From the bustling urban-industrial community in the south to the wave-washed beaches along the northern shores, the system of economic, cultural and ecological diversity that is represented by Lake Michigan stands unparalleled all along the mid-Western region of the United States. The second largest of the Great Lakes in terms of volume, Lake Michigan is the only lake whose location is based within the borders of the United States.
The northern part of Lake Michigan lies in the colder and sparsely developed region of the upper Great Lakes. Apart from the Fox River Valley, this area is not densely populated with mixed wood forests mainly covering the region. The southern basin of Lake Michigan, a more temperate region is one that has experienced greater
urbanization. This is where Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas are situated. The typically fertile soil in the southern basin further also makes it ideal for agriculture.
Although the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines grab all the headlines most people fail to realise the beauty that lies along the coasts of Lake Michigan, commonly known as the Third Coast among locals. Where can you hike along the shores of a water body, jump into the waves and feel the sand between your toes? Which is the water body where, while you stand on one shore the other is not visible? The answer, obvious though it may seem, is the Lake Michigan in Indiana.
Indiana dunes and its singing sands
When you walk on the dunes surrounding Lake Michigan, they make a unique sound, which is why they have the name singing sands. Take off your shoes and give it a try; it won’t take you long to realise why the place is called so. The sand dunes, trails and beaches abounding this region are all part of the Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. You can climb atop Mount Baldy and wander away for more adventure into the unique ecosystem of wetlands, forests and dune grasses, away from the shorelines of Lake Michigan. On the Chellberg Farmstead and Bailly Homestead trails, you can gather information about immigrant families. The bird sanctuary on the Heron Rookery Trail is worth taking a peek at. Cross-country skiing during winter, fantastic colours during the autumn season and wildflowers growing during spring makes the shores of Lake Michigan a year-round destination for the outdoor enthusiasts.
Boating on Lake Michigan
There are a large number of marinas along the shorelines of Hammond and Michigan City from where you can launch your boat. If you do not have a boat, then you need not despair. With a large number of charter boats available in the area, you can take your group on boating and fishing excursions with ease. Captain Ian Stewart in Michigan City, belonging to the Salukis Pride, is one person you can approach for planning your charter trips. Please note that a salmon stamp and valid fishing licence from the state are mandatory for fishing, all of which can be purchased from the services of Captain Stewart.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Here you have massive bluffs towering as high as 450 feet over the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, stretching over many a mile. When you come to the end of this stretch of bluff, you are likely to encounter a region of spectacular meadows, lakes, wetlands and forests.
As good as the Lake region is during the summer months, the ensuing charm of the place that is prominent during the winter season is something that you can’t discount. When the season of biting cold comes calling, it is relished instead of people staying hidden at home; tourists are also encouraged to do the same. Here are some of the aspects that makes Lake Michigan special during the winter months.
Get a toast of vodka
Chris Moersch of the Round Barn Winery jokes of vodka being the best way to warm-up during winter while pouring out a glass of their popular DiVine vodka. A family-owned business, this place includes a distillery, brewery and winery. A round barn built by the Amish during 1911 was moved down to the Michigan region so as to house part of the business operation.
Treat yourself to a movie
Built in the 1890s, the Vicker’s Theatre in Three Oaks, Michigan originally a livery that has been converted into an art-house theatre. With a wrought-iron balcony railings and a funky, antique projector the place has a historic feel about it. The snowy foam on the cappuccino from the cafeteria will also be a reminder of the wintry world that you have left outside, even if for just a few hours.
Indulge in all-weather gallery hopping
The roomful of freshly fired pots and watercolour portraits at St. Joseph’s Box Factory for Art seems especially vibrant amidst all the snow that piles up on the windowsills. Prior to becoming a place that houses a small theatre, a cafe, gift shop, three galleries and 28 art studios, this factory witnessed a making of manufacturing history by becoming the place where heart-shaped chocolate boxes were born.
Has reading about the beauty of Lake Michigan prompted you to start planning a possible visit to the place? If so, then there are certain formalities you need to take care of as a foreign national to gain entry into the United States. The most important thing to apply for is the ESTA clearance under the American Visa Waiver Program.