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LAKE MICHIGAN BEACHES

Lake Michigan and its sandy beaches claim the northwest corner of LaPorte County, and it seems as though no one can wait for that moment when they cross warm sands and dive into the cool, clear waters of this Great Lake. With the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore stretching west from here for miles on end, beachgoers discover plenty of spots for sun-filled adventures, whether they’re planning a one-day getaway or an extended vacation.

In Michigan City, a supreme stretch of powder-soft sand lines the shore at Washington Park, drawing swimmers all summer long and strollers the rest of the year. Beachgoers claim a spot on the sand, unfurling beach towels for the day before heading to the water or just relaxing along the shore. To add to the lakeside panorama, Indiana’s only working lighthouse, the East Light, stands guard. You also can tour the Old Michigan City Light, now a museum, to learn about the community’s nautical past.

Nearby, boats bob in the marina and charters head out for a day of fishing. It’s a scene that beachgoers have come to love. When you’re not swimming or sunning, take a stroll on the wooden walkway and sandy paths nearby. 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 visit the historic rock garden.

If you brought Fido along for vacation or if you’d just like a quieter spot, two other LaPorte County beaches west of downtown Michigan City are good choices. A sandy, wooded trail from the parking lot leads to Central Beach where you can take a swim and enjoy peaceful views of the lake and city. Beachcombers claim it’s a great spot to find driftwood and shells. At Mt. Baldy Beach, the largest moving dune on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore rises beyond a wide stretch of sand. While visitors are not allowed on dune trails unless on a guided hike with a ranger, the beach is a great place for swimming, sunning, and strolling.

A favorite activity for strollers on any beach in the area is searching the shore for beach glass, pieces of glass that have been tumbled and smoothed in Lake Michigan’s waters. Some people just enjoy collecting the colorful pieces, but beach glass also is used for making jewelry. In fact, some local shops specialize in this art, turning your find into a stunning piece and a reminder of your days on the shore.

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