The city of Portage has long been a land locked city, due to the positioning of the steel mills and the location of a private gated community. That changed last year, when funding came through the Marquette Plan to create a free public lakefront for Portage.
It’s worth a visit, not just for the beach itself but for the glimpse you get into Northwest Indiana’s industrial heritage.
To get to the new park, you need to go over the US Steel Bridge, which actually takes you through steel mill property. As you drive along the new road that leads to the beach, you get to drive amongst the mills. Even if you’re offended by the mills environmental record, driving through them is pretty amazing as you get sense of their massive scale.
When you get down to the parking lot, there’s a small pavilion with bathroom facilities. They constructed a really cool boardwalk that walks along the Burns Waterway and the beach. To the west of the pavilion is non-stop beach all the way to Gary. It’s possible to walk from the new Beachwalk all the way to Miller Beach and beyond. It’s a very scenic and beautiful walk that will take you by gorgeous beachfront homes as well as amazing National Parkland.
If all this exploration makes you hungry, make a visit to the Ameriplex complex, where a few restaurants have been built. And no visit to the area is complete without a visit to the massive Bass Pro store.
To get to the new Portage Beachwalk, get off of Interstate 80/94 at Indiana Route 249 and go north, follow the road signs on the new Lakefront Park.