Fun-filled Family Vacations
Await in Visit Michigan City LaPorte
It’s every kid’s dream – a family vacation filled with favorite summertime activities and lots of new surprises too! That’s the beauty of choosing the Michigan City-LaPorte area in Northern Indiana for endless days of activity along Lake Michigan and beyond.
Think about plenty of beach and swim time, plus splash pad frolicking near the shore that the little ones especially will love. Revel in family picnics in the park, walks on the sandy shore, and treks on the super-long pier to Michigan City’s iconic lighthouse.
Farther inland, kids thrill to hopping aboard old-time trains, picking berries with Mom and Dad, and discovering a great new park set in a botanical garden. And of course, what would vacation be without plenty of ice cream, tacos and hot dogs? It’s all here…. just an hour from Chicago, but a world away.
Hit the Beach
Washington Park Beach in Michigan City stretches for two pristine, sandy miles along Lake Michigan. Spread your beach towels, dive into the clear waters, build sandcastles with the kids, and search for shells or beach glass to take home as a vacation memory. Children of all ages, even toddlers, love Washington Park’s Oasis Splash Pad. Watery sprays and fountains provide a fantasy land of fun. Weather permitting, the Splash Pad opens Memorial Day weekend. Washington Park Zoo is another family favorite – More than 90 species from all over the world make their home at this longtime zoo, located on the Lake Michigan shore and a part of the park. Visitors especially enjoy a see-through tunnel where they can watch otters swim.
Walk the Pier
Michigan City’s beautiful lighthouse just might be one of the most photographed structures in Northern Indiana. Visitors love to trek out the long, elevated pier to see the lighthouse up close. The pier was once the “catwalk” that lighthouse keepers used before the light was automated. It’s an amazing up-close look at the lake, swooping gulls and the state’s only public operating lighthouse. (NOTE: The Michigan City Parks Department wants visitors to know that the lighthouse is not open to the public. They also say that it’s best to stay off the pier on extremely windy days when the waves are high.)
Ride the Rails
All aboard for a trip back in time at the Hesston Steam Museum, located in tiny Hesston just outside of LaPorte. Three different operating trains give visitors a taste of what rail transportation was like in times gone by. There’s also a chance to see steam-powered equipment and a sawmill in operation. Plan a great day that’s a perfect escape for families. The museum opens Memorial Day Weekend and features several special events through the summer, including Father’s Day festivities on June 21, and Ghost Trains in October.
Pick Your Own Berries
All you need is a pail, a fruit farm, and a passion for picking! Everyone has a great time and gains a feeling of accomplishment when families head for one of the numerous U-Pick blueberry and fruit farms in LaPorte County to harvest their own bounty. A host of operations large and small welcome visitors – from Billy Boy’s Blueberry Farm in Michigan City to longtime Blueberries of Indiana in LaPorte to family-operated Blue Sky Berry Farm in Wanatah. Many of the farms also offer jams, honey, and baked goods.
Stop and Smell the Flowers – and Play Too!
Friendship Botanic Gardens in Michigan City has long been a beloved retreat. Visitors relish walking trails through 105 acres of woodlands, open space, and beautifully cultivated gardens. There’s even more in store at the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden, filled with great playground equipment and a special plot featuring flowers and herbs chosen as a feast for the senses of smell, touch, and sight. Kids can try out a hydraulic hand pump that lets them simulate drawing groundwater from the earth.
Savor Yummy Food Finds
A big part of every vacation adventure is filling up on great local food. Don’t miss these three Michigan City institutions for treats the whole family will love. At colorful Cabos Ice Cream Shop & Cafe downtown, the owner makes ice cream from scratch every day, along with yummy popsicles in a rainbow of flavors. A special bonus – Cabos also serves tacos so delicious that the restaurant was the county winner in a regional Taco Wars contest.
At Bubbles Ice Cream Parlor a few blocks away, a host of ice cream flavors, homemade donuts and pies, plus a cool retro vibe make this a go-to favorite for local residents and vacationers alike. The kids will love the bubble machine outside. And speaking of retro… give the whole family another blast from the past at Carlson’s Drive-In, just across the street from Bubbles. Car hops bring delicious hot dogs, burgers, homemade root beer and more to your car at one of the Indiana’s last remaining drive-ins.
Get to know Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District when the Michigan City Mainstreet Association rolls out the red carpet for First Friday festivities, held from 5 to 8 p.m. the first Friday of each month. Artists display their works, musicians perform, and shops and restaurants showcase their specialties.