Northern Indiana

Northern Indiana is the northern third of Indiana generally east of Lake Michigan.


South Bend, as seen from above.

Other destinations


Lake Manitou, one of many lakes in the region.

Northern Indiana is the region of Indiana including 26 counties bordering parts of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. The area is generally sub-classified into other regions. The northwest is economically and culturally intertwined with Chicago, and is considered part of the Chicago metropolitan area. The north central area is focused around South Bend, Indiana with economic connections to southwest Michigan, and is referred to as Michiana. The northeast is centered around Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The landscape is probably the flattest in the state, and is characterized physically by fairly level terrain ranging from 600 to 1,000 feet above sea level with pockets of larger, rolling hills primarily in LaPorte, Stueben, Porter, Noble County, and some certain portions of St. Joseph County. The Eastern Continental Divide goes through Northern Indiana following the top of the Valparaiso Moraine part of the way. Besides urban areas (Northwest Indiana is larger than all of Marion County) and occasional state parks and wildlife areas, much of northern Indiana is farmland.

The northwest corner of the state is part of the Chicago metropolitan area and has nearly one million residents. The region is marked with swell and swale topography as it retreats south from Lake Michigan. The ecology changes dramatically between swells, or on opposite sides of the same swell. Plants and animals adapted to marshes are generally found in the swales, while forests or even prickly pear cactus are found in the dryer swells. This area is also home to the large sand dunes at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore which features large sand dunes (i.e. Mount Baldy ~ 126 feet) with a beach view of the Chicago skyline near Lake Michigan, and several of the wetland/marsh features described earlier toward its southern boundaries. Historic towns such as a Beverly Shores occasionally dot the lakeshore, along with the remains of the once-giant steel industry near Gary.

Northern Indiana is home to many natural lakes, the vast majority of which are the remains of the glaciers that covered Indiana thousands of years ago. North central Indiana is home to several kettle-hole lakes, many of which are thousands of years old. County Parks, state parks, and Fish & Wildlife Areas in this region contain such habitats, as well as natural meadows, old-growth pine forests, wetlands, and several opportunities to view migratory birds from around the hemisphere.

Sometimes referred to as Indiana lake country, northeastern Indiana has the largest concentration of natural lakes in the state, including Lake James in Pokagon State Park, Lake Maxinkuckee, Lake Wawasee and Lake Tippecanoe. Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake in Indiana, while Lake Tippecanoe is the deepest, reaching depths of over 120 feet (37 m). Both lakes are located in Kosciusko County. Chain O' Lakes State Park, located in Noble County, contains 11 lakes, 8 of which are connected by natural channels.


Northern Indiana is known in television media for having the flattest accent amongst its citizens of almost anywhere in the country. Newscasters from various US cities, in some cases, have been instructed to watch news broadcasts from South Bend or Chicago in order to try and rid them of their local dialect. As such, it is typically not difficult to understand anyone's speech from Northern Indiana who is a native to the area, though once south of US 30, one may notice a considerable difference as the North Midland accent begins to develop and continues to southern portions of the state.

Many local words are derived from Chicago slang, such as a cigarette being called a "square."

Get in

By car

The main roads are east-wests I-90/80, which runs from Illinois to Ohio through South Bend and Elkhart, and I-69, which runs up from Indianapolis to Michigan through Fort Wayne. Both are very convenient traveling roads throughout the region, with high 70mph speed limits, and relatively light traffic. US 31, going north-south from Kentucky to Michigan, is roughly right up the center of the region.

By bus

By plane

By train

The South Shore line runs straight to South Bend through Northwestern Indiana from downtown Chicago.

Get around

It's by far easiest to travel through the region by car. The aforementioned highways are the main routes, although US Hwy 33 is a very convenient way to get between Elkhart and Fort Wayne.


Northern Indiana is very rural, and is worth exploring, if only to see the natural beauty of the state. Many lakes and small waterways contribute greatly to the natural beauty of the region.

Outdoors and Landmarks


There are quite a few museums, many of them historical, in the region. Among these are the Fulton County Museum (dedicated to the history of northern Indiana, especially Fulton County), the Auburn Cord Dusenberg Museum (one of the biggest car museums in America), and the IUSB Art Gallery.

Fine Art



There's a wide variety of food to choose from, ranging from the (Rochester) Streamliner's breaded tenderloin that was ranked one of the best in the state to the South Bend Chocolate Company's chocolate-covered anything (even spoons!) to the national chains like Pizza Hut and Subway.

Stay safe

While rural northern Indiana is among the safest places to live and travel (in fact, many residents leave their cars unlocked without a worry), basic precautions are advised, especially in population centers like South Bend and Fort Wayne.

The weather can be quite extreme, but the threats from this are usually minor. Tornadoes, blizzards, and flooding are the more common serious issues, but they're generally few and far between. The locals actually have a saying about how changeable the weather is: "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes". While this is obviously an exaggeration, it really feels like it's true sometimes.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.