Get up close and personal with this coastal region from Benzie County to Ludington and all the forests, lakes and rivers in between.

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Map of the benzie region.

1. Send the S.S. Badger off with a wave from Stearns Park in Ludington as it sails for Wisconsin at 9 a.m. every summer morning. Or hop aboard for a shoreline cruise.

2. 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.

3. Mountain bike under a canopy of hardwoods on the 40-plus-mile at the Big M Recreation Area between Cadillac and Wellston. The well-marked loop system offers an adventure for many experience levels and is divided into four segments of varied difficulty. 

4. Order the cheeseburger pizza at Papa J’s Pizzeria in Honor, topped with crisp dill pickles, ground beef, bacon bits and Thousand Island dressing. Just as delicious: the retro-inspired décor.

5. Road trip along scenic River Road in Benzonia, stopping by Gwen Frostic Prints for nature-themed artwork (pick up your own quill and ink). Pro tip: Don’t miss Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm across the street.


Ludington lighthouse with pink clouds in the background.

Photo by Taylor Brown

6. Consult the canoe connoisseurs of Pine River Paddlesports to find your just-right stretch of water on the Pine and Manistee rivers.

7. Check out Orchard Beach Aviation for an aerial tour of the coast. On truly bluebird days, some sightseers can spot Lake Michigan shipwrecks from the air.

8. The stretch of shoreline between Frankfort, Ludington and Mears is guarded by six lighthouses. Make it a point to visit at least one, or spend a weekend exploring them all. A favorite is Big Sable Lighthouse in Ludington (pictured above).

Read Next: Guardians of Lake Michigan: 6 Lighthouses to Fall in Love With

9. Go ORV/ATVing in Cadillac and enjoy mixed terrain and beautiful forested views. For navigation, check out the Cadillac Area ORV Scenic Ride Map, and don’t miss Free ORV Weekend June 8–9.

10. Stay aboard the stately S.S. City of Milwaukee in Manistee, a National Historic Landmark built in 1931. Or take a tour of the ship. (If you’re there in October, go for the ghost ship tour!)

Photo(s) by Taylor Brown