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Powerboat Racing Thrills, Exciting Family Fun Mark 15th XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix

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Sleek powerboats in brilliant colors zoom across Lake Michigan waters in a blast of spray while spectators on shore burst into thundering cheers. It’s fast. It’s fascinating. It’s fun. And it’s FREE! Welcome to the highlight of summer in Northern Indiana – The XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City. 

The whole family will love this fabulous week-long event, set for July 30-August 4 this year. Organizers plan a host of activities to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the award-winning extravaganza on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Naturally, the race itself is the top draw, featuring some of the world’s most powerful and fastest boats racing over the Great Lake’s ever-challenging waters at speeds nearing 200 miles per hour. A record number of race teams are expected this year. 

Get psyched for so much more in addition to racing thrills. Visitors will enjoy the bigger-than-ever boat parade and block party, live entertainment every day, festival food and drink, family activities, and a golf outing. Race enthusiasts get to meet the drivers too.

So set your sights on Michigan City and the best Race Week ever. The community is loaded with great lodgings, restaurants, and additional summer activities, so vacationers can plan a big summer trip filled with Grand Prix racing, special events, and enjoyment galore.

exciting launch

The Big Race happens at the end of this exciting week (see details below), but music, food, VIP events, and golf launch the festivities. Get in on the very first event Tuesday, July 30, at the Meet & Greet Racers Party, welcoming the racers and their families. Food and alcohol will be on hand. The next three days are filled with the official Ribbon Cutting, First Friday on Franklin Street, and free music in the evenings (Thursday, August 1: Rockdogs at the Sunset Grille and Aftermath playing classic rock and country at Washinton Park Beach; Friday, August 2: The Bones with classic rock, also at the beach). 

Terrific Tee-off

Break out those clubs Wednesday, July 31, for a fun foursome on the Michigan City Municipal Golf Course. The outing includes all drinks, lunch, prizes, and an afterparty. Proceeds go to the Michigan City Emergency Management volunteers, who are key in putting on the Grand Prix. 

go big - go vip

Love those extras with plenty of food and drink! The public is invited to the special events for a charge. They include the VIP Party at the Sunset Grille Thursday, August 1, and Brunch on the Boardwalk both Saturday and Sunday (August 3 and 4). Purchase tickets online at www.eventbrite.com.

here comes the Big parade and party

Seeing the Grand Prix’s stunning powerboats parade down Franklin Street will take your breath away! They regally float by, so colorful and so BIG when viewed this close. The parade starts at 6pm Saturday, August 3, but there’s a whole day of fun before that amazing display, including races (see below). Best of all, everything except food, drink, and some games and rides are FREE!

Here’s what’s on tap for the day at the park and downtown: 

  • Vintage Car Show
  • Food Court
  • Block Party – It’s bigger than ever with carnival rides, giant games, zoo petting, a bags tournament, Middle of the Road band music, and more. At the free Kids Zone, youngsters will love the caricature artists, face painting, balloon twisting, and games. For the adults: a bar and cigar lounge (21 and over), plus arcade games. 
  • Music – Point’n Fingers play classic rock at the Washington Park Beach from 7 to 11pm.

finally - the races are on

Head for the shore and grab your spot at Washington Park Beach (see below for shuttle info) for the highlight of Race Week – the races! This spectacular, free show takes place from 10am to 4pm both Saturday and Sunday, August 3 and 4. Talk about bigger than ever – some 65 to 75 race teams are expected to compete in 12 classes, with a full slate of racing each day. Some preliminary races will take place on Saturday, but there will be a full slate of qualifying races both days. To wrap up the week, Soul Shine will play at Sunset Grill at 4pm Sunday. 

schedule details

Tuesday, July 30

  • 5pm – Meet & Greet Racers Party at Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity

Wednesday, July 31

  • 11am – Golf Outing registration at Michigan City Municipal Golf Course
  • Noon – Golf Outing – Shotgun start
  • 5pm – Golf Awards & Afterparty at Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity

Thursday, August 1

  • 5:30pm – Ribbon Cutting at Sunset Grille
  • 6-8pm – VIP Party at Sunset Grille
  • 6-9pm – RockDogs playing at Sunset Grill
  • 7-11pm – Aftermath playing at Washington Park Beach

Friday, August 2

  • Noon-10pm – Food Court Open
  • 5-8pm – First Friday on Franklin – Downtown Michigan City
  • 7-11pm – The Bones playing at Washington Park Beach
 
 

Saturday, Aug. 3

  • 8am-3pm – Four A’s Vintage Car Show
  • 9am-10:30pm – Free parking/shuttle Service at Blue Chip Hotel; Semi Lot along Highway 12
  • 9am-10pm – Food Court Open
  • 9am-4pm – VIP Tent Open on Washington Park Boardwalk; 10am-2pm Brunch Served
  • 10am-4pm – Boat Racing
  • 11am – National Anthem
  • Noon-10pm – Block Party – Downtown Michigan City
  • 6-8pm Boat Parade – Franklin Street from 9th to 4th streets
  • 7-11pm – Point’n Fingers playing at Washington Park Beach
 

Sunday, Aug. 4

  • 9am-4:30pm – Free parking/shuttle Service at Blue Chip Hotel; Semi Lot along Highway12
  • 9am-5pm – Food Court Open
  • 9am-4pm – VIP Tent Open on Washington Park Boardwalk; 10am-2pm Brunch Served
  • 10am-4pm – Boat Racing
  • 11am – National Anthem
  • 4pm – Soul Shine playing at Sunset Grille

 

For more information on Race Week, go to: GreatLakesGrandPrix.com

getting around is a breeze

On both Saturday and Sunday, free parking and shuttle service are available at the Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa; Semi Lot along Highway 12. Free shuttle drops off and picks up at Washington Park and includes a 7th/Washington Street stop during the Block Party/Parade. There is a parking fee if festivalgoers park at Washington Park. See emichigancity.com for fees. 

Don't-miss Vacation tips

Plan a vacation around the Big Race Week in Michigan City, where sandy beaches and Lake Michigan waters invite summer adventures. 

Washington Park – This outstanding park and beach might be packed on race days, but come early or stay an extra day or two to enjoy its many pleasures when the crowds diminish. A two-mile stretch of primo sand invites swimming, sunning, and beachcombing – an ideal place to while away a few hours or a full day (No pets allowed). The beach is backed by a shady 99-acre park with picnic tables, grills, shelters, and concessions. While you’re there:

Walk the pier – Get a closeup look at the 1904 East Light, Indiana’s only working lighthouse. 

Stroll and work out – Benches dot wooden walkways and sandy paths near the beach. Try out the fitness trail in the park.

Let the Kids Splash – Children frolic in the sprays and fountains at Oasis Splash Pad.  

Visit the Washington Park Zoo – Adjacent to the park, some 90 creatures make their homes here in natural habitats. 

See the Old Lighthouse Museum – Learn about lake history in this beautifully restored 1858 lighthouse and climb to the lantern room.

Lubeznik Center for the Arts – Right next to Washington Park, this art center features a high-quality, changing exhibition schedule in four galleries plus a collection of outdoor artworks. 

Settle In

Vacations find plenty of options for overnight and longer stays in Michigan City and nearby LaPorte,  including boutique hotels, name-brand lodgings, and private rentals. Here are some options:

Private rentals – Connect with private cottage and vacation home owners through rental agencies such as Beachwalk Resort and Rentals in Michigan City, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and Airbnb (Air Bed and Breakfast). 

Blue Chip Casino, Hotel, Spa– Posh hotel rooms and suites in this well-known casino with several restaurants and 24/7 gaming.  

Brewery Lodge and Supper Club – A 12-suite boutique hotel secluded on a 40-acre wooded tract with a restaurant, craft beer, and wine bar.

4411 Inn and Suites – Comfortable suites with a fresh, modern look, ranging from king to three-bedroom. 

Bridge Inn – Contemporary lodgings with private sitting rooms, within walking distance of Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District.  

Name-Brand Hotels – Of course, your favorite name-brand hotels are available too. See Listing Here.

Whatever you prefer, there’s an amazing array of special places to lay your head each night. 

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