10 Reasons To Love Benzie & the West Shore

1. Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness: The only designated wilderness in the Lower Peninsula, this 3,450-acre area features more than 7,000 feet of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline. Twelve miles southwest of Manistee, part of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. 800-821-6263.

2. Cherry Bowl Drive-In: Catch summertime flicks under the stars at Honor’s vintage drive-in theater, open since 1953. 231-325-3413, cherrybowldrivein.com.

3. Buttersville Peninsula: Find peace on this peninsula’s pet-friendly, crowd-free beach. Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 877-420-6618, ludingtoncvb.com.

4. Mountain bike Lake Ann Pathway: Find the trailhead at Lake Ann State Forest campground, then get a killer workout as you bump and twist your way along this six-mile path. 231-922-5280.

5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Discover Benzie County’s portion of this magnificent lakeshore, where there are ample places to camp, fish, hike, kayak, swim or snowshoe. 231-326-5134. nps.gov/slbe.

6. Benzie Area Historical Museum: Learn about local history – logging, farming and more – through artifacts and hands-on exhibits. Benzonia, 231-882-5539.

7. The Maples Blueberry Festival: It’s all things blueberry at this annual fete in Frankfort. August. 231-352-9674.

8. Michigan Legacy Art Park: Crystal Mountain’s nonprofit 30-acre outdoor gallery features more than 35 art pieces set along a wooded trail. View them by foot, snowshoes or cross-country skis. 231-378-2000, crystalmountain.com.

9. Victorian Christmas Festival: The ghost of Christmas Past is alive and well in Manistee every December, when locals get gussied up in Victorian garb and turn out for festivities like the Sleighbell Parade. Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, 800-288-2286, manisteecountychamber.com.

10 Bortell’s Fisheries: Voted one of America’s top 10 seafood shacks by Epicurious.com, this Ludington market will cook your catch, or serve you fresh walleye, salmon or trout off their menu. Takeout only; dine al fresco at the picnic tables or in nearby Summit Park. 231-843-3337.

Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.ebingham@traversemagazine.com

Note: This article was originally published in November 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.