15 Best Things to Do in Merrillville, IN

Merrillville, IN
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The town of Merrillville is a melting pot of fun things to do and amazing places to see, thanks to its enviable location in Northwest Indiana.

This town spreads over some 86 square kilometers in the Ross Township on the northwestern edge of Lake County bordering Chicago.

Merrillville accounts for much of the 127-square-kilometer area of this township, covering parts of Hobart City.

With Interstate 65 and U.S. Route 30 cutting across most of Merrillville, this town has established itself as the crossroads of Lake County.

Notably, Merrillville’s Ross Township locale is also where the Chicago Metro Area spills over into Indiana.

Over the years, its strategic location has helped transform Merrillville not only as a major commercial hub for Northwest Indiana.

It has also helped the town develop a lot of life and leisure amenities that most visitors would want.

Find out what a visit to the town offers in the following list of things to do in Merrillville.

Visit the Merrillville History Museum

This museum is on West 73rdAvenue and preserves the town history of Merrillville and that of the Ross Township.

The Merrillville History Museum curates the development of the township as an agricultural community featuring many dairy farms.

Many of the museum’s exhibits were formerly displayed at the Wood's Historic Grist Mill in the Deep River County Park in Hobart City.

The artifacts in the museum include articles of the region’s early Native American inhabitants, settlers, and pioneers.

The museum’s two-story brick building is itself historical, being the former home of Merrillville’s town hall.

Ride a Paddle Boat in the Hidden Lake Park

In this park's lake on Merrillville town’s Broadway, you can ride a paddle boat and enjoy the view of geese and ducks on and off the water.

Fishing is allowed in the footbridge of this lake, where the typical catch is largemouth bass and catfish.

The Hidden Lake Park also features an 18-hole disc golf course, where one cool challenge is throwing off from the park’s sledding hill.

In addition, this park provides softball fields, playgrounds, and a fitness trail.

It also offers six shelters of varying sizes and picnic areas with barbecue grills.

The park, which the Ross Township Trustee operates, likewise has a fully equipped social center for hosting special events.

Take the Kids to Merrillville’s Playgrounds

The town of Merrillville maintains many other parks and playgrounds worth visiting, especially if you’re on a trip with your kids.

One of these is the 6-acre Southbrook Park on Hendricks Street, featuring ball fields, playground equipment, and a picnic shelter.

Similar facilities can be enjoyed at the 3-acre John A. Stefek Park on Harrison Street and at Rosebalm Park on West 74thAvenue.

Across Rosebalm Park, the 9-acre Independence Park of Ross Township offers additional thrill inshore fishing in its 5-acre lake, besides also having a playground and picnic shelter.

Chase Pars at Turkey Creek Golf Course

This 18-hole facility on Harrison Street was formerly run by the Turkey Creek Golf Club, founded in 1928.

In 1977, the Lake County park system added to its fold the Turkey Creek Golf Course, which has won the Neighbors Choice Award of the Post-Tribune.

What’s striking about this par 70 golf course is the Turkey Creek that runs throughout the 6,206-yard layout and is woven into the play on 12 of its 18 holes.

Tree-lined hilly fairways characterize this course that also features slightly sloping greens to complete the aura of a classic golfing arena.

The Turkey Creek Golf Course also provides a putting green, a pro shop, lounge, a full-service restaurant, and a snack bar.

Treat Your Sweet Tooth at Albanese Candy

Drop by this candy factory on East Lincoln Highway and check why many say it makes "the world's best gummy bears."

After a peek at its highly automated candy making, proceed to the in-house store of Albanese Candy.

You’ll have a merry choice here not only on the 12 flavors of Gummi Bears but also on picks of Gummi Worms and special shapes, like Gummi Rainforest Frogs.

Other sweet tooth treats Albanese Candy offers include chocolate goodies like Milk Chocolate Pecan Patties, Yogurt Peanuts, and Milk Chocolate Triple Dipped Malt Balls.

For more sweets, cross the street to the ChicagoLand Popcorn, offering over 250 seasonal flavors of freshly popped, delicious gourmet popcorn.

Explore Galaxies at the Merrillville Community Planetarium

This planetarium is part of the K-12 public school system Merrillville Community School Corporation in Northwest Indiana.

It is located in the Clifford Pierce Middle School on East 70th Avenue and offers programming to the public.

The Merrillville Community School Planetarium provides over 40 programs about astronomy and the space sciences.

It also offers seasonal public shows, such as The Autumn Sky, The Inner Solar System, and Galaxies and the Universe.

After watching a program, visitors of the planetarium can check out its Orion's Trading Post, where they can buy unique souvenir items like the shop’s bestselling Kinetic Sculptures.

Pump it Up at the Dean and Barbara White Community Center

This community center on Broadway can get you toned and beefed up while on an extended visit to Merrillville.

The Dean and Barbara White Community Center, which opened in 2021, provides a wide selection of sports and recreational facilities within its 84,000-square-foot building.

The facilities that it provides include a fitness center, rock-climbing wall, and courts for basketball and volleyball.

Additionally, the community center has a walking track, football field, and soccer field.

Programs on yoga and gymnastics are typically hosted in the Dean and Barbara White Community Center.

Book Family Events at Innsbrook Country Club

Take advantage of Merrillville’s strategic Northwest Indiana location and hold a gathering of family or friends at the city’s Innsbrook Country Club.

Located on West Taft Street, only about 3 miles from Interstate 65, this country club offers six private rooms suitable for various functions.

These choices range from a board room good for 20 persons to the Innsbrook Country Club ballroom that can seat 220.

The country club also features an Olympic-size pool and waterpark, plus its centerpiece 18-hole golf course and clubhouse.

The Innsbrook Country Club golf course plays at par 72 over 6,430 yards of golf from its longest tees.

Enjoy Shopping at the Southlake Mall

Merrillville asserts its stature as a major shopping destination in Northwest Indiana through the large malls in the southeast and northeast quadrants of US Highway 30 and Interstate 65.

On the southeast quadrant, you can check out more than 160 specialty stores at the Southlake Mall.

This enclosed two-level shoppers’ paradise boasts a 1.3-million-square-foot commercial space populated by leading national brands like JCPenney, Sears, Lowe’s, and Dick's Sporting Goods.

Across in northeast quadrant, the Merrillville Plaza also hosts plenty of retail tenants and a diverse mix of business offices.

A short distance toward the west of the US 30 and I-65 quadrants, you can also visit a smaller strip mall—the Merville Business Complex on 81stAvenue.

While in this area, one interesting side trip would be the nearby grounds of Cleveland Place Commons, where you can have a photo-op with the iconic Merrillville Water Tower as background.

Scout Dining Options at Merrillville’s Restaurant Row

The US 30 corridor and its side streets between Taft Street and Colorado Street harbor a large concentration of restaurants.

For classic Italian cuisine, try the luxurious Gamba Ristorante on East 84th Drive, where you can dine in an elegant European-style setting.

Asparagus Restaurant on Broadway, on the other hand, offers a serene Zen-like ambiance while enjoying wasabi herb-crusted lamb rack, delectable seafood pad Thai, or peppercorn grilled rib-eye steak.

For New American meals, try the upscale Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Southlake Mall, where you can also have a glass of house-label handcrafted wine.

The cozy and intimate Merrillville Florist and Tea Room on Madison Street is not only superb for lunch and tea.

Here, you can also check out its shop specializing in fresh florals, gourmet chocolates, and unique souvenirs or gifts.

Bike or Run on the Erie Lackawanna Trail

This trail of nearly 18 miles was a former railway path between Lake County seat Crown Point and the city of Hammond 8 miles southeast of Merrillville.

From Merrillville, the Erie Lackawanna Trail is accessible via a parking lot with benches on Whitcomb Street or at the trail’s junction with West 91st Avenue.

The trail also passes the towns of Highland, Griffith, and Schererville and their various points of interest.

These attractions along the trail include the Hammond Civic Center, Indiana Visitors' Center, Wicker Memorial Park, Griffith Historical Park & Railroad Museum, and the Ivan Gatlin Nature Preserve.

Past the Hammond Civic Center, you can divert to the 4-mile Monon Trail that heads south to Munster and the Little Calumet River Levee Trail, thus opening even more sights to see.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Lake County Courthouse

Majestic building of Lake County Courthouse
T. Tolbert, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Lake County Courthouse is located in the city of Crown Point, 6 miles south of Merrillville.

Built in 1878, this vintage building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The courthouse immediately draws attention with its Victorian Era-Romanesque Georgian architectural design and an impressive clock tower.

Referred by locals as the "Grand Old Lady," the courthouse is now home to the Lake County Historical Society Museum, shops, a ballroom, and professional offices.

The 6,000-square-foot museum in the courthouse displays many artifacts and documents on Lake County history.

One fun fact about the history of the Lake County Courthouse is that it was once considered a “marriage mill” because of the ease of getting a marriage license in Crown Point.

Celebrities who tied the knot at the Lake County Courthouse include former President Reagan when he was still an actor, as well as boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Explore the Deep Water County Park

This 1,362-acre park is on Old Lincoln Highway in the city of Hobart, just 6 miles east of Merrillville.

The Deep River County Park has several unique areas to explore, starting with its historic buildings, including a vintage grist mill that serves as its visitor center.

The park also features a quaint wedding gazebo and a diamond, which is the home field of the local squad Deep River Grinders playing vintage baseball.

Off County Line Road, the park has an entrance to a playground, a library, and a picnic area where rental shelters are available.

Farther north on Ainsworth Road, the park’s draw is Big Maple Lake, with fishing spots and a lakeside trail.

A short distance south on East Lincoln Highway spreads the Deep River Waterpark with 14 attractions that draw crowds in summer.

During winter, the Lake County Parks and Recreation Department runs an ice skating rank here.

Check Out Games’ Schedules at Crown Point

The Lake County seat Crown Point, just south of Merrillville, is home to two large sports arenas hosting major sports events.

One of these is the Sparta Sports Dome, Indiana’s largest indoor sports and event dome.

The Dome is a next-door neighbor to another major sports arena—the Crown Point Sportsflex.

This 95-acre multi-sports and event venue features two synthetic turf multi-purpose fields.

It also offers ten illuminated natural grass fields and a champion field with stadium seating.

Get Up Close with a Herd of Bison

Set a tour of Broken Wagon Bison, a unique 160-acre farm in the city of Hobart 10 miles east of Merrillville.

Here, you can get up close and personal with a herd of more than 100 bison raised on the farm.

Broken Wagon Bison also features a farm store where you can buy not only bison-centric gifts.

It also offers bison meat, with choices on steaks, brats, ground, burgers, and roasts.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of joyful experiences to expect in a trip to Merrillville, as various merchants have converged in its great location in Northwest Indiana.

This influx contributed much to developing the amenities and the things to do in Merrillville that excite road trips to this town.

With other Lake County destinations within easy reach from Merrillville, a visit to this town can already yield all the best that Indiana has to offer.