Picture a blue-sky summer day with vacationers claiming a perfect spot on a glorious stretch of sand along the Lake Michigan shore. In a flash, they’re diving into clear waters, skimming the waves in a watercraft, or building sandcastles and, most importantly, making memories that will last a lifetime. That’s just a taste of what’s in store at Michigan City’s vacation gem – Washington Park, where the community meets the Great Lake in this enticing corner of Northern Indiana. Add in park activities such as visiting a longtime zoo or watching exciting high-speed boat races. Just outside the park’s boundaries, feast at nearby restaurants, play at a top-notch casino, and shop a host of stores and boutiques. West of town, get in touch with nature at Indiana Dunes National Park. The makings of a dream escape are close at hand.
Here’s a taste of what’s in store:
Washington Park Wonders – 140 Acres and 2 Miles of Pristine Beach
- Indiana’s only working lighthouse, the 1904 East Light, seems to hold court over Washington Park, a 99-acre haven of shady grounds and two miles of pristine beach where vacationers swim, sunbathe, and beachcomb. Things to do:
- Walk the pier – On calm days, visitors love walking the long pier to the lighthouse, the symbol of Michigan City.
- Stroll and work out – Benches dot wooden walkways and sandy paths near the beach. Try out the fitness trail in the park.
- Picnic – Picnic tables, shelters, grills, and concessions are available.
- Kid Fun – Children frolic in the sprays and fountains at Oasis Splash Pad.
- Admission/Rules – Open 5am to 10pm. Admission $15 per vehicle per day. No lifeguards on duty. No pets allowed.
Exploration Extravaganza – Don’t leave the Park without visiting these attractions:
- Washington Park Zoo – Some 90 creatures make their homes here in natural habitats.
- Old Lighthouse Museum – Learn about lake history in this beautifully restored 1858 lighthouse and climb to the lantern room.
- Michigan City Senior Center – Local seniors love the exercise, foreign language, and art classes, plus holiday events, field trips, and card games.
Exciting Excursions – On land and water, get your adrenaline pumping.
- Bismarck Hill Hiking Trail – Trek across 3 dunes and nature trails and relish the Lake Michigan views.
- Harbor Country Adventures – An array of exciting boat tours on Lake Michigan await, along with rentals for kayaks and waverunners.
- Stoke Riders – Thrill to the challenge of kiteboarding with lessons and rentals.
- Fishing Charters – Professional charter boat captains show you how to reel in Coho and Chinook salmon and more.
Spectator Sports – Watch fast-paced sports action and great musical performances at these special events:
- XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix – Crowds revel in high-speed powerboat racing just off Washington Park.
- Michigan City AquaX Grand Prix – P1 AquaX personal watercraft provide racing thrills in the waters off Washington Park.
- EVP Sand Volleyball Tournaments – Players take to the beach in a succession of challenges.
- Guy Foreman Amphitheatre – The Michigan City Municipal band performs Thursday evenings in the summer, and other musical acts are scheduled at this Washington Park band shell.
Dining Delights – Fill up at nearby restaurants.
- Fish Camp – Upscale food and libations with striking sunset views over the lake.
- Sunset Grille – A rooftop restaurant and cantina open in summer only provide fabulous Lake Michigan views and fun eating.
- Base Camp Marina Cafe & Provisions – Get breakfast, sandwiches, pizza, and beach supplies or order ahead, tie up your boat, pick up, and head back out on the lake.
Next-Door Neighbors – More fun is in store just outside the park.
- Indiana Dunes National Park – The incredible Indiana Dunes meet Lake Michigan in this natural preserve just west of Michigan City, featuring 14 trail systems and loads of activities.
- Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa – Try your luck at slots, poker, and so much more 24/7, plus check out the dining, guest room, and spa options.
- Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets – Bargain prices on top-name brands in a pleasant setting.
- Uptown Arts District – It’s fun, funky, and filled with unique Michigan City shops and restaurants. Tour the stately 1857 Barker Mansion.
- Friendship Botanic Gardens – Woodlands, open space, and beautifully cultivated gardens fill this 105-acre haven.
Insider Tip: Savor Nature’s best show – the stunning sunset over Lake Michigan viewed from Washington Park. Grab your camera or phone to preserve the colorful moment.