LaPorte County’s Perfect Getaways
For People and Their Pets
Leave Spot or Whiskers back home while the family goes on vacation? No way! That’s what an increasing number of pet lovers are saying these days. In fact, surveys show that more than a third of vacationers take their beloved pooches or tabbies along when they travel.
Northern Indiana’s LaPorte County, which nestles along the shores of Lake Michigan and is a popular vacation getaway, makes bringing your pet a breeze. The communities of Michigan City along the Great Lake and LaPorte with its own sparkling inland waters are home to numerous pet-friendly lodgings, restaurants, and attractions.
Outdoor adventure abounds in the area, with enclaves ideal for both people and pets to hike, run, and roam. From the Indiana Dunes National Park just west of Michigan City to spacious county parks, orchards and more, good times are in store for you and your furry friends.
Fresh Air Finds
Indiana Dunes National Park
Your dog can hike with you along most of the trails and splash in Lake Michigan at several beaches at this haven of sand dunes, forests, water, and sunny meadows just west of Michigan City. The adjoining Indiana Dunes State Park provides pet-friendly fun as well. Pets must be on a six-foot leash when hiking and swimming at both parks, and owners are requested to pick up waste and respect wildlife.
Dogs can earn the fun and prestigious title of BARK Ranger when you pick up a pledge sheet at either the National Park Visitor Center or Paul H. Douglas Visitor Center. The pledge promise: B-bag your waste; A-always stay on a leash; R-respect wildlife; and K-know where you can go. Your dog will receive a BARK Ranger tag, and you are set on a course for adventure!
Friendship Botanic Gardens, Michigan City
Nature trails, beautifully groomed gardens, and lovely Lake Lucerne create a peaceful haven right in the city, and your pet is welcome. Choose from multiple trails of varying length that wind through the 105-acre enclave. Dogs must be leashed at all times and owners are asked to clean up after their pets to keep the trails pristine for all visitors.
LaPorte County Parks
What dog doesn’t relish a park with loads of canine amenities? Owners love the chance to walk with their dogs, and to let them run free in space created just for their pets. LaPorte County’s four county parks plus Kesling Park in the community of LaPorte make great places for everyone to get moving!
Two Special Bark Parks – Creek Ridge County Park in Michigan City and Bluhm County Park in Westville feature primo pet playgrounds. The fully fenced-in Bark Parks include fun activities such as a tire jump, dog walk, window jump, doggie crawl and pause table, plus a Rover Jump Over, and King of the Hill. Creek Ridge encompasses a series of boardwalks, and Bluhm includes both nature and paved trails, plus a large wetland area.
Room to Roam – Both Luhr County Park in LaPorte and Red Mill County Park in Michigan City contain spacious fenced-in areas where dogs can get lots of exercise. Luhr features paved trails and boardwalks for leashed walks. At Red Mill, take a stroll to the burbling headwaters of the Little Calumet River and pass plenty of wetlands.
Kesling Park, LaPorte – This 90-acre park, with great play equipment at Fort LaPlay Porte for the kids and extensive walking trails, also welcomes your leashed pet to roam the pathways with you.
Garwood Orchards, LaPorte
Even Fido will enjoy a walk through the orchard if you plan to pick some apples or other produce at this fifth-generation operation. Dogs must be on a leash, but they can accompany you in the orchard, where you’ll find an amazing array of apples such as Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jonagold, Pixie Crunch and so many more you can pick yourself or buy already harvested. Garwood also offers fields of u-pick sunflowers and plenty of pumpkins when fall rolls around. Visitors love the legendary donuts and pies.
Shady Creek Winery, Michigan City
Award-winning wines and shareable gourmet foods star at this upscale winery, where you can settle on the outdoor patio to enjoy a sip and a bite with your leashed dog settled at your feet. You might want to roam a little on the rolling 20-acre grounds as well. The winery features 28 vintages, many with names that reflect the location near Lake Michigan such as Beach Glass and Sandy Feet. For further outdoor pleasure, the Schwartz family, which purchased the winery in 2019, have added more patio seating and outdoor fireplaces.
Zorn Brew Works, Michigan City
Visitors who dine or drink at the umbrella-covered tables on Zorn’s outdoor patio hail this microbrewery as super dog-friendly. There are even bowls of water set out for your canine companion. The community’s newest brewery is named for long ago Bavarian immigrant Philip Zorn who founded one of the first microbreweries here in 1871. The brick-walled microbrewery has the historic vibe of a long-ago neighborhood gathering spot. Zorn features a host of terrific beers with great names, such as Flashlight Sword Fight, an IPA, and Duke’s a Champ, an Irish stout. Add in delicious food, especially the award-winning Mac and Cheese.
When it comes to dining, the choices are scrumptious and varied in LaPorte County. Here’s some great news – if your dog is along, all the restaurants listed below have outside dining on their decks or patios, where your canine buddy can join you. Sometimes a friendly server might even slip your pet a doggie treat.
Bare Bones Gastropub, LaPorte – Inventive handhelds such as the French onion grilled cheese and jackfruit tacos join a large selection of appetizers, dinners, and breakfasts at this locally-sourced downtown brewpub.
Barker Pub, Michigan City – An ever-changing menu anchored with a few popular favorites introduces something new every time you stop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Battered cauliflower bites, Poblano burgers, and Asian chicken wraps – that’s just a hint of what’s in store, along with beer and cocktails.
Blind Pig Tavern and Grill, Michigan City – Locals rave about the terrific small bite shareables here, including shrimp-and-grit fritters or avocado toast, as well as unique artisan pizzas. An extensive wine list adds to the experience.
Bridges Waterside Grille, Michigan City – Get your fish and seafood fix on with an array of choices that include coconut shrimp, fish tacos, and perch dinners, plus burgers and wraps for the landlubbers. The deck of this boat-friendly restaurant is close to the waterfront.
Burger Bar and Grill, LaPorte – Patrons rave about the terrific burgers and tucked-away outdoor patio at this simple eatery downtown.
Creekside Bar & Grill, Michigan City – Fish and chips, tacos, Chicago dogs, and a host of beer and wine selections make dining in this restaurant along Trail Creek a great experience. The weekend breakfast menu includes some interesting food and drink options.
Fiddlehead Restaurant, Michigan City – This trendy eatery is known for many specialties, including the Fry Bucket with three sauces to go with the fries, the Hipster sandwiches with all kinds of goodies atop pulled pork, or the elegant Filet Mignon.
Fish Camp, Michigan City – This upscale restaurant boasts a raw seafood bar and intriguing specialties such as Oysters Rockefeller, Perch Tacos, and lobster rolls, along with burgers and chicken. You’re close to the lakefront, with access for boaters to tie up at the restaurant and come on in.
Leeds Public House, Michigan City – A modern gastropub in a historic Uptown Arts District building, includes a refurbished patio, bar, and firepit for relaxation, dining, and imbibing. The locally sourced menu features options such as fried feta cubes, their own mixed-meat burger, and the exotic vegan Buddha bowl.
Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant, Michigan City – Twelve brews are always on tap, including the fan favorite Curse of the Goat, at this popular place a few blocks from Lake Michigan. Both the food, with everything from pub fare to upscale entrees, and the beer have won awards.
Swingbelly’s, Michigan City – A bountiful menu at this laid-back establishment includes a wide variety of burgers, sandwiches, and salads, along with full entrees such as succulent ribs, steaks, and fried chicken. Enjoy fresh lake perch on Fridays only.
3rd Base Bar and Grill, LaPorte – An expansive menu featuring burgers, sandwiches, baskets, and nachos, listed in fun baseball categories such as Pre-Game and Minor League indicate both fun and good food are in store at this casual eatery across the street from Pine Lake.
Panini Panini, Michigan City – Classic European fare is on the menu, such as Caprese sandwiches, Quiche Lorraine, and Greek salad. Don’t miss the delicious desserts, including macaroons and pastries at this delightful Uptown shop.
Here are a couple Michigan City gems with lots of nostalgia and surprises in store for your canine companion.
Bubbles Ice Cream Parlor, Michigan City – Indulge your sweet tooth at this longtime favorite with a cone, sundae, milkshake, ice cream soda, float, smoothie or other cool confection. While you enjoy your treat at one of the outdoor tables, your pup gets a scoop of vanilla on the house.
Carlson’s Drive-In, Michigan City – Enjoy a classic drive-in experience complete with car hops and window trays! Your dog even gets a free treat – a mini hot dog. For 75 years, Carlson’s has been brewing its own foamy root beer and serving it with hot dogs, brats, burgers, homemade chili and more.
Insider Tip: Sweet Dreams Together – Numerous chain motels in Michigan City and LaPorte offer pet-friendly accommodations. The Blue Heron Inn in LaPorte, on the shore of Pine Lake, allows dogs. Rooms vary from standard to family suites and the facility adjoins two restaurants. The recently refurbished 4411 Inn and Suites in Michigan City also allows pets. In addition, check for individual pet-friendly accommodations through VRBO and Airbnb.