BENZONIA, MI--(Marketwire - Aug 19, 2011) - This may be the time to visit the "Most Beautiful Place in America." Benzie County with over 30 miles of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the southern gateway to the acclaimed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park just voted "the most beautiful place in America" by viewers of ABC's "Good Morning America." The Sleeping Bear Dunes edged out such better-known spots as the Grand Tetons, Sedona, Newport, Cape Cod, Aspen, Ashville and Hawaii's Lanikai Beach in the voting. Announced on the program August 17, the news came with cheers and thousands of tweets to the #PureMichigan twitter site. Many who have already discovered the profound beauty of Northern Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes along the Lake Michigan coast were not surprised by the win. Sleeping Bear Dunes, the only midwestern location to make the list, was nominated by Grand Rapids, Michigan resident Jim Madole, who said, "Here at Sleeping Bear I sit in awe and wonder at the perfection of Mother Nature."
"We live in amazing beauty year round and to finally be recognized on national TV is a thrill," said Mary Carroll, President of Benzie County Visitors Bureau. She elaborated, "Benzie County is known as the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This area is filled with millions of trees, which makes it one of the most beautiful locations in the United States to enjoy during any season, but especially during the fall. The changing fall color within forests of oak, maple, cherry, chestnut, birch, hickory, ash, and beech trees is breathtaking."
The tapestry of colors of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and surrounding protected forests in Benzie County change to vivid fall colors on the roads that traverse the county. One of the most popular roads is M-22, which runs along the coast of Benzie County through the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas where wineries are plentiful, an easy day trip from Benzie County resorts, inns, cottages, and cabins.
The popular Food Network chef, Mario Batali, played a role in helping boost Sleeping Bear Dunes to the top. His presence in Northern Michigan this summer and his regular posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Foursquare have brought visibility to the area. Mario retweeted the "get out the vote" message last week to over 142,000 followers. He was interviewed on the August 17 ABC News segment about the beauty of the area by Good Morning America.
Benzie County is located 30 minutes west of Traverse City, Michigan and features quaint vacation towns and villages such as Frankfort, Elberta, Honor, Beulah, Benzonia, and Thompsonville, as well as the majestic Crystal Lake. Benzie County has spectacular beaches, miles of biking and walking paths, views of Lake Michigan, and great restaurants and shops. In addition to 30 miles of Lake Michigan coastline along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Benzie has 57 inland lakes, 22 miles for biking along the Betsie Valley Trail, and approximately 200 miles of rivers. Outdoor activities for vacationers and sports enthusiasts include fishing, golfing, biking, hiking, running, kayaking and canoeing in the spring, summer and fall months and skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in the winter. Benzie County is known as the "best place in Michigan for outdoor sports and recreation."