On the shores of Lake Michigan lies Frankfort, a picturesque destination where visitors will discover historic lighthouses, friendly artists and a fine selection of food and drink establishments.
Whether it’s exploring the tranquil beaches, taking in the sunset, or learning about the town’s maritime history, there is always something to do in this place full of charm and character.
1. Point Betsie Lighthouse
History buffs often enjoy exploring the Point Betsie Lighthouse, which dates back to 1858. Translated from the Native American language used by the Three Bees Tribal Council, the landmark’s name means “Saw Beak Point,” a reference to the sawbill ducks in Lake Michigan. On-site visitors get a glimpse of yesteryear with highlights such as photos, artifacts, and oral histories along with exhibitions including Illumination featuring a 100-year-old Fresnel lens and one by the Nature Conservancy that provides a look into the fragile dune system of the area.
3701 Point Betsie Road, Frankfort, MI 49635, Phone: 231-352-7644
2. Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse
© Hank Erdmann/stock.adobe.com
Built in 1912, the Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse is another interesting landmark. A symbol of the area’s maritime heritage, the steel structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally located on the north pier before being relocated to its current location. While visitors can visit the grounds and take photos of the lighthouse, they are not able to access the tower. In any case, travelers will find that the point of interest offers a great photo op with Lake Michigan in the background.
Off Main Street near the public beach, Frankfort, MI 49635
3. Ellie Harold Art Studio and Gallery
© Ellie Harold Art Studio and Gallery
Vibrant oil paintings of regional landscapes, still life, and abstractions are on display at the Ellie Harold Art Studio and Gallery. Housed in a historic Victorian house that dates back to 1895, the eponymous space showcases the work of the award-winning, self-taught artist and also offers a few original gifts such as calendars and note cards for purchase. The studio is open most days and appointments can be made in advance.
402 Forest Ave., Frankfort, MI 49635, Phone: 231-352-6233
4. The Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts
© The Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts
Considered a cultural cornerstone of Benzie County, Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts continues its mission of advancing the arts, whether it’s visual, performing, literary or culinary with its enriching programming year-round. Housed in the former U.S. Coast Guard Station on Betsie Bay, the center regularly hosts events and exhibitions as well as classes and workshops for adults and children.
132 Coast Guard Road, Frankfort, MI 49635, Phone: 231-352-4151
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5. Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar
© Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar
Smoked meat lovers have a go-to spot when visiting Benzie County, Michigan. Everything at Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar is made from scratch and grilled to perfection. The nautical-themed establishment with its old maritime maps and other memorable provides a relaxed and comfortable setting for dining on ribs, pork barbecue, sirloin and other savory selections as well as mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, cornbread and more.
415 Main Street, Frankfort, MI 49635, Phone: 231-352-4702
6. Papano’s Pizza
© Papano’s Pizza
Since 1993, the family-owned and operated Papano’s Pizza has been delighting customers with excellent eats and delivering on its guiding principle “You can’t make good wine out of bad grapes,” by always providing tasty cuisine made with the freshest ingredients. Guests in the mood for cheesy goodness may want to order one of the signature creations such as the Roma Ranch, Chicken Tuscany, and Venetian Veggie or oven-toasted subs such as the Hot Italian and the Turkey Club, to name a few.
334 Main Street, Frankfort, MI 49635, Phone: 231-352-6700
7. Rock’s Landing
© Rock’s Landing
What began as a modest resort snack bar back in the 1950s, has been resurrected as Rock’s Landing, an intimate, waterfront restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining areas and stunning views of Crystal Lake. At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Joe Meyers, who turns out flavorful tapas-style dishes and main courses with international influences such as Seared Halibut with baby bok choy and curry and Porchetta with polenta and crispy Brussels sprouts, which pair well with the impressive selection of wines and Michigan craft beers. The restaurant is open seasonally May through October. Reservations are recommended.
1577 Crystal Drive, Frankfort, MI 49635, Phone: 231-399-0158
8. Betsie Valley Trail
The 22-mile Betsie Valley Trail meanders from Frankfort to Thompsonville in Benzie County, passing by Elberta and Beulah along the way. This well-loved rail-trail was built on what was formerly the Ann Arbor Railroad, which was in use until 1985. The scenic paved trail starts at Michigan Beach in Frankfort, passing through Cannon Park before it joins up with the official Betsie Valley Trail. From there it runs along the edge of lovely Crystal Lake for around 3 miles. If you are planning to cycle the full length of the trail you can stop at Elberta or Beulah for a break and a snack. The section from Beulah to Thompsonville is open to snow mobiles from December to March.
Beulah, MI 49617, 231 227 1164
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