Gary, Indiana is a town with a rich urban history. Once the childhood home of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, this city is one that is worth visiting at least once in your life. We’ll admit, when you think of Gary, its reputation may not entice you, but please don’t let it deter you from coming to see and enjoy what this city has to offer!
During your visit, make sure to see where Jackson lived; additionally, you’ll love our guide of delicious local eateries, parks, historical sites, and art galleries! Keep reading as we share with you the best things to do in Gary and places to see within this historic industrial city!
Best Places To Eat in Gary, Indiana
1. Steel City Cheesesteaks
One of the first things to do in Gary, Indiana is to eat at Steel City Cheesesteaks!
If you’re a fan of cheesesteaks, you’ll have to visit SteelCity Cheesesteaks! Their customers compare Steel City’s menu to an Old Chicago style. Additionally, you are sure to find continued fast and friendly service at this restaurant. The menu at SteelCity has its featured house specialty . . . cheesesteaks, but they also offer gyros, hot dogs, burgers, hoagies, polish dogs, fish, and chicken wings. If needed, a kid’s menu is available for your family’s convenience!
2. Da Burger House
If you’re craving a good burger, we recommend Da Burger House, a family-friendly burger joint in Gary. Da Burger features various specialty burgers, hot dogs, delicious loaded fries, salads, house milkshakes, and different fried side dishes. This restaurant is popular among the locals, and its customers nationwide, who rave about the delicious piping hot food made right! At Da Burger, you’ll appreciate the friendly and fast service!
3. Great Lakes Café
Next, come and enjoy everything from breakfast to brunch at the Great Lakes Café. This fun, classic diner offers amazing service and even better food. During your visit here, you’ll find a little something for everyone and low unbeatable prices! On the menu at Great Lakes Café, choose from a large variety of breakfast items, burgers, melts, clubs, classic sandwiches, wraps, chicken sandwiches, salads, soups, and traditional diner favorites!
4. Chela’s Tacos and Cervazas
Chela’s Tacos and Cervazas is our favorite place for great tacos and other Mexican dishes in Gary. Not everyone that visits knows about this hidden gem, but if you enjoy classic Mexican food, you need to come and give them a try! Chela’s Tacos’ menu is straight to the point but super delicious! You can choose from tasty authentic Mexican foods such as specialty tacos, burritos, sope, tamales, tostadas, hard and soft shell tacos, nachos, taco salad, and quesadillas.
5. Miller Pizza Company
If pizza is more your speed, come and enjoy a few at Miller Pizza Company! This pizza joint offers you sit-down waiter service on Fridays. Miller Pizza has made some changes in the past year; they now provide a new modern self-service dine-in feature.
If you’re looking for takeout, they still offer the choices of carry-out or delivery. Miller offers delicious and unique “Miller styled pizzas,” along with your classic style pizzas, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and delicious lunch specials. Your whole family is sure to find something they love here at Miller’s Pizza Company!
6. Big Daddy’s BBQ
Another one of the best things to do in Gary Indiana is to check out Big Daddy’s BBQ!
Big Daddy’s BBQ, a continued local staple, provides some of the best barbeque in the state of Indiana! Big Daddy started small at the Market City Flea Market about twelve years ago and is still going strong! This restaurant became so popular that they decided to open three branches and remain on top for fantastic BBQ!
When you visit, you can expect your favorite classic types of barbequed meats such as ribs, tips, sausages, chicken, turkey, and several overly delicious combo platters on their menu. Then, to complete your meal, pick some tasty sides, your favorite beverage, bread, or buns, then sit and enjoy!
Outdoor Things To Do In Gary (and Historic Sites)
7. Marquette Park
One of the best outdoor things to do in Gary is to check out Marquette Park.
Enjoy the peace at Marquette Park, nestled on the south shore of Lake Michigan! You’ll enjoy the 1.4-mile sandy beach, wetlands, inland ponds scattered throughout the park, remnants of oak savanna, and a lagoon.
Activities while visiting Marquette Park include hiking, enjoying the natural surroundings and oak forests, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, a playground for the kids, and bird watching! Kids and adults alike will love the white sandy beaches along the park’s edge near Lake Michigan!
8. The Jackson Home
The home of the late singer, songwriter, and iconic dancer, Michael Jackson, is located at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary. This residence is where Michael and his brothers, The Jackson 5, spent their entire childhood.
Today their childhood home still stands but is a private property surrounded by security fences. A monument dedicated to the late singer is in the front yard and available for public viewing. Every day you will see a constant flow of visitors come to pay their respects to the man who altered music forever.
9. Indiana Dunes National Park
Make sure to explore one of the biggest attractions in the area, the Indiana Dunes, located in the Indiana Dunes National Park. The Dunes are sure to be an unforgettable site for your whole family as there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the states!
The National Park is a large sandy park that stretches across the entire region and along the shorelines of Lake Michigan. The park starts in Downtown Gary and reaches the Michigan state borders! The impressive giant mounds of sand, called dunes, are hilarious to climb on. Try running up the side of a dune to experience some of the best exercise out there!
10. Gary Aquatorium
Next, come and see the Gary Aquatorium, located in Marquette Park! In 1991, the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium began when it was rescued from demolition and restored by the Chanute Aquatorium Society. Gary Aquatorium, which holds a current spot on the list of national historic landmarks, honors the grandfather of flight, Mr. Octave Chanute, and the Tuskegee Airmen. While you are here visiting, make sure to see the stunning white pillars, “the secret garden,” and view the upstairs open-air gallery!
11. The Cathedral of the Holy Angels
Do you share a love for architecture and history? If so, then we know you’ll enjoy visiting The Cathedral of the Holy Angels! According to history, The Holy Angel Parish, established in 1909, grew to need more space and, as a result, built this detailed modern cathedral!
The Cathedral of the Holy Angels is like no other due to its impressive structure built using the beautiful Gothic Revival style from the late 1940s. This must-see cathedral, which is an essential piece of Gary’s history, will leave you utterly breathless as you gaze upon the artwork that reaches from floor to ceiling!
More Things To Do in Gary and Places to Go
12. The Gary South Shore RailCats
Another one of the great things to do in Gary is to check out the South Shore RailCats.
If you’re a baseball fan or like live-action games, we invite you Downtown to come to attend a triple-A ball game at the U.S. Steel Yard stadium! There you’ll see minor league baseball games hosted by the Gary SouthShore RailCats, the “local boys of summer.” The RailCats season lasts between mid-May to early September, so plan accordingly!
13. Hard Rock Casino and Museum
Visit the new Hard Rock Casino and Museum in Gary, A giant neon Hard Rock guitar will guide you towards five different restaurants, the Hard Rock Cafe, Fresh Harvest Restaurant, Constant Grind, Asian Noodle, and Council Oak Steak and Seafood. You will also find two concert venues where you can take in a show.
Additionally, check out the Hard Rock Museum, which is home to a Gibson 335 played by David Lee Roth, the lead singer for Van Halen, who is also an Indiana native. You’ll also find other memorabilia featured by several Indiana artists and finally, “The Wall of Fame” featuring the Jackson 5.
14. Marshall J. Gardner Center For The Arts
Next on our list, The Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, located in Gary, is a six thousand square foot building hosting a stunning visual art gallery, beautiful performing arts, concerts, and community events. Are you feeling artsy? If so, we invite you to come in and sign up for one of the many art classes offered at the center! You will also find other art-themed workshops at Marshall J. Gardner to sharpen your art skills!
15. Miller Beach Farmers Market
As Spring is quickly approaching, clear your calendar to attend the weekly Sunday market at Miller Beach Farmers Market, a family-friendly event you’ll surely not want to miss! At Miller Beach, you’ll find fresh local produce, mushrooms, raw honey, farm-fresh eggs, homegrown herbs, cheeses, homemade bread and pies, fresh coffees, nuts, starter plants, soaps, and natural bath products!
16. Lake Street Gallery
Since 1993, Lake Street Gallery has sold local and nationwide customers original pieces of art, fine American crafts, and custom framing. Lake Street is a small-owned business we recommend supporting to keep shops like this remaining in Gary. At Lake Street Gallery, you can explore and purchase local art inspired by the famous Indiana Dunes and shores of Lake Michigan! You can also plan to look through a large selection of beautiful abstract art and well-done photography. What a perfect souvenir to remember your trip!
17. Z’s Shakes and Cakes
Last but not least of our picks for things to do in Gary Indiana is to check out Z’s Shakes and Cakes.
located on the Gary/Merrillville border near South Shores is Z’s Shakes and Cakes where you can satisfy your sweet tooth with delicious treats that have caught the attention of many on social media platforms, television, and tourist attraction lists! Make sure to bring along your appetite as the portions are humongous!
They invite you to try their doughnut sundaes, ice cream cone shakes topped with an entire cupcake, a variety of doughnuts, and other decadent varieties of fancy pastries packed with flavor!
Wrapping Up Things To Do In Gary, Indiana
We hope you enjoyed our picks for some of the best things to do in Gary, Indiana. Now come and whistle along to the tune of “Gary, Indiana” from the well-known musical “The Music Man” as you check out Gary’s various restaurants, historic sites, famous dunes, and celebrity homes.
Do you have any favorites or suggestions to add to our list of places to visit in Gary? Let us know in the comments below, then check out The Rest of The Best of Indiana Here!