We love tent camping in the forests of Benzie County. We have young children so we pick spots that give us a sense of wilderness without being too far from modern conveniences. Our favorite spot is Platte River Campground. It is ideal for our family because it is a forest retreat with big modern bathrooms, coin-op showers, firewood vending truck, running water, and a general store less than a mile away. The best feature of this campground for us is that poison ivy doesn’t seem to grow there—like it does practically everywhere else in Sleeping Bear. This makes for a relaxing, itch-free, woodsy weekend.

There’s nothing like watching our little boys romp through the woods with sticks and stones for toys. It is an infectious return to innocence and simplicity that refreshes the whole family. We build our own home (otherwise known as “setting up the tent”), build our own fire, cook food under the stars, and listen to wildlife as we fall asleep snuggled together warm in our tent. Camping is a cheap exotic experience that we can pick up and revisit any time we want. Unlike a faraway vacation, we’re never too sad when its time to go home. We just say, “Let’s come again next weekend!”

Stuff we like nearby: Honor Trading Post is just outside the campground on M-22 (if we run out of marshmallows or don’t have time to grocery shop before the trip, they have it all); Railroad Grade Trail to Lake Michigan passes right through the campground (a bit of an ambitious hike for shorter-legged family members, but a fun excursion); Empire beach and playground (we hop in the car and spend the day at this lakeside wonderland then return to our campsite for fireside fun).

nps.gov/slbe, 231.325.5881.