Savor Every Season
In a Northern Indiana’s LaPorte County
Longtime vacationers to LaPorte County, where Lake Michigan meets the land, have discovered there’s even more to experience here than summer along the shore. As the months move along, so do the numerous activities.
Hikers and cyclists hit the many trails as soon as those first spring flowers appear. Summer draws water lovers to Michigan City for swimming and charter fishing in Lake Michigan. A few miles south, visitors head to clear inland lakes in the community of LaPorte for all kinds of water activity.
Fall makes a perfect time to enjoy the panorama of color that bursts along country roads and in county parks, as well as to pick your own apples and pumpkins at orchards and farms. Winter brings a quieter mood, a great opportunity for some wintry adventures a few miles west at Indiana Dunes National Park, and museum hopping back in town.
Whatever the season, fun times abound in lively brewpubs, restaurants, and unique shops. Then there’s the land itself – diverse, fertile, and still displaying nature’s wonders in so many ways, just nudging you to get away, whatever the season.
Awaken to Spring
The long winter is over, and the land comes to life with leaves displaying tender spring green, and those early crocuses, daffodils, and tulips bursting into bloom. What an ideal time to explore nature’s beauty, bounty, and wonders at parks, golf courses, farm stands, and a longtime zoo. Here are some options.
Friendship Botanic Gardens, Michigan City – It’s a springtime symphony of cultivated gardens, meadows, and woodlands, at this 105-acre oasis, where visitors breath in the fresh outdoor air as they walk the trails.
U-Picks Everywhere – If you have a fervor for fruit and would like to harvest your own blueberries, strawberries and more, LaPorte County’s the place to be. Operations abound, such as Blue Sky Berry Farm in Wanatah, Blueberries of Indiana in LaPorte, and Billy Boy’s Blueberry Barn in Michigan City. Some sell pies, jams, cookbooks, and ready-picked fruit as well.
Washington Park Zoo, Michigan City – Go ahead and talk to the animals at this iconic zoo as you get a closeup view of tigers, wolves, grizzlies, and more on meandering pathways. Colorful parakeets fly in the aviary, otters swim in a see-through tunnel and domestic creatures fill the petting zoo.
Golf Courses for Everyone – Serious golfers are polishing their clubs before the last patches of snow melt away. LaPorte County is ready for them at three 18-hole courses in the city of LaPorte – Legacy Hills Golf Club, Briar Leaf Golf Club, and Beechwood Golf Course. The Michigan City Municipal Golf Course in Michigan City features two 18-hole courses.
Biking, Hiking Bonanzas – Four LaPorte County parks – Bluhm in Westville, Creek Ridge and Red Mill in Michigan City, and Luhr in Laporte – attract cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers. Among these retreats, discover pathways, wetlands, forests, fields, boardwalks, wildlife, and a couple of mountain bike trails.
Swing into Summer
Water, water everywhere! That’s what creates the best of summer getaways and what makes LaPorte County such a vacation hot spot. Lake Michigan shimmers at the foot of Michigan City. Just west of town, lofty dunes form an amazing backdrop to the Great Lake at Indiana Dunes National Park. A few miles south, LaPorte’s inland lakes give the community a special summer vibe. Back on land, take in some artsy finds. Here’s what’s in store.
Washington Park, Michigan City – The park’s beach stretches for two sandy miles along Lake Michigan. Swimming, sunbathing, and sandcastle-making take top billing, but there’s lots more to do. Walk the pier to Indiana’s only working lighthouse, the East Light. It’s one of the most photographed structures in Northern Indiana. On shore, displays at the Old Lighthouse Museum reveal the area’s nautical history. With concessions and picnic tables in the tree-shaded park, you can enjoy yourself from morning until the evening’s incredible sunset on the big lake.
Charter Fishing, Michigan City – Every avid angler dreams of reeling in that prize catch. Professional charter captains make that happen on half-day to day-long jaunts in Lake Michigan, where even novices can reel in Coho and Chinook salmon and more. These experienced pros provide all the equipment and instruction.
LaPorte Lakes, LaPorte – Clear, sandy-bottomed inland lakes along clean public beaches make a day at the shore pure enjoyment at Pine and Stone lakes in LaPorte. The marinas at Pine Lake rent pontoons, jet skis, paddleboards, and other watercraft, while Stone Lake boasts a beach, concession stand, and grills for lakeside barbecues. Great bass and crappie fishing draw anglers to both lakes as well as a third – Clear Lake. Cast from shore, rent fishing boats, or launch your own from several sites.
Indiana Dunes National Park – Enjoy a day at this national park that contains one of the United States’ most beloved treasures – the ever-shifting Indiana Dunes. The mountains of sand back miles of Lake Michigan beaches and shoreline. The interior of the 15,000-acre park contains more than 50 miles of hiking trails over rugged dunes and through rich wetlands, sunny prairies, and tranquil forests. Take advantage of numerous naturalist-led programs.
Art Outdoors – Get a healthy dose of creativity when you stroll by outdoor sculptures in three locations. Sculptures grace the grounds of the Lubeznik Center for the Arts next door to Washington Park in Michigan City. Enjoy a changing array of works along sidewalks in the community’s Uptown Arts District. On the grounds of Purdue University Northwest’s Westville Campus, tour more than 40 sculptural works. At Plaza 618 in LaPorte and at other venues around town, become a musical artist yourself by playing huge Joyful Noise musical instruments, all outdoors.
Cooler days and trees turning to brilliant shades of red, gold, and orange make fall a favorite season for many travelers. The quiet backroads of LaPorte County beg exploration by both car and bicycle. Orchards, farms, and roadside stands overflow with plump pumpkins and rosy-cheeked apples, and fun is in store for visitors who want to pick their own bounty. Fall festivals add to the merrymaking, along with autumn train rides at a steam locomotive museum. At the end of the day, warm up at convivial breweries and wineries. Enjoy these activities.
Perfect Picking Everywhere – Get your apple, pumpkin and fun fix too at LaPorte County’s farms and orchards. Garwood Orchards in LaPorte, in business for generations, offers a host of apples you can pick or buy harvested, plus legendary donuts, cider, pie, and wagon rides. In Westville, take a hayride, head for the corn maze, and pick a pumpkin at Coulter’s Farm. There are plenty more to visit!
Hesston Ghost Train, Hesston – A ghostly trip of learning fun awaits on fall weekends at the Hesston Steam Museum in this tiny unincorporated town just outside LaPorte. Travel through haunted woods and learn about the train – it’s not too scary, but just right for all ages. The museum features three operating trains so you can learn about rail travel in days gone by. Check out the other special weekends throughout the year.
Fall Festivals Abound – Everyone seems to be celebrating when fall rolls around in LaPorte County! Don’t miss the Door Village Harvest Festival and Sunflower Fair in LaPorte, or two small town favorites – the Wanatah Scarecrow Festival and the Westville Pumpkin Festival.
End of the Day Pleasures – Warm up with some convivial fun and food at a local microbrewery – try Burn ’Em Brewing, Zorn Brew Works, and Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City and Bare Bones Gastropub in LaPorte. On the quieter side, sip a glass of local wine at Shady Creek Winery or Brix Tasting Room, both in Michigan City.
Choose Wondrous Winter
Tuck away in LaPorte County for a cozy winter weekend. You’ll find a bonanza of shopping experiences in an outlet mall and hip downtown shops. Live LaPorte County’s fascinating history as you tour a fabulous mansion or roam displays in a state-of-the-art museum. Get your adrenaline pumping with loads of outdoor activity too. Here are some ideas.
Shopping Bonanzas – LaPorte County offers a treasure trove of shopping experiences, just in time for visitors to get a head start on all those Christmas gift lists. Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District is filled with one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques that offer trendy clothing, home décor, jewelry, toys, and antiques. At Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, shoppers save up to 60 percent on top-name brands in nearly 100 stores. A few miles south, LaPorte’s brick-fronted downtown stores are all decked out for the season, providing an antique lover’s paradise and terrific clothing stores too.
Fascinating History – LaPorte County takes pride in a rich past that includes wealthy entrepreneurs and hardworking pioneers who developed the region. Learn all about them by visiting two sites that open a window to the past. Tour Barker Mansion in Michigan City and enjoy special seasonal activities. Rooms in the opulent 1857 showcase are individually decorated for Christmas. In the community of LaPorte, the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum is filled with exhibits that include fancy cars, a sports hero, pioneer life, and a murderous legend, plus a huge collection of rare guns.
Outdoor Endeavors – Cross-country skiers find great trails at all four LaPorte County parks, and plenty of sledding hills throughout the county. Ice shanties pop up at Pine and Stone lakes in LaPorte, where anglers fish for perch, pike, bass, and blue gill through the frozen waters. If you’re up for a winter hike, join a ranger at Indiana Dunes National Park for special treks.
Insider Tip: Don’t miss some great special events in store – from Brew Festivals early in the year to the Great Lakes Grand Prix in the summer to Holiday Light Festivals in December. Check out all our events at: www.michigancitylaporte.com/events-calendar/.