Autumn tiptoes quietly into the vacation playground of LaPorte County, bringing warm, sunny days and cool evenings, a respite after summer’s heat. Crowds dwindle in this enchanting pocket of Northern Indiana, situated along the Lake Michigan shore. Nature prepares a magnificent show, as spots of color erupt into a blaze of red, orange, and gold in trees lining highways, lakes, and pristine parks in and around the communities of Michigan City and LaPorte.
What an ideal spot for whiling away an autumn day or weekend! Visitors head for local orchards… immerse yourselves in the fall color… and enjoy the flavors of the season in local microbreweries, restaurants, and wineries.
Tuck in for the night in a welcoming inn and awaken to another glorious day of exploring LaPorte County in the most savory of seasons.
With the sun on your back and boughs loaded with apples overhead, nothing beats a day harvesting your own fruit at the orchard. Or buy it ready-picked. Looking for that perfect pumpkin too? The fields are aglow with orange beauties! (Check ahead for hours.)
Burek Farms, LaPorte – Get a real fall fix with pumpkins, Indian corn, and mums, plus handmade decorations and homemade salsas, dry rubs, jams, and jellies.
Coulters’ Produce, Westville – It’s a kid’s dream, and adults too! Hayrides to the pumpkin patch to pick your own, corn mazes large and small, pony rides, and food.
Fischer Farm, LaPorte – A sea of orange with pumpkins as far as the eye can see greets visitors to this family farm, where everyone loves the hayrides to pick your own, plus an amazing corn maze.
Garwood Orchards, LaPorte – Take a wagon ride to the orchards or pumpkin patch to pick your own at this sixth-generation farm growing more than 20 apple varieties. The market and bakery sell fresh pies, donuts, cider, and a host of goods. Seasonal grill, too.
Radke Orchards, Michigan City – It’s easy picking where 90 per cent of the trees are designed to grow shorter. Wagon rides take you to the orchards, featuring some 20 apple varieties. Stock up on local honey, popcorn, cider, fruit butters, and candy.
Pavolka Fruit Farms, Michigan City – This small, family orchard is big on apples, growing more than 20 varieties and featuring their own pressed cider.
Williams Orchard, LaPorte – Head for the orchards on 135 acres of tranquil grounds and then enjoy the corn maze. Indulge in homemade donuts and cider on weekends.
Mark your calendar for October 5 through 21! That’s when the Farmers’ Almanac predicts peak autumn leaf-peeping for Northern Indiana in 2023. The Hoosier State boasts more than 100 native tree species, each with its own claim to fame in the color department when fall arrives. Here are some choice viewing spots:
LaPorte County Parks (7am-sunset; The first four listed parks feature picnic tables, playground equipment, and restrooms.)
Bluhm County Park, Westville – Upland forests put on a color show along numerous nature and paved trails. The park’s large wetlands draw ducks and geese. The whole family will enjoy the brand new playscape for kids of all ages and abilities.
Creek Ridge County Park, Michigan City – A series of boardwalks make hiking easy in this park, where hardwood forests put on an autumn display.
Luhr County Park, LaPorte – For a sweeping view, climb the observation tower. Paved trails and boardwalks wind through the trees.
Red Mill County Park, Michigan City – Autumn arrives with a burst of color in forests that line multi-use trails and the headwaters of the Little Calumet River.
Sebert Woods County Park, Michigan City – LaPorte County’s newest park puts a unique spin on fall. The small, dedicated state nature preserve with a half-mile dirt trail features a boreal forest relic with species such a red winterberry, ferns, and paper birch, much like you might see in the northern reaches of the U.S. and Canada.
Soldiers Memorial Park, LaPorte – Trees surrounding Stone Lake and bordering Pine Lake reflect in the quiet waters, still perfect places for lazing in a pontoon or casting a line while viewing the colors on shore. Get up close on hiking and biking trails.
Friendship Botanic Gardens, Michigan City – Not only are the forests ablaze along paved trails in this unique enclave, but the manicured gardens are showing off their fall display too. The autumn colors reflect in the waters of lovely Lake Lucerne.
Indiana Dunes National Park and State Park – Just west of Michigan City, towering sand dunes rise from Lake Michigan beaches at this newer national park and the adjoining state park. Both enclaves feature trails through deep forests that burst with color in the fall. The parks are also top national birding spots, especially in autumn, when visitors catch views of migrating species.
All that apple-picking and leaf peeping beg delicious food and libations. LaPorte County delivers, with microbreweries, wineries, and restaurants featuring drink and food specialties especially created for the season, as well as perennial favorites.
Burn’Em Brewery, Michigan City – Visitors find loads of fun in this brewery with the slogan “Comforting the Disturbed, Disturbing the Comfortable.” Crazy labels, and unique beers (they’ve created 700!), including a changing array of seasonal brews, add to the conviviality. They serve non-alcoholic beverages and snacks too.
Bare Bones Gastropub, LaPorte – Beer from microbreweries throughout the area star at this family-friendly pub, along with ciders on tap and wine. The food menu puts a unique spin on shared plates, entrees, sandwiches, and salads. There’s a kids’ menu too.
Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant, Michigan City – Award-winning beers pair up deliciously with globally inspired food, from appetizers to small plates to entrees in this classy brewpub near Lake Michigan. Pick out a cool T-shirt or hat to show you’ve been there.
Zorn Brew Works Co., Michigan City – Unique brews and a rotating menu of hard seltzers and ciders take center stage in this brick taproom, inspired by an early neighborhood brewery. A mouthwatering menu includes cheesy items such as macaroni and dips infused with Zorn’s own beer.
Brix Tasting Room, Michigan City – Sample wines from around the world in this intimate Uptown Arts District locale. Savor upscale food while you sip, including artisan pizza, salads, and sandwiches.
Shady Creek Winery, Michigan City – Award-winning wine and delectable, Italian-inspired snacks are all the more enjoyable when served in this gleaming winery that features soaring ceilings, covered porches, and outdoor seating around fireplaces. Live musicians perform on Fridays and Sundays.
OTHER DINING OPTIONS
Bistro on the Greens, LaPorte – Southern comfort food prepared with a sophisticated spin is served in an elegant yet relaxed dining room overlooking Legacy Hills Golf Course.
Leeds Public House, Michigan City– An innovative menu, craft cocktails, and beer from area microbreweries make this hip gastropub a popular stop. Don’t miss the delicious weekend brunch menu.
Holly’s Restaurant & Pub, Michigan City – The same family has run this casual family-friendly eatery for some 50 years. Savor traditional American cuisine, plus Mexican and barbecue offerings. Beer, wine, and cocktails are served too.
Mucho Mas!, LaPorte – Regulars rave about the fresh taste and huge selection at this fresh Mex grill, which has won a local award for its tacos. You’ll find a sister restaurant in Michigan City too.
Blue Heron Inn, LaPorte – Choose from a variety of rooms, some with spas and lovely views of Pine Lake, at this 34-room hotel. T-Bones Pier 11, a restuarant known for steaks and chops, is on the premises.
The Brewery Lodge & Supper Club, Michigan City – Acres of woods surround this boutique all-suites hotel with peaceful views and spa services. The lodge’s restaurant features evening dining and drinks and a bountiful Sunday Brunch.
4411 Inn and Suites – Stylish rooms and suites with modern decor distinguish this updated boutique hotel overlooking 14 acres of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, a protected nature preserve. Newly added: The Cook Street Café, a mobile trailer on the grounds for fresh breakfast and lunch.