When I first drove into Frankenmuth and made my way down Main Street, it was clear that the nickname “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” delivered on its promise.
The businesses and buildings were all very authentic and styled after Franconian architecture. Here you can find everything from Michigan’s oldest brewery to riverside shopping, and two of the USA’s largest family-owned restaurants.
Frankenmuth’s Food and Restaurant Scene
In Frankenmuth, almost everything is centrally located and walkable. The handful of culinary hot spots all along Main Street attract both visitors and locals to this gorgeous downtown area, ranging from casual coffee to world-famous family-style dinners. One place that caught my attention is Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie. I loved the variety of meats and cheeses that came on my charcuterie board, including a delicious red wine cheese that delivered a fruity aftertaste. All this paired nicely with the various wines, artfully selected by the friendly staff.
Walk down the street, and you’ll encounter both of Frankenmuth’s culinary claims to fame — adjacent restaurants Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, both of which serve traditional family-style chicken dinners. The history between these two restaurants is part of Frankenmuth’s foundation. Both family-owned and operated, the restaurants are the corner-stones of the city’s appeal. Over at Zehnder’s, I was able to get a plate-full of tasty golden-brown chicken with traditional German sides like stollen (bread with fruit and nuts) and gravy with mashed potatoes. The ambience of the restaurant’s dining room felt like an upscale hotel, adding a nice touch to this culinary experience.
Frankenmuth’s Boutique Shopping Opportunities
Not far past Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn, you’ll spot a bridge displaying the US, German and Canadian flags. Overlooking the Cass River, this picturesque bridge leads to the River Place Shops. This collection of 40 boutique shops is surrounded by beautiful landscaping, and a stream that runs through the German-themed village and down a waterfall to the Cass River. At the River Place Shops, I discovered all sorts of yummy treats like the unique cherry-flavored creations at Michigan’s Cherry Republic. With the scenery and activities, the shopping village is definitely worth enjoying with the whole family.
A short drive over the Cass River brought me to one of Frankenmuth’s top tourist attractions, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, a one-of-a-kind store dedicated to the holiday season. Despite being summer, there were a substantial number of visitors taking advantage of the massive inventory of ornaments ranging from traditional to novelty. Part of the fun is getting lost among the aisles and shelves because there’s something new at every turn. Arriving at the personalization station, I was mesmerized as one of the staff members expertly hand-painted an ornament for an eager customer. An adjacent chapel dedicated to the classic Christmas song “Silent Night” is designed as a replica of the Austrian chapel where Silent Night was first sung. This beautiful structure is a charming accent to the 27 acres at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.
Frankenmuth lives up to its fame as one of Michigan’s premier travel destinations. With its beautiful scenery and proud heritage, it caters to a world-traveler’s sensibility while maintaining a small town charm. And no more than an hour and forty-five minutes from the Canadian border, it’s an easy trip and an ideal vacation spot for the family.