it with her hands.
Andrew joined us shortly and taught Emily run into and away from the water game, which brought lots of laughter.
At this moment Andrew remembered that he didn’t bring a change of shoes like he was planning.
He tried skipping a rock, and Emily picked up on that right away and tried her hand a little rock throwing. She ended up putting the rocks in sand to have the waves take them away.
After exploring the beach area for about an hour, we cleaned up the best we could and found a spot to eat our lunch. Emily did not want to leave the beach and was very sad to say “bye beach”. Two minutes after this picture was taken we ran to the car and decided to eat on the way because we had bitten by so many bugs in a short amount of time.
To end our little adventure we stopped at the Albanese Candy Factory. We walked through their short video tour and then sampled a few pieces of candy and chocolate. The store was really cool, complete with its own ceiling to booth chocolate fountain. The candy is some of the best we’ve ever tasted, and it was a fun stop to make.