Candy for the kids and beer for the adults – what could be a better start to a weekend in Northern Indiana, right?
When planning a quick overnight with the whole family, it’s important to look for a variety of activities that everyone will enjoy. Our first night did just that!
We began our trip to Northern Indiana with a visit to the Albanese Candy Factory located in Merrillville. Factory tours are a unique addition to any vacation – it’s interesting to learn something new so we always search them out. Through the years, we’ve seen everything from potato chips to Harley Davidson’s made. If you are a fan of gummies, Albanese is the place to go. The candy is made right on site, and there are large glass windows where you can watch the process. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the factory, but I did get some of the store connected to it – look at all that candy!!!
There is a three-part video series that explains how several Albanese products are made – the sour worms, gummy frogs and their chocolate products. The videos were short, entertaining and educational. The factory is covered in cornstarch – everything has a white coating on it which looks crazy, but by watching the videos you’ll learn why – it was very interesting. We stocked up on some goodies like the $6 bags of gummi goof-ups. These are gummies that taste great but don’t look perfect. They are fun to eat because they are so crazy and so we bought a few bags. In addition to gummies, you’ll find so many other varieties of candy. The kids loved this stop for sure!
After loading up on candy, we figured we needed some real food, and drove a few miles south to Crown Point, Indiana to check out Off Square Brewing. I’ve found that all the new micro-breweries popping up tend to not only have interesting beers to try but also a fun atmosphere and delicious food.
This local brewery is located right off of I-65, so if you are driving to Chicago it’s an excellent place to stop for a meal (way better than fast food) and grab a couple of Crowlers for later. On a Friday night, the taproom was hopping, but we still only had a short wait for a table. In order to safely try as many of the beers as possible, my husband and I split a flight. I’m not a big beer fan, but I do love a good sour, and Off Square had an excellent Gose on tap when we were there. It was lemon-lime flavored with a hint of sea salt. Yum! My hubby liked the other beers and there was a nice variety available. Not a beer fan? Wine and sodas are also available. The food at Off Square was quite tasty. We asked our server what they were known for and she suggested the pizza and the fries. We ordered a pizza, garlic fries, the hummus plate, and a side salad/soup combo. Everything tasted great, was beautifully presented, and was reasonably priced. The pizza is wood fired which gave the crust a nice chewy bite to it. The hummus was excellent, topped with olives and artichoke hearts and probably my favorite. There was a lovely outdoor patio which would be perfect for a less rainy day. Note that after 9:00, no one under the age of 21 is allowed in the taproom, so plan accordingly.
It was late and time to call it a night, so we headed to our hotel in Merrillville, the Home2 Suites by Hilton. I was very impressed with this hotel. Home2 Suites is the newest addition to the Hilton lineup and it was perfect for a family of four. The rooms are large and well thought out. There is a full-sized fridge as well as a microwave, and hot plates are available to borrow. The room has tons of storage – the most I’ve ever seen in a hotel room. It would be very doable to stay in this room for a week and not feel crowded or cluttered. The room had two queen beds along with a sofa bed and I loved the curtain that could be closed to give a little privacy.
The hotel itself is lovely with clean lines and many environmental touches. The pool is saline versus chemical based, there is a fitness center, laundry facilities, outdoor grill area, and even an outdoor firepit. Breakfast was a nice change of pace from most hotels we stay at. Not only were the standard waffles, yogurt, and bagels provided, but the hotel also had a variety of more substantial breakfast omelets and sandwiches. There was even mango water as an alternative to juice. It was easy to pick what you’d like to try and microwave it quickly. What a great way to avoid wasted food.
We enjoyed this brand so much that I will be searching it out for future trips. At check-in, we asked about the history and discovered there are currently 50 properties open. Look out for one on your travels!
Do you enjoy factory tours? Which one was your favorite?
Albanese Candy Factory, 5441 East Lincoln Highway Merrillville, IN; (855) 272-3227; https://www.albanesecandy.com/factory-tours/
Off Square Brewing, 11000 Delaware Pkwy, Crown Point, IN; (219) 310-8898; offsquarebrewing.com
Home2 Suites, 8420 Indiana Street, Merrillville, IN; (219)-769-2620; https://home2suites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/indiana/home2-suites-by-hilton-merrillville-GYYMEHT/index.html
Thank you to the South Shores CVA for hosting part of our stay. We had a wonderful time exploring the area, finding new things to do and creating memories as a family. All thoughts, opinions, and pictures are my own.