Blake Walsh

18 Best Things to Do in Michigan City, IN

  • Published 2022/03/29

A brilliant city that lies along the shores of the mesmerizing Lake Michigan, Michigan City in Indiana is one of the most pleasant destinations for any nature lover.

It has a lot of activities just for you.

Wine and beer connoisseurs will fall in love with the city.

There are a lot of trails to test one’s biking skills.

If you want to go ahead and enjoy some fishing, Lake Michigan offers itself to you.

Here are the best things to do in Michigan City, Indiana:

Spend Time with Nature in the Trail Creek

Body of water at Trail Creek

Initially a Lake Michigan tributary, Trail Creek is one of the most gorgeous places in Michigan City.

It runs across almost 7.3 miles, ultimately joining the great lake.

You can easily spend an afternoon in the vicinity.

The ecosystem around the water body is mainly comprised of wetlands.

There is also a lot of wildlife around.

You can easily spot some rare birds flying around, such as bald eagles.

Trouts and salmons dominate the waters.

You can even opt for fishing in this tributary.

In fact, this is one of the best places to fish for salmon.

See the Animals at the Washington Park Zoo

Ring Tailed Lemur at Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City

Lewis Photo Studio /

The Washington Parl Zoo is a family-friendly place where you can spend hours looking at lovely animals.

It is more of a sanctuary than a zoo.

The best part about this zoo is its location.

The Washington Park Zoo's tower

hakkun, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated along the banks of Lake Michigan, the Washington Park Zoo offers one of the best experiences in Michigan City.

It’s home to more than 90 different animal species from across the globe.

The zoo was designed in such a way that you have to explore to search for the animals.

There are tunnels all around, and kids love this place.

Take in Scenic Views from the Michigan City East Light

Waves under the Michigan City East Lighthouse

Nejdet Duzen /

The Michigan City East Light is one of the most essential structures in the city.

There are no other functioning lighthouses in Michigan City.

Nowadays, it is more of an Indiana landmark that must not be missed.

You can take a look at this great attraction while you are standing in the harbor region.

Path leading to Michigan City East Light

Nicola Patterson /

There used to be another lighthouse in the same region, but that was almost in ruins.

In 1858, the city decided to build another lighthouse, an exact replica of the old one.

They constructed a new pier along with it.

Don’t forget to take a few snaps while you are out there.

Scenic sunset at Michigan City East Light

Suzanne Tucker /

Learn about the City at the Barker Mansion

Exterior of Barker Mansion

Chris Light at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

John H. Barker played an important role in Michigan City’s history.

He is best known as one of the brilliant men who founded the railcar industry.

Located in the heart of Michigan City, Barker Mansion stands proudly as a historical museum that tells all the city’s famous stories.

It wasn’t always a museum, though.

Earlier, it was a manor built for John H. Barker.

You can still find the 38 rooms that were built back in 1905.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Barker Mansion is indeed an example of sheer beauty.

In the rooms, you can find beautifully curated works of art from all over the world.

Visit Friendship Botanic Gardens

Scenic view of Friendship Botanic Gardens

C. S. Reed /

Friendship Botanic Gardens has some of the best greenery in the city.

The gardens are not exactly inside the city—you have to drive a bit to the eastern part to get to this tourist spot.

The gardens are massive and stretch across almost 106 miles.

Friendship Botanic Gardens' pavilion

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are trees and different shades of green all around.

The local flora and fauna are represented quite well here.

If you want to get a taste of calm and serenity, this place is the ideal location just for you.

The Friendship Botanic Gardens' lawn

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch a Play at Dunes Summer Theatre

If you want to have fun like a local, you need to catch a play at Dunes Summer Theatre on a summer evening.

Located in Michiana Shores, the theater is an absolute local delight.

Musicals and plays are performed throughout the summer seasons.

Kids love the plays.

Even adults enjoy a little bit of entertainment.

Nora Tully MacAlvay, an art and culture teacher, came up with this brilliant idea of creating a summer theater, and ever since then, the theater has been extremely popular.

Spend an Afternoon at the Michigan City Public Library

Exterior of Michigan City Public Library

Russellguest, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan City Public Library is not just any public library.

It is one of the top public libraries in the entire state.

The library extends across 35,000 square feet and is probably the biggest public library you will see in your life.

Bookshelves inside Michigan City Public Library

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The genius architect, Helmut Jahn, known all over the world for some of his brilliant works, was the mastermind behind its unique architecture.

Offering more than just books, the library provides visitors access to thousands of audiobooks and DVDs.

Get Your Share of Entertainment at Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa

Far exterior view of Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa

hakkun, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Common

Looking for one of the finest places to stay and get entertained at the same time?

Blue Chip Casino is at your service.

If you want to enjoy that ideal vacation in Michigan City, this is the best option for you.

Exterior of Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is a casino inside, and it will be one of the most entertaining parts of your stay.

Tired after a long day of sightseeing?

Rejuvenate at the spa located inside the hotel.

It has several dining options: a fine dining restaurant, a sports bar, and a deli.

Appreciate Art at Lubeznik Center for the Arts

Exterior of Lubeznik Center for the Arts

hakkun, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Lubeznik Center for the Arts is one of the top art places in Michigan City.

The art center’s authorities are all about the local talents.

However, it doesn’t only exhibit local pieces; you can also find a lot of international works here.

The center has four galleries that showcase the most beautiful works of art.

The walls are decorated with art pieces by lesser-known talents worth discovering.

Make a Stop at Shady Creek Winery

Shady Creek Winery is one place in Michigan City that will make you feel at home.

Tourists have stated how homely the ambiance is here.

There is also a restaurant that serves appetizers that go well with the wine.

The pizzas are worth trying out as well.

One word that best describes the winery is “cozy.”

You can even warm up by the fireplace with a glass of wine in hand during winter.

All of their wines have won an award or two and are some of the best blends in the world.

They source their ingredients from local vineyards, and their red wines are some of the most flavorful ones you’ll ever have.

Sample Craft Beers at Shoreline Brewery

 Exterior of Shoreline Brewery

hakkun, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shoreline Brewery is one of the top premium breweries in Michigan City.

Overlooking Michigan Lake, it has won the hearts of locals and tourists alike.

They have a restaurant, too, and its menu is quite diverse.

The craft beers are excellent, and their award-winning Beltaine Scottish Ale is highly recommended.

Do you feel like you have a different taste when it comes to beers?

Don’t worry, for you will definitely find something suited for you here in this brewery.

Go Shopping at Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets

Exterior of Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets

Roberto Galan /

Are you looking to get some premium shopping done at an affordable price?

Lighthouse Place Premium Outlet is one of the best destinations for shopping in Michigan City.

Not only does it have several thrift shops where you can purchase some of the best outfits, but there are plenty of branded outlets too.

Calvin Klien, Michael Kors, Nike, Adidas, and many other worthy stores have made their way inside this shopping center.

Front exterior of Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets

Roberto Galan /

Tired after a long day of shopping?

Rest your feet at the food court.

There is even a Beef Jerky Outlet here!

You can also buy souvenirs for your friends from this center.

Explore the Heron Rookery Trail

Adventure lovers, the Heron Rookery Trail is a fine place to test your biking skills.

Professional bikers love that the trail is smooth and offers some of the best views.

You can even go running in this area.

If you visit in March, you are in for a real treat.

Great blue herons make their way to this area, and the sight is fantastic.

The entire region gets covered with wildflowers during this time as well.

The Little Calumet River, which runs around here, is one of the calmest places to sit and go fishing.

You can also sit on the banks and enjoy some of the greatest times.

Enjoy the Scenes at Central Avenue Beach

Originally inside the Indiana Dunes National Park, Central Avenue Beach is one of the best places to spend your time in Michigan City.

Summer and spring are the best times to visit.

Beautiful migratory birds like bank swallows come here and make their homes.

There are plenty of dune slopes behind the beach, but you will not be allowed to climb up those.

Central Avenue Beach has a lot of hiking trails for you to explore.

For your safety, make sure to follow those indicated on the maps.

You can also find other safety notes written before you enter the beach.

Please abide by those rules to avoid any unnecessary danger.

Go Fishing

Fishing boat on Lake Michigan

Roberto Galan /

Fishing is the staple activity in this region—and if you are someone who likes to fish, Michigan City should feel like paradise to you.

Fall, spring, and summer are the best seasons to go fishing here.

However, the only thing that will improve your experience is going on a chartered fishing trip.

Hunt for salmons and trouts while you are out there.

You will also find many companies that provide the best fishing trip arrangements.

Book yourself one of those, and enjoy Michigan City to its fullest.

Take a Tour around the Old Lighthouse Museum

Exterior of Old Lighthouse Museum from across a body of water

Nejdet Duzen /

Located in Michigan City’s harbor, the Old Michigan City Light has been a source of pride and protection for the Indiana people since 1858.

It took $8,000 to build this decommissioned lighthouse.

Before this tower was erected, an outdated light made of brick and stone was placed on the lake’s edge.

Front exterior of Old Lighthouse Museum

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

This tower took its place and is now a popular tourist attraction within the city’s park system.

The lighthouse was built as a double light to illuminate Lake Michigan’s entrance and complement its cousin, the East Light.

The Old Michigan City Light underwent remodeling in 1904.

You’ll find the lighthouse in Washington Park.

Top half of Old Lighthouse Museum

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Find Vintage Treasures at Good News Vintage

Located on Franklin Street, Good News Vintage is for lovers of all things vintage and collectors of uncommon treasures.

This historic jewel of space boasts a treasure trove of seriously cool items in nearly endless supply at just the right price.

For those who can’t find something to suit their current tastes, there’s always lots to look forward to at Good News Vintage throughout every season.

Original, fabulous mid-century art, fashion, items, and everything retro is all housed in this one place.

New finds are constantly being uncovered and brought into the space in a trendsetting, ever-changing way.

With a great selection of antique furnishings and accessories, it’s hard to come inside this beautiful hidden gem and not find something you’d want to take home immediately.

Visit Sevick Gardens Farmers Market and Support Michigan City Local Farming

If you’re looking to grab a quick bite or shop for groceries, head to Sevick Gardens Farmers Market.

Here, you’ll be able to find food, beverages, and supplies to make your trip an enjoyable experience.

Located on W 8th Street, they have provided the community with fresh and canned specialty items appropriate for all seasons.

You’ll also find beautiful flowers that you can put into some baskets hanging on your outside porch, maple syrup, homemade jams, honey, relishes, and various herbs.

Buying products from farmers’ markets such as Sevick Gardens Farmers Market is a great way to support local farming.

Final Thoughts

Michigan City, a city on the south shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana, is a multifaceted place that makes it a great spot to visit.

The assortment of attractions ranges from the pristine lakeside beaches perfect for swimming and water sports like fishing or boating to lush forests great for biking or hiking.

The eclectic and vibrant atmosphere, combined with quaint boutiques and eateries, makes an evening stroll here a truly memorable experience.

These are just a few reasons why this charming city should be your next destination!

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