What to do in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Updated: Aug 26, 2019


**This post is sponsored by the Frankenmuth CVB. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Chicken and Christmas. That’s what I think of when I think of Frankenmuth, Michigan.


I'd never visited before and chicken and Christmas are kind of their thing. For real, I mostly knew that because of allllllll the billboards. Almost every one featuring Frankenmuth has the “World Famous Chicken Dinners” or “The World’s Largest Christmas Store” on it. See, chicken and Christmas. Boom.


So, when the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) reached out asking if I wanted to go on a familiarization tour (where you "familiarize" yourself with a place), I was like HECK YES! Actually I read the email, did a little happy dance, called Scott, did ANOTHER little happy dance, and then said HECK YES!


I was going to be joining 8 other Michigan photographers, bloggers, and storytellers for 3 days, exploring all things Frankenmuth. Known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria", this German themed town has A LOT going on! Definitely more than I was expecting.


It was 3 weeks before my 1 year blogging anniversary and let me tell you friend, I was excited. I was excited for the opportunity, I was excited to explore Frankenmuth and go beyond the chicken and Christmas, I was excited to meet 8 other Michiganders doing similar things similar to myself, and I was reeeeeeeally excited because it felt like the blogging journey continues to head in a direction I could have only dreamed about a year ago.


But that's a whole other story and one that you can read over on this blog because right now I want to tell you my top tips and recommendations for your next trip to Frankenmuth!


PS: Skip to the bottom to see a video I put together for the trip!

You better believe this was my favorite activity on the trip. It felt like a mix of America Ninja Warrior and 10 year-old Steph out on the playground. It was so much fun!


They strap you in, give you a quick demonstration and then.....off you go! They’re not up there with you making sure you’re hooked in correctly. Oh, you have to get from point A to point B hooked up to a tiny string 30 feet in the air? Do your thing shorty.


Of course a staff member is always available and they're walking around making sure everyone is ok. It's set up so you're ALWAYS hooked on some way or another (which means that worst case scenario you fall and your harness catches you), but honestly I was shocked by how little they were involved. I found it refreshing and it made it seem 100% more legit than what I was expecting.


The Frankenmuth Aerial Park features 6 different "aerial trails" ranging from introductory to advanced. I did the 2nd easiest and consider myself pretty darn active and it was definitely more challenging than I was expecting. I already told Scott we need to go back!


Be sure to check out their website and Facebook page for prices, hours, and more information!

This is not your typical Farmer’s Market my friend. The Frankenmuth Farmer’s Market is multifaceted non-profit hosting a wide variety of events and opportunities for the Frankenmuth community and beyond. I was REALLY impressed with this place.


They have your typical farmer's market every Wednesday and Saturday with 26 vendors.

But what really got me was all of the other events they feature. They host weddings and themed dinners, cooking classes and have a fully equipped, licensed kitchen. They have a store filled with Michigan made items and little conference area. It's endless!


When we were there we sampled a menu from their Smoke & Bourbon event, which was amazing. They’ve also done Harry Potter themed dinners and Game of Thrones themed dinners so like I said, definitely not your typical farmer's market. I think it would be so fun to spend a weekend in Frankenmuth planned around one of these themed dinner nights.


Frankenmuth has a lot of festivals (I'll get to those!) but if you're looking for something a little different and outside of Main Street, be sure to check out the Frankenmuth Farmer's Market. Stay up to date on all of their events and happens by visiting their website or Facebook page!

Michigan is well known for its lakes, but don't discount the rivers! And you're in luck because Frankenmuth has the Cass River running DIRECTLY through the heart of town.


If you're looking to get a different (and peaceful) perspective of this fun town, make sure you take a river tour! Frankenmuth Funships Tasting & Tours offers a variety of options but we went on the wine and chocolate tasting river tour and had a great time!


5 wines or grape juice paired with 5 chocolates, plus a glass of wine while you're on the 1 hour tour ANNNDD you get to keep the commemorative glass. All for $25. I mean, come on people, that's a steal!


They also have non-wine river tours available for a cheaper price as well as tastings without the tour. Basically they have it all.


To find out more visit their website and Facebook page!

4. FOOD!

Yes, yes we know that Frankenmuth is the chicken dinner capital but there are so many other great options! I was surprised and really impressed by the variety of places to choose from and decided to put this on the list of things to do because it seems like you could have yourself a foodie day (or weekend!) and sample a little bit of everything!


I'm not exaggerating when I say the food was FANTASTIC at all of the places we ate. And, my favorite part, most of them seemed to focus on using local ingredients and featuring Michigan made items!


My favorite place was Prost! Wine Bar and Charcuterie. Their charcuterie boards are crazy good (this is one of those times I wish that I could insert emojis aka excellent, 100, and fire) and I ate the best panini sandwich I've every had. Try the "Hold the Meat" next time you're there!


I also enjoyed Frankenmuth Brewery aka America's Oldest Microbrewery! Gosh, who knew? As well as Slo' Bones BBQ Smokehaus and Lazy Dog Pizza Company.


If Scott were running this blog he'd make sure to tell you about the breakfasts because that's his favorite meal of the day. We ate breakfast at Honey B's Eatery right downtown and DIG Cafe over near the Frankenmuth Farmer's Market and BOTH would make Scott give out a high five and throw up a fist pump or something.

5. KAYAK THE CASS RIVER

Here's another fun way to get on the Cass River. Through Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures, you can rent kayaks by the hour OR take a little trip from Tuscola (about 2.5 hours) back to Frankenmuth. They provide transportation and everything else you need for a fun adventure out on the water!

6. WORLD FAMOUS FAMILY STYLE CHICKEN DINNER

Ok. I mean, I can’t leave it off the list of things to do. It’s WORLD FAMOUS PEOPLE! Buuttt I didn’t know this, there are actually TWO famous chicken places in Frankenmuth!


We went to Zehnder's (which was fantastic) but there is also the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. They were both started by the Zehnder family and serve more than 2 MILLION chicken dinners a year.


They serve all-you-can-eat family style chicken dinners and someone on the tour said it best, "If you leave here hungry, that's your own fault!"


There is more to explore beyond the world famous dinners so be sure to stop by even if you're not looking to eat!

Annnnnd the other classic, Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland. Worth the visit just because it really might be the world's largest Christmas store, I mean, they hand you a map when you walk in the door.


The showroom makes up 1.7 football fields and they have every single ornament under the sun. S'mores, camping, pickup trucks, humming birds, they literally have EVERYTHING you can think of.


I saw a customer walk in and go directly to a salesperson. He leaned in, looked at her very seriously and said, "I'm looking for the green pickles. Do you have that ornament?" I didn't hear her answer but I'm guessing it was something like "You came to the right place buddy."


Whether you're hardcore into Christmas or just wanting to see it for yourself, Bronner's is worth a visit when you're in Frankenmuth.


GIVE THESE A TRY TOO!

  • PedALE Trolley: Yep! This is one of those bicycle and beer (or wine! or lemonade! or water!) tours. If you’ve got a group of 8 or more, this could be a fun way to spend a few hours and see the town!

  • Frankenmuth Carriage Company: Take a ride through town on a horse drawn carriage. It's a fun way to see the town and learn more fun facts and history!

  • Bavarian Belle Riverboat: I didn't do this, so I can't give a first hand account, but it's hard to miss as it floats by as it goes up and down the river. This hour long tour is packed with history and another great view of the Cass River.

  • River Place Shops: The German themed shopping center is close to downtown and features over 35 shops and attractions! You'll find Food Network's Cupcake Wars Champion SugarHigh Bakery there!

  • Visit during a Festival!: I swear, Frankenmuth has a festival for EVE-RY-THING!This little town of 5,000 people gets over 3 million visitors a year! Cars, dogs, flowers, hot air balloons, music, beer....you name it I have a feeling Frankenmuth will celebrate it!

  • Roam the streets: Take in Michigan's Little Bavaria by just looking around. Enjoy the live music outside of Bavarian Inn Restaurant, stroll the downtown and check out the little shops, buy some taffy, eat some fudge, pack a picnic and go sit on the rocks, be sure to catch the shows outside of Cheese Haus and Bavarian Inn Restaurant and slow down enough to enjoy your time in Frankenmuth!

It was so much fun getting to explore Frankenmuth. I’d highly recommend putting it on your list for a visit or even a quick getaway.


Also, a HUGGGEE thank you to the Frankenmuth CVB you all were awesome, helpful, and funny, and that just might be my favorite. It was an honor to be invited alongside such great creators in from our beautiful state.


Be sure to check out the others who were there!

Aaron Burden: Sharing all things nature, landscape, aerial, and macro hobbyist photographer

Joey and Jess Sancrant: aka Michigan Addicts on Instagram. They're a husband and wife team capturing the beauty of Michigan

Felicia Fullwood: A Detroit based photographer sharing all things Michigan and travel

Ryan Zeller: A photographer and videographer sharing his work with others

John Hill: Photographer and content creator in the mitten state.

Elijah Browning: A drone photographer and videographer showcasing the beauty of Michigan from a totally different view.

(And Hi Kristin!)


Let me know below if you've ever been to Frankenmuth and what you'd add to the list! Orrrrrr if you haven't been, if you're planning to take a trip there!


Cheers to more adventures my friend,

Steph


Check out this video I put together from my visit to Frankenmuth!

Here are a few more photos from the trip!


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