Time for a weekend getaway? Check out Benzie County

Time for a weekend getaway? Check out Benzie County

Traverse City Tourism by Matt Vande Bunte

With 100 lakes, miles of river and thousands of acres of state forest land, there’s ample space in Benzie County to get outside in the fresh air and experience the ever-present beauty of northern Michigan.

Plus, there are picturesque lighthouses along the Lake Michigan shore, great little towns with unique shops and inventive brewpubs, and farms where you can get in touch with your roots by picking strawberries and cherries – or gawking at emus and alpacas!

“There’s all sorts of cool stuff,” said Sammie Lukaskiewicz, public relations director for Crystal Mountain, a four-season family resort which has 1,500 acres to enjoy south of Traverse City including golf in the summer, skiing in the winter and the world-famous Crystal Spa all year long.

“It’s very recreational here and given the environment today where people are looking for fresh air and open spaces, Benzie County is a really good reflection of that.”

RELATED: 10 fun facts about Benzie County

Five Shores Brewing beer glass and menu

Five Shores Brewing on the shore of Crystal Lake is one of a handful of brewpubs in Benzie County, south of Traverse City.

If you’re looking to get away for a weekend to remember, take a look at what Benzie County has to offer. There’s golf and fishing, hiking and biking, beer and wine, and water sports galore. And that’s just in the summer!

There are also chairlifts that take you up to spectacular vantage points for fall colors, and snowy slopes to ski down in winter. There are vast public lands for hunting and hundreds of miles of trails for snowmobiling or cross-country skiing.

Whatever season you visit Benzie County, there are fun things to do for all ages.

“The beauty of Benzie County is that it really is year-round,” Lukaskiewicz said. “There’s summertime options and there’s also wintertime options.

Point Betsie Lighthouse

With only one traffic light in all of Benzie County, you can move at your own speed – whether that means a relaxing visit to Point Betsie Lighthouse (above) or a speedy trip down Michigan’s only Alpine Slide (below).

“You can do recreation anywhere, but to be able to have a year-round opportunity for recreation in a community that understands tourism and hospitality like ours is special. This entire county is about hospitality. We really know how to treat people when they come here.”

Benzie County is also home to several unique attractions you just won’t find anywhere else. Here are a few places to put on your Michigan travel bucket list:

Michigan's only Alpine Slide

  • Weaving along the shore of Lake Michigan, M-22 routinely makes lists of the most scenic roads in America. The 116-mile stretch runs right through Benzie County, skirting past several inland lakes as it courses along the edge of the most beautiful of the Great Lakes. “You’re essentially driving on a paved beach, when you think about it,” Lukaskiewicz said. Along the way you can stroll the pier at Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse, admire wind surfers playing on the big lake or cozy up to a bonfire on the beach and watch a gorgeous sunset.
  • When you think about “Up North” golf, Benzie County has some of the best. Teetering on the cliffs above Lake Michigan, Arcadia Bluffs ranks among the top 100 golf courses in the entire country. The private Crystal Downs often  kid jumping on a beach duneranks in the top 20! Benzie County is home to several other classic northern Michigan golf courses, too, including two championship tracks at Crystal Mountain.

 

  • Speaking of national accolades, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been voted the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” The southern half of the 71,000-acre park is in Benzie County with trails through the dunes to stunning waterfront vistas and lots of space to get out and enjoy the natural goodness of summer in Michigan.
  • With nearly 50 works of art and sculpture by Michigan artists permanently installed along walking trails in a 30-acre forest preserve, the Michigan Legacy Art Park offers a memorable way to experience the beauty of northern Michigan. “You almost see the history of Michigan as you hike,” Lukaskiewicz said. “It really is a nice place to reflect.” kids at a water park
  • The only one of its kind in Michigan, the Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide at Crystal Mountain is the ultimate in summer sledding. Sitting in a special sled, you surrender yourself to the wonder of gravity and zip down one of two parallel slides that wind 1,700 feet down the mountain.
  • For a more puzzling experience of gravity, pull off the highway for a cruise down – er, up – Gravity Hill. Thanks to an optical illusion, you’ll feel like you’re coasting uphill when you’re actually going down.

Whatever you choose to do in Benzie County, and whenever you come to visit, you’ll find a wide variety of places to stay, from world-class resorts to cozy cabins on the lake. Explore what else there is to see and do in Benzie County and start planning your next weekend getaway.