12 Unforgettable Free Things To Do In Michigan City

free things to do in michigan city

Michigan City is not only a beautiful destination in itself, but also a hot spot for travelers seeking adventure and entertainment on a budget. From its stunning beaches and scenic trails to its fascinating museums and vibrant festivals, there are plenty of free things to do in Michigan City that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Whether you're a history buff, a beach bum, or an outdoor enthusiast, this article will take you on a delightful journey through 12 unique and exciting activities that won't cost you a penny. So pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and let's explore the best free things to do in Michigan City!

Activity Description
Washington Park Free access to Lake Michigan, picnic areas, playgrounds, and basketball courts
Friendship Botanic Gardens Explore over 100 acres of themed gardens, natural wetlands, and forests
Michigan City Farmers Market Shop for locally grown produce, homemade crafts, and live music
Barker Mansion Tour the historic home of a famous industrialist and learn about local history
Galveston's Gallery Enjoy a free art exhibit featuring local and regional artists, open to the public
Blue Chip Casino Play free slot games and enjoy complimentary drinks in the casino's smoking section
Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets Browse over 100 name-brand stores for discounted shopping
Pine Lake Beach Relax on a sandy beach and swim in the clear waters of Pine Lake
Artspace Uptown Artist Lofts View art galleries, studio spaces, and live performances
Michigan City Public Library Read a book or attend a free event, such as book clubs or writing workshops


Visit the Indiana Dunes National Park

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Looking for a free Michigan City adventure that will satisfy your craving for natural beauty and outdoor activity? Look no further than the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Located just 20 minutes from Michigan City, the Indiana Dunes National Park consists of more than 15,000 acres of pristine beaches, towering sand dunes, and lush green forests. The park offers visitors plenty of opportunities for hiking, swimming, and birdwatching, all while surrounded by stunning natural landscapes.

One of the most popular activities at the park is hiking the trails that wind through the dunes. With more than 50 miles of trails, there's something for hikers of all skill levels. The hiking trails offer stunning views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago skyline, and the surrounding forests and wetlands.

If you're looking for a refreshing swim, the park has 15 miles of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan. Beachgoers can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing on the shores of the lake. The clear waters of Lake Michigan are perfect for swimmers of all ages and offer a refreshing break from the hot summer sun.

Another popular activity at the park is birdwatching. With more than 350 species of birds that call the park home, this is one of the best places in the Midwest to observe and photograph these incredible creatures. The park's varied habitats, including forests, wetlands, and beach areas, provide a diverse range of bird habitats.

Whether you're looking for a day trip or a longer stay, the Indiana Dunes National Park has plenty to offer. With free admission, visitors can explore this stunning natural wonderland without worrying about cost. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking boots, swimsuit, and camera and head to the Indiana Dunes National Park for a free Michigan City adventure you won't forget!


Walk along the Michigan City Beach

Source: www.southshorecva.com

Looking for a free activity in Michigan City? Look no further than a leisurely walk along the stunning Michigan City Beach.

Located on the southern end of Lake Michigan, the Michigan City Beach boasts over a mile of soft sand and clear blue waters. Whether you're a local or just passing through, taking a stroll along the shoreline is a must-do activity.

Stretch your legs and take in the fresh air while admiring the beach's scenic beauty. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as seagulls and sandpipers, as well as stunning views of the lake.

If you're feeling adventurous, dip your toes in the water or build a sandcastle with your family and friends. The beach's calm waters are also perfect for swimming and even paddleboarding.

There are also plenty of amenities available at Michigan City Beach for free, including picnic tables, showers, and restrooms. Pack a lunch and enjoy a waterfront picnic under the shade of a tree.

For history buffs, don't miss the Michigan City Lighthouse, located at the east end of the beach. It's one of the last remaining examples of an enclosed timber-framed lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

Overall, a walk along the Michigan City Beach offers a free and refreshing activity that's perfect for all ages. So why not grab your beach towel and head on down to this picturesque spot for a day out in the sun?


Explore the Barker Mansion

Source: barkermansion.org
Characteristic Description
NameBarker Mansion
TypeMuseum in Michigan City, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.7 / 185
Address631 Washington St, Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone(219) 873-1520

If you're searching for free things to do in Michigan City, Indiana, look no further than the Barker Mansion. Built in 1857, this beautiful house once belonged to successful businessman and philanthropist John H. Barker. Today, it's open to the public as a museum and historical landmark.

The mansion features 38 rooms and is situated on several acres of landscaped grounds. Visitors are welcome to explore the mansion at their own pace, taking in the stunning architecture and luxurious furnishings. The interior of the house has been restored to its original splendor and offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the wealthy during the late 19th century.

One of the highlights of the Barker Mansion is the stunning ballroom, which features a 30-foot ceiling, crystal chandeliers, and ornate plasterwork. This room was the site of many lavish parties and social gatherings during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visitors can also view the mansion's original art collection, antique furniture, and decorative objects.

Another fascinating feature of the mansion is the Carriage House, which once housed the Barker family's horses and carriages. Today, it features exhibits on the history of transportation and highlights the role of horses in early American life.

The Barker Mansion also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, lectures, and special exhibits. Admission to the mansion is free, though donations are encouraged to support its ongoing preservation and maintenance.

Overall, the Barker Mansion is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in history, architecture, or the lifestyles of the wealthy during the Gilded Age. With its beautiful grounds, stunning decor, and fascinating exhibits, it's a hidden gem in the heart of Michigan City. So if you're looking for a free activity in the area, make sure to pay a visit to this iconic landmark.

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Tour the Friendship Botanic Gardens

Source: friendshipbotanicgardens.org
Characteristic Description
NameFriendship Botanic Gardens
TypeBotanical garden in Pottawattamie Park, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.6 / 479
Address2055 US-12, Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone(219) 878-9885
HoursThursday - 9 AM–5 PM
Friday - 9 AM–5 PM
Saturday - 9 AM–5 PM
Sunday - 9 AM–5 PM
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 9 AM–5 PM
Wednesday - 9 AM–5 PM

If you're looking for fun and free things to do in Michigan City this summer, you'll definitely want to put Friendship Botanic Gardens on your list of must-see attractions. With more than 100 acres of stunning landscapes to explore, you'll be surrounded by the beauty of nature and plenty of opportunities to get some fresh air and exercise.

Located just a few miles off of I-94, the Friendship Botanic Gardens are nestled within the Indiana Dunes National Park. The site began as a private estate in the 1930s and has been transformed into a public garden that's now maintained by volunteers and open to the public year-round.

One of the main highlights of the Friendship Botanic Gardens is the wide variety of plant life on display. You'll find everything from towering trees to colorful flower beds and all kinds of rare and unusual plants that are native to the region. Throughout the summer months, visitors can enjoy guided garden tours, educational programs, and special events that celebrate the natural world around us.

But it's not just the flora that makes Friendship Botanic Gardens worth a visit. The site is also home to a collection of charming ponds and streams that are teeming with fish and other aquatic life. The gardens are also home to several species of birds and other animals, making it a great spot for wildlife watching on a sunny afternoon.

Perhaps the most unique feature of the Friendship Botanic Gardens is the Asian-inspired garden section. With carefully laid out walkways, a beautiful pond, and tranquil waterfalls, this part of the site is a peaceful oasis that's perfect for quiet contemplation or meditation. If you're looking for a little taste of exotic beauty right here in Midwest, you won't want to miss this picturesque spot.

In addition to all the natural splendor on display, the Friendship Botanic Gardens is also a place to learn about the local culture and history. The site is a popular destination for school groups and other visitors who are interested in getting a closer look at how people lived and worked in Indiana through the ages.

Whether you're a fountain of knowledge about plants and wildlife or just enjoy spending time in serene natural environments, Friendship Botanic Gardens has something for everyone. And with free admission to the public all year round, it's definitely an experience you won't want to miss out on.


Go hiking at the Calumet Trailhead

Source: www.southbendtribune.com
Characteristic Description
NameCalumet Trail Trailhead
TypeHiking area in Dune Acres, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count2.8 / 4
Address1050 N Mineral Springs Rd, Dune Acres, IN 46304

If you're looking to enjoy some outdoor adventure while in Michigan City, look no further than the Calumet Trailhead. This trail offers hiking enthusiasts a chance to explore the wilderness in a whole new way.

Located at the southern end of the Calumet Bike Trail in Michigan City, this trailhead is popular for its scenic views, abundant wildlife and easy level of difficulty. Perfect for families with children, this hiking trail offers a fun and educational experience for all ages.

One of the highlights of the Calumet Trailhead is the wide variety of wildlife you're likely to encounter. Expect to see deer, birds, and other wildlife during your hike. This pristine natural environment continues to thrive, thanks to the efforts of local conservation groups.

Along with the natural beauty of the trail, visitors can also enjoy educational experiences that teach about the history of the region. Markers are placed along the trail to provide information on the area’s geological past and native plant life. Additionally, there are benches and picnic tables along the way for hikers to take a break, relax and enjoy the scenery.

Another amazing feature of the Calumet Trailhead is its accessibility. The trailhead is easily accessible by car, with plenty of parking spaces at the entrance. The trail is also wheelchair accessible and perfect for strollers, providing everyone with the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors regardless of their physical ability.

In conclusion, the Calumet Trailhead is an excellent destination for anyone looking to experience the great outdoors in Michigan City. With its breathtaking scenery, abundance of wildlife, and educational experiences, this trail has something for everyone. Don't forget to bring your camera as you’re likely to capture unforgettable memories along the way.


View wildlife at the Isaac Walton League Nature Preserve

Source: www.mciwla.com
Characteristic Description
NameIsaak Walton
TypePark in LaPorte County, Indiana
Rating / Review count5 / 18
Address682 N 850 W, Michigan City, IN 46360

Michigan City, located in the northern part of Indiana, has a plethora of free attractions to explore. One of the city's hidden gems is the Isaac Walton League Nature Preserve, which allows visitors to view wildlife in their natural habitat.

Located just off Route 421, the entrance to the Isaac Walton League Nature Preserve is easy to miss. However, once you find it, you'll enter into a natural oasis that is home to over 40 species of birds and a variety of mammals.

The preserve offers over a mile of hiking trails that weave through wetlands, prairies, and woodlands. The trail is well-marked and offers visitors the opportunity to observe and learn about the various plants, animals, and ecosystem found in the area.

One of the highlights of the preserve is the bird observation deck, which offers a unique vantage point to watch birds in flight. Visitors have reported seeing several species, including red-winged blackbirds, sandhill cranes, and great blue herons.

Other interesting features of the preserve include a butterfly garden and native plant garden, both of which offer a peaceful and beautiful atmosphere to relax and take in the scenery.

Visiting the Isaac Walton League Nature Preserve is a great way to spend a few hours in Michigan City without spending a dime. The preserve is open year-round and is a popular spot for bird watchers, nature enthusiasts, or anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with nature.


Watch a sunset from Washington Park

Source: www.nwitimes.com

If you're in Michigan City and looking for a free activity that provides a stunning view, head to Washington Park and watch the sunset. With its location on the shores of Lake Michigan, Washington Park offers a perfect setting to witness the beauty of the sunset.

The park is open daily from dawn until dusk, so you can go at any time. The best time to see the sunset is around evening, when the sun is low in the sky and its warm colors reflect off the lake. It's important to bring a chair or a blanket as there aren't many places to sit within the park.

The beach offers the perfect spot to watch the sunset, with its sandy shorelines, clear water, and the impressive Chicago skyline in the background. As the sun slowly descends behind the Chicago skyline, the skies transform into an array of vibrant colors, including pink, purple, orange, and red. You'll also get to witness the breathtaking colors reflecting on the water below.

Apart from the beach, the park also has an observation pier and several walking trails that provide excellent viewing spots for the sunset. The observation pier extends 1000 feet into Lake Michigan, allowing you to witness the magic of the sunset from a unique vantage point. The pier is also an excellent place to take stunning photos of the sunset, making it the perfect spot for photographers.

The walking trails within the park are also an excellent way to get a closer view of the sunset. The trails wind through the dunes and offer an intimate encounter with nature as the sun slowly descends.

In conclusion, witnessing the sunset from Washington Park in Michigan City is a must-do activity for anyone looking for a free, memorable experience in the city. Make sure to bring a chair or a blanket, and enjoy the breathtaking and relaxing views that nature has to offer.


Attend a free concert at the Heritage Festival

Source: www.metrotimes.com

For those looking for free things to do in Michigan City, the Heritage Festival is a must-visit event. Held annually, it is a celebration of the city's rich history and culture. One of the highlights of the festival is the free concerts, featuring an impressive lineup of musicians.

The Heritage Festival takes place in Washington Park, which is located along Lake Michigan. It is a beautiful setting for the event and adds to the overall experience. The festival is typically held in late summer, so visitors can enjoy the warm weather and scenic views.

The free concerts at the Heritage Festival feature a variety of musical genres, including jazz, blues, rock, and country. There is something for everyone, and the performances are top-notch. The musicians are often local artists, which adds to the community feel of the event.

In addition to the free concerts, the Heritage Festival features a variety of other activities and attractions. There are food vendors, art exhibits, historical reenactments, and more. Visitors can also take a stroll through the park or relax on the beach.

Attending a free concert at the Heritage Festival is a great way to enjoy some live music while exploring Michigan City. It is an event that is fun for all ages and offers a unique glimpse into the rich history and culture of the city. Whether you are a local resident or just visiting, the Heritage Festival is not to be missed. So mark your calendar and get ready for some great music and entertainment!


Check out the exhibits at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts

Source: South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority
Characteristic Description
NameLubeznik Center for the Arts
TypeArt center in Michigan City, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.7 / 172
Address101 W 2nd St # 100, Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone(219) 874-4900
HoursThursday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Friday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Saturday - opens at 11 AM and closes at 4 PM
Sunday - opens at 11 AM and closes at 4 PM
Monday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Tuesday - Closed
Wednesday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM

If you're looking for free things to do in Michigan City, you can't go wrong with a visit to the Lubeznik Center for the Arts. This stunning art center is located in Michigan City's historic downtown district, and is home to a number of fascinating exhibits and displays.

One of the main highlights of the Lubeznik Center is its collection of contemporary art. The center features work from a variety of artists, ranging from seasoned professionals to up-and-coming talents. Many of the pieces on display are thought-provoking and challenging, pushing the boundaries of modern art and exploring new forms of expression.

In addition to the art exhibits, the Lubeznik Center also offers a range of educational programs and events throughout the year. These programs are designed to help visitors learn more about art and the creative process, and often include hands-on workshops and demonstrations.

Of course, one of the best things about the Lubeznik Center is that admission is free. That means you can explore the exhibits, attend events, and learn about contemporary art without having to spend a dime. The center is open every day except Monday, so you can visit whenever suits your schedule.

Overall, if you're looking for a fun and enriching way to spend an afternoon in Michigan City, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts is definitely worth checking out. With its diverse collection of contemporary art and its range of free educational programs, the center is sure to provide something for everyone.

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Take a self-guided tour of the Michigan City Murals

Source: Destination Ann Arbor

Michigan City, Indiana, is a beautiful and charming town located along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. It is home to many interesting landmarks, parks, and attractions, but one of the most unique aspects of the city is its collection of public murals. These colorful artworks decorate the facades of buildings throughout the downtown area, and each one tells a story or pays homage to a local historic figure or event. If you're looking for a fun and free activity in Michigan City, taking a self-guided tour of the murals is a great way to spend an afternoon.

To begin your mural tour, start at the corner of Franklin Street and 6th Street, where you'll find the first mural on the side of the Frankie's Butcher Shop building. This mural, entitled "The History of Michigan City," features a timeline of important events in the city's past, including the construction of the lighthouse and the arrival of the railroad. From there, head north on Franklin Street and look for the mural depicting local legend "Captain Bill" Schuppert. Captain Bill was a renowned fisherman and charter boat captain in Michigan City for many years, and the mural shows him holding a trophy fish.

As you continue your journey, you'll discover many more murals featuring a variety of subjects. Some of our favorites include the mural showing the famous Blue Chip Casino, the patriotic mural featuring an American eagle and flag, and the mural honoring the city's firefighters. The artists who created these murals have done an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Michigan City, and each one is a true work of art.

While exploring the murals, take some time to appreciate the unique architecture and character of the downtown buildings. You'll get a sense of the town's rich history and how it has grown and evolved over time. Consider stopping for a coffee or bite to eat at one of the local cafes or restaurants along the way, and strike up a conversation with some of the friendly locals who call Michigan City home.

In conclusion, a self-guided tour of the Michigan City Murals is a fun and free way to discover some of the town's hidden treasures. Whether you're a casual art lover or a seasoned explorer, you're sure to enjoy the vibrant colors and inspiring stories told through these beautiful murals. So grab a map, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to discover all that Michigan City has to offer.


Visit the Old Lighthouse Museum

Source: NWI Times
Characteristic Description
NameOld Lighthouse Museum
TypeLighthouse in Michigan City, Indiana
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.6 / 358
Address100 Heisman Harbor, Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone(219) 872-6133
HoursThursday - opens at 1 and closes at 4 PM
Friday - opens at 1 and closes at 4 PM
Saturday - opens at 1 and closes at 4 PM
Sunday - opens at 1 and closes at 4 PM
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - Closed
Wednesday - opens at 1 and closes at 4 PM

Michigan City, located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, is a beautiful and historic city that offers plenty of free and affordable activities for visitors. One must-visit attraction in Michigan City is the Old Lighthouse Museum, a historic lighthouse-turned-museum that provides a fascinating look into the city's maritime history.

The Old Lighthouse Museum, located on Washington Park, was built in 1858 and served as a working lighthouse for over 100 years before being decommissioned in 1940. Today, it stands as a testament to Michigan City's rich history and the important role that the harbor played in the community's growth.

Visitors to the Old Lighthouse Museum can explore the lighthouse's restored living quarters and learn about the lives of the lighthouse keepers who lived there. Exhibits include the museum's maritime collection, which features items such as model ships, boating equipment, and other artifacts that help tell the story of Michigan City's nautical history.

In addition to the historical exhibits, the Old Lighthouse Museum is also home to a beautiful maritime garden, which showcases the native plants and trees that would have grown along the shore of Lake Michigan during the lighthouse's heyday. This beautiful garden is a great place to relax and enjoy the lakefront views.

Admission to the Old Lighthouse Museum is free, although donations are appreciated. The museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Wednesday to Sunday, and offers guided tours throughout the day. Visitors can also explore the museum on their own with the help of self-guided tours.

If you're looking to experience Michigan City's rich history and enjoy beautiful lakefront views, a visit to the Old Lighthouse Museum is a must. With its fascinating exhibits and stunning gardens, this free attraction is a great way to spend an afternoon in Michigan City.

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Attend a movie night at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center

Source: TripAdvisor

Looking for a fun and free activity to do in Michigan City? Look no further than attending a movie night at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Every Saturday evening during the months of June, July, and August, the visitor center hosts free outdoor movie screenings. These family-friendly events are a perfect way to spend a relaxing summer evening with friends and family.

The movies shown at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center are a mix of classic films and newer releases. Some fan favorites from past summers include The Wizard of Oz and Ghostbusters. The 2019 season featured movies like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and A Star is Born. Whether you're looking for a throwback or something more recent, there is something for everyone.

The outdoor setting of the movie screenings adds to the charm of the experience. Bring a blanket or chairs to set up on the lawn in front of the visitor center building, and enjoy the picturesque backdrop of the Indiana Dunes National Park. If you get there early enough, you can even stake out a spot with a view of Lake Michigan.

Food and drink are not provided at the movie nights, but you are welcome to bring your own snacks and beverages. Pack a picnic dinner or stop by a local restaurant on your way to the visitor center. Be sure to bring a flashlight to guide you back to your car after the movie is over.

Attending a movie night at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center is a great way to enjoy a summer evening in Michigan City without spending a dime. Check the visitor center website or Facebook page for a schedule of upcoming movies, and plan your next free night out.

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Frequently asked questions

You can visit the Indiana Dunes National Park, enjoy the beach at Washington Park, hike at the Friendship Botanic Gardens, tour the Barker Mansion for free on Wednesdays, and explore the Blue Chip Casino Pavilion.

Admission to the Indiana Dunes National Park is free. However, there may be fees for parking or other activities within the park.

Yes, Michigan City hosts several free events throughout the year, like the Taste of Michigan City, the Great Lakes Grand Prix, and the Washington Park Art Fair.

Washington Park offers a wide range of free activities, including swimming at the beach, picnicking, playing on the playground, fishing off the pier, and exploring the zoo.

Yes, the lighthouse in Michigan City is visible from the beach at Washington Park, and there is no fee to enjoy the view. However, if you want to climb to the top of the lighthouse, there may be a small fee.

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Audrey Pittman

Hi everyone! I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Michigan City and was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of free things to do. One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Barker Mansion. This historic home offers free guided tours, giving you a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the past. Another must-visit destination is the Blue Chip Casino. While gambling itself may not be free, the casino often hosts free events and live entertainment, making it a fun and budget-friendly option. Lastly, I highly recommend checking out the Uptown Arts District. This eclectic neighborhood is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and street murals, providing plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local arts scene. I had such a fantastic time exploring all the free attractions in Michigan City and can't wait to go back!

Cody Maldonado

Hey there! I recently visited Michigan City and was blown away by all the amazing free things to do! One of my favorite activities was exploring the Indiana Dunes National Park. The miles of sandy beaches and stunning lake views were absolutely breathtaking. I also loved checking out the Michigan City Lighthouse and Pier, which offered a picturesque backdrop for some fantastic photos. And of course, you can't visit Michigan City without stopping by Washington Park! The park is the perfect place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or even catch a free concert in the summertime. Overall, Michigan City definitely exceeded my expectations for free attractions!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience in Michigan City! I'm thrilled to hear that you discovered so many amazing free things to do. The Indiana Dunes National Park sounds absolutely stunning, and I can only imagine how incredible the sandy beaches and lake views must have been. The Michigan City Lighthouse and Pier also sound like must-visit spots, especially for photography enthusiasts. And Washington Park sounds like the perfect place to relax and enjoy some outdoor activities. It's wonderful to know that Michigan City offers such a variety of free attractions and exceeded your expectations. I'll definitely keep these recommendations in mind for my own visit to Michigan City!

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