BENZONIA, MI--(Marketwire - Mar 18, 2013) - Benzie County is located along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore voted the "Most Beautiful Place in America" by ABC TV's "Good Morning America" viewers. With its quaint villages, as well as the majestic Crystal Lake -- one of the largest inland lakes in Michigan -- Benzie County is perfect for spring, summer and fall getaways. It is one of the most beautiful places in the entire state for its untouched, outdoor beauty.
In the spring visitors delight in looking for prized morel mushrooms and spring leeks that grow wild in the meadows and woodlands. Wild flowers and bird watching are also favorite activities for nature lovers.
In the summer, relax along the Lake Michigan beaches or bike the paved Betsie Valley Trail that runs for 22 miles and passes through many of the small villages within the county. Kayaking, canoeing, boating, charter and river fishing are other favorite Benzie County visitor pastimes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitors Center is 30 minutes north of lodging in Benzie County, where you can spend your days climbing and exploring the majestic dunes.
One of the best features of Benzie County is its small towns and villages:
Visit Thompsonville home of the award winning Crystal Mountain offering everything for couples and families including 36 holes of golf, an Art Park, award-winning spa and excellent restaurants. The kids will enjoy The Park at Water's Edge featuring an aquatic playground and a 32-ft climbing wall. Crystal Mountain has the only alpine coaster slide in Michigan, an action-packed thrill ride along a ski run (that you control) with high-bank turns, and spectacular views.
Walk along Crystal Lake in downtown Beulah and enjoy the majestic view and the brilliant sunsets. For interesting shopping, visit the galleries and stores including Live for Art Gallery, Northern Décor, Five Corners and Crystal Crate and Cargo, as well as Myers Granary Antique Market located in a huge vintage building that spans a city block. The antique market also features Michigan wines and a tasting area in the store. Restaurants include the newly opened Brookside Inn, Cold Creek Inn, and the Hungry Tummy.
Drive to Benzonia where the legendary Gwen Frostic Printshop and Gallery is located. Also discover Bedazzled Candleworks for great soaps and candle gifts and Fernand Footwear, recognized across the US for quality handmade leather shoes, sandals, custom handbags and belts. Dine at the "south of the border" Roadhouse Mexican Restaurant and take a walk back in time at Hill Top Soda Shoppe which serves their own homemade ice cream and quality hot dogs at an old fashioned soda fountain.
The beautiful port town in Benzie County is Frankfort located along the Betsie Bay and Lake Michigan. See a first run movie at the historic renovated Garden Theater in Frankfort, a favorite family destination. Stormcloud Brewing Company next door to the theater is a new microbrewery featuring Belgium-inspired brewed beers on tap, wood-fired pizzas and al fresco dining. There are plenty of other dining options, too.
Discover paradise in Elberta with the Trick Dog Gallery, fabulous Elberta beaches, and fun eateries -- the Mayfair Tavern, Cabbage Shed Restaurant, and Conundrum Café which features over 100 craft-brewed beers, as well as bike and kayak rental.
Visit Honor and the retro Papa J's Pizzeria or Platte River Inn restaurant after taking a leisurely trip down the Platte River to Lake Michigan on a rented kayak, canoe or a tube -- big fun!
To make a visit to this beautiful place even more enticing, Benzie County has a special promotion from May 24 through October 31, 2013 called "Passport to Fun." Visitors who sign up for the promotion at www.visitbenzie.com, and stay at one of the participating lodging locations for two consecutive nights or more, will receive approximately $175 worth of free activities and food from restaurants and shops all around the county.