Whether you're touring towns, shoreline or the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Benzie County or continuing south along the West Shore of Michigan, there are some "must do's" for your day. Here's a few top picks.
Road trippin’ Lakeshore Drive north of Pentwater? Brake for Bortell’s Fisheries, which has served up famed “Hot Fried Fish To Go” for 111 years. One bite of Bortell’s whitefish, walleye, catfish, trout or smelt, and you’ll know the secret to the shop’s longevity. 231-843-3337.
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. 231-326-5134, NPS.GOV/SLBE.
If you’re looking to get inside a historic lighthouse, get to Pt. Betsie Lighthouse (North of Frankfort; POINTBETSIE.ORG, 231-352-4915) or Big Sable Point in Ludington State Park (231-845-7343, BIGSABLELIGHTHOUSE.ORG) Call for schedules. Watch a short video of the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse.
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. 231-922-5280.
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 at MICHARTERBOATS.COM.
The largest car ferry to sail Lake Michigan, the S.S. Badger can take you from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in four hours flat. 800-841-4243, SSBADGER.COM.
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. 231-325-4611, MICHIGAN.GOV/DNR.
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. 231-378-2000, CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM OR MICHLEGACYARTPARK.ORG.
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. 231-723-9948, RAMSDELL-THEATER.ORG.