Crystal Mountain: Ice skating in the area is somewhat limited, but Crystal Mountain has just installed a new ice skating rink that is open to the public.
Crystal Mountain: By far the most popular place in the area for skiing is Crystal Mountain. It is a very successful, well-managed, and popular destination in the area and they offer both downhill skiing as well as cross-country skiing. We would particularly recommend The Centennial House for accommodations for skiers that are coming to the area to ski at Crystal Mountain.
M-22: The beautiful and legendary 116-mile M-22 highway goes right through Elberta. From Elberta it goes around Betsie Lake, over to Frankfort, and then goes north up to and around the Leelanau Peninsula. Taking M-22 north up into Leelanau County, around the Leelanau Peninsula, and then down into Traverse City, while checking out the little beach towns along the way, makes for a fun day trip. The beach towns that you go through (in order) are Empire, Glen Arbor, Leland, Northport, Omena, Peshawbestown, and Suttons Bay. This driving tour is particularly popular in the fall when the trees along the road are in a brilliant array of fall colors. Both our Bayside Cottage as well as our Restoration Cottage are actually located right on M-22!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Sleeping Bear Dunes has a wonderful driving tour that goes through a portion of the park. It is the Pierce Stocking Driving Tour and it is highly recommended! We particularly recommend checking out the spectacular Lake Michigan overlook at stop #9 on the tour.
Platte River: The Platte River is probably the most popular river in the area for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. It is generally quite shallow with a sandy bottom, which works great for these sports, particularly in terms of tubing. Also, the river flows through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and has a lovely, sandy entry point into Lake Michigan within Sleeping Bear Dunes. There is a nice park area at this mouth as well. We have found Riverside Canoe Trips, which is right on the Platte River, to be a good place for renting canoes, kayaks, and/or tubes for the Platte River.
Betsie River: The Betsie River is a bit different. It is muddier than the Platte and is more densely forested. It also tends to be slightly deeper. The natural scenery is beautiful and it doesn't get as busy as the Platte. Conundrum Cafe, which is very close to the Betsie River in Elberta, rents kayaks for use on the Betsie River and Betsie Lake (at the mouth of the river).
Lake Michigan: Salmon fishing (for king salmon and coho salmon) is definitely the biggest fishing attraction in the area and we enjoy having fishermen from all over the country stay at our vacation rentals for salmon fishing. Fishing for lake trout, brown trout, and steelhead is also popular. Frankfort has a public boat launch on Betsie Lake, which connects to Lake Michigan. There are also several marinas and charter fishing boats that operate out of Betsie Lake, which is used primarily for accessing Lake Michigan. The Frankfort Tackle Box in Frankfort is an excellent resource for fishing equipment, fishing charters, and current fishing information. Our Bayside Cottage, Leelanau Cottage, and Restoration Cottage are all very close to the public boat launch for Lake Michigan that is on Betsie Lake in Frankfort and they are popular vacation rentals for salmon fishermen.
Platte River: As with Lake Michigan, fishing for salmon, lake trout, brown trout, and steelhead in the Platte River is very popular, particularly in the fall when fish go upstream to spawn.
Betsie River: The Betsie River is similar to the Platte River from a fishing standpoint, with salmon, lake trout, brown trout, and steelhead all being popular. Our Centennial House vacation rental house tends to be a popular destination for river fishermen given its proximity to popular fishing points on the Betsie River.
Crystal Lake: Crystal Lake is excellent for perch as well as rock bass, both of which are fun to fish for with children given that you can catch a lot of them and there is little waiting between fish. Coho salmon, lake trout, and northern pike are also fished for on Crystal Lake. Ice fishing on Crystal Lake for smelt is a popular activity in the winter. Cold Creek is a little stream that feeds into Crystal Lake and it has contributed to the success of smelt in Crystal Lake. Given that it is located directly on Crystal Lake and just 1 block from one of the public boat launches on Crystal Lake, Lil's on the Lake is a popular vacation rental for Crystal Lake fishermen.
Otter Lake: Otter Lake is a small, secluded lake that is somewhat hidden within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Motorized boats are not allowed on it. It is a fun lake for fishing for bass and bluegill. Given that it is somewhat hidden and a bit difficult to find, it's a favorite place among locals. It's particularly great for fishing with kids!
Arcadia Bluffs: Arcadia Bluffs is a beautiful and luxurious golf club located on the bluffs of Lake Michigan. It is becoming increasingly popular nationwide and we now host a fair number of guests that come to northern Michigan explicitly to play golf at Arcadia Bluffs. Both our Leelanau Cottage as well as our Bayside Cottage tend to be popular for groups that are coming to the area for golf at Arcadia Bluffs.
Crystal Lake Golf Club: This is a nice, relatively inexpensive golf course located in Beulah near Crystal Lake. The Centennial House works well for individuals that are coming to the area to play at this golf club.
Betsie Valley Bike Trail: This is a wonderful bike trail in the area. It runs for 22 miles starting in Frankfort, then to Elberta, then along the Betsie River to Beulah, and then on over to Thompsonville. A large portion of the trail is paved and it's also popular for rollerblading and other "wheeled sports". The trail is quite scenic and most of it is along the Betsie River. In the winter it is popular for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. (In the winter part of the trail is used for cross-country skiing and part of it is used for snowmobiling.) The Conundrum Cafe in Elberta is located right next to the Betsie Valley Bike Trail and they rent bikes if you are needing a bike. Our vacation rental property in Elberta, The Candy House, is located just one block from the Conundrum Cafe and The Candy House is less than one-quarter of a mile from the Betsie Valley Bike Trail. It's a perfect vacation rental home for groups of bicyclists!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: The park has recently added additional paved trails and there are now many miles of both paved and unpaved trails for all kinds of biking in the park. The Cyclery in Glen Arbor offers bikes for rent if you are needing a bike for these trails.
Point Betsie Lighthouse: The Point Betsie Lighthouse is probably the most famous building in all of Benzie County. It is approx. a 15-minute drive north on M-22 from the Candy House. It does not get a lot of a traffic and makes for an easy, fun, and scenic stop. The beach there is rather rocky and it is a popular place for collecting rocks. (Rocks can also be legally taken from the beach here whereas it is not allowed to take them from anywhere within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.)
Frankfort Lighthouse: The Frankfort Lighthouse is a large and very historic lighthouse on Lake Michigan just west of downtown Frankfort and Frankfort Beach. It's proximity to Frankfort makes it a very popular tourist destination. It's located at the end of the north breakwater where the Betsie River empties into Lake Michigan and the breakwater serves as a nice walkway out to the lighthouse. Our vacation rentals in Frankfort including The Leelanau Cottage, The Bayside Cottage, and The Restoration Cottage are all within walking distance of the Frankfort Lighthouse.
Frankfort Beach: Frankfort has a very popular public beach on Lake Michigan that is located at the west end of Main Street in Frankfort. It has a lot of sand as well as volleyball courts and is great for family fun, sunbathing, and people watching. At the center of the beach is also Frankfort's North Pier, which provides a fun walkway out to the historic and famous Frankfort Lighthouse. Whereas Elberta Beach is quieter and more natural, a lot of people go to Frankfort Beach. It's beautiful, well-maintained, and very family-friendly. It is also just a very short walk from downtown Frankfort, which helps to make it so popular. The Leelanau Cottage, the Bayside Cottage, and the Restoration Cottage are all about 0.6 miles from the beach (roughly a 10-minute walk from the beach).
Elberta Beach: Elberta Beach is basically located just across the Betsie River (where it empties into Lake Michigan) from Frankfort Beach. (It is just south of Frankfort Beach.) Elberta Beach offers a more pristine and much less navigated natural beach. It is somewhat hidden from the general public and offers a wealth of undisturbed beauty. It is at the north end of the little peninsula on which Elberta sits and Elberta Beach is about a mile west of downtown Elberta. Dogs are allowed everywhere at Elberta Beach, but are only allowed on certain portions of Frankfort Beach. It is a great beach if you want to get away from people and just enjoy Lake Michigan, sand, and natural beauty (particularly if you are with your dog). Unfortunately there has been some erosion at the beach in recent years though so the beach, although still very long, has become quite narrow. The Candy House is located about 1 mile from Elberta Beach.
Beulah Beach: First, we should point out that, unlike Frankfort Beach and Elberta Beach, Beulah Beach is located on Crystal Lake and not Lake Michigan. With its sandy bottom and sandy shores, the lake is great for swimming and the beach is very family-friendly with a shallow shoreline. Crystal Lake is quite shallow at the point where Beulah Beach is at and Beulah Beach provides a nice, family-friendly beach that is great for children. Lif's on the Lake is particularly close to the Beulah Beach. We should point out that swimmers itch can be an issue at times when swimming in Crystal Lake.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Probably the most popular attraction in all of northwest Michigan is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It is incredibly picturesque collection of natural beauty in terms of Lake Michigan, dunes, forests, wildlife, and inland lakes and rivers. There is a vast collection of hiking trails throughout the park. Our personal favorite trails for hiking are Old Indian Trail (the closest trail to Frankfort), the Empire Bluffs Trail, and the Pyramid Point Trail.
Elberta Dunes: There are some wonderful hiking trails in the Elberta Dunes immediately to the west of Elberta between Elberta and Lake Michigan. One of our vacation rental homes, The Candy House, is actually located just a few blocks from the base of the Elberta Dunes!
Arcadia Dunes: This is a huge (3600 acres) nature preserve that is part of the Grand Traverse Nature Conservancy. It is at the south end of Benzie County (on Lake Michigan) and extends into Manistee County as well. It gets relatively few visitors and really is a great place for nature hikes.
Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre & Diner is a historic drive-in theater and diner in Honor, Michigan on US Highway 31. It opened on July 4, 1953. and was one of seven remaining drive-in theaters in Michigan in 2003. It has a snack bar, children's play areas, putt-putt golf, beach volleyball, and a rest area for dogs. The Cherry Bowl is the only remaining drive-in theater in Northern Michigan.
Crystal Lake, the largest lake of this name in Michigan, is located near Lake Michigan in Benzie County about 25 miles southwest of Traverse City and about 2 miles northeast of Frankfort at 44°39′N 86°09′W. It measures approximately 2.5 by 8 miles, and has a maximum depth of 165 feet. At 9,854 acres, it is Michigan's