A DAY AT THE BEACH: Enjoy the region’s lakefront this summer

2013-06-08T00:00:00Z 2013-06-10T19:49:13Z A DAY AT THE BEACH: Enjoy the region’s lakefront this summerCarrie Steinweg nwitimes.com
June 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There's nothing like poking your toes in the sand on a warm summer day as the water inches toward your feet. And even if a trip to the Caribbean isn't in the cards this season, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy some lazy summer days lounging on sandy shores.

The region’s beaches are a huge attraction for our area (the Indiana Dunes alone attracts 3 million visitors a year), and if you haven’t been taking advantage of the shores of Lake Michigan with your family, it is time to start. Here’s a look at some of the beaches along the south shore to visit this summer:

Whihala Beach, Whiting, Ind.

This 23-acre beach park is a popular summer spot for families that includes concessions, beach volleyball courts, a walking and bike trail and grilling area. “I take my grandkids there and they have so much fun by the water playing with their toys,” said Sue Verta, secretary for the Whiting Parks Department. “People like to be outside in the summer time and the beach is a great place to be, that’s for sure. The park is being remodeled and it will beautiful when it’s finished.”

With the projected renovation completion point being at the end of the summer, the boat launch and jet ski rentals have been suspended as work continues. The project includes a complete overhaul of Lakefront Park and some beach renovations.

Lifeguards are on duty at the beach from 12 – 7 p.m. through July and from 12 – 6 from August 1st through Labor Day. Parking is free for Whiting/Robertsdale residents, $7 for Indiana residents and $15 for out-of-state visitors.

Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, Ind.

With three miles of beachfront, one half-mile is available for swimming while the remaining 2 ½ are in nature preserve status, making it a lovely place to visit if you’re up for a hike and a swim.

According to Brandt Baughman, property manager for the Indiana Dunes State Park, the beach has been recognized in the past as one of the most family friendly beaches in the country by Trip Advisor (and the only one not on the ocean.). “And since then, we’ve made further improvements,” he said, which include revamping of the picnic area. “We are completing renovation on the picnic area, so there’s a nice place to retreat to when the sun gets a little too hot on the beach.”

Camping facilities are also a short walk from the beach and Baughman noted that this month Midwest Living Magazine recognized the camping facilities as one of the best campgrounds in the Midwest.

Lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and entrance fee if $5 per car for Indiana residents and $10 per car for out-of-state visitors.

New Buffalo Public Beach, New Buffalo, Mich.

By driving just a few minutes over the Michigan border, you’ll find the New Buffalo Public Beach, which offers a nice playground area in the sand just steps from the water.

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a pavilion in Lions Pavilion Park across from the beach offers a shady spot to enjoy a picnic. The beach offers fishing and boat access, a snack bar, restrooms and foot baths. Admission to park is $10 for entrance per day (if you do exit the lot, you are charged for re-admittance.) No admission fee is charged before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The Indiana Dunes is comprised of 8 beaches in Porter County, as well as additional access points in Lake and LaPorte Counties.

Lifeguards are on duty at West Beach as well as Indiana Dunes State Park, which have an admittance fee. Other access points have no fee and no lifeguards on duty. Visit INDIANADUNES.COM for further beach information.

"The Indiana Dunes area is the perfect place for families because there are several different beaches which can be accessed at no cost or, in the case of beaches with lifeguards, for a minimal fee," said Ken Kosky, promotions director at Indiana Dunes Tourism. "People of all ages can enjoy a day at the beach, whether their idea of fun is lying on a blanket reading a book, tossing a Frisbee, playing beach volleyball or swimming. Some of the beach access points, like Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's West Beach, also offer great hiking trails. Both the state park and the national park offer scheduled events, programs and hikes."

Tips for your trip

- Lather on the sunblock. It doesn’t take long in the sun to get a burn. Put some on as your exit your vehicle and don’t forget to re-apply periodically.

- Watch the fireworks. The lakefront is a beautiful place to enjoy fireworks. The Indiana Dunes State Park will have their “Fireworks on the Lakefront” evening beginning at 6 p.m. on July 2 with fireworks at 9:15 p.m.

- Bring the buckets and sand toys. Part of the fun of visiting a beach is playing in the sand. Bring lots of shovels and containers for building. On July 13, Indiana Dunes State Park will have a Sand Sculpture Contest from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

- Pack a cooler. Not all area beaches offer concessions. Pack up frozen water bottles that will keep sandwiches and fruit cold and be ready to drink later in the day.

Additional area beaches: Calumet Park Beach, Chicago, IL Miller Beach, Gary, IN Jeorse Beach, East Chicago, IN West Beach, Portage, IN Washington Park Beach, Michigan City, IN

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