Ice cream cones, splashing in the lake and catching lightning bugs make for simple pleasures and fun at the Potawatomi Inn on Lake James near Angola, Indiana. Looking for old fashioned family fun on a budget? Don’t miss all the amenities the Potawatomi Inn in Pokagon State Park has to offer.
My family has been holding reunions at the Potawatomi Inn for almost 50 years. We’ve only made the trek a few times but my boys love visiting the Potawatomi Inn and ask to go back every year. With reasonable pricing and a variety of family friendly amenities, it’s not hard to see why you need to make reservations 2 years in advance.
The Potawatomi Inn is located in Northern Indiana, only a 2 ½ hour drive from Chicago or Detroit. The Inn sits on the shores of Lake James within the Pokagon State Park. The Midwest is actually full of State Park Lodges and Lake Resorts to explore. There are lots of fun day trips you can do from here, including the Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park and Fair Oaks Farm. If you fly home via Chicago, stay a few extra days to enjoy the sights of the big city too. Take the kids to Wrigley Field, or catch the Chicago Architecture boat tour.
The Inn has 138 rooms with a variety of layouts. We have stayed in a few different rooms over the years and I definitely recommend staying in the newer wing. The bigger rooms are worth the loss of some historic charm.
The historic wing was built in 1927. The year we stayed in a historic room, our room barely fit 2 double beds. My parents, on the other hand, booked the same room type but had lots of space. They did lack a bathtub though, so neither worked really well for a family with little kids. The historic rooms may be cheaper but are sort of a gamble on what you will get and if your family would be comfortable. If you are adventurous though or on a budget, give the rustic rooms a go! There is also a nearby campground for families that really like to rough it.
If you want to travel during peak seasons, you need to book at least a year in advance. Count on booking 2 years in advance if you want one of the limited suites or patio rooms. We booked one of three patio rooms this year and it was an amazing amount of space. It had a bedroom with 2 queen beds off of the main room that had a microwave, small dining table, pull out sofa sleeper, and desk. Plus we had a patio with easy access to the lake and beach.
With an overabundance of indoor and outdoor activities and plenty of gathering spaces to simply catch up or play cards, the Potawatomi Inn is the perfect setting for family reunions or multi-generational trips. Splashing in the lake, digging in the sand and catching lightning bugs at dusk are definitely my boys’ favorite activities. Visiting the nearby nature center and painting in the art room are also high on their must-do list. I was pleasantly surprised by how reasonable the prices were in the art room. Additional activities include hiking, visiting the nature center, bike rentals, horseback riding, boat rentals, volleyball, a playground, arcade, and indoor swimming pool.
My biggest issue at the Potawatomi Inn is the food options. There is an onsite restaurant that seems to be very slow and can be pricey if you have to eat every meal there. Our rate this year included the breakfast buffet each morning. While we found the selection plentiful and tasty, I’d only choose to eat there once or twice if paying outright. There is also a small cafe that sells pizza, sandwiches and ice cream. The food seemed better in previous years, so I wouldn’t recommend eating there at this point. It is definitely the place to grab ice cream though. They offer a variety of ice cream flavors and are very generous with the portions.
Luckily Angola is only a few minutes drive outside Pokagon State Park and it offers a variety of local and chain options. My family actually runs Clay’s Family Restaurant and we always make a point of eating there when we visit. I’d love if every room at the Inn had a mini fridge and microwave; it’d be easier to make sandwiches and other light meals for families.
What Works For Families
- Budget friendly
- A variety of kid friendly activities
- Laundry facility
- Lots of public gathering spaces
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- Limited mini fridges only available upon request
- Historic rooms can be tiny and may not have a bath tub
- Food options on site aren’t great.
Take a look at the video we made on our first visit for a better feel of the resort and all it has to offer. You also get a quick peek at our small room in the historic wing.