Friendship Gardens reopens May 1 – Chicago Tribune

Twenty special events are booked at Friendship Botanic Gardens so far, and they begin May 1 when the Michigan City site opens to the public for the season.

“Spring is in the air and you’re going to see it,” said John Leinweber, chairman of the board of Friendship Botanic Gardens.

“You’ll want to visit as it’s a celebration of spring.”

On opening day, visitors can explore more than 25 gardens, including the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden and a playground for family fun, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte Fitness Garden with machines for working out and the Cancer Survivors Garden of Love and Hope.

Other sites include Butterfly Gardens, Peace, Wetlands, Symphony, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mothers’ Memorial, Lily, Juvenile Diabetes Peace and Rotary.

“It’s a great place to ride,” said Leinweber, who lives in Long Beach and owns a horse farm in La Porte.

Friendship Botanic Gardens offers three miles of dog-friendly paved trails and wooded hiking trails, as well as shady meadows.

Several cultures are represented via the American, Italian, Norwegian/Scandian, German, Lithuanian, Scottish, Polish, Romanian, Native American, Irish and Afro-American gardens.

“If you become a member, there are plenty of options year-round,” Leinweber said. Members can access the Friendship Botanical Gardens from dawn to dusk year-round and fish for trout and salmon on Trail Creek.

Annual memberships include $50 for an individual, $20 for students ages 16-22, and $75 for a family of two adults plus children under 18 in the household.

Members also have access to special admission privileges and discounts at more than 345 North American gardens through the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program, which includes the Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest in Valparaiso and the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.

“Our memberships and our gate doubled with COVID because people wanted out,” Leinweber said.

“We have a large Horizon Bank A-Maze-Ing maze garden which is beautiful. There is fresh air and beauty all around. There is a nice fountain. There are beautiful artifacts that date back to 1934.

“With that feeling of peace and quiet, everything being beautiful, the hills and dunes and Trail Creek running through it, they really should call us the Garden of Happiness.”

The Celebration Pavilion located on the edge of the Persian Rose Garden and Lake Lucerne provides a venue for business meetings, community gatherings, dinner parties, hors d’oeuvres, musical events and weddings.

“We bring so much great music and high quality entertainment. You’re on the lawn, so it’s almost like Ravinia,” Leinweber said, referring to the outdoor summer music festival in Highland Park, Illinois, where guests bring picnics for the gigs.

Shows include Freddy Jones Band for ages 18 and up July 7-8, Drag & Disco for ages 18 and up July 23, Live from Broadway: The Uptown Boys July 28-29, and Dunes Broadway Concert: A Cabaret Night with Dunes Summer theater hosted by Steve Scott from August 12 to 13.

The Country Sizzle concert August 18-19, La Porte County Symphony Orchestra concert August 25, Opera in the Gardens August 28, and Johnny V’s Harvest Moon concert September 23 are also booked.

“We have a lot of things we do for families,” Leinweber said.

Special events include Paws & Pints ​​with the Michiana Humane Society on May 7, Mother’s Day with free admission and roses for mothers on May 8, Father’s Day with free admission for fathers on June 19, and the day free family education on July 31.

Haunted Trails & Family Fall Fest on October 16, the free Gobble Gobble Turkey Walk on November 24, and Sparkle & Joy Light Show on a December date to be determined round out the schedule.

“It’s an amazing place. It’s one of the main destination points in northern Indiana,” Leinweber said.

“It’s a lovely environment and a beautiful place.

The non-profit, nonprofit Friendship Botanical Gardens are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed to the public on Mondays from May 1 through October 31. Discounted Thursdays offer $5 admission for ages 13+ and ages 65+.

In November, the site is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Sunday when the temperature is 45 degrees or higher and there is no precipitation.

Opening day of the Friendship Botanical Garden

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1

Or: Friendship Botanical Gardens, 2055 EUS 12, Michigan City

Tickets: $10 13 and over; $7 for 65 and over; free for active duty military and children 12 and under

Information: 219-878-9885;

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance journalist for the Post-Tribune.