World Traveler and Kayak Expert Launches Exciting Half Day Culinary Kayak Tour in Benzie County

Michael Gray travels the world guiding people on adventure travel experiences.  As master at his craft – teaching and leading kayak tours, making great outdoor meals and entertaining in the wild – his touring locations include Alaska, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, as well as, Central America.

During most of the summer season, however, Gray spends it working close to his home in Northern Michigan where he lives on 40 acres along the Betsie River in Benzie County. As he says, “Why not? Benzie County is a place with some of the most breathtaking views anywhere in the world. It also is relaxing with interesting, wild outdoor terrain for kayaking…a great life as far as I’m concerned!”

This summer, Gray is offering a new half-day kayak tour called “Taste of the Betsie” near his Michigan home base. On the tour, kayakers will spend time on the beautiful, swift clear waters of the Betsie River close to popular Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville.

For the tasting part of the experience, the tour will include wine, mead and craft beer tasting at St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah with lunch created by Michael Gray from his popular cookbook entitled, Hey, I’d eat this at Home. Following lunch, travelers will head to the Betsie River for a 3-hour kayak tour. After kayaking, those on the tour will be transported to the area’s new state-of-the-art distillery, Iron Fish, which opened in Thompsonville in fall 2016. At Iron Fish, kayakers will conclude their tour with tastings of locally produced Michigan gin, wheat white whiskey, white rum, winter wheat vodka and bourbon finished in Caribbean rum casks along with an appetizer made by the purveyors. Creative cocktails are also available featuring Iron Fish’s creative spirits.

Reservations for “Taste of the Betsie”, hosted by Gray, are available now by reservation at There are several dates to choose from. People interested should also phone for availability as group sizes are kept very small and personal, and therefore, space is limited.

The tour will take place most Thursday afternoons throughout the summer from June through the first two weeks of September. “Taste of the Betsie” is $150 per person and includes a professional guide/instructor, kayak equipment (i.e. boat, paddle, PFD and skirt), lunch created by Gray, beverage tasting fees and appetizer at happy hour at Iron Fish distillery. Participants with special diet requirements are welcome with 48-hour notification.

Additional Benzie County based tours led by Michael Gray to explore this natural Michigan region include:

  • “Learn to Kayak Retreat Weekend”– Learn to kayak or refine your skills on Lower Herring Lake over a weekend including stay and meals at Michael Gray’s home on 40 acres along the Betsie River; and
  • “Sleeping Bear Sampler”– Kayakers will explore the coast of Lake Michigan to experience the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This weekend experience includes lots of kayaking over a weekend stay at Michael Gray’s home, along with homemade dinner and Sunday brunch and a casual restaurant dining experience.

Dates for both tours are listed on