About this trip idea
Allow 1-2 days.
Train enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy a trip to Indiana dunes country, especiallly with new additions like a 2.5-acre model railway and the opportunity to spend the night in a renovated freight station.
Pull into the station
Riley's Railhouse is a new bed and breakfast set in a recently restored and renovated freight station. It sits adjacent to railroad tracks in downtown Chesterton. The beautiful downtown area offers great restaurants and shopping, including an outdoor European market on Saturdays from May-October, all within range of the tracks to watch trains pass by.
Hit the rails
For a train-watching experience on a smaller scale, Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in nearby Valparaiso is home to a new railway garden. The garden boasts a 2.5-acre outdoor model railway that engages visitors in the amazing story of America's railroads. Kids will love seeing their favorite famous tank engine leading one of the trains, and train enthusiasts can delight in watching the railway system run through the various railway lines. The arboretum also hosts a 1920s-style railroad depot with vintage benches and acres of gardens, woods and prairies.
Valparaiso is also home to the Illiana Garden Railway Society at Samuelson's Nursery , where families can partake in watching the Bull Moose Line, a 2,000-square-foot miniature train diarama. It's a setting straight out of traditional Americana that features more than 600 feet of running track and several different trains. Hours are limited, so call ahead.
Head south to Hebron and the Panhandle Depot , where rail service was discontinued in 1978. The restored building now houses local railroad memorabilia and an exhibit on local military service.
Wet your whistle
Those looking for an entertaining bite to eat can venture to the Industrial Revolution Eatery & Grill . The exterior features a myriad of metal sculptures featuring hardworking Americans. The interior facinates guests with a model train that circles the establishment as they dine on classic gourmet dishes.
The deliciously perfect finish to this train-themed summer day is The Depot of Kouts , a former train station that has been transformed into an ice cream shop.