Discover one of Michigan's most beautiful scenic locations—and the quaint small towns and villages of Benzie County, an ideal Northern Michigan experience for a relaxing family getaway or a gift-buying trip. Whether you choose to visit for the holiday happenings, shopping or skiing, it's the perfect "not too far away" destination.
Benzie County Events Through the Holidays
Christmas Magic in Beulah
December 12, 2015
Christmas Magic in Beulah is an event especially for families, with face painting, cookie decorating, and arts and crafts activities, along with horse-drawn wagon rides and a winter parade all decked out with festive shinning lights! Santa will make his annual visit, prior to his big Christmas delivery around the world. This not only a magical day for children, but fun for everyone! Call 800.882.5801 for more information.
Holiday Week at Crystal Mountain
December 18 – December 31, 2015
This holiday season, celebrate with your whole family at Crystal Mountain. From December 18 - 31, Crystal Mountain will offer daily activities for children and families, and a number of outdoor recreational experiences. Mountain activities include snowshoeing, ice skating and hockey, horse-drawn surrey rides, fat tire snow biking, snowmobiling and an adventure course for kids. Enjoy an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, family campfires, daily scavenger hunts for kids and much more. Parents can enjoy quiet time at the award-winning Crystal Spa, featuring full spa services, or a night at the Thistle Pub and Grille while the kids are taken care of by in-room babysitting services.
New Year's Eve at Crystal Mountain
New Year's Eve brings fun for every age, including New Year's Eve dining, a Superheros Fun Family Party, Teen DJ Dance Party and a midnight Torchlight Parade and Fireworks on the mountain.
Benzie County has numerous shopping opportunities for exploring holiday treasures such as cherry products, Michigan-made food baskets, jams and spreads, Northern Michigan roasted coffees, fine wines, meads and honey, candles and soaps, knitted items made of luxurious alpaca wool and original designed furniture for your home or second home.
Notable Benzie County Spots for Holiday Shopping
Beedazzled: Located in Benzonia, Beedazzled offers beautiful natural soaps, candles and body care items. Its bees make all of the wax used for the products, which range from soaps with insect repellent oils of lemon grass, citronella and eucalyptus to tapered hand-dipped colorful candles.
Crystal Lake Alpaca Boutique: Close to Beedazzled is Crystal Lake Alpaca Boutique, featuring alpaca wool items such as sweaters, shawls, hats, mittens, leg warmers and adorable stuffed animals.
St. Ambrose Cellars: St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah, open year-round, features estate meads and fine award-winning wines. One of the largest, most flourishing mead purveyors in Michigan, St. Ambrose creates this ancient beverage from its own honey, created at its bee farms in Northern Michigan and Florida. It also has a new tasting room for sampling the many meads and fine wines. Online gift items include meads and wines in beautiful bottles. St. Ambrose's sister company, Sleeping Bear Farms, also carries gift items, with its line of honey products including a variety of honey-flavored mustards available through its website and at St. Ambrose Cellars.
The Cherry Hut: Northern Michigan is known for its wonderful cherry products, and one of the oldest continually flourishing restaurants and stores in Northern Michigan is The Cherry Hut, in Beulah. Although the restaurant is closed for the winter, the store in Benzonia remains open for retail and online sales with nut mixes, dried cherries, jams and gift packages, great for holiday gift giving. Plus, The Cherry Hut will ship fresh-baked cherry pies anywhere in the U.S. (See website for details.)
State of the Art Gallery: State of the Art Gallery is owned by ArtPrize®-winning artists Steve Loveless, Michigan photographer, and Ann Loveless, quilt artist. Stunning photography and intricate quilted scenes of Michigan's natural beauty line the walls of their Beulah gallery. Ann won the first-place People's Choice Award in the fifth annual Grand Rapids' ArtPrize competition, in 2013. In 2015, Steve and Ann collaborated on Northwood Awakening—a large photographic print and quilt hybrid, depicting a serene woodland panorama—and won the first-place People's Choice Award for their work!
Food for Thought: Food for Thought, in Honor, is an online specialty store offering unique products grown from the earth and preserved in jars. Items include wild pickled leeks, maple syrup, salsas, jams, olive oils and more. Its motto is to create and raise awareness around just and sustainable food.
Petals & Perks and Lynn and Perin Mercantile Company are owned and operated by Chris and Victoria Mekas, retail business owners of many successful Benzie County operations. Petals and Perks, in Frankfort, offers locally roasted coffee and a variety of floral gifts, while their new shop next door, Lynn and Perin Mercantile, features Michigan-made food products and gift items.
Betsie Bay Furniture: This Frankfort store is one to get lost in, with lovely furniture and décor artfully presented on two levels. Its original furniture, artwork and accessories are perfect for those who want to decorate their homes in natural woods and relaxed designs. The products are described as "living in relationship to the water, woods and natural beauty."
Retail Shops of Crystal: Crystal Mountain has six retail shops throughout its village setting. Products include bath and spa items; activewear for running, golf, fishing, biking, skiing and relaxing; and children's clothing, accessories and toys.
Wintertime Sports and Recreation in Benzie County
If you're looking for winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling once the snow flies, Benzie County has 135 miles of challenging and well-groomed snowmobiling trails. Trailheads and staging areas are located in various spots throughout the county. Visit benziemanisteesnowbirds.com for more information. Snowmobile rentals, gear and guide services are available at Crystal Adventures in Thompsonville.
In addition, Benzie County has 22 miles along the Betsie Valley Trail for cross country skiing, as well as 30 km of groomed cross-country and snowshoeing trails at Crystal Mountain. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features 70,000 acres with scenic cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, and weekend guided snowshoe tours beginning in January. See nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/ski.htm for more information.
Crystal Mountain was awarded the 2013 Visitors' Choice Award for Best Terrain in the Midwest by "OnTheSnow," the most visited ski and snowboard-related website. "OnTheSnow" awards are considered to be the most comprehensive user-generated ski resort awards in the world. The upcoming 2015 – 2016 winter season includes a new downhill skiing and snowboarding complex called The Backyard, with eight new ski trails served by a triple chairlift. Crystal Mountain also features ice-skating, ice hockey, fat tire bike rentals and trails, and daily children's activities. Adults will enjoy the luxurious spa services at the Leed-certified, award-winning Crystal Spa and superb dining at the Thistle Pub & Grille and Wild Tomato Restaurant (open select hours). For a dining schedule see crystalmountain.com/about/dining.
Unique lodging choices include quaint cottages, cozy cabins, apartments, historical hotels and an award-winning resort: See www.visitbenzie.com for an entire listing. For assistance with lodging, call the Benzie County Visitors Bureau at 800.882.5801.