It never gets as bad as images I have seen from urban or European beaches, with sunbathers packed sweaty elbow to sweat elbow, but the Dunes beaches can get VERY crowded during the summer months.
Unique Suggestions: Deal with it. Take a hike in the backdune country or walk a mile or so away from the crowds. Most of the slobs you visit here don't have the initiative to go very far.
Fun Alternatives: Winter is a great time to visit the lakeshore. The ice shelf is an alluring otherworldly, if dangerous sight. Dress warm!
If time and quick transportation is available, pay a visit to the lakeshore as a storm is rolling in. Defintely a moody, memorable experience, but realize that storms here should not be taken for granted. Those in need of convincing should turn to Steel Shavings volume 28, pages 97-99.
School field trips
Animals, knowledgeable park rangers dressed in period costumes, free admittance and the chance to learn about pioneer life in The Region makes the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm a hit with the school age crowd. There was a point where everytime I'd show up there'd be a caravan of school buses.
Unique Suggestions: Nothing against kids; and believe me, I think it's fantastic that we have places like to take them to get a hands-on historical education, but is a little hard to commune with nature when there's hundreds of kids, along with their frazzled chaperones, running around. So here's a few observations:
During the school year (late August to early June), try visiting on the weekends, early in the morning or just before closing time. Winter seems to be a good time: no right-thinking school administrator would send our future out into the cold. Be careful though, the trails can become iced over. I don't know what the place is like in the summer, pretty popular I imagine.
Fun Alternatives: If you just want to hike the Little Calumet River trail, there's a small parking lot near the Bailly Homestead, about a half mile into the forest and away from the main areas of visitation. From US 20 turn north at Howe Road. It's about 1/4 mile east of Mineral Springs Road.
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