As you gaze down Lake Michigan’s oval shape on a map, you’ll land on the southernmost valley — the city of Gary, Indiana, which is home to the Miller Beach neighborhood. A small residential area and beach community in Lake County, Miller Beach attracts tourists for its quaint beachside experiences and skyline views of Chicago.
This is an excellent destination for travelers who love witnessing the gentle waves of water without the salty vastness of the ocean. Lake Michigan is the second-largest Great Lake kissing the shores of Wisconsin, Michigan, northwest Indiana, and Illinois.
But Miller Beach has more than just quaint shorelines.
If you make the trip to this impeccable jewel amongst Lake Michigan beaches, you have endless opportunities for stimulation and wonder. Of course, you can walk through the wispy grass patches to the calming beach — but the lakeside town is also known for the Miller Beach Arts Scene!
We’ll walk you through that and other fab ideas for your Miller Beach itinerary. First, let’s cover a bit about the south shore neighborhood itself.
Miller Beach History and Facts
Miller Beach, a historical steelworker’s town, was founded in 1865 and named Miller Station. However, the Indiana town of Gary annexed Miller Station 50 years later, and Miller Station became Miller Beach. The views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline from this beach town are a visual feast for the eyes.
When you stay in Miller Beach, you’re just a stone’s throw away from Chicago, Naperville, and Grand Rapids. But no need to drive to other cities unless you plan to stay awhile.
Fun Activities in Miller Beach
The Beach Cafe
The Beach Cafe may have the words “fine dining” written across its menu, but they truly cater to everyone, with an extensive menu of seafood, burgers, steaks, pasta, and more. This eatery wows locals and travelers alike with its fresh ingredients and stellar service.
And if you’re celebrating a special occasion? You can rent out the Banquet Hall — perfect for family functions like weddings, anniversary parties, or your kid’s extravagant sweet 16!
- Notable feature: Patio seating available; Mario’s famous ribeye
- Location: 903 N. Shelby Street, Gary, IN 46403
Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park offers 15,000 acres of pristine nature, filled with sand dunes, wetlands, beaches, and hiking trails. A visit to this park is easily one of the best things to do in Miller Beach.
Craving a refreshing swim? The beaches are a definite go at Indiana Dunes National Park! The waters of Lake Michigan are clear, cold, and great for a dip on a hot day.
If you want to bring along your furry friend, the national park is dog friendly, except for a few spots such as West Beach, Glenwood Dunes Trail System, and the Pinhook Bog Trail. Regardless, you must always keep your dogs on a leash, even if you take them for a lake swim!
- Notable features: Crisp waters and sand dunes
- Location: 1215 SR-49, Porter, IN 46304
The Shops on Lake Street
The Shops on Lake St. comprise a beautiful collection of shops and restaurants. People love to gather here, especially on First Fridays (of the month), when shops stay open later and offer special items.
One of the most popular places to shop is Indie Indie Bang! Bang! This cute gift shop screams self-care with cozy socks, stylish accessories, tea leaf reading cards, and high-quality apparel.
Is that your tummy rumbling after all that shopping? It’s time to stop by Miller Pizza for a deliciously cheesy Chicago Style Pizza.
- Notable feature: Celebratory First Fridays
- Location: Lake Street North of Highway 12, Gary, IN 46403
Best Time to Visit Miller Beach
The best time to visit the south shore of Lake Michigan depends on your weather and activity preferences. Miller Beach is known for its public beaches along the lakefront, so it’s most frequently visited in the summers.
July and August bring hot yet non-oppressive heat. This is a lovely time of year for travelers who enjoy sun-soaked hikes and splashy days at the beach. You’ll also enjoy the local Farmer’s Market, where neighboring farms and small-town merchants sell their yummy wares each summer.
Prefer fewer crowds? Wintertime’s coziness sparkles with the gleam of holiday likes — an invitation for you to partake in winter outdoor activities. Indiana Dunes National Park is usually snowy and icy in the winter, making it a fabulous place to hike, cross-country ski, and snowshoe.
If you are looking to snowshoe specifically on the Paul H. Douglas Trail, you can rent free snowshoes in the Douglas Center. Otherwise, you have to bring your own winter equipment. You and your family can even sled at Indiana Dunes National Park on the West Beach Trails!
But what about the farmer’s market? Not to worry. It’s closed in winter, but the Holiday Bazaar is filled with local gift ideas, buzzing with contagious holiday spirit.
What to Bring to Miller Beach
Your packing list depends on the season you’re visiting Miller Beach. Prepare for warm temps and subsequent wardrobe choices in the summer and colder, chilly temps in Fall and Winter.
Here’s what you should bring to Miller Beach:
Temperature: Mid-80s, cooling down to the low 60s in the evenings.
Get ready for some fun in the sun with a summer visit to Miller Beach. Bring typical summer attire, with a sweatshirt or jeans for those chilly nights.
- Bathing Suits/ Towels/ Sunscreen
- Books and games
- Beach umbrellas/ Beach Chairs
- Shorts/ Short Sleeve Shirts
- Hiking Boots
- Bug Spray
- Jeans/ Sweatshirt
Temperature: Mid 30s/ Low 20s and teens
Helllo, winter wonderland! Enjoy a snowshoe hike or a cozy night in with hot chocolate and board games.
- Long Pants/ Shirts/ Sweatshirts
- Parka, Hats, Gloves, Snow Pants
- Snow Shoes, Sleds, Cross Country Skis
- Books and games
- Extra socks
- Hiking Boots
Temperature: March and April average highs in the low-60s and lows in the high-20s. May has highs in the low 70s and lows in the high 40s. Be prepared for a wet spring, with rain expected about ¼ of each month!
Springtime isn’t for swimming or snow activities, of course. But it’s a great time to go hiking and see the environment return to life after a long winter!
- Hiking boots
- Bug spray
- Light layers that you can quickly shed
- Rain apparel
Temperature: September and October average highs in the 62-78 degrees Fahrenheit range, whereas November has highs in the low 50s and lows in the low 30s.
You might bring a warm winter parka, hats, and mittens in November and maybe October. But September still has a warm, summer afterglow — you might get away with bringing a bathing suit and sunscreen!
In other words? Bring a mix of summer and winter items, depending on your exact month of travel.
Miller Beach, Indiana, is a quaint, lakeside destination that both residents and tourists enjoy every season. The small community is a refuge for anyone seeking the gentle tranquility of Lake Michigan’s waves, fresh ingredients, A+ restaurants, and gorgeous nature.
If you’re feeling adventurous, plan an extended stay! For example, you might venture off to Chicago for a night or two before returning to the lakeside peacefulness in Miller Beach.
Ready to pack your bags? We’ll help you take care of your accommodation.
Envision a morning waking up between freshly laundered sheets and an oh-so-fluffy duvet. You meander down a spiral staircase, immediately faced with panoramic views of Lake Michigan. Sounds like our Villa Santorini!
We have the perfect rental for every type of traveler. Book a Miller Beach vacation home today!
Featured Image Credit: Steve Johnson