Note: Businesses throughout LaPorte County, which includes the communities of Michigan City and LaPorte, are following state guidelines established in conjunction with the coronavirus (COVID-19) to open gradually and safely in accordance with a five-part plan initiated by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. As the state nears Phase 5, which means a widespread reopening, we still recommend that you check ahead with places you plan to visit to make sure they are operating and to learn about regulations in place such as social distancing and occupancy limits. You can check their websites, call ahead, or visit their social media accounts.
The Many Magical Faces
of Michigan City and More
Visitors discover so much to love about the beachside community of Michigan City and other surprises beyond its borders that they return again and again to this sun-kissed enclave along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Michigan City, located in LaPorte County in easily accessible Northern Indiana, wears numerous faces – lakefront haven with miles of soft sand beaches, gaming mecca with a world-class casino, shopper’s dream at a top-notch outlet mall, and purveyor of one-of-a-kind adventures, such as fishing for Coho salmon aboard a charter boat that plies the big lake, or climbing towering sand dunes at a neighboring national park.
Just a few miles to the south, the friendly community of LaPorte presents a whole different vacation experience with calm, shimmering inland lakes. Ready for a break from the beach? In both communities, find out how much fun and fascination LaPorte County’s lively museums hold.
Michigan City and LaPorte provide perfect places to settle in for a long weekend or a week… you could fill unlimited days with outdoor activities, indoor action or just plain rest and relaxation. Rent a place along the shore, indulge in great local cuisine and craft brews, visit a lakeside zoo and walk a long pier to an iconic lighthouse. The possibilities seem endless.
Michigan City is also a terrific overnight stop if you’re traveling across Northern Indiana along I-80/90. If your family’s ideal overnight includes a name hotel with pool and amenities and their favorite fast food, there are numerous options just off the interstate. But do take time to head a few miles down to the lake to take a dip and watch a glorious sunset. You’ll get a feel for the many faces of Michigan City and beyond… and want to return again and again.
The Lakefront and Washington Park
Like Michigan City, Lake Michigan displays many moods. Two miles of prime sandy beach stretch across the foot of Washington Park. On calm, sunny days, the light glistens across a still or slightly rippling surface. Swimmers can’t wait to dive into the cool, clear waters of this Great Lake. Windier days bring the added fun of bouncing in the waves. And even a cloudy day or cooler weather invites beachcombing and strolls along the shore. Visitors in the know keep an eye out for shells and beach glass, colorful pieces of glass that have been tumbled and smoothed over time in Lake Michigan’s waters. Stroll a wooden walkway and sandy paths near the shore. Benches along the way provide ideal spots for pausing and taking in the expansive, ever-changing lake view.
Washington Park itself features 99 acres of tree-shaded grounds, where you can picnic, buy seasonal concessions, work out on the fitness trail, or explore the historic rock garden. Kids love the sprays and fountains at the Oasis Splash Pad. Nearby, you can visit all those exotic creatures (some 90 species) that live in natural settings at the Washington Park Zoo.
In addition to welcoming visitors to its own fabulous Washington Park Beach, Michigan City serves as the unofficial gateway to the newest national park in the U.S. – Indiana Dunes National Park, with 14 trail systems. There’s a trail for every skill level. Hardy hikers rave about West Beach Trail that leads to the top of a high dune and provides what some say is the most spectacular view of the dunes anywhere.
The Lighthouse and Pier
The East Pierhead Lighthouse commands the shore and serves as an iconic symbol of Michigan City. Visitors love to walk the long pier, watching seagulls soar and getting a whole different view of the lake and Washington Park beach. It’s also a favorite spot for fishing and enjoying colorful sunsets. (Note: The lighthouse itself is closed to visitors).
The stately white structure, the only public operating lighthouse in Indiana, has worn many faces over the years since it was built in 1904. Lighthouse keepers used the long pier, known as the “catwalk,” to the lighthouse for 29 years to access the tower until it was electrified in 1933. Six years later, the lighthouse came under the care of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the walkway leading to it faced demolition. Local citizens raised funds to save the landmark.
Charter Fishing and Sightseeing on Lake Michigan
Whether you have fishing for a prize catch on your mind, or just long to get out on Lake Michigan’s clear waters, charters have an answer for a divine escape on the lake. Michigan City is called the “Coho Capital of the World” and for good reason. The waters of Lake Michigan teem with Coho and Chinook salmon, as well as steelhead, lake trout, brown trout, yellow perch and smallmouth bass.
Michigan City’s professional charter boat captains can make you and your family’s angling dreams come true on half-day and full-day fishing excursions aboard sleek 30- to 38-foot crafts. These experienced pros provide everything you need – the bait, licenses, lures, poles, and their extensive know-how. Imagine the thrill when that 15-pound salmon breaks the water at the end of your line! Back on land, they’ll even filet your catch to enjoy later at home or perhaps at your own lakeside barbecue in Washington Park.
If sightseeing is more your pleasure, both daytime and sunset cruises aboard a nifty excursion boat provide a unique opportunity to get out on Lake Michigan. You’ll hear a history of the area, cruise by Michigan City’s East Pierhead Lighthouse, and take in dramatic views of the Indiana Dunes on two-hour jaunts.
Swimming, Fishing, and More in LaPorte
Clear water and primo public beaches at LaPorte’s Pine and Stone lakes draw swimmers and sunbathers. Activity abounds out on the water, a summer panorama of pontoons and fishing boats, jet skiers, kayakers, and paddleboarders. Anglers rave about the great bass and crappie fishing on both lakes plus a third – Clear Lake. If you don’t bring your own watercraft, marinas at Pine Lake rent everything from fishing boats to jet skis.
Gaming Fun at the Blue Chip Casino, Resort & Spa
It’s a getaway in itself when you check into the Blue Chip to play or to stay. There’s always something hoppin’ at this glistening casino resort, which sports more than 1,600 slot machines, 40 gaming tables, and eight live poker rooms all in 65,000 square feet on a single luxurious and spacious level.
The dining is divine at longtime classic steakhouse William B’s, known for perfectly prepared steaks, seafood and pasta. Opt for delicious sandwiches and sweets, salads and pizza all day and night at Nelson’s Deli. For the 21-and-older crowd, The Game restaurant and lounge delights with wall-to-wall televisions, scrumptious wings, and 34 beers on tap. They also serve breakfast on weekdays.
The lavish Spa Blu is a great place to rejuvenate with massages, steam rooms, complete cosmetic treatments and more. Want the gaming, dining, and spa without ever leaving this magnificent facility? Check into one of the 485 guest rooms and suites for a pampered experience.
Shopping Extravaganza at Lighthouse Place Premium Outlet Mall
No wonder this cheerful outdoor outlet mall is a must-stop for people traveling through the region as well as vacationers and local residents. Shoppers save up to 65 percent on trendy top brands. Looking for stylish clothing? Think Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Loft, Eddie Bauer, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger, Chico’s, and so many more. And then there are all those great places to buy shoes and accessories to go with your new threads, such as Nike, Adidas, Crocs, and Coach.
Shop at Carter’s and Oshkosh B’Gosh for the kids, and don’t miss all those other specialty stores, including Chocolate Café, where you can stock up on plenty of those legendary Indiana goodies from the South Bend Chocolate Company. Make sure to buy plenty to eat right away… they are that irresistible. You’ll find art on canvas and other gifts at Amazing Images, top titles at a fraction of the cost at Book Warehouse, and more than 250 varieties of popcorn at Popcorn World.
History Alive! Four museums provide a thrilling look at the region’s rich past, and host special events, too.
Barker Mansion, Michigan City – Experience turn-of-the-century Michigan City life on a tour of this elaborate 1857 mansion, modeled after an English manor house and filled with art and opulent décor.
LaPorte County Historical Society Museum, LaPorte – History comes to life at this museum, with exhibits about fancy cars, a sports hero, pioneer life, and a murderous legend. There’s lots more to see, including a huge collection of rare guns, the third largest private collection in the world.
Hesston Steam Museum, Hesston – Hop aboard one of three historical trains, and ride into the past at this big museum in the tiny town of Hesston, just outside of LaPorte. With lots of displays, a shop and restaurant, it’s a great day for the whole family.
Old Lighthouse Museum, Michigan City – Return to the days when Michigan City was the busiest port on southern Lake Michigan. The Old Lighthouse, built in 1858 and now a museum, reveals an exciting past in eight refurbished rooms you can explore.
Insider Tip: For a different perspective of Lake Michigan, the Michigan City shoreline, and the Indiana Dunes, bring your kayak or rent one from Harbor Country Adventures right in town and follow the Lake Michigan Water Trail. This 50-mile stretch along the big lake has multiple access points, including Washington Park.