If you missed a chance to set sail on a Lake Michigan sunset cruise out of Michigan City last summer, Harbor Country Adventures is bringing its popular boat tours back for a second season.
Boats docked out of the Washington Park channel by the lakefront will offer sightseeing tours along Lake Michigan, including Saturday morning tours of the coastline of Indiana Dunes National Park led by park rangers who talk about maritime history on Lake Michigan, the history of the dunes and the history of Michigan City. New Buffalo-based Harbor Country Adventures is expanding its offerings in Michigan City this summer to include kayak rentals, banana boats towed by jet skis, and lakeside concerts.
Emita II, a 67-foot-long boat that can seat up to 150 passengers, will depart on its maiden voyage for the season Friday. It will launch on two-hour tours at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. seven days a week. Tickets are $30 per adult and $16 for children 12 and under.
"We extended it from 90 minutes to two hours but kept prices the same," owner Victor "Captain Vic" Tieri said. "People like to get more for less."
The two-story boat has a full cash bar and an enclosed bottom deck with panoramic windows.
"We won't launch if it's raining because that's not what people want," he said. "But it's nice if we're out and get caught in the rain. It's dry with plenty of seating and keeps the bugs out."
Harbor Country Adventures got off to a later start in Michigan City than originally hoped for because of the weather, but it plans to offer the boat tours daily through October. The pleasure cruises will feature live music on the top deck on Fridays and Saturdays, typically a guitarist or two, and DJs on a 9 p.m. party cruise on Sunday night.
Lake Michigan boat tours, offered last year in Michigan City for the first time since 1949, proved to be a popular draw, attracting people from across the state, Chicago, South Bend, and even foreign countries, Tieri said. Seniors and tourists make up much of the clientele.
"We get a lot of group tours," he said. "It was great the first year. People really enjoy having a boat in the port here, and said they looked forward to seeing us next year."
Thrill seekers can ride for 40 minutes on the Sea Rocket, a speed boat that goes up to 50 miles per hour. For $20, they also can go on a 30-minute ride on a banana boat towed by a jet ski.
"We're going to keep adding stuff every year," Tieri said. "We're coming back bigger and better."
A new addition this year is dockside concerts that include Grateful Dead and Jimmy Buffet cover acts that are followed by sunset cruises. People also will be able to rent kayaks they can paddle into Lake Michigan or up Trail Creek to the Friendship Botanical Gardens in Michigan City.
"We're hoping to see a good uptick with the Indiana Dunes National Park designation," he said. "There should be some spillover, and this is absolutely the most fun you can have on Lake Michigan."
For more information, visit www.harborcountryadventures.com or call 269-231-5867.