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Spending some quality time in Benzie, Manistee or Cadillac this summer? Explore 9 of our favorite things to do in this beautiful region. From Cherry Bowl Drive-In to Nordhouse Dunes, these 9 spots will have you coming back to Northern Michigan year after year!

This article was featured in the 2021 Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. Download your free digital issue today to experience the full guide for yourself.

1. Tour A Vintage Car Ferry 
Hop aboard the S.S. City of Milwaukee in Manistee for a tour of this vintage car ferry— better yet, spend the night in a stateroom. As one of the last six sister ships designed in the 1920s by the Manitowac Shipbuilding company out of Wisconsin, the S.S. City of Milwaukee is the perfect blend of history and fun for the whole family.

2. Explore Oliver Art Center
Take in an exhibit or sign up for a class at the Oliver Art Center in Frankfort. The Oliver Art Center works to promote and develop the visual, performing, culinary, and literary arts for youth and adults in Frankfort, Benzie County, and beyond.

3. Hike Through Michigan Legacy Art Park
Discover exciting outdoor sculptures at Michigan Legacy Art Park hidden in 30 acres of forest on the grounds of Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville. Explore this art experience and hiking trail that is uniquely Northern Michigan.

4. Shop Local in Benzonia
Cruise down River Road in Benzonia and check out Gwen Frostic Prints, Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm and Boutique and BeeDazzled Candleworks. Spend the day shopping and exploring Benzonia and then head out to some of our favorite restaurants with outdoor dining in the region.

5. Head Out to Nordhouse Dunes
Explore all 3,500 acres of Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area in Free Soil, north of Ludington. From the four miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline to 10 miles of trails, there are activities to help you enjoy nature all day long.

6. Head to Inspiration Point
Pull over at Inspiration Point on M-22, just north of the village of Arcadia, and feel your spirits soar as you take in this bird’s-eye view of Lake Michigan.

7. Stop by Miller’s Northwood Market
Brake at Miller’s Northwood Market on M-22 in Bear Lake for fresh fruit, veggies and polished Petoskey stones. From flowers to local Michigan-made goods, this market is a treat for all who stop by.

8. Head to the Drive-In for a Movie
Put the kids in their PJs and take the family to the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre in Honor. Enjoy this memorable experience that takes you back to the 50s with the finest in film, food, fun and family entertainment.

9. Go Back in Time at Historic White Pine Village
Go back to the Northern Michigan pioneer-era at Historic White Pine Village in Ludington. View thousands of artifacts, 30 historic exhibit buildings and first-person interpreters with scripts carefully prepared by staff and historians, who interact and improvise with visitors in the persona of historical characters.

Find this article and more in the 2021 issue of the Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. If you’re not subscribed to Traverse Magazine, you can download the Vacation Guide for free.