What’s the smallest county in Michigan? Benzie.

Where is it? On Michigan’s northwest side, west of Traverse City.

How small? Looking at the mitten, about the size of its fingernail, and a population of roughly 18,000.

After being organized in 1869, the county was named after ducks.
Say what?

Okay, here’s the deal…the word “benzie” doesn’t really mean anything, but it was derived from a different term. The river that is now known as the Benzie River was called “The River of Sawbills” (a type of duck) by French settlers, as “La Rivière aux Bec-scies”. English-speaking settlers anglicized the word as “betsie”, and awhile afterward, the word became slurred and changed once again to “benzie”. So the river may be called the ‘Betsie,’ but the county was altered to ‘Benzie’.

There are plenty of things to do in Benzie County…there’s the Cherry Bowl Drive-in Theater, the Arcadia Dunes, Crystal Mountain, Point Betsie lighthouse, the ghost towns of Joyfield, Bendon, Almira, and many others (Aral, Platte, Allyn, Homestead, Edgewater, Wallin, Weldon) along with great small villages to visit throughout Benzie’s countryside.

It may be Michigan’s smallest county, but it makes for an awesome roadtrip!

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