On our second day of vacation we were looking for something to break up a day of driving. There was a large green "nature" area on the map right on our route and it looked like we'd hit it a few hours after lunch when we'd all be ready to move around. The green patch was Indiana Dunes State Park. We had heard of the Dunes when we lived in Illinois, but never visited them. The park was along the southern edge of Lake Michigan. Large sand dunes built up over time and eventually supported the growth of a forest.
We hardly had to pull of the highway and were able to take a short (just over a mile) hike over the dunes to the lake. The landscape changed from forest to beach, but even in the wooded area the trail was eroded to the sand of the dunes. We all enjoyed emptying our shoes at the end of that hike!
Day 3 of vacation was a drive to Niagara Fall, NY. We found free parking very close to the river and enjoyed walking along the river to the falls. I was surprised at how suddenly the falls were right there next to us, without fanfare.
We saw the Falls from several locations and it really helped show how tall and powerful they are. After seeing them from the side of the river at the top of the falls, we purchased tickets to ride the Maid of the Mist. We took a very fast elevator down to the bottom of the falls.
For the boat ride we stood right up front on the upper level!
American Falls, as seen from the boat.
After the ride, we explored the staircase next to the American Falls. You can see the tiny people in blue ponchos climbing that path in the next photo. The kids all loved the spray! We rode the elevator back to an observation deck that sits out over the river... look at that difference in height between where the kids are and where the blue poncho people are!
American and Bridal Veil Falls, from the observation deck.
After a snack (and sword fighting) break, we walked on to Luna and Goat Islands, which are located between the Falls.
Here are the American and Bridal Veil Falls from Goat Island. We could see the water just at it fell over the edge! You can see the elevator tower and observation deck in front of the bridge in the center of the photo.
Horseshoe Falls, from Goat Island
That evening we tried to find a grocery store for supper supplies and our GPS kept trying to trick us into going to Canada! The kids enjoyed waving to Canada a few times that day.