Home of the famous Orville Redenbacher and the stunning Valparaiso University Chapel, Valparaiso, Indiana, is a bustling town with historic and captivating attractions for any family. A mere 51 miles from Chicago, this Midwestern town gives you all the fun without all the cost of the big city. No matter the season, Valparaiso has a plethora of cultural and family-friendly opportunities and Steiner Homes wants to share some of them with you. Here are eight fun things to consider as you plan your trip to Valparaiso, Indiana.

Chapel of the Resurrection

If you’re in Valparaiso, Indiana, you can’t miss out on the Chapel of the Resurrection, a centerpiece on the Valparaiso University campus. Dubbed the largest collegiate chapel in the United States and the 2nd largest university cathedral in the world, this stunning chapel seats over 2,000 people within its bold, mid-century architecture. The towering walls, seemingly made entirely of glass, will take your breath away and the Reddel Memorial pipe organ in the back of the church will amaze you with its 5500 pipes. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the genius in the design of this chapel or the foundation of tradition that it was built upon.

Indiana Dunes National Park

While you are in the area, you must visit Indiana Dunes National Park. Less than 30 minutes from Valparaiso, this 20-mile stretch along the southern shores of Lake Michigan is as picturesque as it gets. Not only are you able to walk dunes up to 250 feet high, but you can also walk or bike miles of trails, do some bird watching, or visit the historical Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm. There is also camping, fishing and, of course, swimming on the beach for the entire family to enjoy. For the outdoor enthusiasts, the Indiana Dunes National Park is a sure win.

Summer Rhapsody Music Festival

For anyone who has a love of music, summer evenings in the park are livened up by the Summer Rhapsody Music Festival. This series of concerts includes a variety of music from rock to blues and some in between. Everyone in your group will find something they enjoy at this festival. Don’t forget to bring your picnic basket, blankets to sit on, and some music-loving friends with you. Whether it’s just you or your whole family, this festival is sure to be a hit.

Valparaiso Popcorn Festival

things to do in valparaiso, indiana

Image via Flickr by Thomas Tivoli

Valparaiso is no stranger to a good festival. You can find one in almost any season. One festival that really draws a crowd is the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival. On the Saturday after Labor Day, popcorn lovers can take part in this long-standing tradition commemorating Orville Redenbacher. Complete with music, arts & crafts booths, kids’ games, live music, a parade and, of course, an abundance of popcorn, you are sure to have a memorable and incredible time at this festival. If you are interested in other festivals in the area, be sure to check out the Fall Harvest Festival, the Valparaiso Art Festival, and the Valpo Brewfest.

South Shore Brewery Trail

In the area around Valparaiso, the tap never runs dry. Driving along the South Shore Brewery Trail, you can try all of your favorite brews and even some unique and local drafts. The brewing atmosphere along the south shore is one of community and fun. There is even a Brew Bus on which you can visit a selection of breweries in a casual and carefree adventure. You might even consider taking the Brew Bus with your best group of friends. Don’t forget to try some of the delectable food options that the breweries offer.

Zao Island

Zao Island is a family entertainment hotspot that was made for adventure and excitement. This island-themed venue has two 18-hole golf courses with fountains, waterfalls, and suspended bridges. There are dozens of live alligators nearby for a little viewing excitement. Zao Island also offers go-karts, laser tag, batting cages, arcade games and, when you get hungry, delicious pizza and snacks for the entire family in the full-service restaurant. The amusement center even has live music available every Friday and Saturday night from popular local musicians. Keep an eye on your checkbook, though. This place has so much to do, it would be easy to spend all your money in the blink of an eye.

49er Drive-In Theater

Dubbed one of the top ten drive-in theaters in America, the 49er Drive-In Theater is a seasonally operated old-school drive-in theater complete with a classic feel and its original design. Open 7 days a week during the summer, you can have a vintage experience with modern screens and amenities. For the price of one, you get to watch a double-feature from your car or your lawn chairs, giving you the perfect summer activity.

Brauer Museum of Art

Hoping to inspire visitors with original works of American and international religious art, the Brauer Museum of Art is home to a collection of 19th- and 20th-century pieces. The museum can be found in the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts and is free to enter, making this a perfect excursion for art lovers, families, and lone visitors alike. Donations are always appreciated. There is a vast selection of pieces in a permanent collection as well as special exhibits and events that are offered throughout the year. Be sure to check the museum calendar for current offerings, hours of operation, and more information help to plan your visit.


While Valparaiso has a population of approximately 35,000, the city should not be written off as boring or uneventful by any means. There is no shortage of things to feed your sense of fun, community, or curiosity. The team at Steiner Homes is convinced that Valparaiso, Indiana, can give you and your family the sense of community and adventure that you deserve at the price you can afford. These eight things are just the beginning of what the city can offer you. If you know of other fun things to do and see in the area, let us know and we’ll add them to our list.