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Looking for a nice beach between Chesterton, In and St.Joseph, Mi

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Jun 24th, 2009, 08:35 AM
  #1
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Looking for a nice beach between Chesterton, In and St.Joseph, Mi

Hallo,
On August 9, Sunday, we are going to drive from Chicago to St.Joseph (Mi) along the Michigan lakeshore. On our way we would wish to have a lay-over on a beach for sunbath, swimming, etc. (we have two children with us). Of course, it will depend on weather but we do hope for better.
As I can see on various web sites and on Google maps there is a plenty of beaches and beautiful places around so, it is so hard to make a choice.
On one hand, it seems to me that the furhter from Chicago the less crowded beaches can be found (having in mind that it will be Sunday).
On the other hand, the more time we spend in driving the less time will remain for having fun on a beach.
In this situation I would be glad to see your kind advices. Our criteria are: clean, safe for children, nice view (optional), parking; the less populated the better.
Thanks in advance
Yuri
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Jun 24th, 2009, 09:09 AM
  #2
cd
 
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You will love Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana! The beach looks like it's the ocean and you can walk out on the catwalk, sit and watch all the boats go by. There is a marina right beside the beach. There are SEPERATE entrances to the marina and the beach. Also, across the street from Washington Park beach is a small zoo.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 09:59 AM
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Thank you. And what can you say about the Warren Dunes State Park and surroundings?
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Jun 24th, 2009, 11:18 AM
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Yes, there are lots of beaches between Chesterton, IN and South Haven, MI, but only some of them are public beaches.

I hope that you are planning on leaving very early because the later you arrive at any of the beaches, the more likely that the parking lots will be full.

IMHO, all the beaches will be very busy from Chesterton, IN up to South Haven, MI on weekends in August, if the weather is decent. First, there's the economy which will cause people to flock to low-cost entertainment options. And I think you are failing to consider all the out-of-towners (mostly Chicagoans) who have second houses and/or condos in these beach areas. You only need to drive by these areas to see the numbers of these units.*

Also, please keep in mind that a number of the locations will charge parking fees. Some towns, such as New Buffalo, MI, even have time limits on parking in the downtown area. So those people who try to avoid paying the parking fees at the beach lots will get a nasty surprise when they come back to their vehicles, parked downtown, after the (I believe it is) three-hour limit. You can verify the length of time on New Buffalo's website.

When you say that you want a beach that's "safe for children", do you mean that you want a lifeguard there? If so, that will drastically lower your choices.

Of the eight beaches at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, there is only one patrolled by lifeguards - West Beach (near Portage, IN - west of Chesterton, IN). Seems like I have to keep posting this page but it is very important that anyone (especially those with children), read it carefully if they are planning on swimming in Lake Michigan. And that means every single beach along the shoreline, not only at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: www.nps.gov/indu/planyourvisit/swimming.htm

The beach at Washington Park does have lifeguards as well. I guess that I'm not as enthusiastic about Michigan City as the above poster. IMHO, I feel that there are better options out there.

New Buffalo's beach has lifeguards for limited times. If you check the New Buffalo website, you'll see their warning on rip currents as well (and a hyperlink to alerts on them) and they even mention how to respond to them if you are caught in one.**

Silver Beach in St. Joseph stills has lifeguards this year (at certain times/when weather permits) but other beaches in St. Joseph do not. You really have to check the websites of each of the locations, because the economy has taken its toll on these types of positions. You really should check the warnings posted on the www.beriencounty.org website about swimming. Pay particular note to that last warning near the bottom in big green letters.


*On a very sad note, Jackson's Fruit Market at the main stoplight in New Buffalo closed last year. What's replacing it? As I understand...condos.

**Please note: Fatalities occur even when there is no evidence of rip currents. As I mentioned in a previous thread a couple of months ago, last September at Kemil Beach in Indiana, there was a sad incident of a 10-year-old swimmer who died. There wasn't any evidence of rip currents then.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 11:26 AM
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Before I have to comment again on Michigan City, IN, let me mention that I used to live there 3.5 years and my best friend still resides there. I visit often during the year.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 11:34 AM
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Oops! Forgot to mention: You'll need to see if there are any special events at these locations when you are planning your journey. For example, the New Buffalo Ship and Shore Festival is that weekend, which means bigger crowds.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 11:36 AM
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I've never been to Warren Dunes State Park so I'm sorry to say I have no info. I did go to their website and it looks wonderful!
We are familiar with this area because we harbored our sailboat in the marina at Washington Park for 8 seasons, and dry docked her at St Joe, MI We walked the shoreline at Washington Park every weekend but only swam from the shore when our grandchildren visited, most of the time we would just anchor out in the water and jump in. I know they have a large parking lot that they charge to enter but having never parked there I don't know how crowded the lot is, but I've got to tell you, of the years we were there, I never saw the beach really crowded.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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The kids of my best friend (mentioned above) all were on the Michigan City's Pirahna Swim Club and, at times, some were lifeguards at the Washington Park beach during the season. One of my ex-bosses ran a fishing charter service out of the Washington Park Marina as well and several others had their boats moored there.

Bostok, as you know from living in Chicago, you'll have to check on the water quality, too, before starting out on your journey. I think that each of the areas I mentioned will have info on their particular websites as to the bacteria-level any given day. They might (probably) also have some type of physical evidence (flag, signs, etc.) posted, stating what the status is at the beach.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 03:41 PM
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Thank you for the comments. As to safety I did not mean lifeguard, but just absence of any unexpected things like underwater stones, extremely deep spots etc.
I have looked through many web sites relating to this part of the shore. The Indiana Dunes look nice and I bookmarked it for later consideration. I found water test results on different beaches in that region but they are all of the last year! However, those reslts tell that the cleanest place is Kemil beach while the dirtiest is West and Central. Finally, it seems to me that Warren Dunes may be a good balance betweeen our needs.
I payed attention to the warnings aboot rip currents, we will have it in mind thank you for mentioning.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 10:33 AM
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Bostok, you are welcome.

I am not trying to alarm people, but they should never underestimate the dangers of swimming in the Lake. It's not like going into a swimming pool - yet, IMHO, I think a lot of people think so.

With respect to your comment about unexpected things, I think you'll find that in pretty much every area you are considering. There are absolutely no guarantees in any of these areas.

The lakeshore is eroding and changing constantly. The bottom is quite uneven, with (sometimes) deep pockets, even trenches, called "inshore holes". That's why every one of those websites prominently posts information the dangers of swimming in the Lake, including (but not limited to) the issue of rip currents - and some strongly emphasize not to swim in areas unpatrolled by lifeguards.

You may also have noticed from one or two of the websites comments to the effect that rip current alerts were once only indicated for the eastern and western oceanic shorelines but are now are in effect for the Great Lakes as well.

There have been swimming fatalities at all of these beaches you are considering: Most (if not all) of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beaches, including Kemil Beach (I've mentioned above in 2008); Michigan City (two people in 2004); and St. Joseph (7 people in one day alone in 2003).
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Jun 26th, 2009, 06:18 AM
  #11
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Thank you, exiledprincess, for the comment and consideration.

I think that everyday and everywhere we jeopardize our lives and car ride stands above all in the list of dangers. There is a part of luck (or rather unluck) in it but the major part of our safety depends on our own sanity.
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Jun 26th, 2009, 06:25 AM
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Warren Dunes is an excellent park. You will like it there. I'm not certain about the food situation there. You may want to pick up a styrofoam cooler and some ice (gas stations would have both) and get sandwiches somewhere off of I-94 before you head into the park. "Subway" is a good sandwich store chain. They will have chips and pop too as will the gas station.
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Jun 26th, 2009, 09:44 AM
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Great advice, Kelliebellie, thank you! Hope we will be able to take advantage of it.
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Jun 26th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Bostok, consider this: All those places (state and national parks and municipalities) post those warnings (in boldened, highlighted and capital letters) on their websites for a very good reason.

My advice: For the sake of your children, go to any of these beaches you like but only go swimming where there are lifeguards on duty.
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Jun 26th, 2009, 11:02 AM
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Yes, of course
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Jun 26th, 2009, 04:20 PM
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I don't believe that Warren Dunes has a lifeguard, but all of the state parks have a flag warning system. A green flag means waters are calm and no troubles at all. A yellow flag means that things are a bit more rough and swim with caution. A red flag means absolutely no swimming. I believe that most deaths in Lake Michigan happen when people decide to go in on a red flag day.

I swam on many many yellow flag days in Lake Michigan and had a blast. That is when you get the best waves!
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Aug 2nd, 2009, 07:03 PM
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Sadly, there has been another drowning in Lake Michigan - yesterday at South Haven's (Michigan) South Beach Pier.

Please see the Chicago Tribune online article for details.
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