Best known as the location for the popular "The Music Man," the City of Gary sits on the glorious shores of Lake Michigan, the only one of the Great Lakes completely within United States' borders. Visitors can have fun at the beach, enjoy the nighttime view of Chicago's skyline across the water, or shop in the popular Lake Street Shopping District.
Even though it is at the same latitude as New York City, continental influence makes the Port of Gary's climate colder in the winter. Lake Michigan has a significant influence on the Port of Gary's weather, which varies from year to year. Summers are humid and rainy. Winters are snowy, and blizzards are common. Temperatures range from an average high of almost 29°C (84°F) in July to an average low of -10°C (14°F) in January. Most of the rainfall comes from April through September.
Visitors to the Port of Gary will enjoy a trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Located some 23 kilometers (14 miles) east of Gary on the shores of Lake Michigan, the Lakeshore offers both steep sand dunes and wonderful views of the lake. Visitors to this popular Port of Gary attraction treasure the sight of waves crashing on the sandy beaches and the silence surrounding winter trails.
Some of the dunes are more than 38 meters (125 feet) tall. Others are short and topped with marram grass. Bank swallows nest in the dunes, and Karner Blue butterflies grace the wild lupines. The weather at the Lakeshore near the Port of Gary can change quickly, but there are many days of comfortable dry weather with abundant sunshine. There are about 15 days each year when the temperature falls below -18°C (0°F).
Managed by the US National Park Service, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore runs for some 40 kilometers (25 miles) along Lake Michigan's southern shores from the Port of Gary to Michigan City. Covering about 15 thousand non-contiguous acres, the park is divided into east and west areas. Activities popular at the dunes include picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, horseback riding, bird watching, and a variety of winter activities.
Visitors reach the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore from parking lots that open at 7am and close at dusk. All beach parking is free except at West Beach during the summer season. Lifeguards are on duty at West Beach from 10am to 6pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Rip currents can be hazardous for swimmers. Among the things that are not allowed in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are fires, alcohol, glass containers, pets on beaches during the summer, and feeding wild animals.
The Port of Gary's municipal Marquette Park is completely surrounded by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Park contains over two kilometers (1.4 miles) of white sand beach and tall sand dunes on Lake Michigan, inland ponds, wetlands, indigenous oak savannah, and a lagoon.
The Port of Gary's Aquatorium in Marquette Park was in 1921 a bathhouse and changing facility for Miller Beach. Although falling into serious neglect by the 1960s, it was rescued by the Chanute Aquatorium Society in 1991. Meaning a "place to view the water," the Aquatorium was no longer a bathhouse.
Today, it is the Octave Chanute Air Museum, a National Landmark of Soaring and the biggest aerospace museum in the State of Indiana. This Port of Gary attraction tells the life story of Octave Chanute, the Chanute Air Force Base, and the history of military aviation. The building of the Octave Chanute Air Museum is an early example of pre-cast concrete modular construction.