Whether you’re planning a trip to Valparaiso, Indiana, to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving or you’re looking for some fun things to do around town during the holiday break, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy. If you have some extra time in the area before or after the big day, fill the gaps between feasting and festivities by exploring some of Valparaiso’s exclusive offerings. Here are four of our favorite places to eat, shop, and play.
Loads of fun for adults and kids alike, Zao Island is a Valpo staple for family entertainment. Featuring both indoor and outdoor attractions, there’s something for everyone. Weather permitting, step outside to take a spin at the go-kart track, featuring a 1,100-foot high-rise track and single or double vehicles. Hit one of two — or both — miniature golf courses, which feature 20 waterfalls and a 30-foot stone dragon. Finish up your outdoor activities with a swing at the batting cages, which offer softball and hardball pitches at different speeds.
Zao Island’s outdoor activities might be seasonal, but the indoor fun is year-round. Check out the massive, jungle-themed laser tag arena, complete with special lighting effects. Then, step into the game room to try your hand at all kinds of popular games. Just load up your game card and explore the over 65 game options available. Once you’ve collected all your tickets, take them to the prize area to trade in your winnings. If all the excitement makes you hungry, make sure to stop by the pizza bar for a bite to eat and a cocktail for the grown-ups.
Location: 1050 Horse Prairie Ave., Valparaiso, Indiana
Hours: Monday through Thursday noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Stacks Bar and Grill
Sure, there will be plenty of turkey on Thanksgiving, but sometimes you just need a break from the bird. If you’re saving all your kitchen energy for Thanksgiving Day or you’re just tired of leftovers, check out Stacks Bar and Grill for a delectable dinner. A local favorite, this restaurant offers “refined comfort fare” in a setting you won’t find anywhere else. It gets its name from its interior design, which features dim lighting, dark wood accents, and shelves upon shelves of books. The library-inspired look gives it a cozy feeling that’s as warm and delightful as the food.
Speaking of the food, the Stacks dinner menu doesn’t disappoint. Choose from re-imagined versions of classic appetizers, artisan sandwiches with garlic fries or sweet potato tots, garden-fresh salads, and the restaurant’s own specialty dishes and pizzas. There’s also a huge drink menu featuring over 150 beers plus wine, cocktails, and spirits. Come for a holiday date night, or make it a family dinner with the kids. Seating goes fast, so call 219-462-0553 to make your reservation. If you’re in the Valpo area during warmer months, consider stopping back in for a bite and drinks on the rooftop.
Location: 175 W. Lincolnway #C, Valparaiso, Indiana
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 4 to 11 p.m. and Saturday 4 p.m. to midnight
There may not be such a thing as too much pie around Thanksgiving, but if you’re looking to mix up your dessert options, you’ve got to check out the Albanese Confectionery. Retailers around the country sell Albanese candies, but they all come from the company’s headquarters right down the road. The makers of “The World’s Best Gummies,” Albanese Candy has called Merrillville, Indiana, home for over three decades. Just short of 30 minutes from Valparaiso, the Albanese Confectionery factory store welcomes candy lovers with a sweet tooth and an appreciation for quality candy.
Albanese Candy’s most famous product is its gummy candies, which the company offers in 20 delectable flavors created to please even the pickiest gummy aficionados. Pick up some 12 Flavor Gummi Bears for distinct fruit flavors like mango, pink grapefruit, and watermelon, or grab a pack of Ultimate 8 Flavor Gummi Bears for deluxe flavors like blood orange, Asian pear, and black currant. Don’t worry, chocolate fans — there’s plenty for you, too. Albanese Candy makes over 100 milk, dark, and white chocolate candies, including creamy, fruity, and minty combinations. The Albanese Confectionery is simply too tasty to miss.
Location: 5441 E. Lincoln Highway, Merrillville, Indiana
Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Alley Kat’s Curiosity Shoppe
With Black Friday following quickly behind Thanksgiving, the holiday seems to signal the official start of the winter holiday shopping season. There are many opportunities to support local businesses in Valpo, and Alley Kat’s Curiosity Shoppe is a popular weekend locale for fans of art, antiques, and oddities. The store features products from over 50 area makers and collectors, making it the perfect place to start buying your friends and family gifts for the holidays.
Alley Kat’s Curiosity Shoppe got its start when owner Kat purchased the leftover inventory from a shuttered lampshade factory in 2014. Expecting more fabrics and sewing materials than anything, she ended up with just that — plus 929 lampshades. This started Kat’s journey into the world of resale, and what began as a living room venture turned into the beloved shop that offers unique finds by local creatives. Stop in and browse the extensive selection of various goods, including vintage items, decor, collectibles, toys, metaphysical items, clothes, and accessories.
Location: 1515 Roosevelt Road, Valparaiso, Indiana
Hours: Thursday and Friday noon to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
What do you think of our list? Did we include your favorite Valparaiso spots? If not, contact us and let us know what yours is. We’re always looking for local attractions and hidden gems our team can enjoy, whether on the weekend or on a holiday like Thanksgiving. We also love giving recommendations to the customers who count on our managed IT services to keep their businesses running safely, smoothly, and securely.