What is Valparaiso Famous For?

Caucasian Person's Hand in Red Bowl of Popping Corn

Image via Flickr by eddie.welker.

Valparaiso has a rich American history. Around 1670, the first pioneers ventured through the area. By 1822 there was a thriving fur post and in 1832 the U.S. government bought the land from the Potawatomi Indians. In 1837 the town of Valparaiso came to be, named after Captain David Porter’s famous battle aboard the U.S. Frigate Essex during the Battle of Valparaiso. Valparaiso means “vale of paradise” and to this day, Valparaiso is still a sort of paradise, although slightly more modern and urban that it was in the 1800s.

Valparaiso has had its share of interesting things happen over the years. The first industrial popcorn factory was opened in Valparaiso by Orville Redenbacher. General Lew Wallace and President Teddy Roosevelt frequented southern Porter County for its prized wildlife and hunting. Frank James, brother of outlaw Jesse James, shot the starting gun for the horse racing contest at the annual fair in 1898. Valparaiso University has been the host to many famous speakers such as Sen. Bobby Kennedy and President William Howard Taft.

Famous People From Valparaiso

There are plenty of notable people who were born in Valparaiso. Beulah Bondi was a famous two-time academy award nominee actress who starred in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.” If you’re more of a sports fan, you may recognize the names of basketball player Robbie Hummel or baseball player Sean Manaea. The long-running host of “The Michael Essany Show,” Michael Essany, and the award-winning child actress turned TV actress, Carly Schroeder, are both from Valparaiso.

Valparaiso is known for its inventors and innovators. The next time you wash dishes, remember Josephine Cochrane, the inventor of the dishwasher, who was raised in Valparaiso. The man behind Gerber’s baby food, Frank Daniel Gerber, started out in Valparaiso. Since his rise to fame in Michigan, some of his descendants have moved back to Valparaiso and still live there. Two astronauts, Mark N. Brown and Henry Charles Gordon, are natives to Valparaiso.

Is Valparaiso a Suburb of Chicago?

While some people consider Valparaiso a suburb of Chicago, others say it is its own municipality. The answer depends on how far outside Chicago you consider an area a suburb. Valparaiso is 50 miles, about a 55-minute drive, south-east of Chicago. Recently, the city has been growing due to people moving to Valparaiso for the suburb vibe and commuting to Chicago for work. Valparaiso is also a bustling city that stands on its own merits. Valparaiso is the county seat of Porter County, Indiana, has a population of roughly 32,916 people, and is home to over 160 communities and subdivisions.

Museums and Parks in Valparaiso, Indiana

You’ll never run out of new places to explore in Valparaiso. There is an outstanding system of local parks with programs for all ages. Some of the best parks are the Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, with its magnificent outdoor train set and Rogers-Lakewood Park with its fishing, disc golf, and hiking. Get your art and history fix with museums like the Porter County Museum, the Brauer Museum of Art, or the Museum of Fire Fighting. There’s also the famous Memorial Opera House and Chicago Street Theater if you’re looking for some entertainment.

Restaurants in Valparaiso, Indiana

Believe it or not, Valparaiso has become a world-class restaurant destination over the last ten years. A vibrant restaurant scene has been quietly growing downtown and in the surrounding areas, with offerings that will please every self-proclaimed foodie. The restaurant scene in Valparaiso has everything from the fanciest fine dining with regionally acclaimed chefs to the best hole-in-the-wall greasy spoons only the locals know about to comfy cafes with just the right atmosphere for an afternoon’s work on your laptop. Whatever your stomach desires, you can find it in Valparaiso.

Schools in Valparaiso, Indiana

Some of the best public, county, and private schools in Indiana are in Valparaiso. The Valparaiso Community Schools district is rated as one of the top school districts in the state for primary and secondary education. Many of the schools in the Valparaiso Community Schools district are highly rated, like Washington Township Middle and High School, which is rated sixth in the state. Almost all the schools in Valparaiso and the surrounding county area are rated in the top 50 schools in the state.

There is one major university, Valparaiso University, located inside the metro Valparaiso area. Valparaiso University has a long and rich history and has repeatedly been rated a top university in the Midwest. There are a few other smaller higher education schools, like the College of Court Reporting and Don Robert’s Beauty School. Within 25 miles of Valparaiso, you’ll find over a dozen colleges and universities, and within 50 miles, you’ll find over sixty higher education institutions.

It’s really no wonder that people are flocking to Valparaiso for the perfect suburban life while still commuting to Chicago for work. If you are searching for home builders in Valparaiso, Steiner Homes has no shortage of amazing communities and beautiful homes to make your suburban dreams come true. With 13 subdivisions that have diverse landscapes, numerous floor plans, and accessible pricing, we know we’ve got the perfect home just waiting for you. Reach out and give us a call so we can help you find your dream home in Valparaiso today.