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Indiana Dunes and beyond

Note: Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the state of Indiana and tourism organizations are monitoring changes each day. Guidance on such directives as social distancing continue to evolve. We hope you will plan a trip to LaPorte County and frequent our amazing local businesses and attractions when you feel comfortable doing so. However, we recommend that you check ahead with the businesses listed to make sure they are open and check on any limitations in place.

So Long, Cabin Fever!
Hello, Dunes and Lake

Like a dreamy painting of pure paradise, Lake Michigan stretches to the horizon – a shimmering blue sea backed by towering sand dunes and pristine beaches where waves lap the shore. Welcome to Michigan City, a bustling lakeside community and a true gem in Northern Indiana’s LaPorte County.

If you’re ready to burst out into the fresh air, enjoy some natural wonders, and add in a little nightlife to boot, it makes perfect sense to headquarter in Michigan City. In addition to welcoming visitors to its own fabulous Washington Park Beach, the community serves as the unofficial gateway to the newest national park in the U.S. – Indiana Dunes National Park.

Hike the dunes, loll on the beach, dive into the waves, and then top off your days with great local food and libations. A host of lodgings cater to families seeking fun getaways, couples in search of a romantic weekend and everyone in between. An escape to Michigan City ranks as a sure cure for cabin fever.

Delight in the Dunes

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has long been considered a national treasure, but it gained even more recognition when it became a national park in 2019. Along with miles of Lake Michigan beaches and shoreline, this 15,000-acre haven offers wonderful ways to get out and enjoy nature. Inland from the lake, discover woodlands, rivers, bogs, and rich wetlands that are home to more than 350 species of birds, making this area one of the top birding spots in the nation, particularly in spring and fall.

But, of course, the dunes themselves are the unparalleled draw, offering an exhilarating experience to visitors of every age and ability. Some 16 miles of hiking trails pierce the park, with many winding up and over the dunes. Hikers who reach the top find breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. Hardy hikers take on the Three Dune Challenge, a 1.5-mile course climbing three of the tallest dunes. Others choose to stroll sandy stretches at their own pace.

A good place to start your adventure is at the Indiana Dunes National Park Visitors Center. You’ll find displays, maps, and orientation films. The park also offers ranger-led hikes and activities throughout the year.

Love the Lakefront

It’s easy to spend an entire day (or more!) at Washington Park along the Lake Michigan shore enjoying the prime two-mile stretch of soft sandy beach. Many beachgoers in the know arrive early to unfurl their beach towels, claiming a spot to settle in for the day. The swimming is superb, along with beachcombing and sandcastle-building. Just steps from the shore, concessions and picnic tables are plentiful in the tree-shaded park. Families love to visit all those wonderful creatures at the Washington Park Zoo, and kids gravitate to the sprays and fountains at the park’s Oasis Splash Pad.

On calm days, many visitors walk the long pier to the East Pierpoint Lighthouse, an iconic symbol of Michigan City and the only public operating lighthouse in Indiana. In the old days, lighthouse keepers used the walkway for access to the light tower (note: The lighthouse itself is closed to visitors).

Settle In and Stay Awhile

Lodgings come in all shapes, sizes, and prices in Michigan City. From family-friendly hotels with pools to secluded bed-and-breakfasts to expansive cottages ideal for family reunions, the selection seems almost limitless. Here are some examples:

Beachwalk Vacation Rentals, Michigan City – From cozy cottages perfect for two to large homes for extended families, lodging options abound year-round at Beachwalk Resort, with many located along or near Lake Michigan.

The Brewery Lodge, Michigan City – A 12-suite boutique hotel located on 40 acres of forested land. The main house includes a craft beer and wine bar.

Duneland Beach Inn, Michigan City – A country-style inn also known for fine dining with a private beach on Lake Michigan.

GW Tryon Farm Bed-n-Breakfast, Michigan City – A beautifully restored 1800s farmhouse in a tranquil setting filled with modern-day amenities. Guests rave about the delicious breakfasts.

Live it Up a Little (or a Lot!)

Top off your day in the outdoors with a little nightlight – both inside and out. The Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa has long been known as Northern Indiana’s favorite place to play. The casino never closes so you can get your game on 24/7 with 1,700 slot machines and 40 gaming tables. There are also frequent musical performances at the hotel. (An added bonus: the Blue Chip offers luxurious guest rooms and suites, five restaurants and a lavish spa).

If craft beer is your passion, you’re in for some lively fun, hand-crafted brews, and often good food as well, at local establishments such as Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant, Burn ’Em Brewery, and Zorn Brew Works. Many local bars and restaurants offer live music on various nights, such as Knucklehead’s Sports Bar and Grill. In the mood for a quieter evening? Enjoy award-winning wines as you sip on covered porches at Shady Creek Winery.

Insider Tip: Art Lovers, take note! Michigan City takes pride in the unique outdoor sculpture on display around town. The Lubeznik Center for the Arts features an Outdoor Sculpture Garden on its grounds, where one-of-a-kind works are set on the shady property near Lake Michigan. Several years ago, an initiative called SculptFusion was born in Michigan City’s Uptown District, featuring a rotating outdoor display along the streets of sculptures created by top artists. Now, you’ll find them at other locations around town as well. Go for a walk past these works, and experience a true feast for the eyes.

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