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Which Indiana Dunes Beach Should You Visit?

Thinking about visiting the Indiana Dunes and wondering which beach you should visit? With nine different beaches along 15 miles of Lake Michigan’s southern shoreline, it’s easy to get confused! This guide will help you decide which Indiana Dunes beach is best for your visit.

The Indiana Dunes is made up of two parks—the Indiana Dunes National Park and the Indiana Dunes State Park. Eight of the Indiana Dunes beaches can be found in the Indiana Dunes National Park and one beach belongs to the Indiana Dunes State Park.

This map from our Activities Guide shows the location of our nine beaches, available amenities, and parking lot sizes.

Indiana Dune Beaches Map

…But Which Beach is Best?

Each of our nine beaches are different and it can sometimes be hard to choose between them. Here is a little info on each beach to help you decide which you should visit first!

West Beach | Indiana Dunes National Park

West Beach is the western-most beach in the Indiana Dunes National Park. It has the largest parking lot of any of the national park beaches. There is a bath house with a concession stand and outdoor picnic tables. The Dune Succession Trail is a rewarding hike with some of the most beautiful views in the Indiana Dunes. Keep your eyes open when hiking and you might spot a Prickly Pear Cactus!

  • Fee: $6 per vehicle/$30 per bus
  • Lifeguards: yes, from Memorial Day to Labor Day
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed on the trails, but not the swimming beach. Pets may walk through the swimming beach area to get to trails, but cannot remain on the beach.
  • Parking: 596 spaces in several lots.
West Beach Boardwalk

West Beach Boardwalk

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk | Indiana Dunes National Park

You would never know it, but Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk is a reclaimed industrial site. The 57-acre park has an indoor pavilion, a concession stand with outdoor seating, and an accessible boardwalk. The boardwalk allows for those with limited mobility to get close to the shore to take in the views or fish. It also has a small beach. This is a great spot to grab a snack and watch the sunset.

  • Fee: None.
  • Lifeguards: None. Swim at your own risk. Be sure to check weather and water conditions before swimming.
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed.
  • Parking: 125 parking spaces.
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Porter Beach | Indiana Dunes National Park

This beach is a popular location for playing beach sports and catching some rays. A neighborhood sits just behind the beach. The nearby parking lot was built on the site of a former hotel. Be sure to park in the lot as street parking is permit-only. A short walk along the road is required to get from the parking lot to the shore.

  • Fee: None.
  • Lifeguards: None. Swim at your own risk. Be sure to check weather and water conditions before swimming.
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed.
  • Parking: A small lot with 66 parking spaces and restrooms.

Indiana Dunes State Park Beach

The state park beach is one of the most popular in the Indiana Dunes. When you see a picture of the Indiana Dunes online with a large pavilion building near the shore, that’s the Indiana Dunes State Park. The entrance is at the north end of State Road 49, which makes it easy to find. Dunes line the beach and several trails, including The 3 Dune Challenge, make for great hikes when you’re ready for some adventure on land.

  • Fee: $7 for in-state plates/$12 for out-of-state plates
  • Lifeguards: yes, from Memorial Day to mid-August
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed everywhere in the state park except for the swimming beach.
  • Parking: 1800 spaces. The main lot and west lot are right on the beach.
Aerial View Indiana Dunes State Park

Aerial View of Indiana Dunes State Park

Kemil Beach and Dunbar Beach | Indiana Dunes National Park

Kemil Beach and Dunbar Beach have limited parking and few amenities. These beaches are right next to each other and offer a quieter beach experience. Don’t be tempted to park on the streets in the nearby neighborhoods or you’re very likely to get a parking ticket! The Dune Ridge Trail shares a parking lot with Kemil Beach.

  • Fee: None.
  • Lifeguards: None. Swim at your own risk. Be sure to check weather and water conditions before swimming.
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed.
  • Parking: Kemil’s lot has 81 spots and Dunbar has 26.
Dune Ridge Trail

Dune Ridge Trail

Lake View Beach and Picnic Area | Indiana Dunes National Park

Lake View Beach has a covered sitting area and is one of the only places in the Indiana Dunes with picnic tables overlooking the beach. Parking is close and convenient, but very limited. Spots will fill up quickly during warm weather.

  • Fee: None.
  • Lifeguards: None. Swim at your own risk. Be sure to check weather and water conditions before swimming.
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed.
  • Parking: A very small lot with 15 parking spaces.

Central Avenue Beach | Indiana Dunes National Park

Central Avenue Beach sits in front of tall dunes which hide a buried forest. Climbing the fragile sloped dunes is strongly discouraged as they are slowly eroding and can be dangerous.

  • Fee: None.
  • Lifeguards: None. Swim at your own risk. Be sure to check weather and water conditions before swimming.
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed.
  • Parking: 70 parking spaces.

Mounty Baldy Beach | Indiana Dunes National Park

Mounty Baldy is the largest living dune in the national park. Its peak hovers 126 feet above Lake Michigan’s water level. The dune is moving inland at a rate of several feet per year. The beach is open to the public and requires a short hike from the parking lot to the beach, but climbing the dune off-trail is prohibited. National Park rangers do offer guided hikes up the dune several times a year.

  • Fee: None.
  • Lifeguards: None. Swim at your own risk. Be sure to check weather and water conditions before swimming.
  • Pet-Friendly: Leashed pets are allowed.
  • Parking: 70 parking spaces.
Mount Baldy

Aerial View of Mount Baldy

Still Can’t Decide Which Beach is For You?

Check out our beach video below as well as our beach FAQ page. Or visit our Visitor Center where our helpful Indiana Dunes Ambassadors can direct you to the best spots as well as let you know which beaches are full. For up to date parking availability call the Indiana Dunes Parking Hotline at 219-395-1003 from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Happy explorations and relaxations!