Make It Benzie! The Ultimate Michigan Outdoor Destination for Winter Season Fun

Winter season is flourishing in one of the most picturesque outdoor recreational locations in the state of Michigan – Benzie County.

Experience the award-winning Crystal Mountain for holiday events and winter experiences on the slopes and along the trails. The resort offers skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and fat tire biking and amenities including a lovely farm-to-table restaurant, children’s activities, child care, sensational spa services, indoor pool access, a fitness room, as well as, the ability to relax in front of the fire in a condo or rented vacation home. Benzie County is also booking now for great winter lodging some that offer skiing packages to make your overnight stays relaxing and your days on the slopes exciting. Snowmobilers flock to Benzie County to enjoy over 450 miles of regional connecting trails leading to numerous villages with restaurants and lodging for overnight stays. Travel on beautiful well-groomed trails on your own snowmobile or a rented snowmobile available at Crystal Adventures. Ice fishing is also a favorite activity in Benzie County once the lakes freeze over. What a thrill it is to walk on top of the water to participate or watch ice fishing in action!

Drive through the many unique towns and villages of Benzie County to explore the beauty in Frankfort, Elberta, Beulah, Benzonia, Honor, Thompsonville, and Lake Ann. Discover cozy pubs and cafes. Savor the flavors of local eateries serving hand crafted donuts, authentic deli sandwiches, white fish dip and gourmet popcorn. Relax at St. Ambrose Cellars winery / meadery, experience hand crafted micro brews and savory bites at Stormcloud Brewing Company, Lake Ann Brewery, Brose Brewery (alongside St. Ambrose ), and the new soon-to-be open – Five Shores Brewing in Beulah. Don’t miss Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, for award winning spirits, creative food and more. Events and music is regularly featured at these craft brew, wine and spirits destinations. See individual websites for more information.

In Benzie County, you’ll find a variety of lodging options conveniently located along the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Cottages along Lake Michigan, charming cabins, upscale condos, an historic hotel, and an award-winning resort are all a part of the collection of places to stay after playing on the snow or relaxing in well-appointed hotels and resorts and cozy cabins and motels.

Get the true flavor of Northern Michigan’s relaxed pace and exquisite natural beauty – all waiting for you in Benzie County along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Visit or call 800-882-5801 to find out more. 

Benzie County Winter Events

More events and information at Make It Benzie Events.

Annual Holly Berry Arts & Crafts Fair with Santa

Frankfort, November 30, 2019

Get your holiday shopping underway at the indoor holiday art fair at the Frankfort High School With over 100 artists present, discover hand crafted items including pottery, paper products, clothing, art work and much more. This annual craft and art fair held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to make it a full day in Benzie County. Enjoy wonderful eateries and have a relaxing day with family and friends. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be at the school handing out complimentary candy canes. Take the family on a horse drawn carriage ride and watch their eyes light up.

Christmas Magic

Beulah, December 14, 2019

Join in the holiday fun at Beulah’s Christmas Magic. Activities include the holiday parade, cookies for sale, Santa, kids’ activities and wagon rides. Beulah stores and restaurants will also be open late for holiday shopping and dining. The Christmas Magic Parade will begin at 5:15pm so join in the fun by dressing in creative attire and participating in the parade with your kids and your pets!  See entry form to participate in the parade.  

Winter Sounds Concert at the Michigan Legacy Art Park

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, December 15, 2019 at 5 – 7 p.m.

Winter Sounds, presented by Michigan Legacy Art Park, is a family-friendly celebration of the season featuring free hot cocoa, a warm bonfire, magical winter hike through the woods, and an inspiring half-hour outdoor performance from Benzie Central High School Chamber Choir.

The event is free to the public with a $10 suggested donation. Proceeds will benefit Michigan Legacy Art Park and Benzie Central High School’s Choral Programs. Please arrive early to allow for the ¼ mile hike into the outdoor amphitheater. Limited parking is available at the Art Park entrance and trailhead with additional parking on Mountain Woods Drive, adjacent to the park entrance at 7300 Mountainside Dr. Thompsonville MI 49683

New Year’s Eve Celebrations 

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, December 31, 2019

Come to Benzie County this year and participate in fun New Year’s Eve Celebrations at Crystal Mountain whose events include: 

New Year’s Eve Adult Party, 8pm – 12:30am:  $99 per couple; $59 per individual. Ring in 2020 with live music, tasty eats and plenty of fun. Held in Northwest Territories at the Crystal Center.

New Year’s Eve Family Fun Party and Buffet:

Celebrate the New Year with your family starting with a buffet dinner from 6 – 8pm and Family Fun beginning at 7pm and live DJ beginning at 8pm. Held in Northwest Territories in the Crystal Center.

Torchlight Parade beginning at 10pm:  Everyone with a valid season pass or lift ticket is welcome to participate in the Parade which starts at the top of Cheers. Registration is required at the Snowsports Desk on December 31, 2019. Parent signature is required for ages 8 – 17. Space is limited. To carry a torch you must be 16 years of age. Kids ages 8 – 15 will carry a glow wand.

Midnight Fireworks:

Everyone is welcome to watch the free fireworks!

Moonlight Snowshoe Tour at Michigan Legacy Art Park

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, January 9, 2020 

Come out and enjoy the quiet and serenity of a guided snowshoe tour under the full moon and along forest trails at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville. Led by volunteers Harriet Wall and Vance Marshall, participants will have an opportunity to learn about the Art Park and its history, as well as get a wildly new perspective of the over 50 art works in the collection while exploring the peaceful woods at night.

The FREE tour will meet at the Art Park Trailhead at 6:45 p.m. The tour group will depart at 7 p.m. You will snowshoe around the nature trail (approximately one mile) with the tour which will last about 60-90 minutes, depending on the pace and the weather. The tour will end back at the Trailhead and parking lot.

Annual Winterfest in Benzie County

Beulah, February 8, 2020

Winterfest in Downtown Beulah atVillage Park is for people of all ages. Some of the experiences include kids’ activities throughout the day and a chili competition and tasting for all (fee for the chili tasting).  Come and be a part of the fun!

2020Betsie Bay Frozen 5K

Frankfort/Elberta, February 15th, 2020 at 10AM

For the heartiest among us, the Benzie Bay Frozen 5K draws crazy runners and walkers who are willing to face 10-degree temperatures and 30-mph gusts off Lake Michigan. The race is presented by Benzie Community Water Council & Stormcloud Brewing Company . The course starts at the top of Elberta’s beautiful Lake Michigan lookout, continues down the hill through Elberta, around the bend along Betsie Bay via scenic M-22, then heads down Main Street in Frankfort, with a finish at the other end of downtown, just before you reach Frankfort lighthouse. All ages are welcome with a $20 Pre-Registered Race Fee (Pre-Registration guarantees an event shirt)!This year, proceeds from the 10th Annual Betsie Bay Frozen 5K will focus on supporting local and global community-focused projects. See the 2020 Betsie Bay Frozen 5K on Facebook for registration and more information.

Mardi Gras on the Mountain

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, March 7, 2020

Celebrate Mardi Gras on the mountain with activities and beads galore!

Spring Carnival

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, March 14, 2020

Celebrate spring the “up-north” way, with all kinds of snow-filled fun! Get ready for great events and activities for the whole family to enjoy during Spring Carnival.

Celts & Kayaks

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, March 21, 2020

Cheers to a fun-filled St. Patrick’s weekend, with plenty of activities for everyone, including our epic Kayak on the Snow Race.

Retro Weekend

Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain, March 28, 2020

Dust off the neon, ringer tees, gigantic jeans and vintage sweaters. Whatever your decade, it’s time to bring it back for Retro Weekend at Crystal Mountain!

More about Benzie County

Benzie County is the smallest county in Michigan and includes the quaint towns and villages of Beulah, Benzonia, Elberta, Frankfort, Honor, Lake Ann and Thompsonville. It is a perfect vacation getaway with a variety of lodging locations, from a world class resort and historic hotels to B&B’s, motels, cabins and vacation rental homes offering lodging with modern amenities along with unique and relaxing Up-North experiences. Check for seasonal operation at some lodging,

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which borders Benzie County, features miles of magnificent beauty and numerous cross-country and snowshoeing trails. The majestic Crystal Lake, one of the top ten largest lakes in Michigan, as well as the two rivers – Betsie and Platte – as well as over 50 other inland lakes are also popular vacation destinations with lodging opportunities available along the water.

Benzie County is known as one of the top places in Michigan to experience outdoor exercise, sports and recreation year-round, and has over 450 miles of regional connecting trails and 60 miles of lake shoreline, and over 25 miles of coastline along Lake Michigan. Outdoor activities during winter include downhill skiing, snowboarding and ice skating, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, fat tire biking and more. Iconic lighthouses, galleries and culture  surround Benzie County and include Interlochen Center for the Arts, The Elizabeth Lane Oliver Art Center, Michigan Legacy Art Park and the historic Garden Theater.

There are many unique and locally owned restaurants in Benzie County including delis, craft brew pubs, farm-to-table and more. Breweries include Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort, Lake Ann Brewing in Lake Ann, and Brose Brewing and the soon-to-be opened Five Shores Brewing in Beulah. There is also St. Ambrose Cellars Winery and Meadery in Beulah and Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville.

Benzie County is 130 miles north of Grand Rapids, 235 miles north of Detroit, 290 miles north of Chicago, 295 miles north of Fort Wayne and 380 miles north of Indianapolis. Plan a couple of days or more and get a true flavor of the relaxed pace and exquisite natural beauty of Benzie County.