My turn

My five favorite family beaches

2013-06-09T00:00:00Z My five favorite family beachesCarrie Steinweg Times Columnist nwitimes.com
June 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

While working on a piece for the The Times this past week on some of the beaches in Northwest Indiana, I recalled some of the fun trips our family has taken to the beaches of Lake Michigan.

Each summer as we get busy with summer activities and trips to the Munster Pool, I often forget how convenient and how fun a trip to the beach can be. I hope we’ll be able to make some more new beach memories this summer and I encourage area residents to do the same.

Our trips to the beach our often paired with a stop at a nearby attraction. Here are five of my favorite places to spend some time in the sand.

Washington Park Beach, Michigan City

With a small, but interesting zoo just across the street, you’re able to hit two places in one trip. The zoo is ideal for young kids who may not last hours in the hot sun at the beach. There’s also the outlet mall nearby, where you can go to cool off while shopping. One year we went blueberry picking in the morning at State Line Blueberries and then finished the day at the beach, which made for a fun-filled day.

Kenosha, Wis.

This lakefront city just over the Wisconsin border can be reached in just a little over an hour. On our last trip to the area, we visited two different beaches. Both were free, which is a big plus. One had a nice playground area in the sand. The other had a playground and picnic benches in a grassy area just off the beach, which had a nice supply of shady trees. The sailboats in the distance are a relaxing sight. The lakefront in Kenosha is simply stunning and so accessible. You’re also just steps away from some great museums and a fun streetcar system that you can hop on for $1 for adults and 50 cents for kids. Oh, and the two lighthouses along the shore are a bonus.

New Buffalo, Michigan

Just barely into the state of Michigan, you can exit and drive a few minutes to spend time on a sandy beach in this fun, touristy community. This beach also has a playground in the sandy area for little kids to enjoy. I recommend a visit for lunch at Redemak’s (which is just down the road and has great burgers) before you hit the beach or at one of the eateries in nearby Three Oaks or Sawyer. Take a little time for a walk through New Buffalo, too, and visit some of the quaint shops.

Calumet Beach, Chicago

Last fall our family re-visted this beach that my husband and I used to frequent when we were dating. We first made a stop down the street at Calumet Fisheries, where you’ll get the best smoked salmon and shrimp around. Our Friday nights often consisted of a bag of shrimp and fries eaten by the beach back in high school. Calumet Fisheries sits next to a bridge you might recognize if you’re a fan of the movie "The Blues Brothers." Jake and Elwood jumped over it in an early scene. When we took the kids there last fall, we walked around on the beach, bought some tasty ice cream treats from a bicycle vendor and enjoyed our shrimp. There’s no entrance fee and plenty of parking.

Whilhala Beach, Whiting

Although this is the priciest beach we’ve visited ($15 per car for out-of-state), we appreciated the cleanliness of the beach and the fact that it hasn’t been overly crowded on the times we’ve been there. The Chicago skyline can be seen clearly from the shore and there’s a nearby playground and area for grilling. On our previous visit, I thought it was neat that you could rent jet skis to zip around on. There won’t be any rentals this season due to renovations at the beach, but when the jet skis are back, I totally intend to head over and rent one to have some fun.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at csteinw@yahoo.com.

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