Explore > Michigan > Michigan Spotlight
spotlight header


Say ‘guten tag’ to a delightful Bavarian-themed village

Known as Michigan’s little Bavaria, this town is a big attraction in the Great Lakes Bay region, drawing millions of people year-round for its village ambiance, one-of-a-kind celebration of Christmas and its special take on German cuisine. Count on hearing “Willkommen” (German for “welcome”) more than once.

From the Atlantic to the Saginaw River

German settlers built early Frankenmuth on 680 acres of land purchased from the federal government for an estimated $1,700. They cleared pine trees to make way for farms. In order to create new streams of income, they also built mills that produced flour, lumber and wool. Frankenmuth quickly became known for German-inspired beer, cheese and sausage.

Even in its early days, Frankenmuth laid the groundwork for its tourist trade, establishing its first hotels in the late 1880s to serve travelers passing through the region. After World War II, the Interstate system, namely I-75 west of town, enabled Frankenmuth’s tourism industry to flourish. Today, Frankenmuth is a destination visited by roughly three million people a year.



Christmas Year-Round

With some 30 attractions throughout the area, Frankenmuth promises a different experience for everyone. Start with a cruise on the Bavarian Belle Riverboat, a family-run, authentically restored paddleboat offering narrated tours of the Frankenmuth area as it traverses the Cass River. Also embarking on the river are FunShips that offer wine and chocolate tasting to passengers. Boats for up to 12 passengers are available for charter, and there are also paddleboat rentals for self-directed river tours that will earn you a cardio workout bonus.

For landlubbers, try renting your own trolley, which you (and a few friends, of course) get to pedal through the town’s streets. If the weather decides not to cooperate, try one of the area’s huge indoor waterparks. Bavarian Inn Water Park spans seven acres and is connected to downtown Frankenmuth by a wooden covered bridge—the largest in Michigan. Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Indoor Waterpark spreads its water activities over 50,000 square feet, including a towering six-story family raft ride. Bring your golf clubs so that you can tee-off at the Fortress, one of many golf courses in and around Frankenmuth. Or try disc golf in Memorial Park. Take a more leisurely pace by biking, hiking or fishing throughout the area.

Brewing beer has been a Franken–muth tradition since the city’s founding in 1845. To learn how it all started, a stop by the Lager Mill Beer Store and Brewing Museum is in order. The museum’s store sells more than 450 craft beers from around the globe, including some coveted local brews. The museum houses all sorts of photos and other artifacts, including a gallery showcasing more than 2,500 pieces of authentic German brewery glassware.

The stroll through the local past continues at the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, housed in a renovated hotel built in 1905. This seven-gallery museum details Frankenmuth’s history through artifacts, documents and educational programs. Attached to the museum is Fischer Hall, host to concerts and theatrical events.



Shopping for Christmas Year-Round

Whether it’s an authentic German cuckoo clock or Christmas tree ornaments you can’t find anywhere else, Frankenmuth accommodates a wide range of shopping options. To start, there’s Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, open 361 days a year with some 50,000 Christmas tree trims and gifts spread out over the length of a football field.

For that one-of-a-kind timepiece, look around the Frankenmuth Clock Company, which has hundreds of clocks on display, along with music boxes, nutcrackers and other compelling finds. Unique items are what shoppers will find at the specialty marketplaces like Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn Lodge, both of which have been Frankenmuth landmarks for years.

For More Information





Travel Michigan