The Best View of the Chicago Skyline is in Indiana?

View of downtown Chicago from Indiana Dunes State Park

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I decided to drive down to Indiana Dunes State Park. It was our first visit to the park, and our expectations were admittedly low. More than anything, we wanted to escape Chicago for a few hours. The park just happened to be the destination.

When we arrived at the dunes, we went for a walk along Porter Beach. Almost immediately, two things became clear. First, Indiana’s dunes are charming, but unremarkable. Second, and perhaps more importantly, we discovered that Indiana Dunes offers breathtaking views of downtown Chicago. From Porter Beach, you can see the entire Chicago skyline, including the Sears Tower and the Hancock Building.

The initial view — good as it was — only seemed to improve over the next few hours. As the sun set, an intense band of color formed along the horizon. All the while, seagulls soared above Lake Michigan. It was an unforgettable evening in Northwest Indiana.

So does Porter Beach really have the best view of the Chicago skyline? Probably not. Places like North Avenue Beach, the Adler Planetarium, and Ping Tom Memorial Park have better views — and are much closer to the city. But Indiana Dunes State Park is absolutely worth a visit. It’s a great place to take photos or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

How to Make the Most of Your Trip to Porter Beach

  1. If at all possible, schedule your trip to Indiana Dunes State Park in mid May or late July. During these brief periods, the sun sets directly behind the Chicago skyline.
  2. Bring a telephoto lens if you plan to photograph the skyline. I only had a 200 mm lens with me, so I had to crop the final image to magnify the skyline. I’d recommend a lens in the 400 – 600 mm range, if you have one.
  3. There are several parking lots within walking distance of Porter Beach. The parking lots are “free,” though you will have to pay the park entrance fee.
  4. Bring bug spray, if you plan to visit any other part of Indiana Dunes State Park. I went for a quick hike in the park, but I had to turn back after a few minutes due to the mosquitoes.

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