Northern Michigan Vacations: Towns and Summer Festivals in Benzie


Elegant, Victorian-era homes sit along maple-lined streets that dead-end at Lake Michigan and a wide, golden beach. Summertime bustles with activities including the Rotary Revue Talent Show—June 7; Frankfort Carnival, with a craft fair and Antique Vehicle/Muscle Car Show—June 12–16; a 4th of July Celebration with parade, sand-sculpture contest, and fireworks on the beach; and the Fishing Frenzy, Aug. 23–25.


Said to be the birthplace of Michigan salmon, since the state’s first salmon were planted in the Platte River in 1966, this town’s activities and its main festival centers on the river. Celebrate the big fish at the National Coho Festival, featuring a parade, carnival, car show, arts and crafts show and smoked fish contest, Aug. 24–25.


Victorian homes, some converted to luxurious bed-and-breakfasts, characterize this town of pretty storefronts and two historic lighthouses. There’s also plenty of festival action: the Freedom Festival, July 4 weekend; West Shore Art Fair (July 6–7), Suds on the Shore Craft Beer and Wine Tasting Festival (Aug. 17) and ongoing events like Friday Night Live and Thursday evening movies in the park.


Manistee is known for its Victorian downtown, Lake Michigan port and position amid the vast Manistee National Forest. The Manistee National Forest Festival, launched in 1936, combines the best of town, lake and forest with its parade, juried art show and more. Hops and Props, combining craft beer tasting and classic wooden boats, runs Sept. 14; and each summer Saturday brings festive downtown fun with a farmers market, live music and buskers along River Street.


Tucked between Lake Michigan and Portage Lake, lovely Onekama is a long-time vacation haven for both resort-goers and charter fishermen. Festivals center around water, and  Onekama Days, Aug. 2–4, is the biggie, with parades, craft shows, fireworks and other celebrations of summer.


Pristine beaches and a downtown bustling with boutiques, galleries, eateries and ice cream shops describe this family-oriented vacation destination. Pentwater River Fest happens on June 29; the popular Homecoming Celebration is from Aug. 8–11.

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