After Week 567 of quarantining with my family, we were all getting a little sick of each other. My kids have been home since the second week of March, and the backyard Slip ‘n Slide had lost its appeal. In the midst of a pandemic, I started searching for safe options for a family getaway. I wanted a place near the water, with lots of outdoor activities. I also wanted a break from the heat, and I didn’t want to drive 12 hours to get there.
I decided Michigan was the place to go — but having never been, I had no idea where to begin. There are just so many options. I wanted to be close to everything, but not in a super-touristy area. I wanted to rent a house with the amenities of a resort or hotel. And then I discovered Crystal Mountain.
Crystal Mountain is a 1,500 acre resort in Northern Michigan’s Benzie County that’s been ranked among North America’s premier family destinations by Conde Nast Traveler and Fodor’s Travel. And after visiting with my family, it’s easy to see why.
While known primarily as a ski resort, Crystal Mountain is a hidden gem that lets families enjoy the best of Pure Michigan year-round. Here’s why you should consider Crystal Mountain for your next family getaway:
Location, location, location
Here in Cincinnati, we aren’t actually close to the coast. In terms of visiting the ocean, you’re looking at a 10+ hour drive. Unless you visit the “third coast,” AKA, the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes offer Southwest Ohio parents an authentic beach experience that’s about half the distance of the Atlantic.
In terms of visiting Michigan, Crystal Mountain is basically a half hour (give or take) from the area’s most beloved attractions. When searching for a place to stay, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of beach towns and cities. How do you choose? You don’t! Crystal Mountain gives you access to the best of #PureMichigan.
You’ll enjoy resort amenities in a homey setting
With four small kids, hotels are tricky for us. And AirBNBs can be a bit like rolling the dice – sometimes you luck out, sometimes you don’t. Crystal Mountain is the best of all worlds. It has a resort-like feel, with pools, dining and spa services. You can rent bikes or play laser tag. You can hike or check out the alpine slide. There’s even a grocery store on-site, and you can preorder groceries to be stocked in your room when you arrive!
The Great Outdoors
The number one reason to visit Michigan is, of course, the Great Outdoors. And you don’t have to venture to the Upper Peninsula to experience #PureMichigan. Crystal Mountain, located in Benzie County, puts you there. It’s a quick drive from Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Frankfort, Lake Michigan beaches, Point Betsie Lighthouse and more!
And the great part of exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Benzie county versus Leelanau is that you get a much quieter experience away from the crowds. Benzie County is perhaps Northern Michigan’s best-kept secret.
Vacationing during COVID-19
With parents navigating life with COVID-19, Crystal Mountain offers a safe outdoor getaway families can feel good about. The staff at Crystal Mountain are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their guests. There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the resort, and masks are required at all indoor attractions. The resort has rigorous cleaning and sanitizing protocol. Lodging assignments are staggered to allow for built-in distancing between guests.
Happily, most activities at Crystal Mountain are open. Golfing, bike riding, laser tag, disc golf, the chairlift and the outdoor pool — pretty much all outdoor attractions are open, just with stricter capacity limits and social distancing.
Whether you’re looking for a break from the summer heat, delightful fall foliage or prime ski conditions, you’ll find it all at Crystal Mountain. This hidden gem is the perfect place for a family getaway any time of the year, and provides a wonderful and safe break as we continue to navigate life during a pandemic.