In light of all the looting, rioting, and destruction going on in almost all towns across the nation right now, I wanted to take a moment to show some encouragement and support for my hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana. I know the local mall in the town next to us was looted and there were shootouts and even attempted arson. The Walmart in Valpo closed and barricaded its doors the other night. It’s insane. I don’t wan to get too far into the politics of it all, but I do not see how anyone can think destroying their hometown is going to fix anything. So, I wanted to highlight my favorite local hotspots in hopes that others will enjoy them and not destroy them.
#1 Schoop’s Hamburgers
I love going to Schoop’s for so many reasons; it’s right around the corner from where we live now, they have Green River floats and patty melts, there is so much cool 50’s memorabilia on the walls! If I ask my daughter where she wants to go eat lunch it’s almost always Schoop’s.
If I make a trip to walk around downtown I am definitely going into this store! It’s such a great collective of old and new, vintage and modern and it’s so pleasing to the eye. Local artists pair up with rare finds to give shoppers a unique home décor store like no other. If you haven’t been in here and you’re in the area, I highly recommend it! (Please don’t loot it)
I ate here for the first time only recently but it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s the only place where your Blood Mary looks like a delicious gourmet meal! ‘Nuff said. But really, I love the industrial style of the intimate little restaurant and it was voted best restaurant in Valpo last year. I can see why!
#4 Valparaiso’s Porter County Public Library
For being an author, I do not utilize this awesome gem as much as I should. I love buying books to build my personal library so I rarely check out books to read, but for my daughter we use it ALL the time. This last weekend she got her very first library card and even signed the back all by herself. She was so proud. I love this library because it’s clean and it feels friendly. The staff really take the time to chat with you and get to know their regulars. It’s a nice small town feel in a not so small anymore town. This dollhouse has been here since before I started going there!
#5 Central Park Plaza in Downtown Valparaiso, IN
This is such an awesome renovation in our town. I love it! Charlotte is still too scared to sit down and have her picture taken with Orval Redenbacher, but she’s so close. She enjoys prancing around the splash pad. It’s the perfect size for little babies to bigger kids to run around and cool off in. You may even see me in there on a super hot day! In the winter they turn the pavilion into an ice skating rink. For five-years-old Charlotte is able to skate all on her own thanks to this place and other local rinks. She’s got amazing coordination. The plaza is just so beautiful and well-kept. On the stage they have live music and free movies during the summer. Bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy!
#6 Southlake Martial Arts
Charlotte is a straight-up ninja because of this place. I’m definitely not messing with her! The staff is friendly. Miss Wallace teaches the kids upstairs and she is so great with them. Charlotte has learned so much that really has nothing to do with fighting at all; coordination, listening to those in authority, patience, silence, her own strength, confidence. I really like sending her here to get all her baby energy out and she loves it because she gets to show off and interact with the other kids. And they are decently priced when compared to other martial arts schools. I think we’re going to use them for her birthday party this year too which was a nice affordable option for us. (Would not recommend looting. I’ve seen Ms. Wallace’s kicks and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of those.)
#7 Pat’s Ice Cream Parlor
When walking around historic downtown Valpo, Pat’s Ice Cream Parlor is a must for us. Last time we went Charlotte broke out of her vanilla box and tried a large scoop of Cotton Candy. I love their Exhausted Parent flavor option, well named, which includes some coffee in it. YUM! They’re certainly creative and the ice cream is so good. I also love their sign that says basically she knows ice cream is high calorie and if you want to eat healthy go somewhere where they serve carrots. Gotta love that humor!
#8 The Old Fairgrounds
Though the playground has not been opened back up, nor the outdoor exercise equipment, Charlotte still had fun running up and down the hills, playing soccer with us in the open field, and walking the beautifully manicured track. The pavilion is a great size for rental. When we went this weekend there was a graduation party going on. Perfect centralized location.
I know this is not a local store or indie store, but it is still a staple in my life. This is where I picked up my $20 Nostalgia ice cream maker we’ve been having so much fun with! It’s a great way to make those offbeat flavors like watermelon and pineapple that are harder to find. It’s easy to use, takes little ingredients, and tastes amazing. I highly recommend it. I am a big fan of the one-stop-shop and grocery pick up too.
#10 Barnes & Noble
Again, this is not a local only shop or indie bookstore, but it’s the only bookstore we got and so I support it so we don’t ever live in a town with zero bookshops. I love the remodeling ours has undergone. Now, they have a huge toy section that my daughter loves walking through with a huge Lego section, which my husband loves searching for deals through. The store is clean, the staff is so friendly and helpful, and I love sitting in the Starbucks café looking through my new purchases with a Frappuccino and a cinnamon coffee cake. Tempting as it is for us avid readers and authors, please don’t loot!
I know I seem like I’m making light of this terrible situation we’re in with rioting, looting, arson, murder, and more, but I understand the seriousness of it. I understand it from a community standpoint where I am sad to see businesses that I love scared to open their doors, especially after they have been closed for so long because of the pandemic we just went through. It makes me sad that people are fighting the injustice of violence with violence, that people are destroying their hometowns in response to the destruction of life.
I have been binge watching Home Town on HGTV. I just love Erin and Ben Napier who saw the potential in their little southern town that fell on hard times and made it their mission to fix it up and make it beautiful again. This is the kind of action that sparks change. She was challenged by a fan of the show on social media questioning why she hasn’t spoken out more heavily for the black community during all this and her response was spot on perfect, well-thought out and well written. It is exactly how I feel and why I have taken more to silence than jumping into social media full force.
Social media and protesting does raise awareness and it can be peaceful, but the awareness is raised. Now is the time to make little changes in your community for good. God places so many opportunities right in front of us to do His will to better this world and the lives of others. We do not have to force the situation with riots and violence but rather look for what is given to us. We are not all meant to make these grand sweeping motions too big for us to change the entire world, but rather in the little interactions God places in front of us daily. He knows what is best for us and what is right in His eyes, so we can accept the opportunities placed in front of us without forcing our will into it. He works all things for the good of His believers, and this is what keeps me positive and kind and moving forward.