For something new in holiday shopping and holiday celebrating this year, discover one of Michigan’s most beautiful scenic locations and the quaint small towns and villages of Benzie County. Benzie County is a perfect Northern Michigan experience for a relaxing holiday getaway which includes adventure sports and recreation.
According to Mary Carroll, president of Benzie County Visitors Bureau, "Benzie County is a beautiful place to spend the holidays. In addition, Benzie County offers an opportunity for outdoor adventure including great downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, and ice fishing."
Benzie County also has numerous opportunities for pre-holiday gift buying including 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.
There are different lodging choices available including quaint cottages, cozy cabins, apartments, historical hotels and an award winning resort. For an entire listing see http://www.visitbenzie.com. For assistance with lodging choices, call the Benzie County Visitors Bureau at 800-882-5801.
Events Through the Holidays in Benzie CountyChristmas Magic
Beulah, Dec. 12
Christmas Magic in Beulah is an event especially for families, with face painting, cookie decorating, arts & crafts activities, along with horse drawn wagon rides, plus, a winter parade all decked out with festive shinning lights! Santa will also make his annual visit prior to his big Christmas delivery around the world. This not only a magical day for kids but fun for everyone! Call 800-882-5801 for more information.
Dec. 18 – 31
This holiday season celebrate with your whole family at Crystal Mountain. From December 18 - 31, 2015 Crystal Mountain will be offering daily activities for kids 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. There’s 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. For a full list of daily events see crystalmountain.com/events/holiday-week-at-crystal-mountain
New Year’s Eve
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. For more information see crystalmountain.com/events/new-years-eve-celebration-with-fireworks
Holiday ShoppingNotable shops in Benzie County for holiday shopping include:
Beedazzled: Located in Benzonia, Beedazzled offers beautiful natural soaps, candles and body care items. Their 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. Online gift items are available.
Crystal Lake Alpaca Boutique: Located in Benzonia close to Beedazzled, is Crystal Lake Alpaca Boutique featuring alpaca wool items such as sweaters, shawls, hats, mittens. leg warmers, and adorable stuffed animals. Online gift items are available.
St. Ambrose Cellars: St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah is open year round and 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 their own honey, created at their bee farms in Northern Michigan and Florida. They also have a new tasting room to try their many meads and fine wines. Online gift items include meads and wines in beautiful bottles. Their sister company, Sleeping Bear Farms also carries gift items with their line of honey products including a variety honey flavor Mustards available through their website, sleepingbearfarms.com, as well as, being available 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 located in Beulah. Although the restaurant is closed for the winter, the store in Benzonia remains open for retail & online sales with nut mixes, dried cherries, jams and gift packages, great for holiday gift giving. Plus- they will ship fresh baked cherry pies anywhere in the US –see website for details.
State of the Art Gallery: State of the Art Gallery is owned by ArtPrize® winning artists Michigan photographer Steve Loveless and quilt artist Ann Loveless. Stunning photography and intricate quilted scenes of Michigan’s natural beauty line the walls of their gallery in Beulah. Ann won the first place “People’s Choice Award” in the fifth annual Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize® competition in 2013 and in 2015 both Steve and Ann collaborated on a piece, 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! Online gift items are available.
Food for Thought: Food for Thought located 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. Their motto is to create and raise awareness around just and sustainable food. Online gift items are available.
Petals & Perks and Lynn and Perin Mercantile Company are owned and operated by Chris and Victoria Mekas retail business owners of many successful operations in Benzie County. Petals and Perks located 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. Their original furniture, artwork and accessories are perfect for those who want to decorate their homes in natural woods and relaxed designs. They describe their products as “living in relationship to the water, woods and natural beauty”. Online gift items are available.
Retail Shops of Crystal: Crystal Mountain’s have six retail shops throughout their village setting. Products include bath and spa items, active wear for running, golf, fishing, biking, skiing, and relaxing, plus children’s clothing, accessories and toys.
Wintertime Sports and Recreation in Benzie CountyIf 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 & 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.
There’s no better place in the Midwest than Crystal Mountain for downhill skiing and snowboarding. Crystal Mountain was awarded 2013’s 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 serviced by a triple chairlift, a part of Crystal Mountain’s new $11 million expansion currently underway. Crystal Mountain also features ice-skating, ice hockey, fat tire bike rentals/trails, as well as, 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 only). For a dining schedule see crystalmountain.com/about/dining.
For more information about Crystal Mountain see crystalmountain.com or call (231) 378-2000.