Frankfort, Michigan
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Discover Frankfort: The Gateway to Sleeping Bear Dunes

As the gateway to the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the picturesque gem of Frankfort, Michigan, invites visitors to embark on a journey through both history and nature.

Frankfort offers all of the gorgeous and stunning views of the most popular beach towns scattered along Lake Michigan, but it couples it with under-the-radar small-town charm

Frankfort, Michigan
Frankfort, Michigan | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Beautiful In Every Season

For my son’s spring break, I knew that no matter the weather, we wanted to make our way to one of the Great Lakes.

We often find that visiting towns lining the shoreline of Michigan during the shoulder seasons makes for an enjoyable visit with a different perspective, even if it may not be open to full throttle quite yet.

The Pool At Harbor Lights Resort In Frankfort
The pool at Harbor Lights Resort | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Our Home Away from Home

We knew we wanted to spend the night in town for our stay, which led us to Harbor Lights Resort. This was the perfect fit for our family with its rich history and prime location.

Being just a few minutes’ walk from the restaurants and shops of downtown Frankfort made this an easy choice, and seeing the sunrise and sunset from our room was an added bonus.

Point Betsie Lighthouse
Point Betsie Lighthouse in the spring | photo by Amanda Shaffer

The Iconic Point Bestie Lighthouse

We arrived in Frankfort and made our first stop at Point Betsie Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse is less than ten minutes from downtown Frankfort. The lighthouse is open from late spring to early fall, and tour options are available as well.

While Point Betsie was not open for our visit, it’s still a marvel to view without stepping inside. With a gorgeous beach, iconic lighthouse, and opportunity for rock hunting, this spot is a favorite for us to return to over and over. 

Dinner At Storm Cloud Brewing In Frankfort
Dinner at Storm Cloud Brewing | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Dinner at Storm Cloud Brewing

After playing for hours, it was time to check into our room and then make our way into town for dinner. After reading the rave reviews of the pizza at Storm Cloud Brewing, I knew this would be the perfect stop for my pizza-pie-loving crew.

Service was fast and friendly, and our meal was delicious. While the weather kept us indoors for our visit, I did note a gorgeous patio that would be perfect on warmer days. 

Sunset In Frankfort
Sunset in Frankfort | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Sunset at Frankfort Public Beach

After dinner, we continued down Main Street to Frankfort Public Beach to play and watch the sunset. One of the biggest draws for this small town is the proximity of the downtown area to Lake Michigan.

At the beach, the kids and I were able to enjoy trails in the dunes and walk out to the pierhead. The decision to watch the sun melt into the horizon was made easier with how close the hotel was to the beach, just a couple-minute walk, so we could walk back at dusk and get settled right away. 

Breakfast At Bella's In Frankfort
Breakfast at Bella’s | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Breakfast at Bella’s Cafe & Local Shops

Wanting to explore the area further, we woke up the next day to get breakfast at Bella’s Cafe. With coffee and bagels in hand, it was time to take a short drive to our hike. You can also enjoy the nautical-themed playground in town and all of the great shops.

While we weren’t able to visit them all, I added a few local Frankfort shops to our list that I will make sure to stop in at when we return: 

  • The Bookstore, for a vacation read. 
  • The Scoop of Frankfort, for an after-dinner treat. 
  • Bay Wear, for northern Michigan apparel.
  • Anet & Ollie’s Five & Dime, for the kids to pick out a souvenir. 
Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve In Frankfort
A rewarding hike at Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve | photo by Amanda Shaffer

A Hike at Green Point Nature Preserve

Our day then brought us to Green Point Nature Preserve to take a gorgeous hike on a trail that weaved in and out of the forest and through a meadow to Lake Michigan.

If you are looking for family-friendly hikes in Michigan, my two children enjoyed this easy-moderate hike very much, especially reading about the shipwreck on the shoreline and enjoying the scenic overlooks. 

Empire Bluff Trail
Empire Bluff Trail | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Frankfort: A Perfect Launching Place

While it is easy to spend all of your time enjoying the charm and wonder of this coastal town, Frankfort’s appeal also lies in the fact that it is a great launching place to go if you want to explore more in the area.

You could spend the day visiting the ​​Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where you can explore the stunning dunes, hike the trails, and enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.

Many decide to spend a day at Crystal Lake, located near the town of Beulah. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking at the public beach, or rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the crystal-clear waters.

You could also plan a trip to the Platte River State Fish Hatchery to learn about fish conservation and the Great Lakes ecosystem. 

The Perfect Northern Michigan Small Town

With its incredible views of the dunes and charming downtown area, Frankfort is the perfect Northern Michigan small town to visit.

I hope that our recent early spring trip inspires you to take a trip whether it’s in the bustling summer season or the more slow shoulder season, you won’t be disappointed. 

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