FRANKENMUTH Michigan Guide TOP 17 Things to Do Today + Best Waterparks | Bronners | Zehnder's | Bavarian Inn | Prost | Restaurants and Hotels for Your Ultimate MI Vacation
Frankenmuth Michigan: Top 17 Things to Do Today + Best Waterparks, Bronners, Restaurants (Bavarian Inn, Prost, Zehnder's!) and Hotels for Your Ultimate MI Vacation
By Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated: September 5, 2022
Frankenmuth Michigan is one of our absolute favorite places to visit in Michigan. This quaint town gives you one heck of a taste of Bavaria in the Great Lakes Bay Region without leaving the country!
I love walking over the bridge that connects the Bavarian Inn Restaurant to the River Place Shops as it offers great views of the Holz Brucke covered bridge, the waterfall by the shops and the Cass river.
The famous Holz Brucke covered bridge is a great spot for photos of the Bavarian Belle and the Cass river.
The majority of the town's restaurants, shopping and activities are nestled within the pretty downtown area. As an added bonus, parking is free so you can park once and walk to numerous locales.
Welcome to the Frankenmuth Michigan Fun Hub! Tons of Restaurants, Hotels, Things to Do and Events!
Frankenmuth Hotels - Best Hotels and places to stay in Frankenmuth Michigan: Waterparks, Pools, River Views, Pet Friendly, Romantic Getaways and Great Locations
Frankenmuth Fun- Are you ready for some fun things to do in Frankenmuth Michigan? Try Pretzel Rolling and see the Silent Night Chapel!
FREE Frankenmuth Interactive Planner and Map!
FREE INTERACTIVE MAP INCLUDES:
- Great Special event locations
- Captivating Paddle Wheel River Boat and Secret River tour locations
- Super things to do in Frankenmuth
- World Famous restaurant locations
- Destination landmark hotels
- Best Parking Locations close to all the action
Top 17 Fun Things to Do in Frankenmuth Michigan!
Use this link to Google Maps so you can find these 17 Fun Things to do in Frankenmuth Michigan!
Helpful Map Tips:
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1. Bavarian Belle Riverboat
(one of my favorite thing to do here, hands down)
This family owned authentic stern driven paddlewheel riverboat tour is an amazing value for the price and relaxing nature of the cruise.
Sit back as you float down the river while enjoying a 1-hour historical narrated tour of the area on their fully restored 150-passenger vessel.
The Bavarian Belle is open air canopied on the upper deck and has a fully enclosed lower area with restrooms. Snacks and soft drinks are available on board.
To purchase tickets, visit the kiosk located by the waterfall at River Place Shops. Be prepared, the Bavarian Belle Riverboat tickets can only be paid for with cash or check.
NOTE: There is a handicapped accessible dock and wheelchairs are available on-board.
2. Drive Through the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke Covered Bridge
We love driving through the covered bridge in Frankenmuth although I think I hold my breath! This lovely Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke Covered Bridge connects visitors to the Bavarian Inn and the Bavarian Belle passes beneath it as it glides along the Cass River.
We love walking on either side of the bridge in the safe pedestrian areas too.
The bridge offers a great view of the Cass river that meanders through Frankenmuth. It's especially fun to cross it as a pedestrian during the Auto Fest in September as it boasts a great vantage point for photography.
3. Frankenmuth FunShips
Wine and Chocolate Tasting River Tour. What can I say here, OMG we had a FANTASTIC time. We tried a variety of Michigan wines pared with delicious handmade chocolates while we drifted down the smooth river on a beautiful day.
Our driver and hostess were very friendly and we laughed the majority of the time. We created some great memories while enjoying a beautiful day on the river (did I mention it included wine and chocolate!). After tasting the wines during the river tour we bought a couple bottles of our favorites in the store.
FunShips is located right across from the Fairfield Inn and next to the Frankenmuth Brewery. Tip: There is not a restroom on the small boat.
4. Frankenmuth Michigan Auto Fest
The Auto Fest kicks off the weekend after Labor Day. Honestly, we look forward to this three day show every year for different reasons. Chris loves to look for car parts or discover new vendors in the huge swap meet and I like to take photos of vehicles (as well as ride the Bavarian Belle).
Over 2000 vehicles are on display in Heritage park in front of the Bavarian Inn Lodge. The entrance fee for spectators is only $5. If you wish to exhibit your vehicle, be sure to the check their website for deadlines.
Burgers, hot dogs and drinks are available in Heritage Park. Numerous porta potty's are also available. Parking is located across from the Bavarian Inn Lodge but the lots fill up quickly so we recommend arriving early.
The first night of the Auto Fest is the Big Block Party. This event is held on Main Street with entertainment, food and over 2000 awesome vehicles. We enjoy watching all the sweet rides drive by as we meander in and out of the shops.
Saturday night is party night!! The Auto Fest hosts a Music Fest with food, dancing and beverages at the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Heritage Park. There is a small extra cost to this evening but it's a lot of fun!
Each year, the Frankenmuth Autofest takes place in September. Check our September Calendar of Events to see this year's date!
5. Frankenmuth Michigan River Place Shops
Frankenmuth Michigan River Place Shops is a shoppers paradise! Wait, let's clarify...it's more of a unique, boutique, non-chain store shoppers paradise.
Frankenmuth's River Place Shops has great shops to find unique gifts for yourself or others. 40 flavors of popcorn, children's shops, clothing, distillery, cherry shop, sweet treats, socks, pet gifts, ice cream and so much more!
6. Discover Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland (any time of year!)
Bronner's is the WORLD'S LARGEST CHRISTMAS STORE!
It certainly doesn't have to be the Christmas season to shop at this sparkling and cheerful store! I'm always amazing when I can find the exact ornament theme I was seeking.
Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan
Bronner's is the size of one and a half football fields and boasts 50,000 trims and gifts. Plan to spend a couple hours marveling at the mind boggling variety of Christmas items to decorate your home, tree and office.
7. Frankenmuth's PedAle Trolley is So Much Fun!
Address: 239 Block Rd, Frankenmuth
The PedAle Trolley can hold 16 people including a bartender (if you choose).
Enjoy a nice spring, summer or fall day by pedaling through Michigan's Little Bavaria! Your PedAle Trolley adventure is two hours and includes stops at fun shops, restaurants, bars and scenic spots for photos!
8. Horse Carriage Rides in Frankenmuth Michigan
Catch a ride near Zehnder's for a fee.
9. Tour a Working Farm at Grandpa Tiny's in Frankenmuth Michigan!
Grandpa Tiny's Farm
The whole family will enjoy this working historical farm located across the street from Bronners Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth Michigan.
Take a tour of this farm which includes hands-on exhibits and petting the cute farm animals such as horses, goats, pigs and reindeer. A narrated wagon ride is also available at select times. There is a small fee.
Grandpa William "Tiny" Zehnder started this farm based on his love for farming. It's a great place to learn about where food comes from while creating memories with your family.
July-August the farm offers Lavender U-Pick and in the fall you can pick your own pumpkins.
There's also a sunflower festival that is incredible!
Address: 7775 Weiss Street, Frankenmuth Michigan 48734
10. See How Fudge is Made at the Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen!
Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen and Murdick's Fudge of Frankenmuth have open kitchen working spaces where you can oogle the gooey goodness as it's poured onto a cold marble slab and rolled into creamy slices of fudge.
If you are nice, you might even get a sample to taste! But then you will be hooked!
11. Learn about the Pied Piper of Hamelin at the Bavarian Inn's Glockenspiel.
The glockenspiel's presentation is at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 p.m daily. Just look at the upper wall of the Bavarian Inn and the shutters will open!
In the winter, the story and the chimes are presented but the doors on the clock tower do not open.
12. Watch Delicious Caramel Corn Being Made!
Stop into Zac and Mac's Chocolate Haus for delicious treats! If you are lucky, you will get to see caramel corn or fudge being made before your eyes!
Zac and Mac's Chocolate Haus in Frankenmuth is one of our favorite things to do and see!
13. Visit the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus
Frankenmuth Cheese Haus Address: 545 S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
The Frankenmuth Cheese Haus has every possible cheese you could ever want! It's located right along Main street and you can't miss it as Klaus, the Cheese Haus mouse is waiting to pose for a picture with you!
Our favorite is the Michigan Truffle cheese. Hot dang is it tasty!
Want some Frankenmuth Coupons?
14. Explore the Frankenmuth Historical Museum
The Frankenmuth Historical Museum houses seven-galleries that tells the story of Frankenmuth's history. There are thousands of artifacts and documents to check out and a gift shop offering items created locally and European goods.
Additionally, the association owns and operates the historic Fischer Hall that is next to the museum. Did you know it was built in the 1890’s? Fischer Hall is a venue for concerts and events.
15. See the Authentic Wolkensdörfer Log House
Located on Main Street/M-83, across from Bronner's in Frankenmuth Michigan
The Wolkensdoerfer Log House was built in 1852 by 27-year-old Johann Georg Wolkensdoerfer. This Log House turned out to be the only remaining original log house in the township and one of the few remaining in the county.
The log house was donated to the Frankenmuth Historical Association and the inside of the house is restored to look similar to how a log house would look in the 1870's. Go check it out!
16. Kayak The Beautiful Cass River in Frankenmuth Michigan!
Love kayaking in Michigan? Did you know you can kayak in Frankenmuth?
Reserve a single or double kayak with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures (located in the Frankenmuth Fun Ships store or call them) and you will be drifting down the Cass River and enjoying wildlife in no time!
The river is very slow, so expect to paddle. It's not deep so kids would enjoy this trip in a double kayak-there is significant paddling, so unless they are avid kayakers and enjoy paddling, we recommend kids sharing with adults in a double kayak.
You will pass other tour ships like the Frankenmuth Fun Ships and the Bavarian Belle, so be sure to wave!
It takes about 3-3.5 hours to paddle back to the park where your vehicle is located. You will want to bring water shoes as we had to get out once to help move the kayaks forward in a couple shallow areas.
17. Walk the New Frankenmuth Riverwalk!
The new Frankenmuth Riverwalk is absolutely fantastic! This paved walk follows the Cass River and passes under the bridge that connects the downtown area to the RiverPlace shops.
Enjoy a lovely evening while strolling all the new Frankenmuth river walk as the Bavarian Belle riverboat passes you along the Cass River. After strolling, grab a bite to eat at our favorite Frankenmuth Michigan restaurants!
On a Budget?
You can still enjoy the heck out of Frankenmuth without spending a dime!
We have some creative ideas for you here!
Frequently Asked Frankenmuth Michigan Questions
1. What is the town known for?
For decades, this town has been known for chicken and Christmas and it's no wonder with Bronner's, the world's largest Christmas store, and two of the largest independently owned restaurants in the country — the Bavarian Inn and Zehnder's — that serve world famous chicken dinners.
2. What is the Meaning of the Town's Name?
The city's name is a combination of two words. "Franken" represents the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria, home of the Franks, where the original settlers were from. The German word "Mut" means courage; thus, the name means "courage of the Franconians."
3. How big is Bronner's?
Bronner's is the world's largest Christmas store!! The overall size of Bronner's building is 320,000 sq. ft. (approx. 7.35 acres or 5.5 football fields of space) with 96,000 sq. ft. (2.2 acres 1.7 football fields of space) devoted to the salesroom.
4. Where is the Glockenspiel and When Will It Chime?
The Bavarian Inn Glockenspiel Tower houses a magnificent 35-bell carillon, beautiful figurine movement and an illuminated clock, all imported from Germany! Before striking the hour, and on each quarter hour, the clock sounds the 5-bell Westminster chime.
You can always tell when the Glockenspiel is about to chime as crowds gather on the south side of the Bavarian Inn and stare upward!
The Glockenspiel chimes at 12:00 p.m, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. This charming clock is part of the history and unique flavor of the town.
5. Do Any Hotels Allow Pets?
The Drury Inn & Suites and the Frankenmuth Motel are the only hotels that allows pets. Be sure to contact the hotel prior to bringing your pet to verify details.
- Restrooms are located within the River Place Shops and within Zehnders and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.
- Be ready to board the Bavarian Belle Riverboat at least 20 minutes prior so you can sit on the top deck. Seats fill up quick.
- The Visitor's Center is located next to the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.
- Bavarian Belle Riverboat tickets can only be paid for with cash or check.
- Purchase your Bavarian Belle Riverboat tickets when you first arrive as seats book up early during peek times.
- Parking-River Place Shops, either side of the Bavarian Inn and past the Covered Bridge.
Yes, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and the Bavarian Inn Lodge Are Two Different Places!!
The Bavarian Inn Restaurant is located across from Zehnder's on Main Street. Within the Bavarian Inn are the Castle Shops featuring candy, artwork, souvenirs, clothing, gifts and baked goods.
Plus of course, the famous fried chicken restaurant! It's a fun place to explore.
The Bavarian Inn Lodge is located behind the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. The lodge is the actual hotel and houses a couple in-house restaurants. You can reach the Lodge by traveling a very short distance over the Covered Bridge road near Heritage Park.
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