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Fall’s Beauty and Bounty

Fall’s Beauty and Bounty
Welcome Visitors to Northern Indiana

Autumn slips almost without notice into LaPorte County, the heart of Northern Indiana’s Northwest corner. One day visitors are swimming in Lake Michigan, wearing shorts, and wiping their brows under a hot summer sun. Then suddenly, crisp nights call for an extra blanket, and still-warm days beckon visitors to orchards, gardens, and farmers markets where pumpkins, apples, and glorious mums take center stage. Not to mention those delicious icons of fall – freshly-made donuts, cider, and caramel apples.

At this special time of year, nature puts on a spectacular display in red, orange, and gold as trees blaze along city streets and country roads throughout LaPorte County. It’s the ideal time for picking your own apples, heading for the pumpkin patch, or enjoying a hike or stroll through a county park.

Plan a fall getaway – a day, a weekend, or more – to this scenic region, and celebrate sunny days plus all the bounty and beauty nature has to offer in the most sublime of seasons.

Perfect Pumpkins, Awesome Apples and Brilliant Blooms

There are plenty of places to get your pumpkin, apple, and flower fix in LaPorte County. Check ahead on their websites or Facebook pages to get hours of operation and more details.

Burek Farms, LaPorte – Find pumpkins, squash, and hardy mums in an array of colors at this peaceful country location. If you haven’t gotten your fill of summer tomatoes and sweet corn, they expect to have some into early October.

Coulter’s Farm, Westville – The whole family will love hayrides to the pumpkin patch to pick your own, corn mazes and pony rides, plus delicious homemade food and cider. Stock up on apples and fall decorating items such as Indian corn and gourds.

Fischer Farm, LaPorte – Family-owned and operated, get down on the farm for your pumpkins, squash, gourds, Indian corn, and more. Longtime guests rave about the terrific corn maze.

Garwood Orchards, LaPorte – Come for the amazing array of apples (think Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jonagold, Pixie Crunch and so many more) you can pick yourself or buy already harvested. But don’t miss Garwood’s legendary donuts, cider, and pies. This fifth-generation orchard also offers fields of u-pick sunflowers and plenty of pumpkins, plus wagon and pony rides.

Minich Farms Flower Patch, LaPorte – This place is loaded with fall flowers, including dahlias, potted mums, and Teddy Bear sunflowers. Peruse unique heirloom varieties of pumpkins, and pet the resident goats. Mark your calendar for a big Fall Fest on October 3 from 10am-6pm, complete with a food truck, local craft classes that include painting flower pictures, and music.

Radke Orchards, Michigan City – Head out on a tractor-pulled wagon to pick your Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Grimes, Jonagold, Jonathan, MacIntosh, and Rubyjon apples or buy them already harvested. If you get a little chilly, warm up with a fresh donut and a hot spiced apple cider at this quiet 1894 homestead.

Williams Orchards, Rolling Prairie – Oh, those juicy apples ripe for your picking in so many varieties – Gala, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, Paula Red, McIntosh and more. Or you can buy them already picked at this tranquil orchard. Don’t miss fresh-made donuts and cider on the weekends.

Phenomenal Farmers Markets

Everyone loves a farmers market. Not only is it a chance to buy produce directly from the farmer, but also artisan breads and cheeses, homemade pies and cookies, and other creations. The season is nearing an end, but there’s still time to head to the Saturday markets for all the best of autumn in both the communities of Michigan City and LaPorte.

Michigan City Farmers Market (8am-noon, Saturdays through Oct. 31) – Regular visitors say they love visiting this farmers market at 8th and Washington streets in Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District because it’s compact enough to be manageable, but large enough that they can find anything their hearts desire. The market promotes locally grown and sourced products, including seasonal produce (look for plenty of pumpkins and squash this fall), breads, cheeses, and meat, plus prepared foods from local bakeries and restaurants. Dried fruits, local honey, dried flowers, popcorn, herbs, pickles and even dog food are just a few of the unique finds.

LaPorte Farmers Market (8am-1pm, Saturdays through Oct. 10) – The city of LaPorte had a lot of things in mind when they established their farmers market, including creating a gathering place to showcase the region’s bounty and bringing healthy options to those who come to shop there. You’ll know their mission has been accomplished when you meet the local growers selling fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese, honey, and often home baked goods at the intersection of Lincolnway Avenue and Monroe Street. The market will close out its season this year with special events the last two weekends. On Oct. 3, kids and adults can enjoy pumpkin painting. The market will also offer “Painting on the Gogh,” a class where you can paint your own scenes under the guidance of a pro. On the final weekend, Oct. 10, kids can trick-or-treat at businesses around town, starting at the Farmers Market.

Graceful Gardens and Picture-Perfect Parks

Cooler days, bright sunshine, and the leaves erupting in autumn’s panorama of color create ideal conditions for getting outside to stroll or hike. Take plenty of time along the way to stop and breathe the fresh air while taking in nature’s artistry. Here are some terrific options.

Friendship Botanic Gardens, Michigan City (9am-5pm, Tuesdays-Sundays) – Fall is a special time at this 105-acre oasis of forested woodlands, open meadows, and cultivated gardens, complete with a creek and small lake. Visitors can stroll or hike earthen trails on self-guided garden tours and nature trails. In September and October, you’ll find many flowers still in bloom and the leaves beginning to change.

Wildlife abound in this sanctuary, including deer, groundhogs, squirrels, birds, and wild turkeys. At Lake Lucerne, you might see muskrats, geese, and turtles. The gardens will host some special events this fall, both antidotes to lift your spirits. Each Thursday from 9:30-10:30am, you can join Yoga in the Gardens with instructor April Fallon. On Sept. 25, Johnny V will perform his last concert of the season with an outdoor Neil Young Tribute.

LaPorte County Parks (7am-sunset) – Talk about a chance to get into the great out-of-doors! LaPorte County Parks provide more than 600 acres at four locations, each with its own personality and amenities. All parks feature picnic tables, playground equipment, and restrooms. Here they are:

Bluhm County Park, Westville – Nature trails, paved trails, and mountain bike trails roam through acres of forest and prairie, plus a large wetland area where waterfowl, including wood ducks and geese, are common.

Creek Ridge County Park, Michigan City – A series of boardwalks make hiking easy in this park, where deer, fox, raccoons, and rabbits live in open-field prairies, wetlands, and hardwood forests.

Luhr County Park, LaPorte – If you feel the urge to throw in a line, this is your place. The park features a stocked pond with a fishing pier (fishing pole rental is available at the Nature Center). Enjoy paved trails and boardwalks, and climb the observation tower.

Red Mill County Park, Michigan City – Multi-use trails make this a great spot for hikers and mountain bikers. The headwaters of the Little Calumet River are located here, with burbling water that’s a feast for the eyes, along with 23 acres of wetlands and open water.

Insider Tip: Fall color in Northern Indiana usually reaches peak in early to mid-October. Driving or bicycling through the countryside on bike trails and country roads provides an excellent way to view the fall scenery and discover some of your own surprises along the way. Twenty mapped bicycle routes have been established in LaPorte County, with loops totaling 420 miles. As for driving, get out your road map and explore the back byways.

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