As the cold and snow of winter sets into Northwest Indiana, the greater Valparaiso area and Porter County offer many wintertime recreational opportunities.
Those with an interest in sledding and toboggan rides can set their sights on Forest Park Golf Course off Harrison Boulevard or Rogers-Lakewood Park Derby Downs off North Campbell Street. Ice skating and recreational hockey skating is available seasonally and weather dependent at Tower Park near Evans Avenue, and Deep River Waterpark offers coolant controlled ice skating and rentals all winter west of Valparaiso on Highway 30.
Cross country skiers who have their gear can enjoy trails all over the area, including Sunset Hill Farm off North Campbell, the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore, and Forest Park Golf Course. Lake effect snow often brings good snowpack, and the rolling hills and dunes offer varied terrain and some excitement and speed on certain trails. Ice fishing is also available at many lakes throughout the area, however anglers are advised to watch the changing ice conditions.
The Pines Ski Area, as of the start of 2o11, was still not in operation for skiing. However the owners do operate a ski shop for those looking to outfit for a venture to other downhill ski areas. Michigan and Wisconsin offer the most downhill skiing in the area, with most areas a 3 to 5 hour drive from the Northwest Indiana region.
Indoor based activities in Valpo might include the Valpo YMCA which offers basketball, swimming, weighlifting, yoga, pilates, cardio machines, an indoor walking track, kid’s activities room, and more. Inman’s Lanes on Evans Avenue is Valparaiso’s bowling and game attraction, and Zao Island off Hwy 30 at Horseprarie Avenue offers video gaming, skee ball, mini-golf, pizza and drinks, and other winter activities on the near south side of Valpo. Theatre and performing arts are also available in Downtown Valpo and at VU.
Spectator sports are big in the region, with many attending the Valpo High and Valparaiso University basketball and volleyball games. Other nearby major colleges with winter sports include Purdue in West Lafayette (1.5 hours), Notre Dame (1 hour), and Northwestern University in Chicago (1.5 hours). And the United Center in Chicago, home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, is just over an hour from Valparaiso.
As one can see, there are many ways to avoid cabin fever in the winter months. So get out and enjoy the winter season at these great recreational opportunities in the region.