There are tons of fun things to do in Frankenmuth Michigan. With plenty of options for shopping, dining, and fun family activities, Frankenmuth is the perfect weekend getaway.
We had the opportunity to visit Frankenmuth over Spring Break this year. It was a short trip – just 3 days – but it was nice to get out of town for a bit. The weather was on the cool side, but we enjoyed ourselves all the same and had a blast visiting all the shops and local attractions.
Quick Links to Info on This Page
- Frankenmuth Christmas Store
- Frankenmuth Silent Night Chapel
- Shopping in Frankenmuth
- Frankenmuth Gnome Hunt
- Frankenmuth Smashed Pennies
- Frankenmuth Museums
- Best Frankenmuth Restaurants
- Other Places to Eat in Frankenmuth
- Other fun things to do in Frankenmuth Michigan
- Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Frankenmuth
- Camping in Frankenmuth, MI
Frankenmuth Christmas Store
As is our norm, we left long before the sun came up so we could get to our destination by noon. We had planned on having a picnic for lunch but it was so cold, we ended up eating our picnic in the van. After our quick lunch, we headed over to the Frankenmuth Christmas store.
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland is the world’s largest Christmas store – occupying a space that is the size of 1 and a half football fields! They carry 50,000 different ornaments, trims, and gifts. We spent several hours there and I don’t think we saw it all.
You don’t even have to go into the store to get into the Christmas spirit. The outside decorations are worth checking out as well, starting with the larger than life Santa Claus. The road leading into Bronners is called Christmas Lane, and it is decorated with 100,000 lights. The holiday displays are lit up from dusk to midnight every night, 365 days a year. It’s truly beautiful to see it all lit up at night.
When you enter the store, be sure to pick up a map. Trust me, this place is huge! There is so much to see, it’s a bit overwhelming. In addition to all the Christmas goodies for sale there are holiday displays along the ceiling throughout the entire store. The Frankenmuth Christmas store is definitely a place not a place you want to rush through. You will want to take your time and take in all the sights.
My favorite part of Bronners Christmas store was the Department 56 village display. I love Christmas villages and have several. My favorite Department 56 village is the Snow Village (Bronner’s Snow Village display is shown above). Oh how I wish I had room in my house to collect it! The buildings are so big though. So I will just have to be content to look at other people’s displays.
Bronners had displays for all the different villages – Snow Village, North Pole Village, Dickens Village, New England Village, and more. They even had a display of the Halloween village. I could have spent hours looking at the village displays alone.
If you are in the area, the Frankenmuth Christmas store is well worth a visit. I guarantee you will be humming Christmas carols when you leave 🙂
Frankenmuth Silent Night Chapel
No visit to Bronners Christmas Store would be complete without venturing across the parking lot to the Frankenmuth Silent Night Chapel. This beautiful building is a replica of St. Nicholas Church in Salzburg, Austria – the actual church where the beloved Christmas carol Silent Night was first sung on Christmas Eve in 1818. As you approach the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, you can hear the strains of Silent Night playing over the loudspeaker, which just adds to the peaceful atmosphere of the place.
The chapel has 2 beautiful stain glass windows, depicting scenes from the birth of Christ. Inside the chapel is a walk through area with a glass divider where you can look into the chapel itself. Everything in the chapel is set up much like it is in Austria – from the altar with the hand-crocheted altar cloth, to the Nativity scene and Austrian-style Christmas tree. You can also view a replica of the original musical score and information about the composers of the song. Because of the glass divider, it is difficult to get a good picture of the inside of the chapel, but it really is quite beautiful and serene.
Lining the walkway around the outside of the chapel are signs with the lyrics to the song Silent Night written in 300 different languages. My middle daughter and son are both taking German in school so of course, I had to take their picture by the sign with the lyrics in German.
I was glad we decided to stop and see the Silent Night Memorial Chapel. It truly is a beautiful building and I really enjoyed learning about the history of one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs.
Shopping in Frankenmuth
We had a great time looking through all the Frankenmuth shops. Nearly all the buildings have Bavarian style architecture, which gives you the feel of stepping into another country.
The Castle Shops are in the lower level of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. There is a bakery, a toy store, a candy shop, beer and wine shop, and several gift shops all in the one area. The whole shopping complex has a delightful fairytale feel – from the cobblestone lining the hallways to the beautiful murals on the walls.
The Royal Gift Shop was a favorite of my son. It has many authentic German items, including steins and nutcrackers. My daughters, not surprisingly, were drawn to the candy and toy shops.
As for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the smells wafting from the Castle Shop Bakery. They will definitely make your mouth water! They bake all sorts of specialty breads and treats, including the yummy stollen that is served at the Bavarian Inn restaurant. On the other side of the bakery is the Souvenirs & Cheers Shop which has a fun collection of collectibles and kitchen goodies. I got a neat little German boy and girl salt and pepper shaker for my collection there.
We also really enjoyed the Cheese Haus. There were samples throughout so you can try unusual varieties before you buy. My kids fell in love with their chocolate cheese. Although the cheese is the star of the store, you can get all sorts of other tasty treats there, as well as some gifts and collectibles.
If you are wanting a sweet treat, you should definitely check out the Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen. Nothing in there is very figure-friendly, but calories don’t count on vacation right? We tried the chocolate peanut butter and German Chocolate varieties of fudge and both were to die for – creamy and sinfully rich!
A day of shopping in Frankenmuth wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the RiverPlace Shops. This isn’t located on the main drag, but it is within walking distance from the rest of the shops if you go across the covered bridge.
RiverPlace is home to 40 different specialty shops and attractions. This is also where you can get tickets for the Bavarian Belle riverboat in the summer. We really enjoyed The Enchanted Forest which had a great selection of fairy garden accessories. Also not to be missed was The Popcorn Wagon, Charlin’s Book Nook, and The Your Name Here Store.
RiverPlace isn’t all just about shopping though. Kids will enjoy a chance to stop and play at the Ultimate Mirror Maze or the Moonwalk Man’s House of Bounce, while parents might enjoy the chance to relax at the Serendipity Day Spa.
Frankenmuth Gnome Hunt
The Frankenmuth Gnome Hunt is a fun scavenger hunt to keep the kids busy while you explore the local shops. To get your log sheet, you just need to stop in at the Frankenmuth visitor center. It will give you a list of all the shops that have gnomes. Then you just need to visit the shops and record their names. If your child finds at least 10 gnomes, you can return the sheet to the visitor center for a small prize.
Some of the gnomes were easy to find. Others took us awhile to find and we had to have the shopkeeper’s help (like in the health food shop). The gnomes are all different. The one above hitched a ride on one of the kites hanging in the toy shop. If your kids don’t much like shopping, the gnome hunt is a great way to keep kids occupied while you do some shopping in peace.
Frankenmuth Smashed Pennies
While you are visiting all the Frankenmuth shops, be sure to keep your eye out for smashed pennies. They are great fun for kids (and adults) to collect. I came home with 21 new Frankenmuth smashed pennies. 12 of those came from Bronners Christmas store alone! (They have 3 elongated penny machines with 4 designs each, scattered throughout their store.)
In addition to Bronner’s you can find machines at many of the local shops including the Bavarian Inn, Rau’s Country Store, the Castle Shops, the Cheese Haus, the Covered Bridge Gift Shop, the Lager Mill, and the RiverPlace Shops.
To see all the Frankenmuth smashed penny machine locations, check out the Michigan Machine Locations page on the Penny Collector website.
Frankenmuth Museums, such as the Lager Mill Brewing Museum and the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, are a great way to learn the history of this quaint Bavarian town. For only a couple of dollars per person, you can get into both museums.
As a beginning home brewer, my husband really enjoyed walking through the brewing museum. It was neat to learn a bit about the history of brewing in the area and to see some of the equipment that was used.
We also visited the Frankenmuth Historical Museum. It has seven permanent exhibits and one temporary exhibit, which when we visited was about the shipwreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the Great Lakes. We enjoyed learning about early pioneer life in the town of Frankenmuth and how the town evolved into what it is today.
Neither of these Frankenmuth museums will take you long to go through, but they are a great way to learn more about history of the town.
Although we didn’t have time to visit, there are a couple of other places to tour while you are in Frankenmuth. If you have kids who enjoy space, you might want to visit Michigan’s Military and Space Heroes Museum. Also you can take tours of historic St. Lorenz Church.
Best Frankenmuth Restaurants
My son’s 18th birthday fell in the middle of our trip, so we treated him to dinner at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. He has taken 5 years of German language in school and will be taking a 2 week trip to Germany this summer. So we thought it would be fun to treat him to a nice dinner of German food for his birthday.
The walls of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant feature beautiful paintings of fairy tales, like Snow White, the Pied Piper, and Rapunzel which helps add to the old world feel of the place.
At the Bavarian Inn, the servers are all dressed in traditional German outfits. The waiters wore lederhosen and the waitresses wore dirndls. Definitely a nice touch!
The Bavarian Inn Restaurant is famous for their fried chicken (seriously it’s amazing!) but they also have traditional German fare like bratwurst.
The food is all served in courses and it is family style, which means you can have as much as you want. It starts with a round of breads – the stollen is amazing! Then the server will bring you noodle soup and several salads. Then the main course is brought out with dressing, mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, and a hot vegetable. Lastly, you are treated to a bowl of homemade ice cream. The food is excellent and there was a ton of it. Trust me, you won’t walk away hungry from the Bavarian Inn Restaurant!
Also among the best Frankenmuth restaurants is Zehnder’s Restaurant. Zehnder’s is located right across from the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. In fact, both restaurants are owned by the same family, and both feature the same delectable fried chicken. Both restaurants have ample seating for large crowds, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for a table. The menu and pricing is similar in both restaurants, so either one is a great dining option.
Other Places to Eat in Frankenmuth
Looking for a quick bite to eat? Even the McDonald’s in Frankenmuth has Bavarian-inspired architecture! The food, however, is just like what you would find in any other McDonald’s though.
If you are looking for a mid-day snack after all that shopping , you will want to check out the Sugar High Cafe. It’s full of yummy cupcakes and treats. As we discovered after talking to the friendly employee, the owner of Sugar High Cafe was a winner on one of the seasons of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.
Sugar High Cafe also has an interesting drink called bubble tea. I know that some of you may have heard of it before, but we had never tried it. You get to choose the flavor of the drink itself as well is the flavor for the bubbles. It is served with a wide straw that allows you to slurp up the bubbles. When you bite into them, it gives you a delightful burst of flavor. I had peach tea with strawberry bubbles. Yummy!
Other fun things to do in Frankenmuth Michigan
- Take a ride in a horse drawn carriage.
- Walk across the covered Bridge.
- Make waves at Zehnder’s Splash Village Indoor Waterpark.
- Take a riverboat cruise on the Bavarian Belle (summer only).
- Get lost in the Mirror Maze.
Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Frankenmuth
I highly recommend you go to the visitors center when you get there. There are lots of brochures for area attractions. You can also pick up a coupon book which will offer you lots of opportunities to save during your visit. If your kids want to do the gnome hunt, you can ask for that at the visitor’s center too.
Keep in mind that nearly all the Frankenmuth shops close at 5 or 6 pm. (At least they did when we visited. Maybe they have longer hours in the summer?) So plan on having a late dinner or bringing along some card games to entertain you back in your hotel room. If you stay at Zehnder’s Splash Village, you might be able to play in the indoor waterpark after everything else has closed for the day.
Camping in Frankenmuth, MI
The only camping in Frankenmuth, MI is a Jellystone campground. With a pool, a playground, mini golf, and plenty of activities for the kids, this would be a great place for families to camp during their stay in Frankenmuth.
If you don’t mind driving a little further, there are a couple of other camping options near Frankenmuth to consider. The Genessee Otter Lake Campground is situated on a 32 acre lake and offers sites for tents and RV’s. They have a pool and playground for the kids. The Pine Ridge RV Campground is also an option if you have a camper.
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We had a wonderful time on our trip and we definitely enjoyed seeing all the sights in Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Between the shopping and attractions, there are plenty of fun things to do in Frankenmuth Michigan to keep your family busy for several days. It’s a great town to visit if you ever get the chance.