Aerial photos reveal what makes this gently curved swath of coastline so nautically unique: a pair of piers form a horseshoe around Frankfort Harbor, which is fed by Betsie Bay. In this arrangement, water wraps around the town on two sides, in the form of bay, harbor, and Great Lake. But all that’s just the backdrop for a wide beach that gradually slips into sandy-bottomed clear water, the perfect summer playground for visiting beach bums looking to get mentally swept out to sea.
Distance: 388 miles
Travel Time: 6.5 to 7 hours
Getting There: Frankfort Beach’s large, free parking lot abuts the sand.
Going to Town: Much of the commerce in Frankfort gravitates to boater-friendly Betsie Bay. This is where you’ll find tiny shops and restaurants that channel the quaintness of Cape Cod.
Stay: The B&B industry is booming in the Frankfort area. The Victorian-Italianate confection Stonewall Inn ($150/night; 428 Keelanau Ave., 231-352-9299) is decorated with Civil War antiques.
A beautiful wooden staircase leads to the Assistant Keeper’s Apartment atop Point Betsie Lighthouse ($2,000/week; 231-352-7644), a charming 2BR, 1BA with iron beds and views like a cruise ship’s.
Eat: A huge sake menu and creative Asian fare put The Fusion (411 Main St., 231-352-4114) high on the list of dining options in Frankfort.
Unassuming Crescent Bakery (404 Main St., 231-352-4611) has a cult following hooked on elaborate break-fast panini with gourmet extras like pulled pork and housemade asiago spread.