If you’re a closet Da Vinci or just like to appreciate a work of art, a good time at the beach, or all of the above, the Indiana Dunes State Park’s Sand Sculpture contest might be right up your alley.
Each year teams descend on the Chesterton, IN beach and mold castles, dragons, whales and more from sand and water. Registration begins at 9AM, but eager sand sculptors can begin their projects at 7.
Judges award two prizes: one for teams of kids aged 15 and under, and one for individuals and families of less than 8 people. Judging begins at noon and prizes are awarded at 1PM. Bystanders can get in on the fun by voting for a Viewer’s Choice award.
The 2015 Indiana Dunes Sand Sculpture Contest takes place on July 11.
Games in Grand Haven and Michigan City take place over two days, Saturday and Sunday. The beach is divided into several soccer fields where teams made up of boys, girls and adults show off their skills to throngs of onlookers. Don’t be surprised if you spot players and spectators alike staking a dip in the cool Lake Michigan water in between matches.
Groups can sign up at the Soccer in the Sand website. There are 4 players and a goalie on the field per side, and event organizers recommend having 7 to 10 players per team. Players play barefoot or in socks, with special “sand soccer socks” available for purchase at the event.
The 2015 Soccer in the Sand tournaments on the lakeshore take place:
Charming and cute, downtown Chesterton is a fun spot to spend a leisurely afternoon. My kids and I did just that, visiting shops and enjoying the town’s relaxed tempo.
We window shopped at Ashley’s Jewelry by Design, and stopped in to look at the works on display at the Holly Jackson Art Studio and Gallery. We browsed at gift shops and clothing stores, saw Peggy Sue’s Diner – the embodiment of the traditional midwestern small-town diner.
A few people sat busily pecking at their laptops in the Red Cup Cafe and Deli. It looked like just the sort of coffee shop where I love to hang out and enjoy a hot cup of joe while I write about Lake Michigan Towns.
The heat of the day led us to Dog Days Ice Cream Parlor, a real find. The décor harks back to a more elegant time, with chandeliers and pretty white iron tables and chairs. A mural depicting a sunny summer day in Chesterton in the days of horse-drawn wagons and Model T cars takes up an entire wall. Guests can savor delicious gourmet gelatos and sorbets like Bananas Foster and Almond Joyful from a menu that changes weekly. Good stuff.
The cool shade beneath the trees of Thomas Centennial Park beckoned us, and we finished our ice cream there, pausing to take pictures on its pretty white gazebo, before heading off to Indiana Dunes State Park Beach.
Red Cup Cafe & Deli
Dog Days Ice Cream Parlor
119 South Calumet Road
My kids and I headed down to Chesterton’s Indiana Dunes State Park for an afternoon of sun and Lake Michigan beach fun.
We drove along a tree-lined road, getting in line to approach the admissions hut. Since we’re from out of state, the entry price was $10 for our out-of-state car in 2012. Indiana residents pay $6 for each carload of beachgoers.
A green sign posted at the admissions hut let us know that the water was calm and safer for swimming. A yellow sign warns beachgoers to use caution when swimming, and a red sign indicates dangerous swimming conditions.
Indiana Dunes State Park had ample parking available, but since it was mid afternoon we decided to bypass the lots further away and try our luck with the one right on the beach – score!
Off to one side a dune rose skyward. Had it been a cooler day, we would have climbed it and run down at top speed. Sadly, it was pushing 90 degrees, and dune climbing can be exhausting on a pleasant day, much less when the sun beats down and the sand burns your toes.
The Indiana Dunes State Park has a bathhouse/ concession stand that lends an appealing old-timey look to the beach.
We were pleased to see a lifeguard looking out over the water – I always feel a bit safer with a lifeguard on duty.
We came loaded down with boogie boards, noodles and other floaties, only to learn that no flotation devices are permitted in the water outside of coast-guard-approved life jackets. Kind of a bummer.
The kids and I were amazed by the number of perfect skipping stones to be found on the beach. We’d never seen anything like it – there were zillions of them. My son skipped a stone EIGHT times – a record. I skipped one three times, which was pretty good for me.
Just a few blocks from Michigan City’s popular Lake Michigan beach lies the town’s hotel and casino, Blue Chip Casino.
The casino is open all day every day, with 65,000 square feet of gaming space. Like slots? Blue Chip offers more than 1,900 slot machines in denominations from one cent to $100. The casino also boasts 42 table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps, 21+3 and mini baccarat as well as a poker room with eight tables.
Dining options at Michigan City’s Blue Chip Casino run from sandwiches to fine steaks.
At William B’s Steakhouse guests can savor such dishes as chicken and crab francaise, Thai style Chilean sea bass and center cut aged filet mignon.
Enjoy live entertainment at It’s Vegas Baby while dining on entrees like hand-tossed pizzas or short rib sandwiches.
At The Game, patrons keep track of scores and watch the latest sports matches while munching on burgers & wings.
Just looking for a quick bite? Nelson’s Deli offers breakfast & sandwiches that won’t break the bank.
What’s a casino without a buffet? Blue Chip’s offering in the buffet category is Options, featuring specialties like Seafood Sundays and Barbeque Thursdays.
Entertainment options at Blue Chip include live bands playing at The Rocks cocktail lounge or It’s Vegas Baby Bar & Restaurant. Blue Chip Casino is also home to the Stardust Event Center, featuring a 1200 seat theater that hosts some of the more famous acts coming to Michigan City, Indiana. Check the casino’s website for a list of upcoming events.
Guests can choose to spend the night at the Casino’s hotel, which boasts 468 rooms, a fitness center, spa and pool, as well as access to all the casino dining mentioned above.
Blue Chip Casino Hotel
777 Blue Chip Drive
Michigan City, IN 46360
Toll Free: 888-879-7711
One of Michigan City’s primary attractions is its outlet mall, Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, located just a few blocks from the waterfront. The mall boasts 120 outlets from such desirable brands as Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, J. Crew, Lane Bryant, Burberry, DKNY and more.
Personally, I love the Hanna Anderson outlet, where I can buy my daughter pretty, well-made, age-appropriate clothing at bargain prices, and the clothes at the Ann Taylor and Banana Republic outlets for myself. I also usually hit Hollister and Brooks Brothers for the fellas in the family.
There are a few places to snack in the mall, plus a few restaurants on nearby Washington Street and on the waterfront, or you can hop into your car and head back along Franklin Street towards the highway, where you’ll find restaurants like Red Lobster and Damon’s.
Check the Lighthouse Place Outlets’ website for directions to the mall. The first time I visited Michigan City’s outlet mall I took the 40B exit from I-94, which led me through a rather depressed area of town. Subsequently I took exit 34B which ran through a big box shopping district.
Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets
601 Wabash Street
Michigan City, IN 46360