FRANKENMUTH, MI – By: Heather LaBelle
Our last stop while in Michigan was to my husband’s hometown, Frankenmuth. This small, Bavarian city is home to world famous chicken dinners, regular festivals and events, and the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.
Unlike our other featured hot spots in Michigan (The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village and Museum of American Innovation; and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park) this locale is not a singular attraction; but instead a series of sights, stores, eateries and more; which make Frankenmuth an ideal location for any family to visit. With numerous attractions and events for the whole family, a trip to Frankenmuth can easily span from a day trip to an extended weekend.
Lining the Main Street district are a variety of shops and eateries/candy stores that are as far from franchised chains as can be, making your experience truly one-of-a-kind. If you are looking for a traditional, family style dinner you can head to either Zehnder’s or The Bavarian Inn and order one of their world famous chicken dinners. If you’re looking for something smaller, there are a number of places that feature other traditional Bavarian foods such as sausages or more familiar things like burgers, pizzas, and more. Perhaps you have a sweet tooth; you could stop at one of a half-dozen different fudge and candy shops where you watch the sweet treats being made right before your very eyes – hand-turned fudge and freshly pulled taffies are two of the bigger crowd pleasers. (For the grown-up kids in your party, there are also a number of breweries and distilleries featured in town as well as other local brews from around Michigan.)
The streets themselves are full of things to do without ever setting foot inside. There are multiple gardens, including the start of a music garden, a gnome scavenger hunt, and a kaleidoscope I personally could have spent hours at. You can, however, easily spend all day in any number of specialty stores (leather, crafting, toys, and clothes; just to name a few). And if you can’t find something that strikes your fancy on Main Street, try the River Place Shops on the south end of town. Besides even more shopping options, there are photo cut out boards everywhere, a small park at the center, and more hands-on fun. The shops all seemed very encouraging to our little one to have fun and try things on. One store even has a ‘cherry’ ball pit for kids to play in.
If you’re planning on staying the night, there are a number of local hotels to choose from. Two family favorites are Splash Village, which houses two indoor water parks, and the Bavarian Inn Lodge (also referred to by locals as the Motor Lodge). The Motor Lodge is an all inclusive resort with four indoor pools, 18-hole mini golf, restaurants, lounges, a two-story children’s play village, family fun center, live entertainment, and much, MUCH more.
Depending on when you plan your visit, there are also a number of events that the city of Frankenmuth hosts. You can catch all of your traditional events such as 4th of July fireworks, tree lighting ceremony, and running events. In addition to the usual suspects, there are also a number of local, annual events that draw people from all over the world; Dog Bowl (the world’s largest Olympic style event for dogs!), Balloons Over Bavarian Inn, Ice Fest, Oktoberfest, and Bavarian Fest – and so many more!!!
The last major attraction you will find in Frankenmuth, and is an absolute must-see, is Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. Making spirits bright since 1945, Bronner’s is open 361 days of the year with several visits from Santa throughout. The store itself spans 7.35 acres and features trees, gifts, ornaments, decorations, and displays from 50 nations and in more than 40 languages. With numerous options to personalize (quite literally with their more than 400,000 personalized ornaments sold annually) your holidays will never look the same.
Just as with the other attractions on our must-see Michigan visit, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Frankenmuth. Visit their website (www.frankenmuth.org) today to start planning your trip.
Tips for your visit:
- Sensible shoes are a must.
- If possible, plan your trip during the week to avoid larger crowds on the weekend.
- Tourist eateries can get expensive on long trips. There are a number of parks (pack your own food) and other options if you leave the Main Street (tourist) district.
***The Playful Parent is not paid to write articles; this article was written by Heather L. in order to help make planning educational and memorable trips for parents easier.***