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Boating bliss: Spots in and around the Region to hit the water

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If you enjoy hanging out near the water, there’s no shortage of places to do so in the Region. Between Lake Michigan, and Northwest Indiana's smaller inland lakes, ponds and creeks, you can bask in the sun on a beach, go for a swim, drop a fishing line or just take a peaceful walk alongside the water and enjoy the natural surroundings.

If you wish to hang out ON the water and aren’t lucky enough to have a boat of your own, you also can find places in and around the Region to go for a little aquatic excursion.

* Classic Lake Tour and Sea Rocket

Michigan City

Boat excursions are new this year out of the main dock at Millennium Plaza along Trail Creek in Michigan City. The Emitta II has two decks and heads out daily for a 90-minute tour and includes restrooms and a full-service bar with snacks and beer, wine, cocktails and soft drinks along with some narration on the history of the lake and the area.

Boarding begins 15 to 30 minutes before tour time and seating is first-come, first-served. The tour begins with a cruise up the channel along Washington Park and out onto Lake Michigan giving a nice view of the lighthouse, shoreline and Indiana Dunes. Cost is $30 for adults, $16 for children 3 to 11 and free for ages 2 and younger. Cruises run every day at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and at 7:30 for a sunset cruise.

The Sea Rocket is another boat operating out of Michigan City with thrill rides on the high-speed touring boat along with historical narration of the lake, the Region and surrounding towns. The 45-minute tour runs $30 for adults and $22 for children age 3 to 11 and seats up to 12 (no children younger than 3 permitted.) Tour times are 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The boat company, Harbor Country Adventures, also offers a Saturday Night Party Cruise on the Emitta II. The cruise goes from 9:30 p.m. to midnight and is for ages 21 and older only.

There is limited free parking at 1 Washington St. Additional parking is available at Washington Park for a daily fee of $8. The season runs through Labor Day. For more information, visit harborcountryadventures.com. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or in-person dockside on the day of the cruise only.

* Cedar Lake Sunset Cruises

Cedar Lake

Dave Harkabus is in his fourth year of offering cruises on Cedar Lake. His pontoon can accommodate groups up to 10. Although he specializes in sunset cruises (often following dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant), he also does cruises earlier in the day for couples and groups.

If passengers are interested in hearing a little local history, Harkabus is happy to offer it. Part of the proceeds from his cruises go to support the Cedar Lake Historical Association Museum.

He also does kids’ birthday parties, which can include tubing, a swim stop or trip for ice cream.

Rates are $40 per person for a one-hour cruise or a flat $100/hour for up to 10 people. He can do pick-ups at The Lighthouse Restaurant, Bugaboos or the Public Access Site. For more information or to book a cruise, visit cedarlakesunsetcruises.com or call 219-313-1669.

* Navy Pier

Chicago

If you head out to Chicago’s Navy Pier, you’ll have an opportunity to choose from at least a half dozen different boat cruises — including the Tall Ship Windy for an architectural sailboat tour, a dinner cruise on the Odyssey, a classic lake tour on a Shorline Sightseeing cruise or a thrilling speedboat ride on the Seadog. For links to all the available cruises go to navypier.org.

Fishing

If you wish to multitask while lounging on the water, you can spend a day on a fishing charter and reel in some salmon and trout. Among the fishing charters in the area are Cloud Nine Fishing Charters out of Michigan City, where you can reserve a six-hour or eight-hour charter for up to six people. Visit fishingoncloudnine.com for more information.

Also operating out of a home port in Michigan City is Fuzzy Bear Charters, where you can enjoy sport fishing on a 38-foot custom boat on a five-hour morning fishing trip or a six-hour afternoon fishing trip of up to six people or arrange for a sunset excursion. The captain can target different areas depending on what you wish to catch — be it steelhead, cojo, chinook, brown trout or others. Visit fuzzybearcharters.net for more information.

Captain Ralph Steiger operates fishing charters out of several marinas in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, including East Chicago Marina, Hammond Marina and Portage Public Marina, where (depending on the time of year) he can take you out in search of different varieties of salmon and trout, as well as perch. For more information, visit captainsteiger.com.

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