The Best Things to Do in Miller Beach, Indiana

Miller Beach, Indiana, located in Northwest Indiana, has one of the nicest beaches in the Midwest and is only 45 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. This neighborhood beach town of Gary, Indiana, on the south shore of Lake Michigan, boasts five and a half miles of uninterrupted and protected public beaches.

Lake County’s Miller Beach offers fantastic dining options, colorful sunsets, breathtaking beachfront views of the Chicago skyline, and the untamed beauty of stunning, natural dunes. And lucky you! By staying at a premier vacation rental home in Miller Beach, you’ll have access to all this quaint neighborhood has to offer right outside of your front door.

So, read on for your essential traveler’s guide for your getaway to Miller Beach, Indiana.

Get Outside

When the weather is nice, there’s really nothing better than getting outside and exploring all that Miller Beach has to offer. So close to Chicago, you’ll be shocked by the biodiversity and plethora of nature surrounding our side of Lake Michigan.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Photo Credit: Jon Lauriat

Most consider Indiana Dunes National Park, situated along the shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, a rare gem. You will be astounded by the biodiversity and beauty of this park, given that Miller Woods is surrounded by numerous urban areas, including Chicago, the third-largest city in the country.

Indiana Dunes National Park is a treasure trove of various natural riches. You’ll find over 15,000 acres of dunes, oak savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, prairies, rivers, and woodlands in the park. Between Gary and Michigan City, it comprises 15 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Sand dunes rise to approximately 200 feet in height just inland from the beaches in a network of hills, blowouts, and valleys.

To explore these settings, you can travel 50 miles on 11 different hiking trails. The Dune Succession Trail, for example, explains how plants populate the sand-covered peaks, while the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm offer views of the South Shore’s early colonial history.

The wide, golden sand beaches are quite popular for swimming and sunbathing in the summer and watching shorebird migrations in the spring and fall. In addition, the Dunewood Campground is open from April to October if you wish to camp.

Marquette Park and Nature Preserve

Photo Credit: Eddie J. Rodriquez

The 17th Century French Jesuit missionary Father Marquette founded Michigan’s first European settlement. His statue and gardens welcome you at Marquette Park’s main entrance, at the site where he visited. The Father of Flight Octave Chanute statue and replica of his first aircraft, the Tuskegee Airman statue, and a scale model of a fighter jet are additional examples of public art honoring local history.

This 240-acre lakefront park has beaches, tall dunes, a lagoon, wetlands, a native oak savanna, and ponds. Flanked by the Indiana Dunes National Park and serving as Miller Beach’s front yard, Marquette Park offers an unparalleled view of the Chicago skyline on a clear day. In addition, the park offers various engaging activities. Many of these activities are enhanced by the historic and opulent buildings, like the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium, formerly known as Lakefront Park Bath house.

The Marquette Beach concession stand, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, serves bratwurst, coneys, and stellar lake views to those who visit Miller Beach’s Marquette Park and Nature Preserve.

Miller Woods

Photo Credit: Scott J. Kingery

The second-most biodiverse location in the entire Indiana Dunes region is Miller Woods. Miller Woods is an excellent location for hiking, biking, fishing, bird watching, and having a beach day along the shore. In addition, it is home to the federally endangered Karner Blue butterfly and the federally threatened Pitcher’s thistle.

Every Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, join a park ranger, beginning at the Paul H. Douglas Center, for a lovely hike through the breathtaking black oak savanna in Miller Woods. The Paul H. Douglas trail will send you through various ecosystems, where you may witness forests, lagoons, dunes, and even the seashore. It’s genuinely one of the most picturesque routes in the area.

Lake Street Beach

Photo Credit: AevanStock

With access to the National Lakeshore, Lake Street Beach provides a serene beach setting like no other of Lake Michigan beaches. Boat and wave runner ramps invite you to bring your boat or jet ski to spend a relaxing day on the water. And it’s dog-friendly!

There are 40 parking places for boat trailers and 110 spaces for cars between the two lots. There’s a free beach shuttle during summer weekends, but there isn’t a designated swimming area on the beach.

Additional amenities include:

  • Handicapped accessible
  • Bathrooms
  • Lifeguard
  • Fishing access

Miller Beach Arts and Creative District

Photo Credit: millerbeacharts via Instagram

Miller Beach Arts and Creative District is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a community development corporation. It was founded in 2011 by a varied collection of committed volunteers from the area’s beach community. The Miller Beach Arts & Creative District extends its operations to the Miller Beach Farmers Market, among many others.

The Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, a 6,000-square-foot space run by the organization, serves as a venue for the presentation of a wide range of performing and visual arts with an active calendar of other community events.

A few examples of events include various art exhibits each month, a biennial public art street festival, an annual sand mandala creation and cultural week with Tibetan monks, documentary screenings, and much more. Many activities are free or inexpensive, and everyone is welcome!

Miller Beach Farmers Market

Photo Credit: millerbeachfarmersmark via Instagram

Rain or shine, you can find the Miller Beach Farmers Market at 667 S. Lake St., close to Route 12. Starting on the third Sunday in May and running until the final Sunday in September, the Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm.

Fresh vegetables, baked goods, ethnic delicacies, honey wine, herbs and plants, freshly cut flowers, handcrafted soaps and body butter, gourmet cheese, jewelry, ironwork, and artwork are just a few of the artisan and craft products on display at the market. For the benefit of educating and engaging the community, they also fund local non-profit booths.

Indoor Explorations

While we personally love the outdoors here, some days you’d rather hang out inside. While your Miller Beach vacation home is the perfect place for lounging around in total comfort, there are a few other places in town that are great for indoor explorations.

Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education

Photo Credit: maryhilldorephotography via Instagram

Your entrance to the breathtaking Paul H. Douglas Trail through Miller Woods is the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education. Through engaging hands-on exhibits, ranger-led hikes, lectures, live animals, nature-inspired arts and crafts, and a Nature Play Zone, this facility helps you engage with the local natural environment.

The Douglas Center offers various educational activities as well as family-friendly outdoor recreation like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, and hiking with year-round programming. It is named after an Illinois state senator.

Here, you must pay the entrance fee to Marquette Park; however, there is no fee to access the Douglas Center.

Nelson Algren Museum of Miller Beach

Photo Credit: garyprintworkers

Nelson Algren, also known as Nelson Ahlgren Abraham, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 28, 1909, and passed away in Sag Harbor, New York, on May 9, 1981. Born and raised in Chicago, he attended the University of Illinois and earned a journalism degree amidst the worst of the Great Depression.

Algren wrote primarily about the underprivileged. He drew inspiration from naturalism and its portrayal of pride, humor, and constant longings.

The 1928 Telephone Building, initially owned by Algren’s acquaintance, David Peltz, is now home to the Nelson Algren Museum of Miller Beach. Peltz, a self-employed writer, artist, and project manager, supported Algren during two difficult times: his potentially fatal fall into the ice lagoon outside his cabin and his admission to a north shore mental institution.

The Indiana Landmarks Foundation now owns the Peltz building, assuring its future on Lake Street. In addition, the Algren Museum was approved as the American Writers Museum’s 59th Affiliate in 2017. The AMW founded a nationwide network of museums and is the first institution devoted to American writers.

The museum is only accessible by appointment. The tours include the 1950s cabin that Algren resided in, the museum, and a Pocket Park tour.

18th Street Brewery

Photo Credit: 18thstreetbrewery via Instagram

After a day of adventures in Miller Beach Indiana, you’ll probably be quite thirsty, not to mention hungry. 18th Street Brewery has something for all who visit.

In 2010, Drew Fox established 18th Street Brewery as a house brewery. With the debut of SINISTER DIPA in 2013, 18th Street Brewery officially established itself after years of practical learning and exploration. Shortly after the SINISTER release, they opened a 3,200-square-foot brewpub in an old dry cleaner’s facility in Gary, In 46403.

As soon as they outgrew that area, they bought a 32,000-square-foot warehouse in Hammond, Indiana. Their production, packaging, barrel program, taproom, and full-service cuisine are now all located at the Hammond site, while a small 10-barrel open fermentation system, taproom, specialty cocktail bar, and restaurant are still located in the original Miller Beach location.

Currently, Northwest Indiana’s second-largest brewery, their selection of beers includes pilsners, lagers, double India pale ales, double milk stouts, and saisons. Dine-in or take-out on everything from Beyond Meat veggie burgers to spicy sesame noodles.

Miller Pizza Co.

Photo Credit: cellardoorpizzaco via Instagram

Gary and Scott Goldberg, a father and son team, established Miller Pizza Company in 1985 in the Miller Beach neighborhood of the city of Gary, Indiana. The intention was—and still is—to serve the same delectable Chicago-style pizza and handmade Italian meat that they had become accustomed to in the 1970s in the Chicago suburbs.

Expect the finest mozzarella, handmade dough, and fresh pizza sauce created with only the freshest herbs and spices that’ll make your mouth water just thinking about it. In addition, they offer thin crust, deep-dish, and stuffed crust!

Situated in an old railroad station, the decor at Mille Pizza Co. features its original wood floors, ceiling, and walls, which the father/son duo were able to preserve. Vintage railroad paraphernalia, including signs and toy trains, adorn the walls and shelves. The eatery is well-known for its retro dining area with checkerboard tablecloths and an outdoor terrace that frequently features live music near the railroad tracks in the center of the Lake Street downtown corridor.

Featured Image Credit: Tommy Images

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