Looking for a little outing that will bring you to Bavaria and Germany? Think about heading to Frankenmuth in Michigan. My family and I visited there a few years ago and would go back in a heartbeat.
My family of four traveled to Frankenmuth over our week long trek through Michigan in the month of August. We absolutely loved Michigan, especially the town of St. Joseph. After we had visited three cities (we had opted to spend two days in each town to just get a feel for each), we made our way across the mitten from the West Michigan Pike. We arrived in Frankenmuth and were taken to another little country so to speak!
Frankenmuth is known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria and it is full of quaint streets, many cheese and fudge shops, and tourist attractions to suit everyone in your family. The tourist website welcomes viewers with the words Willkommen to Frankenmuth. Whether you want to stay for two days or a week or more, the Bavarian hospitality you will be greeted with will stay with you for a long time.
We opted to stay at the Bavarian Inn of Frankenmuth. We liked the idea of being in a “resort” type place with our two kids (who were 1 and 9 at the time). At the Bavarian Inn, the rooms are all spacious and very adequately stocked with microwaves and mini refrigerators. The place was very clean and the staff was very hospitable. Here there is the Lodge and also the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. You’ll find 13 acres of photo opps right there with beautiful views of the Cass River. There is an authentic German Glockenspiel right nearby, horse-drawn carriages to catch a ride upon, and a ornately unique wooden covered bridge to walk across to the town and shopping and nearby eatery district.
At the Bavarian Lodge itself there are seven acres of family fun right at your fingertips. You’ll discover an indoor waterpark boasting four indoor pools, three whirlpools, and two water slides. You can also shop at 40 different stores and boutiques right around the area. We chose to stay at Bavarian Lodge because of the family-centered fun that was right there. There is an arcade area in the Family Fun Center and family friendly dining in the basement. You’ll also find an indoor 18 hole miniature golf course as well. Our kids (and my husband and I) thoroughly enjoyed the pools and water/splashing accommodations. We spent a lot of time just playing at the Lodge and roaming in the basement filled with fun. There was also a children’s village play area. When we were staying here, they were working on the construction of the two new giant water slides, so they were not in operation at the time but have been enjoyed by thousands and thousands since!
We ate at Oma’s Restaurant which is located right at the Bavarian Lodge and it offered very wholesome, huge, delicious meals that were affordable as well. My husband and I dined on authentic German-inspired dishes while the kids feasted on good old American kids meal options! We also ate a main meal at the River Place shops the day we were shopping there. We kept leftovers from both of the meals in our hotel room refrigerator and had lunch from those. We also used the dining options in the Family Fun Center for breakfast and a few snacks throughout our stay.
If you can break the kids away from all the fun at the Lodge, head out to see the town. We walked up and down the main streets of Frankenmuth and went into what seemed like every shop imaginable. You have to sample and taste the authentic cheese in all of the various cheese shops and indulge in the freshest fudge you may ever taste. We spent good parts of both days we were there walking everywhere on foot to the shops. We drove over to the Frankenmuth River Place Shops; it resembles an outdoor shopping mall with plenty to do and see. Of course being a children’s librarian at heart, we stumbled upon the Frankenmuth Wickson District Library and ventured inside for about an hour. Actually, the library stumbled upon us because we have a running joke that I find any and all libraries whenever we are vacationing in other cities! They appear out of nowhere!
One early evening we rode the Bavarian Belle Riverboat that takes you on a trek down the Cass River (and another joke goes along with this story: my 1 year old lost his beloved pacifier in the Cass River). We walked through the Bavarian Castle Shops and the Frankenmuth Historical Museum. At the museum we took the interactive walking tour. Housed here is also a seven gallery museum detailing all kinds of local history and artifact displays about the town. We learned quite a bit about the history of this area and how Frankenmuth came to be founded. It was neat to learn that in 1845, a group of 15 German Lutheran missionaries left the area of Bavaria to bring the Gospel to the Chippewa Indians. Their settlement became Frankenmuth, MI.
During one of the days we were there, we drove out to try and get a glimpse of Lake Huron. We took a very scenic drive through the Saginaw Bay area and got pretty close to the Lake, but were just on the outskirts. We did find roads and roads of open farms and fields and it was a beautiful drive through the countryside of this area of the state. We happened upon a unique locally owned bakery, Elaine’s Bake Shop on North Tuscola Road in Bay City and had to stop in for a donut!
On our second day (the day we were leaving to head back home on a nine hour drive), we stopped at the infamous Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. So many people had told me a trip to Frankenmuth was not complete without stopping at this Christmas shop. We explored a lot throughout the store and picked up quite a few ornaments to give as gifts to family later that year at Christmas gatherings.
Of course, there are always festivals to take in when visiting great tourist attraction towns like Frankenmuth. These festivals are a must-do for anyone heading there this holiday season.
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, November 6 and 8
34th Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Bazaar, November 7
St. Nicholas to Santa Claus, a telling of how St. Nick became the jolly good elf, November 7
German Worship Service at St. Lorenz, November 8
Holiday Celebration and Candlewalk 2015, November 27
Zehnder’s Snowfest, January 27-February 1 2016
As I stated in the beginning, my family and I visited Frankenmuth in the summer, but Little Bavaria is great to visit for a getaway for the holidays, a Christmas explosion of fun right at Christmastime, or any time in the new year. Take a look at this link to discover plenty of more attractions in the Frankenmuth area. In two days, we barely touched on all of them! You’ll find plenty to do, see, eat and play in Frankenmuth.