One Day at Michigan Lake 'Beach' and Lighthouse Outlets

The precious coastal treasure of the northeast America

Ratings Best Travel Date Cost Length


May - September $25-$50 4-6 hours

TLDR tips:

  • Softer and cleaner sand in Dune state park compared to lighthouse
  • Go to the Dune state park instead of the national park

Time Stamps:

  • 10:00 AM: Lighthouse Premium Outlets (2 hr)
  • 12:00 PM: Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant (1 hr)
  • 1:00 PM: Michigan Pierhead Lighthouse (0.5 hr)
  • 1:30 PM: Indiana Dunes State Park (1-2 hr)
    • Hiking in State Park
    • Swim or chilling time at State Park


  • Lunch at Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant: $25 per person
  • Michigan Pierhead Lighthouse: Free
  • Indiana Dunes State Park:
    • $7 (in-state) per vehicle or.
    • $12 (non-resident) per vehicle
  • (Optional) Indiana Dunes National Park: $25 per vehicle
  • Total: $32-$37

Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes in the United States, is located right next to the metropolitan city of Chicago. The beautiful lakeside city of Michigan City is only a 1.5-hour drive away from Purdue University in West Lafayette, home of us the Boilermakers.

For someone like me living in the east of the nation, it is the closest I can get for a costal beach experience, and for almost no costs at all! This is why throughout the years I spent living in the northern east, I’ve visited Michigan city three times.

Indiana Dunes State Park

Important: Don’t get confused with “Indiana Dunes National Park”, which is a different park and will get discussed at the very end of this blog.

Let’s get straight to the lake, look at those beaches and water, there’s no distinction between the great lake and the actual ocean visually.

Dunes Park beach

Soft sand on the beach

This swim-able beach is located inside the Indiana Dunes State Park, spreading over 2000 acres. What’s more, the state park also offers over 16 miles of hiking trails.

So, you can go for a short hike and then dive in and cool down at the gorgeous Michigan great lake. This is pretty unique feature that a lot of the actual coast don’t offer.

The entry fee is very cheap, costing only $7 per vehicle for Indiana residents and $12 per vehicle for non-residents. Like all other state parks, there are certain days when the entry fees are free.

Other Stops

Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant

Dock just outside the restaurant

If you need to grab a bite, I strongly recommend this place as I’ve visited them twice, and both experience were fantastic. They have excellent crafted beers and also their signature fish and chips.

The restaurant is also right across the street to the premium outlets, and you get to see the lighthouse from the parking spot which is next to the lake coast.

Must try fish and chip

Michigan Pierhead Lighthouse

This landmark stands proudly at the edge of Lake Michigan.
The beach next to the lighthouse has harder sand compared to the state park. However, the advantage is that it offers a pretty spectacular view and, the best part, you can enjoy this stunning vista without spending a penny.

Pierhead Lighthouse

Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets

The Lighthouse Premium Outlets are also a great point of interest, with ample parking space and a wide variety of dining options. You will enjoy the open-air shopping experience whiling breathing in the fresh lakeside air.

Indiana Dunes National Park (Optional)

The Indian Dunes National Park is located on the both sides of the State Park, it is perfect for camping if you need plans for multiple days.

The entry fee is $25 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.

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