Visiting Frankenmuth

By June 15, 2016Adventures

It was a hot sunny beautiful summer day this past Saturday perfect for adventuring to the town of Frankenmuth. Frankenmuth is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” and their slogan “Built on tradition. Made for memories.” fits this charming town.

Frankenmuth was founded in 1845 by a group of fifteen German-Lutheran missionaries who taught Christianity to the Chippewa Indians. ‘Franken’ depicts the province from which the settlers came and ‘Muth’ means courage in German.

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I first visited the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce which located right downtown on Main street. The chamber staff were friendly and helpful. I picked up the Frankenmuth Visitor’s Guide which showcases lots of events and area attractions. It also includes a great map of the downtown area to help you navigate. There are also public restrooms here as well for your convenience.

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We were ready for lunch after the drive so we decided to dine at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant which is best known for their chicken dinners. The Bavarian Inn Restaurant is one of the oldest eateries in the country and started in 1888 when Theodore Fischer built the Union House on Main Street. Three generations of Fischer family operated the restaurant and created the “all you can eat” family style chicken dinners. In 1950. ownership changed to the Zehnder family who continues to offer the tradition to guests today.

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Garrin ordered the ‘Frankenmuth combination’ which included the famous chicken, Schnitzel (breaded loin of pork) and Sauerbraten (marinated roast beef). Of the three meats, he enjoyed the chicken the best emphasizing why they are known for it. I ordered the Bratwurst and kraut. The sauerkraut was a bit light on the vinegar and I prefer mine to be more ‘sour’. Both our meals came with homemade potato cheese puffs which were delicious and our favorite thing about the meal!

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A couple interesting details about the restaurant: the wait staff dresses in traditional Bavarian attire (service was friendly and fast), the menu carries Michigan’s largest selection of German Beers and you can roll your own pretzel (reservations required).  There are seven unique castle shops in the building to visit and a 360 room Bavarian Inn Lodge across the bridge where guest can stay overnight.

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After lunch, we decided to stroll the town before checking out the Bavarian Festival. The architecture of the shops are quaint, charming and just plain fun. I especially loved the River Place Shops featuring forty shops styled in a European village theme along the river. We visited, Bead Haven, Michigan’s largest bead supply store that is sure to make you want to take up this craft. Other favorites included Hello Cats and Dogs featuring unique items for your furry friend and The Michigan Shoppe specializing in Michigan made products and themed gifts. We were happy to be able to replace our Michigan “Native” vinyl decal at this store for our new truck when it arrives.

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Behind the River Place Shops, we strolled over the covered bridge and enjoyed the scenery of the beautiful Cass River.

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You may often view the Bavarian Belle Riverboat, an 150 passenger authentic paddlewheel riverboat, from the bridge and during another visit, I hope to enjoy a ride on it and mine for gems at Thunder Bay Mining while there.

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We also visited the Covered Bridge and Leather Gift Shop where we purchased some treasures to come home with us. Another fun downtown store is Frankenmuth Taffy Kitchen where you may watch taffy being pulled and kissed.

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The shop offers 32 flavors of taffy and you may pick your own in several different sized packages to purchase. I had fun selecting almost all the flavors to take home and the taffy tastes delicious.

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The afternoon was quite hot so we decided to head over to check out The Bavarian Festival before venturing home. This is a four day event and was located in the town’s Heritage Park. The festivities include opening ceremonies with a princess coronation, festival olympics, Maibaum dancers, kid’s parade, Corn Hole & Euchre tournaments, a small carnival and a Festival parade on the final day.

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It was a smaller less crowded event than anticipated however the traditional fair food allowed us to enjoy a snow cone on a hot day.

Frankenmuth is also home to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland which is the world’s largest Christmas store. It is the size of one and half football fields and features over 50,000 trims and gifts. I can’t wait to go back and visit this store in the winter and tell you about it.

There is also an Adventure Park with aerial trails where you can zip line and climb. I think it would be fun to take a tour of the Frankenmuth Brewery or enjoy a wine and chocolate tasting on Frankemuth FunShips, a 12 passenger electric tour boat on the Cass river.

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Families may enjoy staying overnight at Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark which includes waterpark passes. One thing on my bucket list is to enjoy horse drawn carriage ride around this charming town.

GLB_201606110332_9869There is much to do, see and enjoy in Frankenmuth and I know we will adventure there again.

 

About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.