Kurt Vonnegut spent his boyhood summers on Lake Maxinkuckee, and the author couldn’t have fabricated a more scenic locale in his novels. Indiana’s second-largest natural body of water offers shoreline restaurants, well-lit trails, and a small town full of boutiques.
To get acquainted, rent a bike at Ride on Bikes and Rentals (103 E. Lake Shore Dr., 574-842-4788) and explore downtown Culver. Must-stop shops include Imagine: Find, Fix, Furnish (120 S. Main St., 574-276-5482), a store that blends midcentury-modern furniture with antique armoires and vintage Notre Dame cardigans; The Painter and The Poet Gallery (307 N. Main St., 574-842-4350), run by a husband and wife who sell their watercolors and books inspired by the lake; and Civvies (114 S. Main St., 574-635-0011), where you can browse swimsuits, sandals, and bohemian jewelry.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the waterfront for a slice at Bourbon Street Pizza (614 E. Lake Shore Dr., 574-842-3333) or bar bites at the Lakehouse Grille (620 E. Lake Shore Dr., 574-842-2234). For dessert, Sallie’s by the Shore (110 S. Main St., 574-242-9955) serves scoops of housemade ice cream, and the nostalgic Original Root Beer Stand (824 E. Lake Shore Dr., 574-842-2122) makes a mean root-beer float.
Maxinkuckee loosely translates to “diamond lake,” and another way to experience this gem is by boat. Culver Marina (3000 E. Shore Dr., 574-842-3375) rents fishing boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. You can float right up to Culver Park (819 E. Lake Shore Dr.), the ideal place to watch fireworks during Lake Fest (July 20–22).
If you’re more of a landlubber, set up a tee time at Mystic Hills (16788 20B Rd., 574-842-2687), a Pete Dye–designed course. Culver Military Academy (1300 Academy Rd., 574-842-7000) offers public tours with two weeks’ notice. If you haven’t visited the campus, which features historic brick buildings and a bird sanctuary, march yourself straight there.