To paraphrase the crow in Indiana Beach’s commercials, there’s more than an amusement park at Lake Shafer. Sure, roller coasters dominate the western shore. But this body of water in Monticello, formed by a dam in the Tippecanoe River, also boasts nearby breweries, a charming drive-in theater, and a Pete Dye golf course.
Indiana Beach (5224 E. Indiana Beach Rd., 574-583-4141) is the main draw, of course. Founded in 1926, the park hosts several respectable coasters, including the wooden Cornball Express (save your Arrested Development jokes) and the Steel Hawg (with an 111-degree first drop). Shafer’s only sandy swimming beach can be found here. Food Network featured the Taco Shoppe for its locally famous hard-shells. And 80 feet above, a slow-moving ski-lift called the Skyride offers spectacular views not only of the park, but of the entire lake.
If you plan on boating, Lake Shafer Boat Rentals (2419 N.W. Shafer Dr., 574-583-5238) stocks the state’s largest fleet of speedboats and pontoons. Throw your golf clubs on board and cruise over to the waterfront Tippecanoe Country Club (3267 N.W. Shafer Dr., 574-583-9977), one of Dye’s first projects. The 18-hole, par 72 course is open to the public. While on dry land, consider having a cold one at Kopacetic Beer Factory (12195 U.S. 421, 574-808-3378). The microbrewery keeps an impressive selection of its own suds on tap, as well as craft beer from around Indiana. Lake Shore Drive-In (100 Rickey Rd., 574-583-0311) is a quaint spot for ending the day with a film under the stars.
On the other side of the dam, at Shafer’s southern end, the Tippecanoe River meanders toward Lake Freeman and offers a couple of fun places to eat at along the way. The Sportsman Inn (12340 N. Upper Lakeshore Dr., 574-583-5133) has been selling fried haddock and beer since 1928. The Oakdale Dam Inn (11899 W. Oakdale Dr., 574-965-9104) serves up similar fare downstream. If you’re interested in a tour of Freeman while you’re there, the double-decker Madam Carroll (12244 N. Upper Lakeshore Dr., 574-583-3545) putters around the lake every Saturday night with a band. Depending on the wind, it’s just enough to drown out the screams of joy coming from Indiana Beach.