30 Best Things in Manistee & Benzie (Campground, Bar, More!)

More than 12,000 people voted in MyNorth’s 2020 Red Hot Best competition, and if you were one of them, you saw we’ve changed it up. After more than a decade of sharing the winners in each category for Northern Michigan as a whole, we decided to dig into 11 different regions and discover the best in each unique area. So, without further ado, here are voters’ picks for best businesses, people and places in Manistee and Benzie counties.

Want to see the winners from other regions, too? Click here for Above the Bridge, Cadillac, Charlevoix, Gaylord & Grayling, Leelanau, Ludington, Mackinac Island, Marquette, Petoskey & Harbor Springs and Traverse City.

Bar to Hear Live Music

1. Cabbage Shed, Elberta
Shedheads say this is the place to hear live music—solos, duos, bands all genres.

2. Stormcloud Brewing Company, Frankfort

3. Lake Ann Brewing Company, Lake Ann

Beach for Sunset

1. Frankfort Public Beach and Playground, Frankfort
The nightly show is due west over Lake Michigan. Enjoy. Exclaim. Exhale.

2. Elberta Bluffs Lake Michigan Overlook, Elberta

3. Point Betsie, Frankfort

Bloody Mary 

1. Michigan Bloody Mary, Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville
Brunch-maker built on the smooth taste of vodka made from rye grown on-site.

2. Legendary Bloody Mary, Cabbage Shed, Elberta

3. Chicken and the Egg Bloody Mary, Birch & Maple, Frankfort

Breakfast Spot

1. Lighthouse Cafe, Elberta
Hashbrowns smothered in cheddar cheese and sweet cream pancakes—what more could you want!?

2. Birch & Maple, Frankfort

3. Rosie’s Country Cafe, Thompsonville

Brewery (Must Brew Own Beer)

1. Stormcloud Brewing Company, Frankfort
Since Stormcloud opened in the heart of downtown Frankfort seven years ago, the accolades and the fans just keep flowing. So does the Belgian-inspired ale.

2. Five Shores Brewing, Beulah

3. Lake Ann Brewing Company, Lake Ann

Campground (RV and/or Tent)

1. Betsie River Campsite, Frankfort
Picturesque and homey basecamp for Northern Michigan adventures. One of Up North’s best-kept secrets.

2. Sleeping Bear Dunes-Platte River Campground, Honor

3. Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee

Chicken Wings (Place)

1. Lucky Dog Bar and Grille, Beulah
Smoked and served by the pound. Bone in or bone out. Choose from buffalo, bbq, honey Jack bacon, honey sriracha, dry rub, garlic butter Parm or plain. Choices, choices, choices!

2. Geno’s Sports Bar And Grill, Thompsonville

3. Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar, Frankfort

Conservancy Preserve

1. Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve, Arcadia
A rare Great Lakes coastal marsh, one of a few remaining along Lake Michigan. More good news: It can be accessed by a universally accessible trail. Air hugs to our conservancy friends for all their great work!

2. C.S. Mott Nature Preserve, Arcadia

3. Green Point Dunes, Frankfort

Farmstand

1. Miller Brothers Farm Market, Bear Lake
Note to selves: Always brake for Miller Brothers Farm Market—and always keep your trunk clear to load up on their cornucopia of fruits and veggies.

2. Putney’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand, Benzonia

3. Calvin Lutz Farms, Kaleva

Favorite Nonprofit (In Region)

1. Grow Benzie, Benzonia
This innovative organization helps its community grow its own food, eat good food and learn other healthy life skills. You are a gift Grow Benzie, please keep growing!

2. Michigan Legacy Art Park, Thompsonville

3. Benzie Area Christian Neighbors, Benzonia

Fish Fry

1. Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar, Frankfort
Start your weekend off right with a basket of their crispy, yummy, award-winning fried fish.

2. Cabbage Shed, Elberta

3. The Manitou, Frankfort

Fishing Charter Company

1. Tiny Bubbles Charters, Frankfort
Three generations of Lake Michigan fishermen helping folks reel in salmon and lake trout out on the beautiful blue.

2. Steelhead Hunter Charters LLC, Frankfort

3. Sea Joy Charter Fishing, Frankfort

Gallery to Buy and Browse Local Art

1. Gwen Frostic Prints, Benzonia
Guardians of Gwen Frostic’s exquisite block prints that were inspired by Northern Michigan’s natural world ensure ongoing legions of Frostic fans.

2. Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, Frankfort

3. State of the Art Framing & Gallery, Beulah

Happy Hour

1. Stormcloud Brewing Company, Frankfort
All the hours are happy at Stormcloud. Belly up to the bar and find out for yourself.

2. Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville

3. Lucky Dog Bar and Grille, Beulah

things to do at Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain // Photo by Lydia Mejia

Hardware and Building Supply Store

1. Honor & Onekama Building Supply, Honor
From supplying the lumber to build grand lake houses to sharpening your scissors, these guys have been making life better around here since 1963.

2. Frankfort Hardware, Frankfort

3. Wahr Hardware, Manistee

Hotel, Inn or Resort

1. Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
A treasure of a resort, the kingdom of Crystal offers the full-menu of snowsports, a first-rate spa, great golf, a long list of summer fun and friendly service from the entire staff—right down to Fisher, their canine (golden retriever) ambassador.

2. The Ramsdell Inn, Manistee

3. The Hotel Frankfort, Frankfort

Ice Cream Shop

1. Hill Top Soda Shoppe, Benzonia
Take a degree from an ice cream university, mix it with local goodies like cherries and peaches and you have Hill Top’s sweet treats!

2. The Cool Spot, Frankfort

3. The Scoop of Frankfort, Frankfort

Inland Lake

1. Crystal Lake, Benzie County
Big, blue, clear and beautiful. Lakes really don’t get better than this.

2. Portage Lake, Onekama

3. Lake Ann, Lake Ann

Interior Furnishings

1. Betsie Bay Furniture, Frankfort
The patina of a venerable furniture store fused with modern style and sensibilities. Wandering Betsie Bay’s many outfitted rooms is a local attraction all in itself.

2. Redeemed Furniture Art and Decor, Manistee

3. Classic Interiors & Design, Beulah

Local Insurance Agent

1. Sue Webber, Webber Insurance Agency, Benzonia
Special Olympics coach, community philanthropist and insurance agent extraordinaire. Do business with Sue and she’ll get to know you—face to face.

2. Matt Wetmore, State Farm Insurance Agent, Beulah

3. Andrew Johnson, Frankfort Insurance Agency, Inc., Frankfort

Local Realtor

1. Jon Zickert, Real Estate One, Beulah
His client approach begins with his degree in hospitality—clients feel welcome and right at home working with him!

2. Kari King, D3 Realty, Frankfort

3. Sarah Mahoney, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors, Benzonia

Mountain Biking Trail

1. Betsie Valley Trail, Frankfort to Thompsonville
Twenty-two miles of bucolic trail dedicated to bikes and boots. The first five miles, from Frankfort through Elberta to Mollineaux Road, are paved.  Make a day of this beauty!

2. Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville

3. St. Pierre Mountain Bike Trail, Arcadia

Outdoor Running Trail

1. Betsie Valley Trail, Frankfort to Thompsonville
This scenic 22-mile trail just plain makes training fun, especially if you top your run with a beer at Stormcloud in Frankfort.

2. Old Indian Trail, Honor

3. Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville

Party Store

1. Manistee Beverage Company, Manistee
Four hundred beers to choose from with a build-your-own six-pack option and 350 wines. An adult candy store, oh yay!

2. Stapleton’s Corner Store, Benzonia

3. Lake Ann Grocery, Lake Ann

Place to Get Your Annuals and Perennials

1. Crystal Gardens, Frankfort
Annuals and perennials aplenty, but also a rock shop, vintage home elements shop, a water garden and two generations of family-members offering top-notch service. Way more than your average greenhouse.

2. Pleasanton Valley Greenhouses, Inc., Bear Lake

3. Eden Hill Greenhouse, Beulah

Place to Take an Instagram Photo

1. Point Betsie Lighthouse
This red-roofed charmer gives meaning to the term picturesque. Take out your camera, set-up an easel or just spend time soaking in the scene.

2. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

3. Elberta Bluffs Lake Michigan Overlook

Restaurant

1. The Roadhouse Mexican Bar & Grill, Benzonia
The place for south-of-the-border staples like empanadas and tamales. The deck is dreamy, with string lights and relaxed vibes.

2. TJ’s Pub, Manistee

3. Cabbage Shed, Elberta

Sports Gear Rental Company

1. Crystal Lake Adventure Sports, Frankfort, Beulah
Everything you need to paddle, ride or surf the waters and trails of Benzie County.

2. Riverside Canoe Trips, Honor

3. Honor Trading Post, Honor

Spot to Bird Watch

1. Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve, Arcadia
More than 150 species of birds call this home for at least part of the year. Enrich your trip here by purchasing Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve Bird and Botanical Guide on the Grand Traverse Regional Conservancy website (gtrlc.org) before you go.

2. Betsie Valley Trail, Frankfort to Thompsonville

3. Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, Manistee

Summer Festival or Event

1. Frankfort 4th of July, Frankfort
Oh how we missed this town’s parade, fireworks and carnival this year, the year of COVID. We hope and pray the festivities are back in all their glory next year!

2. Manistee National Forest Festival, Manistee

3. Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville

Wedding Venue

1. Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
Be married on a mountaintop deck, beside a pond, in an art park, in an atrium or by a rose garden. Whatever backdrop you choose, it’s going to be your Best Day Ever!

2. Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, Manistee

3. St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah

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