Winter Fun in LaPorte County
Northern Indiana seems to bask in a magical glow when winter rolls around. With summer crowds gone, visitors delight in peaceful weekends filled with a relaxing combination of quiet moments and festive fun. In LaPorte County, tranquil walks along the Lake Michigan shore, great dining, shopping, and plenty of activities both indoors and out leave no room for wintertime doldrums.
The season begins with dazzling lights and yuletide activities and continues with festivals that celebrate everything from ice fishing to craft beer. And then there are all those special discoveries in between. Come find out all that makes winter wonderful in LaPorte County!
Settling into a romantic inn, glitzy hotel, or your own cottage makes an escape from everyday life about as perfect as you can get.
Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa, Michigan City – Known as Northern Indiana’s favorite place to play, the Blue Chip is also a terrific place to stay. When you walk into this gleaming hotel, ultimate pleasure awaits, including a casino that never closes with 1,700 slot machines and 40 gaming tables, five restaurants, the lavish Spa Blu, and luxurious guest rooms and suites.
Arbor Hill Inn, LaPorte – The owners of this historic inn want visitors to feel like privileged guests at a private estate. With elegantly decorated rooms that include fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs, they make good on that promise. It’s all topped off with a sumptuous breakfast each day.
Brewery Lodge, Michigan City – This 12-suite boutique hotel is located on 40 acres of forested land with streams, ponds, and wildlife. Guest rooms offer views of the wooded property. The main house, built in 1930 and featuring hand-hewn timbers and fireplaces, includes a craft beer and wine lounge and a restaurant open to the public for daily dinners and Sunday brunch.
Beachwalk Vacation Rentals, Michigan City – From cozy cottages perfect for two to expansive homes for extended families, lodging options abound year-round at Beachwood Resort, whether your stay is a weekend or a week. Many lodgings are located along or near Lake Michigan.
Whether you’re an antique lover, bargain hunter, art enthusiast, or history buff, here are some don’t-miss stops.
Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, Michigan City – Get a jump on your Christmas shopping and treat yourself, too, at this top-notch mall with nearly 100 stores. Shoppers find top name-brand merchandise, including designer clothing, shoes, baby clothes, housewares, books gifts, shoes, and so much more at savings of up to 60 percent. Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, The North Face, Brooks Brothers, Carters, and Coach are just a few.
Coachman Antique Mall, LaPorte – In a community long reputed to be a great stop for vintage treasures, this 23,000-square-foot store is known as one of Indiana’s oldest and largest antique malls. You’ll find a bit of everything, with an exceptionally outstanding furniture selection featuring everything from Victorian to mid-century to a bit of modern.
Antique Market, Michigan City – Voted the No. 1 Antique Shop in two area newspapers, this extravaganza of vintage finds features more than 140 vendors in a mall setting. Furniture, clothing, glassware, china and so much more fill the store.
Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City – Near the Lake Michigan waterfront, the Lubeznik features a high-quality, changing exhibition of creations from regional and nationally recognized artists, displayed in four airy, gleaming galleries. Take a walk outside, too, to view outdoor artworks that reflect the natural beauty of its setting.
LaPorte County Historical Society Museum – History comes alive at this museum, hailed as “amazing” and “entertaining” by visitors. Exhibits about fancy cars, a sports hero, pioneer life, and a murderous legend are just some of the things you’ll see, along with a huge collection of rare guns, the third largest private collection in the world.
Rosy cheeks and a sense of well-being go hand-in-hand with winter fun in the great outdoors.
Cross-country Skiing – All four LaPorte County Parks feature trail systems that can accommodate cross-country skiing: Luhr and Red Mill in LaPorte, Bluhm in Westville, and Creek Ridge in Michigan City. Luhr offers flat terrain for beginners, while Bluhm features somewhat hilly terrain, great for intermediate skiers.
Ice Fishing – Fishing shanties set up each winter on Pine and Stone lakes in LaPorte attest to the great ice fishing that make the two lakes favorite spots for anglers who love ice fishing. Experts say the lakes usually freeze in late December or early January and are sweet spots to reel in perch, pike, bass and bluegill.
Stroll the Beach in Michigan City – During the summer, the city’s Washington Park beach teems with swimmers and sunbathers drawn to the shore. But don’t miss the opportunity when winter rolls around for a stroll and a little beachcombing along this serene stretch of sand next to Lake Michigan’s blue waters. You may feel like you have it all to yourself.
Winter Hiking in Indiana Dunes National Park – Winter turns the Indiana Dunes into a quiet wonderland perfect for hiking along snowy woodland trails and among sandy dunes. Head out yourself anytime or join naturalists at the national park who lead special hikes during the holidays – one on Christmas Eve morning for a stroll through the dune forests and another New Year’s Day for a more rugged trek through the high dunes.
Lubeznik Center for the Arts Christmas Market (Nov. 15-Jan. 4) – What a great way to find one-of-a-kind gifts. The Lubeznik features the works of local, regional and national artisans year-round in its Gallery shop and there are even more works for sale at this annual event. You’ll find all kinds of decorations plus blown glass, jewelry, art and pottery.
Candy Cane Express at Hesston Steam Museum, Hesston (Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Dec. 7-8) – Rides aboard a decorated, full-size Narrow Gauge locomotive bring out the kid in everyone. The Candy Cane Express rolls from 1 to 5 p.m. during the first two weekends in December. Make a day of it starting with breakfast at Doc’s, a visit to the Depot and gift shop and a chat with Santa in his own decorated caboose.
Christmas at the Barker Mansion, Michigan City (Dec. 3-29) – Fabulously decorated rooms in this historic 1857 showplace put you in a holiday mood. Local organizations create unique themes in each room. In addition to guided and self-guided tours Tuesdays-Sundays, take advantage of Glowing Lights nights every Saturday with the rooms illuminated only by lighted Christmas trees.
Festival of Lights in Washington Park, Michigan City (Dec. 7-Jan. 8) – Michigan City’s iconic park along Lake Michigan bursts into breathtaking holiday scenes illuminated by more than five million bulbs. One of the Midwest’s largest free drive-through displays, the park lights up every day from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Special events are held downtown in conjunction with opening day.
Major Winter Events
NAIFC Tournament Series, LaPorte (Feb. 7-9) – Once again the North American Ice Fishing Circuit brings a weekend of its competition to LaPorte’s lakes. The top five places automatically move on to the national competition. Residents are invited to watch and participate. Look for announcements of more activities for local residents during this anglers’ extravaganza.
Shelf Ice Brew Fest (Feb. 15) – This great outdoor brewfest gives festival-goers a chance to sample craft beer from a host of local and regional breweries. Big tents are set up along Franklin Street, where you’ll find warming firepits and delicious food from local restaurants. The event is sponsored by the Michigan City Mainstreet Association. Keep posted for upcoming details of the 2020 event at the Shelf Ice Brewfest Facebook page.
Bride Blu Bridal Show at Blue Chip Casino (Feb. 16) – Bring your whole wedding party to this premier bridal show where vendors will display all the options for gowns, tuxedos, venues, flowers, photography, videos, music, catering, cakes, and makeup. Meet with the experts while you sip champagne and sample hors d’oeuvres, compliments of the Blue Chip. Drawings will be held for prizes, including a trip to Vegas.
Great Performances – Enjoy a truly enjoyable evening of entertainment at the Footlight Players Theatre in Michigan City, a lively venue known as Northwest Indiana’s premier community theater. There’s still time to plan ahead for Gypsy (March 6-8,13-15 and 20-22).