Grindhouse Cafe at 146 N. Broad St. keeps the Region caffeinated.
The independent coffee shop helped transform downtown Griffith into a hipster haven that's home to craft breweries, vinyl record shops, and Twincade.
Grindhouse offers high-quality Dark Matter and Metropolis coffee, and sells bags of beans from local roasters like Smugglers Coffee and Smalltown Coffee. Try the whiskey barrel-aged ice coffee brewed with locally roasted Smugglers beans.
The cafe also sells food that includes breakfast burritos, creative sandwiches and many vegetarian options. It's decorated with pop culture paraphernalia and action figures like the charred remains of Uncle Owen from Star Wars.
One can go there to grab a locally made zine, check out posters for local events and meet with local creatives, such as at the Highland Writers' Group.
For more information, visit facebook.com/GrindhouseCoffee.Joseph S. Pete Miller
Gary's lakefront Miller neighborhood is home to the Lake Street Beach and Marquette Park. It's an entryway to the newly christened Indiana Dunes National Park where one can visit The Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education or the Paul H. Douglas Trail that was previously known as the Miller Woods Trail.
Beyond the splendid beachfront overlooking the glorious expanse of Lake Michigan, which people visit to sunbathe or watch romantic sunsets, the artsy bohemian neighborhood boasts some of the hippest businesses in Northwest Indiana. The Lake Street corridor is home to art galleries, boutiques like Indie Indie Bang, Anna's Kombucha Cafe, and 18th Street Brewery.
One can grab lobster rolls at Captain's House, down ginger shots at Vibrations Juice Cafe or catch some stand-up at D Performance Theatre. It's home to new businesses like the Dialogue wine bar and bookstore and longtime institutions like Lake Street Gallery where one can grab South Shore Line posters.
There are many fine restaurants and a cool environment in which many graffiti murals line the walls, including from celebrated artists like Hebru Brantley. You can go antiquing for rare finds at the repurposed Miller School Shops or visit the Nelson Algren pocket park, sound stage or museum to learn more about the National Book Award-winning writer who used to call the neighborhood home.
You know you've made it as a writer when your image is plastered on a billboard on the side of what was your favorite liquor store.Joseph S. Pete Miles Books
I've been going to Miles Books at 2819 Jewett Ave. in downtown Highland since I was a kid.
Rare finds, great reads and tomes of local interest await in the chaotic clutter of used books, most of which are reasonably priced. The Region also is home to many other fine bookstores, including O'Gara & Wilson in Chesterton, Green Door in Hobart, and Bookworm in Wanatah, as well as 2nd and Charles in Highland, Books-a-Million in Hobart and Barnes and Noble in Valparaiso.
After browsing the racks at Miles, you can take the book over to Sip Coffee Shop and enjoy it with a cold brew or CBD latte in a funky, eclectic environment filled with local art.Tony V. Martin, The Times The Lubeznik Center for the Arts
The Region is home to many cool art galleries and museums, including the Brauer Museum of Arts at Valparaiso University, the South Shore Arts gallery in Munster, and the Indiana Welcome Center and Paul Henry's Art Gallery, both in Hammond.
Any art lover should make regular visits to the Lubeznik Center for the Arts at 101 W. Second St. in Michigan City.
It showcases the work of local artists, hosts an annual zine festival, and brings in blockbuster summer exhibitions, such as of the work of Andy Warhol or the Chicago Imagists.
For more information, call 219-874-4900 or visit lubeznikcenter.org.Joseph S. Pete, The Times The Gabis Arboretum
Gabis Arboretum at 450 West 100 North in Valparaiso is an underappreciated gem in the Region.
Outside of the Indiana Dunes National Park and Indiana Dunes State Park, it's one of the best places to go for a hike in Northwest Indiana. Lose yourself in the shaded canopies of the forests there. Trails wind through the woods. There's also a miniature train, gardens, summer concerts and educational events, such as presentations on owls and stargazing.
For more information, visit pnw.edu/gabis-arboretum.Joseph S. Pete, The Times Lake County Public Library, Main Branch in Merrillville
The main branch of the Lake County Public Library system at 1919 81st Ave in Merrillville is a destination for book lovers.
Northwest Indiana has many fine libraries, including in Hammond, Gary, Crown Point, Valparaiso and Michigan City, which was designed by the acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn.
The Lake County Public Library system stands out as a well-stocked respite of knowledge, literature and culture.
As a kid I used to trek to the branches in Highland, Griffith and Munster on weekends while reading a book while walking, often spending the whole day there. As an adult, I've come to visit and appreciate more branches, including in Schererville, St. John and the architectural gem on Lake George in downtown Hobart. Whether you love literary classics, genre titles or graphic novels, Lake County libraries have got you covered. They have impressive and ever-expanding collections that will keep you up with contemporary literature.
The pinnacle of the Lake County Public Library System is the main branch on U.S. 30 in Merrillville, which boasts the widest selection, a gallery of South Shore Line posters, and a local Indiana Room, which includes the work of local writers. You can find "Indiana at 200," which I contributed an essay to, or my mother Judith Pete's doctoral thesis for Creighton University, which I edited.Joseph S. Pete