Visit Ogden Gardens Park Valparaiso Indiana

Ogden Park Gardens Valparaiso IN by FlowerChick.com

Ogden Gardens Park is one of Valparaiso, Indiana’s best known natural attractions – join Flower Chick in our latest “Visiting Midwest Gardens” feature as we venture out to northwest Indiana …

Valparaiso Gardens – An Overview

A visit to Valparaiso has been on Flower Chick’s radar for quite some time. Here you’ll find two distinct horticultural attractions well worth visiting in Ogden Gardens Park and Gabis Arboretum and Gardens …

Interestingly, neither of these two attractions are independently managed. Ogden Gardens Park (photo above) is owned and maintained by the Valparaiso Parks Department. Gabis Arboretum and Gardens is managed by Purdue University Northwest …

Gabis Arboretum Welcome Garden by FlowerChick.com

The Appealing Welcome Garden At Gabis Arboretum in Valparaiso

Gabis is actually located a few minutes west of town, just south of Route 30, the main east – west thoroughfare in the area. It’s only a few minutes from bustling Interstate 65, which heads northwest toward Chicago …

Ogden Gardens Park is in the heart of Valparaiso five minutes north of downtown. These two sites are only 15 minutes from each other by car, making it easy to see both in one day …

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Introducing Valparaiso Indiana …

The perfect Chicago area day trip destination, Valparaiso is a small northwest Indiana community of just under 35,000. Home of Valparaiso University, the city is a short 1/2 hour south of the Indiana Dunes National Park. Situated a few miles east of Interstate 65, Valparaiso is just over an hour from Chicago, depending on traffic …

Did You Know? Two of Valparaiso’s prominent residents were popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher and actress Beulah Bondi, well known for her roles in classic films like “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” #ad …

Valparaiso draws a lot of Indiana Dunes visitors. The city has ample hotel space for overnight travelers and the Dunes are a straight shot north from here on Indiana Route 49. In addition, the downtown area is a popular destination for shopping and dining options for area residents and visitors alike …

It’s easy to get around in Valparaiso. The streets are (more or less) plotted out in a grid and nothing in town is more than 15 minutes away …

Shops Downtown Valparaiso IN by FlowerChick.con

Valparaiso Beckons With An Attractive, Pedestrian Friendly Downtown

Downtown is at the south edge of town, just north of U.S. Route 30, a main east – west Indiana artery. Flower Chick spent a day here and we recommend spending a couple hours downtown visiting the shops and restaurants, some of which we’ll spotlight below. To help find your way, devote a few minutes studying Google Maps. You’ll be able to navigate like a local …

Did You Know? Valparaiso, Indiana is named after a city of the same name in Chile in South America. The term translates to “Vale of Paradise” …

Before we share some of our favorite Valparaiso destinations, let’s give you a virtual tour of the area’s two botanical attractions, Gabis Arboretum and Gardens and Ogden Gardens Park…


Gabis Arboretum and Gardens

Gabis Arboretum and Gardens is easy to reach for visitors from Chicago. Exit I-65 at Route 30 East and you’re ten minutes away. From here, you’re only a few miles to the heart of downtown Valparaiso …

Gabis Arboretum and Gardens by FlowerChick.com

       Beautiful Seasonal Display Gardens Await You at Gabis Arboretum

Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest serves as a living laboratory for education, research, conservation and engagement with the natural environment.

The total land for the arboretum and gardens is 360 acres. The picturesque property includes a prairie, woodlands, wetlands, savanna, plant collections, and display gardens. Interestingly, it houses the largest collection of oak trees in Indiana.

Gabis Arboretum Valparaiso Indiana by FlowerChick.com

Scenic View From The Railway Depot To The Prairie Trails at Gabis

The highly acclaimed Railway Garden was not open when we visited, but we learned it comprises a 2.5 acre G scale model railroad intertwined with over 3,500 plants! First installed in 2011, this exhibit represents eight different railroads within the garden and nine different dioramas which tell the story of railroads in the United States.

Gabis Railway Depot by Fl

  The Impressive Railway Depot Leading to The Railroad Garden

Before your visit, we recommend you plan ahead and download the Gabis Arboretum Trail Map.  There are seven different trails to explore ranging from .28 perimeters (The Heron Trail) up to a 1.63 perimeter trail  (The Bluebird Trail) for getting up close to nature, bird watching, and exercise.


The Adventure Garden was bursting with life, many different veggies were happily growing including peppers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and gorgeous pumpkins.

Adventure Gardens at Gabis Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

The Lively Adventure Garden Blooming With A Variety of Veggies

The native plant garden was all abuzz with various pollinators! We spotted bumblebees, several types of butterflies, moths, beetles and hummingbirds. The milkweed, sunflowers, butterfly weed, asters, blue wild indigo, and columbine drew in the winged helpers.

Native Plant Garden at Gabis Arboretum by FlowerChick.com

The Native Plant Garden Was Buzzing With Activity in Late August

Ogden Gardens Park

Flower Chick is delighted to spotlight Valparaiso’s beautiful Ogden Gardens Park, the city’s unique outdoor botanical garden …

One of Valparaiso’s sixteen parks, Ogden Gardens Park dates back to 1958. The park was named after Valpo Parks first gardener, Otto Ogden, and continues to be one of the most popular locales in the city …

Ogden Gardens Park Valparaiso IN by FlowerChick.com

    Stunning Flowers In Bloom Everywhere at Ogden Gardens Park!

It’s interesting to note this park wasn’t always a Valparaiso showcase. About 25 years ago, both the City and Parks Department felt this site could be an excellent horticultural attraction for locals and visitors. The park was then completely transformed into the beautiful setting on display today …

Did You Know? Ogden Gardens Park was built entirely on landfill – it’s the former site of a ravine and railroad yard.

You’ll find Ogden Gardens Park five minutes north of downtown Valparaiso. Located off the corner of Harrison Boulevard and Campbell Street, the park is adjacent to the much larger Forest Park …

Ogden Park Gardens in Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

   A Kaleidoscope Of Vibrant Colors At Ogden Botanical Garden

Spread out over four acres, Ogden Gardens Park offers a vibrant burst of color from spring through fall. The centerpiece of the park is the Japanese Garden, which was built and installed by Valpo Parks in 2005. Adjacent is a beautiful 22,000 gallon koi pond …

It’s amazing to see how well Valpo Parks maintains Ogden Gardens Park despite budget and personnel limitations. The Park District employs five horticultural specialists, each of whom are responsible for a geographic section of Valparaiso.

Ogden Gardens Park Japanese Garden by FlowerChick.com

The Tranquil and Visually Pleasing Japanese Garden at Ogden Park

Ogden Gardens Park is Assistant Horticultural Superintendent Paul Chen’s domain – Paul does a remarkable job considering the many challenges of this location like deer damage, vandalism, and difficult soil conditions …

Did You Know? Valpo Parks trucks in organic matter to Ogden Gardens Park to improve the soil and help keep the garden settings looking their best …

Many of the plants in the park are grown at Valpo Parks own greenhouses. For practical reasons, there’s always a preference and emphasis on native plants … those that do well in gardening Zone 5 and Zone 6.  Below begonias, marigolds, zinnias, ageratum, coleus, and black-eyed Susans light up the spirited display.

Ogden Gardens Park Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

         Bright and Cheerful Floral Exhibits Abound At Ogden

One thing I recommend when you visit a breathtaking botanical garden, besides enjoying the peacefulness of the setting … make a mental note of the flowers you observe.  You can gather some great ideas for your home gardens!  Note which plants are really thriving and what plant companions coexist or play well together.


Enjoying A Day In Valparaiso

If you’ve seen our other “Visiting Midwest Gardens” travelogues, you know Flower Chick likes to explore beautiful gardens as well as the town’s local businesses …

On a day trip to Valparaiso from the Chicago area, it makes logistic sense to visit Gabis Arboretum & Gardens first. You can see Gabis in the morning (it’s open at 8 a.m.) and then head downtown. From here, it’s a short five minutes to Ogden Gardens Park. Afternoon is the perfect time to explore the park – you’ll enjoy the sunny vistas and the flowers are at their showy best …

Utility Box Art Downtown Valaraiso

  The “Artified” Utility Boxes Downtown Impressed Flower Chick!

In between stops at these two horticultural sites, we took time to see Valparaiso and visit some of the city’s enduring independent businesses. Heading into town after our early morning visit to Gabis, the first stop was the Saturday Valparaiso Market, located just off the downtown square …

Valparaiso Market:  The Valparaiso Market is located at the William E. Urschel Pavilion at Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso. This well-organized outdoor market runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and is a delight to browse, listen to music, grab a bite to eat, and of course shop.

Valparaiso Market by FlowerChick.com

Pick Up Fresh Produce, Flowers, Honey, & More Goodies At The Market

There’s LOTS of fresh, local produce, flowers, plants, honey, spices, coffee, pies and other treats for you and your pups! We stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies – tasty sweet corn, a variety of sweet & hot peppers, ripe fragrant melons, picture perfect green beans and other healthy goodies.

Plan ahead by checking out their Facebook page before you go … you’ll see which vendors will be in attendance.  Fun for the whole family!

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Seeing as Saturday morning is the ideal time to visit a local bakery, we headed north of downtown to our next stop …

Henze’s Bakery: Henze’s is Valparaiso’s traditional old school bakery – they’ve been part of the local landscape here since 1960.

Walk into Henze’s and you’ll see an enticing array of freshly baked goodies. Several varieties of traditional cake donuts tempt, as do the fruit and cream filled kolaczki. There’s usually a tray filled with smiley face cookies too!

Henzes Bakery in Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Henze’s Bakery Cakes, Cookies, & Donuts 

If it’s bumping up toward lunch time, or if you’re inclined to enjoy a little day drinking, head back toward downtown on Calumet Avenue from Henze’s and you’ll encounter our next stop about ten blocks down on your left, the North Side Tap …

Northside Tap: Located on Calumet Avenue five minutes from downtown, the Northside Tap is one of Valparaiso’s most popular spots. The place has a wonderful long history, dating back to 1874 …

Even if you’re not much into history, Northside Tap still beckons with an affordable menu and great drink specials. We stopped in for lunch to enjoy one of Northside’s famous Italian beef sandwiches. They’re big enough for two, but one hearty appetite can do the job …

Northside Tap Valparaiso IN by FlowerChick.com

              Try The Yuengling Lager On Draft At Northside Tap

A friendly locals place, Northside Tap is also known for their wings, burgers, and BLT sandwiches. Daily specials are listed on a neon board adjacent to the bar, including several happy hour deals during the week …

There’s plenty of parking just behind the Tap and easy access to Calumet Avenue. And the Yuengling Lager on tap here is fantastic!

Beef Mart of Valparaiso: Whenever we travel, we always take time out to visit a local meat market. Beef Mart in Valparaiso is without question one of the best in the Midwest …

Bustling with in the know locals, Beef Mart is part deli, part fresh meat counter, and part grocery store. The long large freezer section offers packaged meals like meatloaf, stews, and even chop suey! Head over to the fresh meat counter for steaks, cuts of chicken, pork chops, fresh ground chuck, and a whole lot more …

Beef Mart Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

Great Selection of Meats, Packaged Meals, and Deli Items at Beef Mart

Toward the front of the store you’ll find freshly delivered breads, sandwich rolls, and various locally made products. Adjacent is the star of the show in our view … Beef Mart’s deli area. We scored some house made chicken salad, ham salad, and a delicious potato salad made with light mayonnaise.

Insider Tip: While at Beef Mart’s deli area, be sure to pick up a pound of their house made cole slaw. It’s the perfect combination of crispy, tangy, fresh, and flavorful …

Upon leaving, we remarked it’d be worth visiting Valparaiso again if only to stop in at Beef Mart!

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The Oldest Bar in Valparaiso …

Franklin House: Flower Chick’s driver and navigator (actually my husband Jim : ) has a general rule during any of our “Visiting Midwest Gardens” excursions …

He doesn’t mind visiting gardens, but insists we carve out a little time to visit a good old local tavern or two. Especially a stop at “the oldest bar in town” …


In Valparaiso, that place is The Franklin House. Dating back to 1857, Franklin House is the oldest bar in Valparaiso. This beautiful brick structure began its life as a roadhouse and hotel for train travelers through town and has been a big part of the community for over 160 years …

Franklin House Tavern Valparaiso IN by flowerchick.com

The Oldest Bar in Valparaiso is The Historic Franklin House Tavern

Located at the south end of Campbell Street just five minutes south of Ogden Gardens Park, The Franklin House has successfully morphed into a rollicking historic bar that’s famous for live music and an expansive beer selection. We didn’t experience the food menu, but we’re told the creative burgers and house sandwiches are excellent …

Walking around The Franklin House, you’ll enjoy exploring all the different rooms, the historic bar, and even the old fashioned swing open doors to the washrooms. If you’re a beer person, there’s about two dozen on tap and many more in cans and bottles, featuring a lot of local choices from up and coming breweries …

Inside The Franklin House Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

Explore The Cool Details Inside The Iconic Franklin House Tavern

We decided to go “old school” and opted for long time Chicago area favorite Old Style Lager on tap. This easy drinking beer, now brewed in Milwaukee, has supposedly reverted back to its original formula. Thumbs up!

The Franklin House is a great choice if you’re with a group, as there’s plenty of parking and ample room to spread out inside. If you’re lucky, you might experience the iconic ambiance of a freight train rolling by on the adjacent train tracks, just as they’ve done for generations …

Valpo Velvet Ice Cream: Perhaps Valparaiso’s most beloved local product, Valpo Velvet is renowned for their ice cream.

It’d be almost criminal to miss Valpo Velvet on any trip to town. Their ice cream shoppe is located downtown, just two blocks south of the main square. It has been here for over 70 years, since 1947 …

Valpo Velvet Icecream by FlowerChick.com

  Treat Yourself To A Delicious Ice Cream Creation At Valpo Velvet

A popular place from open to close, the Valpo Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe is two blocks south of Valparaiso’s downtown square on Monroe Street. There’s a wide variety of flavors available, from the standards to a delicious Salty Caramel and other seasonal delights …

Of course, most of these flavors are packaged in pint, quart, and half gallon sizes just ready for you to take home. Valpo Velvet is also available at select area grocers and retail outlets …

You haven’t experienced Valparaiso like a local until you’ve visited Valpo Velvet …


Time For A Little Valparaiso Shopping …

Lifestyles Gallery What a lovely store! You’ll find gifts for everyone here, items for all rooms in your home, and a wide variety of gifts to treat yourself.

They specialize in eclectic, affordable gifts and home essentials. Lifestyles carries artwork and paintings, home decor, jewelry, candles, kitchen accessories, cards, garden accents, novelty items and much more.

Of course, I was drawn to the garden section and picked up a darling smiling turtle statue with a butterfly on his back.  Awww!  You also need to check out their attractive stone birdhouses & bird feeders made by a local Valparaiso artist.  The stones were handpicked on the beaches of Lake Michigan. If only I had the room to take one home with me!

Lifestyles Valparaiso by FlowerChick.com

Great Selection of Home & Garden Decor, Jewelry, Art & More At Lifestyles

You’ll find Lifestyles at 122 E. Lincolnway and they’re open every day except Sunday.  Allow enough time to do some serious shopping … there are two floors of fantastic merchandise to check out.

Aster + GrayAster + Gray is located at 20 Indiana Avenue in the downtown district. This approachable boutique is passionate about supporting local artisans and fair trade causes.

What a wonderful place to shop!  This attractive store carries goods handcrafted by nearly 200 artisans, and the unique selection ranges from  home decor to bath & body care, jewelry to stationery, fashionable women’s apparel to homemade dog cookies & collars for stylish canines.

Aster + Gray Valparaiso

Cute Shop Filled With Unique & Fun Artisan and Fair Trade Items

Aster + Gray welcomes well-behaved dogs into the store. The owner has a soft spot for pups … she’s the mom to two pittie rescues.

Beginning as an outlet to sell upcycled and repurposed furniture at artisan markets, Aster + Gray quickly transformed into a brick and mortar shop three years ago. Definitely stop in and see their beautiful and interesting merchandise!

Closet Exchange ResaleYou’ll find this upscale resale and consignment shop on Route 30 near the Strack & Van Til plaza.  Very neat, clean and well-organized, the Closet Exchange caters to women who like style, just not the high prices that come with it!

They offer name brand and designer clothing, jewelry, purses and shoes all in gently used condition.  Flower Chick scored a Vera Bradley purse, DKNY jeans (brand new – never worn) and a Michael Kors blouse … all three for under $20 total. Yes, this is why I love resale stores so much.

The Closet Exchange Valparaiso by FlowerChick.om

Shop Good Quality Clothes At Bargain Prices At The Closet Exchange

Another thing I noticed about the store, there were no yucky heavy perfume spray odors present. If you’ve ever shopped in a resale store that sprayed the clothing for sale with what I call “obnoxious camouflage scents” you know what I mean.  Everything I looked at had a pleasant clean, neutral fragrance.  Come check them out and see what you’ve been missing …

Dinner In Valpo …

Duffy’s Place: You’ll find Duffy’s just east of downtown off Route 30 on Axe Avenue … if you’re at all unsure how to get there, just ask any local. They’ll know for sure!

Duffy’s is one of Valparaiso’s most popular bar & grills. Known for their bar food that’s way better than normal every day bar food, Duffy’s is a great choice for happy hour, dinner, or late night socializing …

Duffy;'s Place Valparaiso IN by FlowerChick.com

Relax On The Patio With A Cold Beer And Good Food At Duffy’s Place

In conversation earlier in the day with a Valpo native asking about our visit, he inquired about our dinner plans, seemingly ready with a recommendation. When told we planned on stopping at Duffy’s, he nodded and smiled and said “Excellent choice. You won’t go wrong!” …

He was right. We savored a wonderfully fresh Yuengling Lager on tap and dove into one of Duffy’s 1/2 pound burgers, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion. Tater tots on the side and it was one great meal!

Insider Tip: If the weather is cooperative, head past the bar area directly to Duffy’s spacious outdoor patio deck. Enjoy the fresh air and Duffy’s friendly service! We were captivated during our meal watching a handsome large red hawk perched nearby on a wooden fence post …

Tony’s Place Pizza: You’ll find Tony’s on Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso, a block east of Lifesyles Gallery (see above) on the same side of the street …

Tony’s Place is a Valparaiso pizza icon, dating back to 1955. They’re best known for their thin crispy Neopolitan style pizza. The rest of the Italian focused menu is praise worth too …

Tony's Pizza in Valparaiso IN by FlowerChick.com

Enjoy A Mouth-Watering Pizza at Tony’s in Downtown Valparaiso

Particularly notable is Tony’s Special Beef Sandwich. Slow cooked and served with a side of au jus, it’s every bit as delicious as the pizza …

This 4th generation family owned Valparaiso landmark is open every day at 3 p.m. and is a short two minute walk down Lincolnway from the heart of downtown. A popular place for groups and special family get together events, this local favorite is perfect for a casual comfortable dinner …

Did You Know? Tony’s was recently inducted into the Pizza Hall of Fame! Yes, there really is a Pizza Hall of Fame

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Summary – Ogden Gardens Park and Valparaiso

Flower Chick was delighted to spend some time in Valparaiso! The town offers a little something for everyone, from beautiful gardens to great restaurants to enjoyable shopping destinations …

If you get the distinct impression there are a lot of “must see” stops in town … you’re correct. Anyone with an appreciation of history will enjoy the historic architecture and long running independent businesses. Gardeners will appreciate not only Ogden Gardens Park, but the overall efforts of Valpo Parks horticultural staff … in evidence all over town … (love this pop of color from zinnias, black-eyed Susans and hydrangea)

Downtown Valparaiso Gardens by FlowerChick.com

           Bright Floral Displays Greet You All Over Valparaiso

It’s especially rewarding to experience the beautiful surroundings at Ogden Gardens Park. It’s very challenging to maintain an open access botanical site within a city park, and Valpo Parks does a wonderful job. Coupled with the serene beauty of nearby Gabis Arboretum & Gardens, the Valparaiso area is a worthy destination for any garden traveler …

We hope you enjoy our “Visiting Midwest Gardens” features! More importantly, that they inspire you to create or enhance your own garden paradise at your own home. You’ll find more “Visiting Midwest Gardens” features below, or check out the drop down menu at the top of this page for state-by-state listings …

Thanks for being with us on our journeys, and be sure to leave your comments below!

Special thanks to Steve Martinson, Horticultural Superintendent of Valpo Parks, for the background information about Ogden Gardens Park …


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