From waves pounding the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and the ringing of casino slot machines to the rhythmic clip-clopping of Amish buggies rattling down the road, the sounds of Indiana’s northern tier beckon tour groups. Tucked between metropolitan Chicago and the borders with Michigan and Ohio, cities and rural areas are packed with group-friendly attractions, shopping opportunities, pockets of natural beauty and places to commune with the past. Many tourist favorites are a short drive from Interstate 80/90.

Northwest Indiana’s Lake County, just a half hour from downtown Chicago, abounds with affordable places to stay and boasts three casinos fronting Lake Michigan—Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Majestic Star Casino and Hotel in Gary and Ameristar Casino & Hotel in East Chicago—all with live entertainment, gourmet steakhouses and expansive buffets.

Fair Oaks Farms Adventure Center is another Lake County hotspot for groups. One of the nation’s largest dairies, it is home to 30,000 cows that produce four million glasses of milk a day. Besides enjoying interactive exhibits and a 4-D movie, visitors see the milking process firsthand on a bus tour of the farm. A popular stop is the Birthing Barn, where 80 calves are born each day. The Cheese Factory complex, famed for its grilled cheese sandwiches, houses an ice cream parlor, gift shop and cafe overlooking cheese-making and milk-bottling facilities.