The Indiana Insider Blog

Get in the holiday spirit in Indiana Dunes Country

It seems like the holidays roll around before I know it, leaving me little time to pick out just the right gifts or find unique food to serve at holiday gatherings.

Fortunately, in one day I can visit the huge Mistetoe Market in Chesterton (the holiday version of the wildly popular summer European Market) and the Kouts Christmas Open House (when about 40 homes, churches and businesses open their doors to sell handcrafted, treats and more).

Shop for the holidays in Indiana Dunes Country.

Here’s what you need to know:

*The Mistletoe Market is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday Dec. 7 at Westchester Intermediate School, 1050 S. 5th St., Chesterton. Many favorite Eurpopean Market merchants, artists and chefs come together to offer favorite Market goodies for holiday gifting. Visitors are also treated to festive holiday music, plenty of scrumptious baked goods and photos with Santa for the kids.

*The Kouts Christmas Open House is 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8. It’s important to note that while all 40 or so sites are open Saturday, half  don’t participate on Sunday. There are maps to the sites — and half the fun is driving around town and the nearby countryside to find the sites. The maps are available at the Family Express convenience store at State Road 49 and State Road 8 in Kouts.

For visitors who want to make a weekend of it, there is the Holly Days event in downtown Valparaiso from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza comes alive with holiday musical performances on the Porter Health Amphitheater Stage. Ice carvers create works of art out of blocks of ice. The Holiday Village Market features special holiday vendors. There are free rides on the holiday train that takes guests on the streets around Central Park Plaza. Many of the downtown stores have treats and specials.

And, at Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House, there is the annual lighting of the tree and Santa’s visit at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6.

If you stick around for the weekend, you’ll also have time to cut down your own tree at Santa’s Holiday Forest in Valparaiso.

Enjoy winter in Indiana Dunes Country.

You can also enjoy a winter hike or cross-country skiing along the Lake Michigan beaches or on the wooded trails in the Indiana Dunes.

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Written by : Ken Kosky is promotions director for Indiana Dunes Tourism, the official tourism bureau of Porter County. He is a graduate of Portage High School and Ball State University and wrote for The Times of Northwest Indiana before entering the tourism industry. Read more about Indiana Dunes Country at http://www.indianadunes.com/travel-blog/ .