Chesterton, Indiana, is a small town that is also the gateway to the Indiana Dunes. I went to high school there and of course I hated it, but after 20 years I realized it’s not so bad for a such a small place.
Chesterton is located in Porter County and has a historic downtown. Many of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Thomas Centennial Park is in the heart of downtown and has a band shell from 1924.
Every Saturday from May through October, the European Market takes place downtown. It features a wide array of breads, pastries, cheeses, spices, jewelry and more, combined with live entertainment.
The Brown Mansion, situated next to Chesterton Middle School (which was the high school when I was around), was built in 1885 by George Brown, a farmer from Cumberland County, England. It’s now the Westchester Township History Museum.
The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. Admission is free and tours of the home are available, although you don’t see much. The entire building is used as the offices for the historical society, so the tour is more a history of the home and about what the rooms were used for. That being said, it’s worth doing if you’re interested in hearing the stories about the home, its former occupants, and a little about the history of Chesterton.
The museum is excellent and I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting much but I really enjoyed the exhibits and timeline of the township’s history. I learned many new things that made me change my perspective about the area. The displays about Chesterton High School were my personal favorite and brought back a lot of memories.
A Lustron Home is also located in Chesterton. This all-steel porcelain enameled kit home was built in 1950. Sold by the Lustron Corporation, only about 3,000 were built before the company went bankrupt in 1950. Only a handful remain. A sign out front announces the home’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
For nature lovers, Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve has some hiking trails through wetlands, woods, and prairies. It boasts over 500 species of plants and animals. The park is open daily and is free of charge. It’s a great place to go for a run and is pet friendly.
A pavilion is located on the north side of the preserve. It has picnic tables and bathrooms as well as grills.
The smaller Coffee Creek Park is closer to downtown and has a small boardwalk trail. There’s also a playground and small pond in the park.
For food, an absolute must is Lucrezia. This is one of the best restaurants in the region and features northern Italian cuisine.
Among my favorites are the calamari appetizer and linguine pescatore. I also love the bucatini with Italian sausage. A lunch for two including drinks and tip came out to about US$60.