Whether you’re touring towns, shorelines or the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Benzie County or continuing south along the West Shore of Michigan, here are some of our top picks for things to do!

Good Eating in Pentwater

Road trippin’ Lakeshore Drive north of Pentwater? Brake for Bortell’s Fisheries, which has served up famed “Hot Fried Fish To Go” for more than 100 years. One bite of Bortell’s whitefish, walleye, catfish, trout or smelt, and you’ll know the secret to the shop’s longevity.

Bortelli’s Website | (231) 843-3337

Head to the Sleeping Bear Dunes

A sublime quartz-crystal playground, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to awe-inspiring overlooks, forest and beach trails, campgrounds, meadows and historic farmsteads.

National Parks Service Website | (231) 326-5134

Related Reads: Explore Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at Sleeping Bear Dunes and Don’t Miss These 14 Gorgeous Sleeping Bear Dunes Beaches.

Photo by Taylor Brown

Tour a Northern Michigan Lighthouse

If you’re looking to get inside a historic lighthouse, get to Point Betsie Lighthouse (North of Frankfort; Point Betsie Website) or Big Sable Point in Ludington State Park (Big Sable Website). Watch a short video of the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse.

Related Read: Life at Point Betsie Lighthouse was Heartbreaking, Exhausting & Beautiful in the 1800s.

Explore Lake Ann Pathway

In 5.8 miles Lake Ann Pathway packs in roller-coaster hills, meandering flats, and peeks at the Platte River and Lake Ann, whose shoreline boasts a boat launch and a campground. Southwest of Lake Ann Village, Reynolds Road.

Charter Fishing on Lake Michigan or Local Rivers & Lakes

Salmon, steelhead, trout, perch, whitefish—whatever you’re looking to hook into, Lake Michigan and the rivers and lakes of Benzie and the West Shore offer some of the best fishing in the Midwest. Catch a charter or find a river guide on the Michigan Charter Boat Association Website. or visit our Northern Michigan fishing page for some more fishing trip inspiration.

Related Read: Lessons from a Northern Michigan Fishing Charter Deckhand.

Ride on the S.S. Badger

The largest car ferry to sail Lake Michigan, the S.S. Badger can take you from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in four hours flat. Visit the S.S. Badger website or call 800-841-4243 for more information.

Related Read: SS Badger Receives TripAdvisor Award.

History & Trails at Platte River State Fish Hatchery

Learn about the North’s rivers and the whopper salmon that run ’em at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. All year round you can walk the hatchery’s trails, learn our salmon’s triumphant story and find out how watersheds and hatcheries work.

Related Read: Paddle the Lower Platte River by Moonlight.

Visit Crystal Mountain Resort

Killer downhill, cross-country, and golf courses, sure. But the sweetest secret hides in Crystal’s woods: Michigan Legacy Art Park, a 30-acre preserve where you’ll find 40+ works of art along a 1.6-mile forest trail. Visit Crystal Mountain or Michigan Legacy Art Park’s websites for more information.

Darth Vader Was at the Ramsdell Theater!

James Earl Jones, the booming baritone behind Star Wars’ Darth Vader and the Lion King’s Mufasa, got his acting start at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee. The curtain is still going up on this Victorian landmark, built in 1903. View the Ramsdell Theater website for more information.

Quick Links to More Fun in Benzie County and Northern Michigan’s West Shore!