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.
Thrill Your Taste Buds
With LaPorte County’s Delicious Bounty
Spring sweeps across Northern Indiana with gusto. The snows have barely melted when the season’s first crops nudge through the soil at farms across the region. While apple trees blossom and robins herald their own return, fruit farms, orchards, U-Pick operations, and farmers markets gear up for their grand openings.
This corner of the state, which hugs the southern tip of Lake Michigan and includes the communities of Michigan City and LaPorte, is blessed with ideal growing conditions. So it’s easy to see why visitors flock here for perfect blueberries, the juiciest strawberries, and ruby-red raspberries they can pick themselves or buy harvested the same day. At a much-loved botanical garden in Michigan City, spring bestows beauty along trails and pathways alive with forested woodlands and cultivated gardens.
Whether your pleasure is berry picking or just stopping to smell the flowers, now’s the time to plan a trip to LaPorte County as nature awakes from a long winter.
Garwood Orchards – A Delicious History
When a carpenter named John Garwood moved to LaPorte County nearly 200 years ago and took up farming, he probably didn’t imagine that his family would still be living his dream six generations later. The Garwood family still take pride in being local farmers, and their market and U-Pick operation are popular with visitors and local residents alike. Beginning in late May, the market just outside of the community of LaPorte opens as strawberries and raspberries ripen, along with green beans and other early crops. As the season progresses, so does the harvest from this farm of more than 350 acres, which includes fruits and vegetables, from peaches and peppers to cherries and corn, plus apple orchards. The U-Pick season starts in June, drawing families for the adventure of filling pails with luscious blueberries and other fruits. The Garwoods often greet grandparents who visited the market as children bringing their own grandchildren for the experience of picking along with a treat of the family’s famous homemade donuts.
Blueberry Farms – Perfect Picking
There’s a certain sense of pride that comes with picking your own blueberries. Just take a look at any child holding up that blue orb of just-picked perfection with a grin that says, “I did it all by myself!” Blueberry farms abound in LaPorte County, part of the Northern Indiana region known for its primo growing conditions, especially when it comes to this tasty fruit. As your pail fills, so does your own feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention those thoughts of blueberry pie, muffins, pancakes, and jam on your horizon. Here are some options where you can pick yourself or buy already harvested. Call ahead or check online for dates and times of operation. Picking on most blueberry farms begins in July.
● Billy Boy’s Blueberry Barn, Michigan City – Plenty of smiles go along with containers full of hand-picked berries at this friendly farm, which offers a large variety of blueberries. Visitors rave about the well-maintained rows and delicious pies and muffins sold on the weekends.
● Blue Sky Berry Farm, Wanatah – You can make a day of it at this family operation just outside of town. In addition to blueberries, Blue Sky sells homemade blueberry jam, locally harvested honey, and cookbooks. Enjoy the picnic shelter and playground.
● Blueberries of Indiana, LaPorte – Here’s another great spot to spend some time in a quiet, rural setting complete with picnic grounds shaded by huge oaks. Pick your own blueberries or they’ll do the work for you (phone orders recommended). You can also buy locally made honey, blueberry preserves, and on weekends – a fresh blueberry pie.
● Stateline Blueberries, Michigan City – Blueberry pickers rave about the sweetness of the fruit and friendliness of the owners at this farm, in business for more than 20 years. Stateline offers a variety of blueberries that ripen at different times, so there’s more time for picking. They sell local honey, jam, and syrup too.
Friendship Botanic Gardens – A Walk on the Wild Side
Celebrate Spring in a dreamlike setting where trails and pathways meander through forests, meadows, and gardens alive with magnificent blooms. Friendship Botanic Gardens in Michigan City encompasses 105 well-tended acres and is filled with surprises, such as the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden, with great playground equipment and a special plot featuring flowers and herbs chosen as a feast for the senses of smell, touch, and sight. As you hike the trails, you might spot deer, groundhogs, squirrels, wild turkeys, and a host of birds. Lake Lucerne on the property is home to muskrats, geese and turtles.
Farmers Markets – Bring Home the Bounty
There’s so much to love about today’s farmers markets, and it’s more than just the amazing array of fruits and vegetables. Think artwork, flowers, and crafts, along with artisan breads and cheeses, homemade pies and cookies. The earth’s bounty plus a lot more is for sale at weekly markets in LaPorte County between May and October. Both the communities of LaPorte and Michigan City host farmers markets each Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. Don’t leave home without your cooler – there’s so much to fill it with!
Insider Tip: A drive in the country just plain feels good, and LaPorte County’s back roads often yield unexpected surprises along with peaceful scenery. Keep your eyes open for small stands that pop up throughout the growing season next to area farms. You might find cherries, tomatoes, or corn – whatever the crop of the day is – displayed on a simple table. The stands sometimes are unmanned, counting on an honor system where you take your produce and leave money in a box.