Looking for things to do in Frankfort, Michigan? We have you covered in today’s post! We’re sharing where to eat, where to stay and what to do in this charming Michigan town!
We have completely fallen in love with Frankfort, Michigan. This quaint town is small, but loaded with things to do and see. The pristine dunes, beaches, and spectacular sunsets awe visitors and locals alike.
Victorian homes dominate the picturesque, maple-lined streets and shoppers find unique items crafted in Frankfort’s specialty shops and galleries.
A few weeks back, we took the Ultimate Michigan Road Trip starting from our hometown of Chicago all the way up the west coat of Michigan to Mackinac Island. One of our most memorable stops was here in Frankfort, Michigan. You cannot resist this relaxing Frankfort vacation spot this Summer and Fall!
Frankfort, Michigan is much smaller than some of the other citites we visisted such as Saugagtuck, Traverse City, Mackinac Island, etc. The downtown area is about a mile long street, Main Street, lined with great local shops and eateries. You can bike the entire downtown area in about 20 minutes. Point Betsie Lighthouse is a Great Lakes Lighthouse favorite.
However, that’s what Shawn and I found most quaint about Frankfort. The pace was a bit slower, Main Street runs right into the beach and you can walk virtually everywhere. If you are looking for a great vacation spot in central Michigan, Frankfort is an incredible option to explore.
While the downtown area was small, there are a number of great things to do in the surrounding area. If I had the opportunity to do our road trip through Michigan again, I would stay one night longer in Frankfort. I’d love to make the trip back to central Michigan again this Fall, too.
Before we get into the specifics regarding where to stay, eat, drink and do around Frankfort, Michigan I want to mention this incredible overlook point which is very much worth the visit if you are traveling up the coast of Michigan.
On our road trip from Chicago, our first overnight stop was in Saugatuck (a really awesome town I highly recommend stopping in if you’re making the road trip!). We created a really detailed guide of Saugatuck, if you need it: Things To Do In Saugatuck, MI – Where to Eat, Drink, Stay & More!
It was recommended to us to take M-22, a state trunkline highway that follows the Lake Michigan shoreline when making the trip from Saugatuck to Frankfort. It’s a beautiful stretch of small highway roads that will give you breathtaking views of the lakefront along the way.
About 8 miles south of Frankfort on M-22 you will find Acadia Scenic Turnout (or Inspiration Point) righ off the side of the road. There is parking available. Climb 120 steps up 80 vertical feet to the highest point along this scenic roadway, so you can look down to one of Lake Michigan’s deepest points.
If you have the chance, I highly recommend stopping to catch the breathtaking views of the lake. How incredibly gorgeous is the water? Can you believe this is just south of Frankfort, MI?
WHAT TO DO IN FRANKFORT, MICHIGAN
POINT BETSIE LIGHTHOUSE | 3701 Point Betsie Rd Frankfort, MI 49635
To many, Point Betsie Lighthouse is arguably one of the finest of all historical lighthouse sites in the Great Lakes region – and one of the most commonly photographed. It’s typically opened for tours and an Inn, but closed for the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19.
You can, however, still visit the property. Thanks to it’s beauty and water access, Point Betsie Lighthouse is typically a popular tourist destination. We visited early in the morning, around 9 AM, and had the ground almost entirely to ourselves. It did, however, start to become more crowded within the house. I recommend getting their early, where possible.
Frankfort beach is one of the more stunning, clear Lake Michigan beaches Shawn and I have had the pleasure of visiting. It’s a quaint space for families equiped with swings for kids, volleyball nets and calmer harbour breaks. It is dog friendly on the norther most tips, as well.
The water itself on the north side was crystal clear to the bottom for miles. And, with the most stunning pockets of aqua water. You will love a visit to this Michigan beach. If you’re headed to Frankfort, I highly recommend setting up camp at Frankfort Beach for the afternoon. It’s also an incredibly location to catch a Michigan sunset.
From a crowd perspective, the beach can get a bit crowded – especially on the weekends. There was some social distancing taking place, but I would recommend going early so you can find a good spot to space out.
CRYSTAL LAKE | 498 N Michigan Avenue, Beulah, MI 49617
Crystal Lake is adjacent to the southern reaches of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Crystal Lake is located near Lake Michigan in Benzie County about 25 miles southwest of Traverse City and about 2 miles northeast of Frankfort.
Similar to how we described the water near Frankfort Beach, Crystal Lakes water will take your breath away! It’s the most gorgeous shade of blue and aqua.
Crystal clear water and clean beaches line this area and are a very peaceful and relaxing area for a bike ride or day at the beach. Visit and you won’t believe you’re in Michigan. Shawn and I loved it so much we are considering building on some land in the area.
SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE | 9922 Front Street, Highway M-72,
Empire, MI 49630
Some 50 years ago, an act of Congress established the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the goal that that development could never destroy the “rare scenic beauty and character” northern forests, beaches, islands and dunes within.
The park’s 64 miles of curving sand shorelines remain edged with the largest dunes east of the Mississippi. There are so many options for scenic hiking through hardwood forests, up to bluffs and for paddling crystal clear rivers, climbing, biking, beach going, star gazing, camping and more! It’s one of the most popular things to do in Franfort, Michigan.
You can spend as little as a few hours in the area or as much as a day or more. Visit their website for more ideas on what to do in the area.
Sleeping Bear’s west-facing beaches are made for sunsets. Or hit to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive with time to spare to find a spot on the amphitheater of sand at Stop Nine. The tall, sandy dunes provide the perfect spot for watching the sun dip below the watery horizon of Lake Michigan.
FLOAT, KAYAK, CANOE OR PADDLE BOARD LOWER PLATTE RIVER
If you are visiting Frankfort, Michigan I cannot recommend floating the Platte River enough. This was by far one of the best times we had in the area.
Whether you want a short tube ride with your family, or all day relaxation with a group of friends, a float along the Lower Platte River via a tubing trips is a great way to enjoy a northern Michigan summer day. Tubing the Platte River has become a very popular way to enjoy a visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
We chose Riverside Canoes located conveniently on the beautiful Platte River, along M22 in Honor, Michigan. Riverside offers two tubing trips on the Lower Platte River: a 45-minute float called the Loon & Walk, or a two-hour trip from the Weir to the township park at Lake Michigan.
Riverside Canoes offers tubes with closed bottoms or open bottoms. All tubes have handles, which are great for tethering tubes together or tethering children to parents. Floating coolers are also available for rent to haul drinks and snacks (I hightly recommend!).
Riverside Canoes also has an on-site convenient store where you can purchase snacks, alcoholic beverages, water, juice and more!
One of the most frequetly asked questions we have received is regarding the water on the River. About 70% of the time you will be able to touch the bottom and the water is crystal clear. You can almost always see the bottom the water is so clean. Also, there are no rough waters making this the perfect way to spend the day soaking up the Michigan sun.
CRYSTAL DOWNS GOLF COURSE
Crystal Downs Country Club is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, about seven miles north Frankfort and forty miles west of growing Traverse City.
The golf course and clubhouse are situated on a narrow strip of sandy, rolling land between the big lake and inland Crystal Lake, affording expansive views of both lakes, ever differing sunrises and sunsets, and fairly constant, invigorating winds. Some commentators have expressed that the land itself exudes energy.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN FRANKFORT, MICHIGAN
NOTE: We visited Frankfort, Michigan in the dead of Summer. This quaint little town seems to be getting more and more populated with tourists. With that said, it was difficult for us to find a table at any restaurant in town after 6:30 as all tables were booked solid. A local recommended we make reservations early in the day going forward. Just something to keep in mind if you’re looking to eat in the downtown area.
STORMCLOUD BREWING COMPANY
Voted by many as the #1 restaurant in Frankfort, Michicgan, Stormcloud Brewing Company is tucked between the soaring sand dunes and stormy shores of northern Lake Michigan, Stormcloud specializes in brewing Belgian Inspired ales. Stormcloud’s downtown pub is open for both To Go Orders and Dine-In Service. They have a great outdoor area if you’re looking to keep your dinner or lunch outdoors.
If you’re looking for some delicious baked goods, yummy breads, a go-to brunch spot – look no further than Crescent Bakery. All of their baked goods are made fresh daily. Open Thursday through Sunday from 7AM to 3PM. You cannot miss them right on Main Street in downtown Frankfort.
DINGHY’S RESTAURANT & BAR
COVID-19 Update: This restaurant is only available for takeout or delivery at this time.
During these challenging times, Dinghy’s offers a condensed menu for takeout service only.
From the website you can order online, or you can call. Customer favorites include the award winning ribs and pulled pork sandwich, as well as several other menu items that have become most popular with their loyal customers – particularly their smoked chicken wings.
And the Friday Fish Fry continues to attract customers from near and far.
PORT CITY SMOKEHOUSE
Nestled up to beautiful Betsie Bay, many would say Port City Smokehouse offers the very best in North Country, Big Water cuisine.
Their whitefish, lake trout, walleye and perch come from the very cold, deep waters of the upper lakes and are the source for our exquisitely tasteful 100% sugar-maple wood-smoked fish and their wildly popular and richly flavorful smoked-fish pates.
These fresh, local catches are also prepared “flash-fried” and are the cornerstone of their area-famous take out! All day they serve up quick and delicious fish sandwiches and dinners, smoked BBQ ribs and our award-winning pork sandwich.
Want something different? Enjoy their fine variety of hearty and robust turkey and beef jerky, deeply flavored with their unique wood smoked flavors. And don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth by trying their own line of “Fruit of the Dunes” candies and jams which feature the crisp flavors of local Leelanau fruits.
BIRCH & MAPLE
Birch & Maple is an eatery overlooking Betsie Bay in Frankfort, MI. Enjoy a craft cocktail and a modern dish prepared from scratch with deliciously real ingredients.
They prepare all of their meals with no added flavors, colors, or preservatives, because real food doesn’t need them. Fresh food cooked to perfection is delicious! A great location serving vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. They have incredible online reviews, too!
If you are looking for memorable waterfront dining experience, choose Rock’s Landing, Crystal Lakes only waterfront restaurant.
Executive Chef Joe Meyers brings his culinary experience from Portland, Oregon to blend with Tebo’s passion for local, sustainable foods to create flavorful dishes with a myriad of ethnic influences. Shareable, smaller plates of seafood, fresh vegetables and “tapas” like entrées pair with a small, thoughtful wine list as well as several Michigan craft beers.
Open Thursday through Tuesday, Wednesdays are reserved for the traditional Chimney Corners Resort picnic BBQ on the Rock’s Landing lawn. Reservations are recommended. Open seasonally, May through October.
THE COOL SPOT
If you need to cool off this Summer, you cannot resist grabbing a smooth cool ice cream treat from The Cool Spot. Located in the center of downtown Frankfort, grab a waffle cone and hop back on your bike around town. The prices are great, too!
HOTEL FRANKFORT & RESTAURANT
Centered in Frankfort’s historic Main Street, just two blocks from one of the most picturesque Lake Michigan beaches, sits the historic Hotel Frankfort. This Frankfort hotel is a seasonal restaurant, dining room and bar along with conference facilities, with gourmet catered meals available for gatherings of up to 100.
Restaurant dining indoors and outdoor patio are open Thursday through Sunday from 12PM to 8PM.
WHERE TO STAY IN FRANKFORT, MICHIGAN
If you are looking to stay in downtown Frankfort I recommend staying at Hotel Frankfort. Hotel Frankfort is located in the heart of Frankfort Michigan just steps from local shopping venues, the beach and all local restaturants. We had the pleasure of staying here for two nights and it was a joy.
The outside of the hotel does not look nearly as pleasing as the inside. The staff was excellent, the rooms were very clean and they took great precaution from a COVID-19 perspective. The ratings are some of the highest for hotels in Frankfort.
CHIMNEY CORNERS RESORT
Chimney Corners Resort has been welcoming families to the shores of beautiful Crystal Lake since 1935. Choose a traditional summer cottage or cabin nestled in the bluffs and along the shore, or enjoy our historic Lodge bed and breakfast.
Located on scenic M-22, they are just a short hop from Lake Michigan, the town of Frankfort, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Open May 1 – October 31, stay with us and enjoy the best of northern Michigan!
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