There are miles of beautiful Lake Michigan beaches in Northwest Indiana including some of the best beaches in the Midwest for swimming, sunning, boating, hiking and relaxing.
The Indiana Dunes National Park and Indiana Dunes State Park offer 15 miles of sandy beaches. Whether you want to frolic in the waves, sculpt a sandcastle, admire the wildlife or simply soak up the sun, the beaches of the Indiana Dunes are sure to please.
Most beaches with lifeguards are open for swimming beginning Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Click on each beach on the map below to find out more about all the beaches along the South Shore or read more below.
Please note: New National Park entrance fee began on March 31, 2022. Learn more here.
Beach Safety Warning: Although deadly rip currents can occur any time of year, they occur more days than not after August 1st in Lake Michigan. Do not swim in large crashing waves, which can cause rip currents or when rip current warnings are posted. These strong currents rushing out into Lake Michigan can carry even the strongest swimmer with them and cause a number of fatalities every year.
If you get caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against it. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current. Check for beach hazard warnings before you go - visit the National Weather Service website or view a map of swim risks on the Great Lakes here. Learn more on the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project site.
Indiana Dunes Beaches
Explore the Indiana Dunes’ beaches any time of year! In the summer, the sand is warm, the breeze is cool and Lake Michigan is sparkling and inviting. During the winter, the stark beauty of the lake and the shelf ice that forms on it will take your breath away. Spring breathes new life into the shoreline and the dunes, and in the fall, the stunning array of colors will astound you.
Indiana Dunes State Park Beach
The Indiana Dunes State Park provides three miles of enticing beaches.
- Open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- The park offers a swimming beach manned by lifeguards in the summer.
- A pavilion on the beach provides shelter, bathhouses, and a concession stand.
- The rest of the beach area is available for wildlife watching, beachcombing or kite flying.
- A variety of hiking trails are available, several of which traverse Mount Tom and offer a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.
- A nominal fee is charged to enter the park, which offers plenty of parking.
Indiana Dunes National Park Beaches
The Indiana Dunes National Park maintains an array of magnificent beaches, which are open year-round from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Parking and bathroom facilities are located near all of the beaches. Lifeguards are only available at West Beach.
- West Beach - This popular beach was named one of the 10 Best Beaches for Families by Parents Magazine in 2011. Covered picnic shelters and grills make this southernmost tip of Lake Michigan a great spot for a picnic. Fishing is available at nearby Long Lake and the 2.5 miles of easy to moderate trails entice hikers. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, lifeguards are on duty and a small fee is charged for parking.
- Dunbar Beach - This beach, as well as Lake View, is located near the historic Century of Progress homes, which were built for the 1933 World’s Fair to showcase modern architectural design and new technology. This beautiful beach has limited parking.
- Kemil Beach - Traveling to Kemil Beach in Porter takes you on one of the most scenic drives in Porter County. Quiet and secluded, this little gem of a beach offers access to Dune Ridge Trail.
- Porter Beach - Sharing its eastern border with the Indiana Dunes State Park, Porter Beach is a favorite with the locals. It’s a great place to enjoy some water sports or simply sit and relax.
- Central Beach - This unique beach that can be accessed by paved road or wooded trail. The 9.1-mile Calumet Bike Trail, which passes through marshes, woodlands and flower-filled meadows, is accessible nearby. Central Beach is a great place to watch bank swallows.
Photo credit: Rafi Wilkinson
- Mount Baldy - The beach is open at Mount Baldy, however, the dune at Mount Baldy remains closed for public safety and dune protection. The trail to the beach is about 1/2 mile long and somewhat strenuous. This is a very popular beach area and the parking lot fills up quickly.
- Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk - This 57-acre site is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the City of Portage. The site has a narrow beach that may be difficult to access due to erosion. The location features an enclosed pavilion with seasonal food service, restrooms, a handicapped-accessible trail and a fishing pier. It’s also a great place to launch a kayak.
- Lake View - The only area in the national park with picnic shelters overlooking the lake, Lake View gives visitors a fantastic view of Lake Michigan. The stairs leading to the beach from the picnic area are currently closed, but the Lake View Beach can be accessed from nearby Dunbar Beach. Parking is limited.
More Beaches on Lake Michigan's South Shore
There are a number of beaches in the City of Gary along Lake Michigan. Marquette Park is an exceptional lakefront park offering a gorgeous beach and spacious pavilion. Marquette Park features the historic Aquatorium, which houses a museum honoring Octave Chanute, the father of flight. At Wells Street Beach you can park steps from the beach for a nominal fee and enjoy food and drinks on the patio. Lake Street Beach offers plenty of parking, lifeguard, restrooms and boat launch.
Hammond Lakefront Park's beach has lifeguards during the summer as well as the bird sanctuary trail to hike along. Jeorse Park in East Chicago has a playground and a splash pad. Jeorse is open Saturdays and Sundays. Both parks are near the marina and casino in each city.
Whihala Beach in Whiting gives visitors a great view of the Chicago skyline and is just a short walk from downtown Whiting. Surfing is popular on this beach, as is kayaking, swimming, kiteboarding and boating. You can also find Lake Michigan's only floating waterpark - WhoaZone.
For those looking to escape the crowds or for a challenge, there’s nothing better than visiting a beach that feels undiscovered. You can enjoy the sound of the waves, feel the warm breeze against your face and enjoy a whole beach to (almost) yourself! These beaches are the Indiana Dunes’ “hike-to” beaches. We don’t recommend bringing more than a backpack filled with a light blanket or towel and plenty of water for rehydrating. That means, leave your cooler in the car.