So you’ve decided to wander away from the beaches along Lake Michigan to explore the South Shore’s beach communities. This short list of our picks of things to do and where to eat when you leave the beach should get you started!
Please note, we advise to check ahead on social media or by calling to check hours of operation for each location.
Whiting, Hammond and East ChicagoBack to Top of List
Hammond Lakefront, Whihala Beach and Jeorse Park and Beach
EAT – Stop in at Keith’s Bar and Grill for outstanding steaks and seafood in downtown Whiting. For something more casual we invite you to try Burrito Stop for tacos, burritos, bowls and more. About a 10-minute drive from Hammond Lakefront is Johnel's Restaurant, a diner featuring a tasty variety of food. For more restaurants in Hammond, click here.
DRINK - For the 21 and over crew, stop into 18th Street Brewpub in Hammond, which was named by USA Today as 2019’s Best Brewpub in the country! You’ll be sure to find something you like at this award-winning establishment. There's also Byway Brewing a little farther south.
SHOP – Stroll 119th Street in Whiting for shopping – but be sure to stop into Mind Benders puzzles and games to find an at-home activity or puzzle to enjoy.
EXPLORE – The Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary is sandwiched between Horseshoe Casino, railroads and industry, but when you get to the Sanctuary, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped civilization. For more things to do in Hammond, click here. There's also the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting which has all kinds of interactive educational displays and activities.
STAY - Extend your stay in the South Shore. You can relax (and test your luck) at Ameristar Casino Hotel in East Chicago or choose another hotel property in the region.
Miller BeachBack to Top of List
Lake Street Beach, Marquette Park, Wells Street and West Beach
EAT – Just a short drive from Lake Street Beach, you can grab a pizza from the local gem, Miller Beach Pizza Company. Flamingo’s also has other options like lake perch, burgers, subs and salads so there is something for everyone.
DRINK – If you are 21+, head to 18th Street Brewery’s second location in the Miller neighborhood and try popular brews like Candi Crushable and Here Comes the Reaper. If you want a unique spot to grab a drink with the family, try out Anna’s Kombucha Café. They brew all of their kombucha themselves and offer a variety of options.
SHOP – On Lake Street, find handmade pieces from art and jewelry to household decor at Lake Street Gallery, discover eclectic gifts and local items from Indie Indie Bang Bang or shop an eclectic mix of merchants on three floors at Miller School Shops and Spaces. You can also stock up on snacks before or after your beach trip at ChicagoLand Popcorn.
EXPLORE – In addition to the multiple beachfronts in the area, you can also explore the many biking and hiking trails. We suggest heading to the West Beach trails to get great views of Lake Michigan from the top of the dunes. During baseball season, catch a Gary South Shore Railcat’s game with the family and say hi to Rusty the Railcat!
STAY – Whether you’re staying for a weekend or a week, check out Miller Beach Vacation Rentals. These rentals can accommodate anywhere from 2 to 42 guests and are all stunningly renovated. You are also close to the beaches, trails, and shopping in these rentals.
PortageBack to Top of List
EAT – A local favorite for pizza is Gelsosomo's. They have a number of locations, but the pizzeria in Portage is the original spot! Big Time Burgers and Brews serves half-pound burgers loaded with toppings like caramelized onions, white truffle aioli, sweet and spicy pepper relish or a classic American cheese slice. Find more Portage restaurants here.
DRINK – If you’ve never had a bubble tea, a Taiwanese tea-based drink, you’ll want to pop into Teatery where they offer Bubble Milk Teas, fresh fruit teas and coffee. If you’re feeling hungry, treat yourself to a bubble waffle topped with Nutella, chocolate or a candy pieces.
SHOP – Find all your outdoor equipment at Bass Pro Shops. From boating and fishing to hunting and camping you’ll find what you need under one roof, just a short drive from the beach.
EXPLORE – Founder’s Square Park hosts a number of special events including live concerts under the amphitheater, a splash pad in the summer for kids and the accessible Hannah’s Hope playground for kids and adults of all ages and abilities.
STAY – Rest your head at the Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, an extended stay property or a number of other hotels in Portage.
Porter, Beverly Shores and ChestertonBack to Top of List
Porter Access Beach, Indiana Dunes State Park, Kemil Beach, Dunbar Beach and Lake View Beach
EAT – You’ll not want to miss a meal at Abbiocco for their delicious house-made pastas and other Italian dishes or enjoy lighter offerings on their rooftop bar, Luna. For a more casual experience, we recommend Octave Grill for burgers, sandwiches, lake perch and more.
DRINK – Beer lovers will enjoy a brew at Chesterton Brewery, the area’s only veteran-owned brewery that gives back to Veteran-based not-for-profits and honors local heroes. Wine lovers will want to stop in to Running Vines Winery for sips of award-winning wines. You can also stop into either the brewery or winery to grab a carryout.
SHOP – Downtown Chesterton has a number of shops to window shop, or find the perfect memento to bring home. The downtown area also hosts the popular European Market every Saturday from May through October. Of course you can find fresh fruits, vegetables and breads, but also handmade goods and entertainment during your visit.
EXPLORE – You won’t have to go far from the beach to find other activities to enjoy. There are marshes, prairies, wetlands, bogs, forests and more to explore within the Indiana Dunes National and State Parks. Take a hike through the miles of trails including a historic hike at Chellberg Farm or at Cowles Bog, a 4,000-year-old wetland that covers 4.3 miles of moderate terrain.
STAY – Stay under the stars at one of the nearby campsites. Choose between primitive camping, electric hookup or a cabin.
Michigan City and LaPorteBack to Top of List
Central Avenue Beach, Mt. Baldy and Washington Park
EAT – We suggest stopping at Sunset Grille in the summer for beautiful views of Lake Michigan and some amazing burgers and cocktails. As the name suggests, sunset is the perfect time to be on their rooftop bar enjoying a meal. Year round you can head to Bartlett’s Fish Camp for fresh oysters and lake perch with dining inside or outside on the patio. For more Michigan City restaurants, click here.
DRINK – For those 21+ enjoy a brew from Shoreline Brewery, just a five-minute drive or fifteen-minute walk from Washington Park Beach. They have an assortment of beers like Singing Sands Stout or Tessellated IPA, as well as a wonderful patio with shade to enjoy the weather.
SHOP – Michigan City is home to NWI’s Lighthouse Premium Outlets which has everything from the Beef Jerky Outlet to name brand clothing stores.
EXPLORE – While at the beach, make sure to check out the lighthouse and pier right on the shore. It is the only public operating lighthouse in Indiana! You can also head just a few minutes away from the beach to enjoy a gallery exhibit at Lubeznik Center for the Arts. Check their calendar of events for a family art class or activity. Discover more to do in Michigan City here.
STAY – The Brewery Lodge is a must stay when visiting the Michigan City/LaPorte area. The warm interior features dark wood, brick, and fireplaces throughout the inside. It is also perfect for a 21+ weekend as they offer brewery tours in the area and have a delicious brunch spread with cocktails. You can also check out Serenity Springs for a romantic getaway or Beachwalk Resorts for a large group or family.
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