Willkommen to Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Stroll along the beautiful German-style streets and revel in the small-town hospitality of old Europe. Dachshunds have a special place in the hearts of locals, and you’ll find numerous wiener dog-related events held throughout the year. Soak up the town’s brewing history and wander through eclectic Bavarian shops, including the world’s largest Christmas store. The Cass River provides several ways to experience a day on the water. Spend time exploring local museums, or swing through the trees for an adrenaline rush. Celebrate German style with an officially approved Oktoberfest. Regardless of the time of year, there’s always something wunderbar happening here.
Frankenmuth has a rich German history, so it only makes sense that brewing is part of its culture. A visit to Frankenmuth Brewery, America’s oldest microbrewery and Michigan’s first craft brewery, is a pilgrimage to a rich beer heritage. Raise a stein in honor of brewery mascot Frankie, a dachshund who’s been featured on the labels since the early 1930s, assuring drinkers that this beer is “dog-gone good.” Today, 21 craft beers pour from taps to pair with beer-centric menu items. Lager Mill Beer Store and Brewing Museum offers a look back at the history of beer brewing in a beautiful old wooden mill that overlooks the Cass River.
Paddle Your Own Canoe
Grab a paddle and set off on the one-mile Frankenmuth City Paddle, part of the Cass River Water Trail, with views of the unique urban riverbank, a covered bridge and two city parks. Enjoy a narrated tour of the Cass River aboard Frankenmuth FunShips, where electric boats provide a quiet and environmentally clean way to enjoy the river. Board the Bavarian Belle Riverboat for a one-hour narrated sightseeing cruise. The family-owned, 150-passenger stern-driven paddle wheel takes to the river from May through October. For kayak and canoe adventurers, the Frankenmuth Fish Passage on the Cass River provides fun on the waterway.
Take the Family
Take a leisurely stroll through River Place Shopping Village, a one-of-a-kind German-themed outdoor retail experience that includes unique shops, an enchanted forest complete with a fairy garden and the Grand Traverse Micro Distillery. Don’t miss Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store with more than 350 decorated trees, 150 kinds of nutcrackers and gifts and decorations from more than 70 countries. Looking for an outdoor adventure? Swing on down to Frankenmuth Aerial Park, which provides rope courses and zipline excitement for the entire family. Grandpa Tiny’s Farm is a working farm with hands-on exhibits and a petting area with chickens, calves, bunnies and other barnyard critters.
No trip to Frankenmuth is complete without a stop at Zehnder’s, one of Michigan’s top tourist destinations. It all began when the flagship restaurant Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth opened with traditional family-style chicken dinners. Four generations later, the restaurant now seats 1,500 guests, making it “America’s Largest Family Restaurant.” The Bavarian Haus Motel was the next addition and over the years has expanded to become Zehnder’s Splash Village, Hotel and Waterpark, with an indoor array of slippery slides and arcade along with an additional water park, Atrium Park. The Fortress Golf Course is an 18-hole, par-72 course and has been named one of Michigan’s Top 25 Golf Courses. Zehnder’s Snowfest Festival is held every year, attracting more than 200,000 visitors.
The Michigan Heroes Museum tells stories of the men and women who served with bravery, sacrifice and valor in six foreign wars and space programs. It’s the largest museum of its kind in the country, boasting more than 700 exhibits, and is home to the largest displayed Medal of Honor collection in the U.S. The Frankenmuth Historical Museum comprises seven galleries that chronicle the rich history of this Bavarian community, including a long brewing history. Historic Fisher Hall, built in the 1890s, is attached to the museum and hosts parties and special events.
A Bavarian Celebration
Frankenmuth is home to the Bavarian Festival, Michigan’s largest German heritage event. Every September, Michigan’s Little Bavaria throws the only Oktoberfest outside of Germany that’s sanctioned by the Bavarian Parliament and the City of Munich. Known for authentic German food and fun, German bands provide the entertainment, and dancers step out on the wooden floor in dirndls and lederhosen. Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest beer is served along with mouthwatering German dishes. Spectators cheer on adorable dachshunds as they race across the Beer Hall’s floor in the annual Wiener Dog Races.
Fun in the Snow
Zehnder’s Snowfest, held every January, is one of the top snow sculpting events on the continent and features beautifully detailed ice carvings and epic snow sculptures.
For More Information
Michigan Economic Development Corporation