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Destination Michigan! Frankenmuth

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

Also known as “America’s Little Bavaria.”

The Bavarian Flag, with Bavarian beer and stein located in a Frankenmuth store.

Frankenmuth (LIttle Bavaria) (media by JC)

I was first introduced to this tourist location in my youth. As a kid, any place that had a store dedicated to Christmas for 365 days of the year had to be magical. Forget all of the German heritage, the beautiful landscape, the small-town atmosphere; we just wanted a little taste of Christmas all year long! To say Bronner Christmas Wonderland has many Christmas decorations would be an absolute understatement.

An upward facing photo of Christmas decoration in Frankenmuth’s Bronner’s.

Bronner’s Christmas Decorations (media by JC)

You can’t miss Bronners as it is the first location you happen upon as you enter the town of Frankenmuth while entering from the South. Located on roughly 27 acres of property, all decorated, of course, it houses just less than two football fields of Christmas decor. It never fails; every time we visit this store, it is busy. I can tell you I will never come close to here anywhere near Christmas.

Bronner’s inviting Christmas display as you enter the East entrance.

Bronner’s South Entrance (media by JC)

An extensive collection of Hummel figurines enclosed in a glass case in Bronners.

Hummel Figurines (media by JC)

A hidden gem within Bronners is the Hummel figurine display case located in the Program Room. The porcelain, hand-decorated figurines were first produced in 1935 by Franz Goebel after he breathed life into Berta Hummel’s drawings. I imagine these are pretty priceless as many of them are “retired” and no longer in production.

A vast collection of Precious Moments figurines enclosed in a glass display case.

Precious Moments Figurines (media by JC)

You can also find a complete collection of Precious Moment figurines in their dedicated display case. Though not viewed in the same class as Hummel’s, they still hold a certain amount of sentimental value for those who started collecting them as early as 1978. My grandmother was an avid collector of these figurines.

Just outside, you can see a full-size replica of the church where the song “Silent Night” was performed for the first time.

Silent Night Chapel Replica outside view located in Frankenmuth.

Silent Night Chapel Replica (media by JC)

Frankenmuth’s famous Zehnder’s restaurant and the sign located out front.

Zehnder’s (Media by JC)

As you get older, Frankenmuth takes on a whole different life. “Family Style Dinner” is the real draw for me. Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn, located just down the road, put on a well-known chicken dinner that is certain to satiate your hunger.

Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn located directly across the street from Zehnders.

Bavarian Inn (media by JC)

My family prefers the Zehnder’s dinner, but the Bavarian Inn will do in a pinch provided no accommodating reservations. It is also important to point out; both locations have stellar bakeries in their basements. You will most likely receive a coupon to apply to a purchase at their respective bakeries.

A view of the original room in Frankenmuth’s Zehnders restaurant.

The “Original” Room in Zehnders (media by JC)

When you are ready to partake in your meal, they will escort you to your table in a German-style restaurant (Some of the rooms are vintage).

A typical Zehnder’s chicken “Family style” dinner.

Main Course (media by JC)

Zehnders “Family Style” endless dinner is served with appetizers which include:

  1. Chicken Noodle Soup- The kids generally order multiple cups of this.

  2. Cranberry relish

  3. Cole Slaw

  4. Liver Pate and Cheese Spread with Bread

  5. Stollen and White Bread with Jam (We recently had cherry)

The main course (pictured) includes:

  1. Their “world-famous” fried chicken/ This time of year, you can add on jumbo shrimp and prime rib). You can also count on barbecue ribs at certain times of the year. There is also a Wiener Schnitzel and walleye fish option.

  2. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

  3. Stuffing

  4. A vegetable (this time was green beans)

  5. Buttered Noodles (topped with Ritz crackers)

Order as much as you want, eat as much as you want but leave room for your complimentary dessert. I opt for the orange sherbet, but chocolate and vanilla ice cream are available. (the kids will get a kick out of the plastic animal figurines placed in the scoops.

After dinner or late lunch, in our case, it’s time to walk off the caloric havoc you just put your body through. Walking the streets of Frankenmuth will not harken you to the streets of Germany, but rather transport you to the tourist location “Trap” that it is. Store after store selling fudge, saltwater taffy, toys, furniture, clothing, and the like. Frankenmuth is not unlike any other tourist location looking to separate their visitors from their money.

Zehnder’s bakery and the making of fudge.

Fudge and Chocolate Maker (media by JC)

An upward view of the Frankenmuth Cheese House.

(media by JC)

Frankenmuth is also known for its cheese and sausage. When in Frankenmuth, you must visit their Chees Haus. While here, we partook in a bag or two of Cheese Curds. I may have also bought a jar of pie filling to try out for later.

Frankenmuth’s Riverplace Shopping center.

Riverplace Shopping Center (media by JC)

Several years ago, Frankenmuth erected an outdoor shopping center called River Place. They took shopping and amped it up by ten, and now you have a plethora of new shops to complement what Frankenmuth already had. Bavaria, Germany, has also become a tourist trap as they cater to each Auslander who enters the city. Frankenmuth is not too far removed from this norm.

A typical horse drawn carriage located near Frankenmuth’s Zehnders.

(media by JC)

If you so desire, you can rent a carriage ride for $50, buy a blanket for $10 (It was cold), and pay $2 to feed the horse.

A view of The Holz (Wood) Bridge located on the Cass River in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

The Holz Bridge (Wood Bridge) media by JC

If this were the summer, you could partake in a Paddleboat ride down the Cass River. My wife and I debated whether you could ice skate safely on it right now.

All in all, this is a perfect day excursion for a family looking to break up the monotony of these “unprecedented” times. Goodbye Frankenmuth!

A sign located on the way out of Frankenmuth, Michigan with the German words Auf Wiedersehen.

Goodbye from Frankenmuth (media by JC)

Visit other Michigan Destinations:

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