We finally wrap up our road trip along Michigan's Highway M-22 by leaving Empire and heading south through Benzie County right along Lake Michigan for much of the way on into Manistee.
Lighthouses are among some of my favorite landmarks along the Great Lakes, and this leg of M-22 is home to one of my all-time favorite Great Lakes lights.
Tim and I both love the Point Betsie Lighthouse, and it's one of our favorite stops along M-22.
It's also a favorite stop for many photographers, and you'll see the photogenic light tower's image on calendars, brochures, book covers and as the subject of many pieces of artwork as you travel and shop throughout the area.
One of my earliest posts here at Midwest Guest featured Point Betsie Lighthouse just as it celebrated its 150th anniversary a few years after the Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse began spearheading an ambitious restoration of the lighthouse.
We've especially enjoyed seeing the restoration process and recording the changing facade and interior improvements over the past half-dozen years and periodically sharing images of that process here at Midwest Guest.
Point Betsie is beautiful during the summer when visitors can tour the lighthouse's interior, climb up into the tower or walk for a mile or so along the secluded white sand Lake Michigan beach.
It's also a special pleasure to visit Point Betsie during the winter when just a few brave souls seem to visit.
While I love seeing the lighthouse receive some tender loving care as the restoration continues, I sometimes think of the changes such "improvements" bring to the area and miss how it's no longer our "secret".
Continue south on M-22 to Frankfort, a busy resort town by summer and quiet beach town during the colder months.
We particularly love stopping to eat at Fusion, with its creative pan-Asian menu, and browsing at The Bookstore, a proudly independent store which usually has a great selection of books by local authors, when visiting Frankfort.
The public beach at Frankfort is a favorite stop for many visitors, especially those who want to walk along the breakwater out to the lighthouse or linger to watch a spectacular sunset over Lake Michigan.
Frankfort has a long history as a transportation hub in the area as car ferries once operated as link in the railroad lines, carrying passengers bound across Lake Michigan for Wisconsin (yup, it's still one of those stories I've been meaning to do here).
Frankfort also figures in one of Michigan's historic mysteries--where did early Jesuit explorer Father Marquette die? A marker here makes a case for Frankfort as the 1675 death site, although several other sites in Michigan claim the same honor.
We spotted a small sign along M-22 south of Frankfort that said "historical marker" and found the childhood home of another adventurer, early aviatrix Harriet Quimby.
Quimby became the first woman in the United States to earn her pilot's license and the first female pilot to fly an airplane across the English Channel. Unfortunately for her, the sinking of the Titanic the same week as her historic flight, pretty much sunk her future claim to fame as an airborne pioneer.
This is one of two Michigan markers staking a claim as Quimby's birthplace. The earliest of the two is in Coldwater, which is in southwest Michigan, but later research makes a pretty convincing case for Arcadia as her childhood home and led to the erection of this marker in 2000.
Interested in learning more about the people and places mentioned here? Check out Harriet Quimby: America's First Lady of the Air by Ed. Y. Hall, Searching for Marquette: A Pilgrimage in Art by Ruth D. Nelson or Point Betsie: Lightkeeping and Lifesaving on Northeastern Lake Michigan by Jonathan P. Hawley.
So, what are your favorite sites along M-22?
I'm already thinking I need to do stories about hang gliders in the Elberta area and the heyday of the ferries at Frankfort, plus we need to spend some more time down in Onekama. Cherry pit spitting contests? Public art along the way?
What did I miss in this five-part series about touring along M-22?
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