Swimming… Boating… Fishing… Kayaking… Extreme Water Sports… Total Veg-Outs on the Beach. They all spell a vacation to cherish, a respite from the summer heat. Zooming across Northern Indiana’s interstate highways, many travelers aren’t aware of the watery wonders just off the exits in LaPorte County.
The sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan anchor the Michigan City shore and Indiana Dunes National Park just to the west of town. A few miles south, clear, sandy-bottomed inland lakes draw vacationers to the community of LaPorte. Around every turn in this beautiful region, adventures in and on the water abound.
On the Shore
Washington Park Beach – Unfurl your beach towel and claim your spot along two miles of powdery sand. Sunbathe until you’re toasty and then dive into the divine Great Lake waters. Come back in the evening for a spectacular sunset.
Lighthouse Pier – Michigan City’s 1904 East Light stands as a beloved symbol of the community. Walkers stroll the long pier for a closeup look.
Washington Park – Backing the beach, this tree-shaded enclave offers picnic tables, concessions, and a work-out trail.
Beach Glass – Lake Michigan knows what to do with old bottles and glass tossed carelessly into the water – over time, waves and sand transform the trash into smooth colorful pieces, often made into jewelry. Finding beach glass glittering along the shore assures a treasure to take home.
Above the Waves
Great Lakes Fishing Charters – Bragging rights assured when professional charter boat captains show you how to catch prize Coho or Chinook salmon and other fish on half- or full-day all-inclusive Lake Michigan treks. Many visitors also consider a charter trip a must in April and May when yellow perch are running.
Harbor Country Adventures – Cruises of all kinds aboard the Emita II – daytime, sunset, nature, and party jaunts with music and dancing – provide great times on Lake Michigan. In addition, the Sea Rocket tour includes high-speed runs.
Ahoy Adventures – Cruise like royalty on a chartered 42-foot luxury yacht that accommodates up to 12 and is kid-friendly. See the sights, swim in Lake Michigan, and sun on deck while your captain steers you through hours of enjoyment.
Kayaking the Lake Michigan Water Trail – Put your kayak in at Washington Park and soak in lovely views of beaches and dunes as you kayak along Indiana’s 75-mile portion of this water trail that stretches around all of Lake Michigan. Rent a kayak at Harbor Country Adventures.
Bringing your own boat? Washington Park, Sprague Point, and Trail Creek marinas in Michigan City offer slips and full service.
Kite boarding/surfing – Stoke Riders in Michigan City sets you skimming over the water and above in this thrilling sport. Take a lesson and rent equipment from them.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Towering dunes rise from 15 miles of sandy Lake Michigan beaches in one of the nation’s newest national parks, a 15,000-acre enclave just west of Michigan City. The national park connects with Indiana Dunes State Park. Farther inland, trails and walkways head deep into forests and across sunny meadows. The opportunities for outdoor adventure seem endless.
Get an introduction – Get all the info you need at The National Park office. Displays, park maps, daily activities and camping information are posted there.
Hike the trails – More than 50 miles of trails traverse rugged dunes and lead through fields and woodlands, havens for wildlife and some 350 species of birds. Rangers lead nature hikes year-round.
Scale the Dunes – Park rangers lead treks up 126-foot Mt. Baldy, a shifting dune. Tackle the State Park’s three tallest dunes on the Three Dune Challenge. At West Beach, follow in the steps of an early adventurer in the Diana of the Dunes Challenge.
Hit the Beach – The National Park’s eight Lake Michigan beaches draw sunbathers and swimmers. West Beach and Mt. Baldy Beach are two of the busiest, while Kemil and Dunbar are quieter.
Visit Historic Sites – Tour The Bailey Homestead, once the home of a legendary fur trapper and the park’s only National Historic Landmark. At Chellberg Farm, discover a farm typical of Swedish and Northwestern Indiana farmsteads around the turn of the 20th Century.
Join special activities – Sign up for an outdoor weekend with planned activities such as hiking, backpacking, paddling, and biking outings.
The community of LaPorte boasts nearly a dozen lakes in its Lakes of the LaPorte Water Trail system with a perfect pick for everyone. Pine and Stone lakes, the two largest, are hubs of activity for swimmers, boaters, jet skiers, and anglers drawn to the clear, sandy-bottomed waters. Smaller lakes provide opportunities for fishing and quiet paddles. Here’s a rundown:
Pine Lake – Soldiers Memorial Park with a sandy beach, lifeguards, and super playground adjoins the lake, known for great swimming, fishing, and water sports. Rent pontoons and more (see below) for a day of fun and perhaps a sunset cruise.
Stone Lake – Swimmers, anglers, canoers, and kayakers love this lake, which connects with Pine Lake, but is a little less crowded.
Smaller Lakes – Anglers ready to drop a line for crappie, bluegill, and some 18 other varieties head for the quieter, more undeveloped lakes – Fishtrap, Hudson, Horseshoe, Lily, Clear, Lower, Orr, and Crane. The waters are popular with kayakers and canoers too. The clear waters provide views of fish and other aquatic creatures as you paddle. Lily pads with their bright white and yellow blossoms cover their namesake, Lily Lake.
Watercraft Rentals – Get ready for everything from lazy pontoon floats to high-speed water skiing. Pine Lake Marina rents pontoons, tritoons, and ski boats, plus tow packages for skis, tubes, wakeboards, and kneeboards. Pine Lake Rentals, located at the Blue Heron Inn, rents pontoons, kayaks, and floteboats.
County Park Fishing – Two county parks in LaPorte provide great fishing spots and ideal places to hike and enjoy nature too. At Luhr County Park, fishing pole rental is available for the stocked pond complete with fishing pier. Red Mill County Park encompasses 23 acres of wetland and the headwaters of the Little Calumet River. Drop a line for catfish, bass, and bluegill.
Splash Pad Mania
La Park Splash Pad, LaPorte – Kids love the summertime cool-offs under fountains and showering buckets at this city splash pad.
Oasis Splash Pad, Michigan City – Washington Park’s popular splash pad provides loads of cooling fun for kids in this park that sports plenty of other activities and backs on the city’s beachfront.
Plaza 618 Splash Pad, LaPorte – In the heart of the historic downtown, kids splash around at the at-grade water feature where sprays come right out of the pavement. There’s loads of comfy seating for the adults.
Splash Pad at Unity Park, LaPorte – There’s a new splash pad in town at this park next to Pine Lake. If the water isn’t already on, visitors can simply press a button to get the fun flowing.
Insider Tip – Come Back for Winter!
The fun doesn’t stop when winter rolls around, so come back for a visit. There’s so much to do!
Ice Fishing – Pine and Stone lakes in LaPorte provide favorite spots to set up a shanty and reel in perch, pike, bass, and bluegill.
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.
Michigan City – Stroll the Lake Michigan beach in this quiet time with crowds long gone.
Winter Hiking in Indiana Dunes National Park – Traverse snowy woodland trails, sandy dunes, and deserted beaches. Head out yourself anytime or join naturalists at the national park who lead special holiday hikes.