Fall in love with Benzie’s Valentine’s Day WinterFest. An annual celebration of all that’s cold, silly and spectacular, WinterFest 2009 is the event of the season.

Bring the family for a pancake breakfast, then join the snowmobile poker run or take a horse-drawn hay ride. Feeling competitive? Show the spectators what you’re made of at the frozen fish toss, frozen turkey bowl, rubber duck race or chili cook off. A parade, a bonfire on the beach at Crystal Lake and fireworks are all on the agenda

One must-do event: take an airboat ride on the frozen surface of beautiful Crystal Lake—a high speed, exhilarating experience for up to ten riders—it’ll take your breath away!

For more information about the event contact Benzie County Visitors Bureau at 1-800-882-5801 or see the website at visitbenzie.com.

Stay the Night

Area accommodations are offering special packages this weekend and throughout winter. (Call for specific dates.)

The Honor Motel

Winter Fun in Benzie County Package

Enjoy $10 off your room rate each night you stay (regular room rates, for two adults, are $49.50 to $69.50) with website coupon, plus two breafasts for the price of one at Papa J’s Diner in Honor (also with website coupon).

The classic “Mom and Pop” lodging, Honor Motel offers traditional motor lodge accommodations within a small town country setting. The Honor Motel is within walking distance of quaint restaurants like Money’s Platte River Inn and Papa J’s Pizzeria and Diner—a 50’s-style diner—for great breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The Honor Motel is approximately 15 minutes from Sleeping Bear Dunes, where cross-country ski trails and guided snowshoeing tours are available. Another bonus: snowmobiling from your door to the area trails, and Crystal Mountain, for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and equipment rental is approximately 15 to 20 minutes from the Honor Motel. Call 231-325-3471 or see honormotel.com.

Betsie Bay Inn

Run Away from Home Weekend Romance Package

A two night stay (Friday and Saturday) in a Luxury Suite at the Betsie Bay Inn in downtown Frankfort, a block from Lake Michigan. The Package includes fresh flowers, chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of sparkling wine when you arrive, $25 off dinner for two each night and $5 off breakfast for two each morning. Luxury Suites feature a large room with King or Queen Bed, sauna and hot tub or Jacuzzi for two. $399 based on double occupancy, offer is subject to availability.

A historic Victorian inn where you can stay in a room that features a sauna and hot tub, Betsie Bay Inn is inspired by a Scottish theme. The Betsie Bay Inn restaurants include the Hotspur Pub, the Tantelle Dining Room, and ThistleBrae wine cellar.  The inn is located in the city of Frankfort, a large port town on the Lake Michigan Coast. The views of Lake Michigan are spectacular and the walk along the main street looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. Sleeping Bear Dunes is within a 15-minute drive where cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is available.  Crystal Mountain is approximately 20 minutes away for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and rental of equipment. betsiebayinn.com or call 877-352-8080

Crystal Mountain Resort

Ski and Spa Package

Perfect for winter sports enthusiasts, the Ski and Spa Package includes two nights of lodging, a choice of one 50-minute spa treatment, admittance to fitness classes and motion studio, use of spa facilities on the day of the treatment (including luxurious locker rooms with infrared saunas and steam rooms, private mediation lounge, and outdoor meditation garden with hot tub), lift tickets valid upon arrival through departure, plus a complimentary cross-country trail pass.  Ski & Spa Package starts at $299 per person.

Named the #1 Resort in the Midwest by Ski Magazine, Crystal Mountain Resort boasts ski runs, plus terrain parks, a half-pipe, snow sports school and daily NASTAR racing. Crystal Mountain recently opened the Crystal Spa. The $5 million spa is the only LEED certified spa in the Midwest and one of only six in the nation. Crystal Spa offers numerous spa services, 12 treatment rooms, extensive fitness programming and a connection to the healthy cuisine from the Crystal Peak Performance menu served at the resort. Crystal Mountain has some of the finest resort lodging in the Midwest with over 260 hotel rooms, suites, condominiums, townhouses and vacation homes available, including the new ski-in/ ski-out three- and four-bedroom Bungalows at Crystal Glen. There are two upscale restaurants on the property, The Thistle Pub and Grill, a sophisticated restaurant within a relaxed lodge environment, and The Wild Tomato, which offers an Italian and Mexican menu within a festive setting.

Note: Midweek ski/room packages at Crystal start at $83, and weekend ski/room packages start at $129 per person. Many multiple night packages are also available. crystalmountain.com or call 800-968-7686.