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Kids Just Want to Have Fun! Fulfill Their Dreams in LaPorte County

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Whatever the season or reason, LaPorte County in Northern Indiana abounds with new adventures for children. Perhaps you’re preparing for your annual summer vacation… or a visit to Grandma’s house… or just a quick weekend escape from home. With loads of activities in the vibrant communities of Michigan City and LaPorte, the Indiana Dunes National Park nearby, and playgrounds scattered in city and county parks, the possibilities seem endless. 

Lake Michigan and its sandy beaches command the Michigan City and Indiana Dunes shoreline, inviting an afternoon of swimming and sandcastle-building. In LaPorte, clear inland lakes with sandy beaches draw families for carefree days. In addition, the amazing choices of lodgings and family-friendly restaurants complete your stay when the day comes to an end. 

On the chance that rain dampens any planned outdoor activities, take heart! The area is loaded with indoor activities from bowling to movie watching to museums with kid-friendly exhibits. And there’s always that hotel pool – a must for every child who ever took a vacation. Enjoy!  (For all locations, check ahead for schedules; some locations open seasonally.)

fun under the sun

Nothing spells “FUN” like water and playgrounds! Lakes, beaches, and splash pads are close at hand, with some intriguing extras thrown into the mix. 

beaches and more

Washington Park Beach, Zoo & Splash Pad, Michigan City – Sunning, swimming, and splashing on the two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan primo beach at Michigan City’s Washington Park along with the zoo featuring 90 different animal species and petting barn makes for a supreme family day. 

Pine Lake, LaPorte – Make a day of it at LaPorte’s largest lake, featuring a sandy beach, lifeguards, and a terrific playground at Soldiers Memorial Park on shore. Marinas rent pontoons and other watercraft that round out the family fun. What child doesn’t enjoy catching their first fish at a spot known for great angling?

Stone Lake Beach and Playground, LaPorte – Sandy-bottomed, clear-water Stone Lake makes a marvelous place to play and swim. Grills, concessions, a volleyball court, and lifeguards in the summer make for a super family day. 

Indiana Dunes National Park – Just west of Michigan City, massive sand dunes rise from Lake Michigan at one of the nation’s newest national parks. Kids will have a blast hitting the beach, swimming, climbing the dunes, and visiting historic locations such as Chellberg Farm and Bailley Homestead.  Your son or daughter can become a Junior Ranger too! Just pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Guide at the Visitor Center or the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education. Complete the activities and return for a Junior Ranger badge. There also is a Junior Night Explorer program to learn about the starry skies. 

Splash Away

LaPark Park and Splash Pad, LaPorte – Don’t ditch those kiddie bathing suits yet! Splashing-good fun is ahead. A major goal in building this park was to create a fully inclusive, multigenerational playground and splash pad for kids of all ages and abilities. Accessible playground equipment and a splash pad fit for everyone is the result. 

Unity Park, LaPorte – Located next to Pine Lake, a new splash pad in the park is both a water-saver and loads of fun. Visitors can activate the splash pad by pressing a button to get the sprays going. When they are done, a button turns the water off. 

Plaza 618, LaPorte – In the heart of the community’s historic downtown, people love to linger at this pocket park, where they can relax while the kids live it up on the Splash Pad, where at-grade water features send sprouts of water upward. 

more outdoor excitement on dry land

Playgrounds

Kesling Park, LaPorte – For several years, the community has joined forces to continually expand and upgrade this 90-acre park. The cornerstone of Fort LaPlay features all kinds of playground equipment combined into a facility that resembles a fort from days of old. There’s a new zipline for kids too. 

Friendship Botanic Gardens, Michigan City – Everyone loves strolling lovely trails through the gardens here, and kids especially will find their own surprises. Activities designed for children 2 to 13 in the Arcelor Mittal Children’s Garden include terrific playground equipment and a hydraulic handpump that allows them to simulate pumping water. Spring and summer bring blossoms galore. 

skate parks

Michigan City Skate Park, Michigan City – Located in Pullman Park, this is one of the largest skate parks in the Midwest. The park provides banks, jump boxes, half-pipes, quarter-pipes and more thrills for skateboarders and bikers alike. 

Thrills and Spills Skate Park, LaPorte – They soar high and fast at this park for both skateboarders and bikers located in Fox Memorial Park. The skate park features numerous ramps and rails with loads of twists and turns.

LaPorte County Parks

Children will find there’s lots to love at LaPorte County parks, including hiking and bicycling on pristine trails with their elders. But here are some special activities just for them:

Creek Ridge, Michigan City – Walking this park is easy and fun, with boardwalks weaving through the forest. Just for the youngsters, the park features two separate playgrounds – one for children 2 to 5 years old and the other for kids 5-12. 

Luhr County Park, LaPorte – The Nature Center here is filled with exhibits about wildlife and hands-on displays just made for youngsters (check ahead for hours). You also can rent fishing poles there and drop a line in the stocked pond before heading for the new playground. 

Red Mill County Park, LaPorte – Take a hike to work off some energy so the kids can see the headwaters of the Little Calumet River rushing over large rocks. Part of the park is a State Dedicated Nature Preserve, and there’s a new playground too. 

Bluhm County Park, Westville – The accessible playground at this park promotes speech, language, and cognition development with a guide for parents. The park is also known for its colorful wildflowers and wetlands where the kids will love spotting ducks and other waterfowl. 

Blast from the past

Hesston Steam Museum, Hesston – Ride the rails the old-fashioned way on three different operating trains at this outdoor venue just outside of LaPorte. On some weekends, watch steam-powered equipment and a sawmill in operation. You might even have breakfast with the engineers. They host special events throughout the year. 

indoor pleasures

Oh no! Those outdoor plans just evaporated with a rainy day ahead. No worries… plan plenty of enjoyable family time at these locations. You might want to try them out even when the sun shines.

Lil Porte: The Pink Sheep Plaaaytique, LaPorte – Here’s a magical town just made for the little ones. They can cruise around in mini-cars to pretend stores that resemble LaPorte’s businesses. Lots of games are on hand too. 

Full Tilt Arcade and Pinball, LaPorte – Kids of all ages can while away some time here. Moms and dads love it too. Full Tilt features some 65 games that include numerous pinball options, arcade games, plus miscellaneous challenges such Pop-a-Shot basketball and child-size arcade games. 

AMC Classic Michigan City 14, Michigan City – With 14 screens for the latest movies, there’s a show to suit everyone’s pleasure, plus great snacks and occasional bargains. Lower matinee pricing. 

Casey’s Lanes, LaPorte – Great bowling for the whole family awaits at this spacious, non-smoking venue with handicap facilities. Grab some delicious food in the restaurant.

City Lanes, Michigan City – Lower rates for kids and seniors make this alley a popular spot with multigenerational families. The facility features food specials. 

LaPorte County Historical Society Museum, LaPorte – There’s so much to love for both children and adults at this lively museum. Airplanes, vintage cars, dolls, and special events such as a plowing contest right next to the museum’s historic red barn are just a few of the favorites. Best of all, there are three changing scavenger hunts each month that might include searching for anything from shoes to dolls to gingerbread in the displays. Kids get a pin upon completion. 

Old Lighthouse Museum, Michigan City – Take a trip back to 1868 at this staunch, sturdy, and historic lighthouse, now decommissioned and turned into a fascinating museum along the community’s Lake Michigan Harbor. Filled with historic relics and staffed by knowledgeable guides, it’s a fabulous insight into nautical history. 

To find great lodging and dining options to complete your visit, go to: Lodging & Dining

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