Every summer for the past 6 years, we take a trip to the Midwest and visit the Northern Michigan town of Frankfort. When I tell people from the Northwest that I’m off to Michigan I get curious stares. “Why would you go to Michigan?” they ask. I explain that the beaches on Lake Michigan rival the white sand beaches found in the tropics. I go on to describe the beauty of the rolling hills and the friendly communities. Finally, of course, we have family there.
The most obvious way to travel there is to fly. From Seattle, this means taking a flight to either Chicago, Minneapolis or Detroit. From there you fly to either Grand Rapids and then drive for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, you can fly into the very small and very convenient Traverse City airport. Flying into Traverse tends to be a bit more expensive and can be unreliable because there are very few flights, however the convenience and the short drive to Frankfort – just about an hour – make it worthwhile.
What to do and see
I can’t say enough about spending time at the beach. On a windless day the water is flat as a swimming pool. However, when it’s windy being at the beach on the lake gives you waves you would expect if you were at the ocean. Head on down to the city beach in downtown Frankfort and you can play in the waves and watch the surfers and kiteboarders.
You can also just play in the waves when it’s windy out. Because of the sandy bottom the lake develops unexpected rips and undertow. Never swim alone and be sure you know what to do if a rip current pulls you away from the beach.
While you are exploring beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan be sure to take in the sites of the many lighthouses along the shoreline. Frankfort itself has two very different lighthouses. At the city beach you can walk out the breakwater on a calm day to the Frankfort North Light.
What to eat
There are a few good restaurants in town. Be sure to hit up the Stormcloud Brewing Company. They brew their own beer and have a decent menu. If the weather is nice you can sit out on the patio and enjoy lunch or dinner. It is one of the few establishments that is open year round. If you do nothing else don’t miss this place.
When to go
You’ll want to go anytime in the Summer. It is a vacation destination so it gets busy. If you can swing a trip in late August things are starting to quiet down. The other time to go would be in the early fall as the leaves turn. Michigan has spectacular colors.
Northern Michigan is not something I would have ever considered for a vacation. It is beautiful and you should not miss it.