Whether you’re touring towns, shoreline or the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Benzie County or continuing south along the West Shore of Michigan, there are some "must do’s" for your day. Here’s a few top picks.
GOOD EATING IN PENTWATER
Road trippin’ Lakeshore Drive north of Pentwater? Brake for Bortell’s Fisheries, which has served up famed “Hot Fried Fish To Go” for 111 years. One bite of Bortell’s whitefish, walleye, catfish, trout or smelt, and you’ll know the secret to the shop’s longevity. 231-843-3337.
DO THE SLEEPING BEAR DUNES
A sublime quartz-crystal playground, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to awe- inspiring overlooks, forest and beach trails, campgrounds, meadows and historic farmsteads. 231-326-5134, NPS.GOV/SLBE.
TOUR A LIGHTHOUSE
If you’re looking to get inside a historic lighthouse, get to Pt. Betsie Lighthouse (North of Frankfort; POINTBETSIE.ORG, 231-352-4915) or Big Sable Point in Ludington State Park (231-845-7343, BIGSABLELIGHTHOUSE.ORG) Call for schedules. Watch a short video of the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse.
LAKE ANN PATHWAY
In 5.8 miles Lake Ann Pathway packs in roller-coaster hills, meandering flats, and peeks at the Platte River and Lake Ann, whose shoreline boasts a boat launch and a campground. Southwest of Lake Ann Village, Reynolds Road. 231-922-5280.
CHARTER FISHING LAKE MICHIGAN, RIVERS & LAKES
Salmon, steelhead, trout, perch, whitefish—whatever you’re looking to hook into, Lake Michigan and the rivers and lakes of Benzie and the West Shore offer some of the best fishing in the Midwest. Catch a charter or find a river guide at MICHARTERBOATS.COM.
RIDE THE S. S. BADGER
The largest car ferry to sail Lake Michigan, the S.S. Badger can take you from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in four hours flat. 800-841-4243, SSBADGER.COM.
PLATTE RIVER STATE FISH HATCHERY
Learn about the North’s rivers and the whopper salmon that run ’em at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. All year round you can walk the hatchery’s trails, learn our salmon’s triumphant story and find out how watersheds and hatcheries work. 231-325-4611, MICHIGAN.GOV/DNR.
CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN RESORT
Killer downhill, cross-country, and golf courses, sure. But the sweetest secret hides in Crystal’s woods: Michigan Legacy Art Park, a 30-acre preserve where you’ll find 40+ works of art along a 1.6-mile forest trail. 231-378-2000, CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM OR MICHLEGACYARTPARK.ORG.
DARTH VADER WAS HERE
James Earl Jones, the booming baritone behind Star Wars’ Darth Vader and the Lion King’s Mufasa, got his acting start at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee. The curtain is still going up on this Victorian landmark, built in 1903. 231-723-9948, RAMSDELL-THEATER.ORG.
QUICK LINKS TO MORE FUN IN BENZIE COUNTY AND NORTHERN MICHIGAN’S WEST SHORE!
- The Benzie & West Shore Vacation Directory: Listings to lodging, galleries, restaurants and more along with an interactive map.
- Benzie & West Shore Digital Vacation Guide: Browse the pages of the complete Guide and click to hundreds of websites.
- The Complete Restaurant Guide for Benzie and the West Shore: Just type in any Benzie County town or town on Northern Michigan’s West Shore and browse the array of restaurant options.
- Video: Discover Pt. Betsie Lighthouse
- Check out all the music, festivals, arts and events of all kinds happening in Benzie and the West Shore: Just pop the name of the Benzie County town you’d like to play in, or one along the West Shore of Northern Michigan, and choose amongst hundreds of things to do!
- Plot your day in Benzie, Manistee, Ludington and more using this Interactive Map: Choose an activity in "I’d like to find" and choose a Benzie, Manistee or West Shore town for "in a town near." Then click away!
- Rent a cottage in Benzie and the West Shore: There hundreds of cottages to rent in Northern Michigan. Type the town you’re interested in into the Search box and plan your getaway Up North!