Visit Frankenmuth, Michigan: A Photo Tour
Michigan's Little Bavaria
My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in early April by taking an overnight trip to Frankenmuth. It's a fun town to visit, and we've been on day trips a few times, but this was our first time staying the night.
If you've never been to Frankenmuth, I'd like to introduce you to this quaint community by sharing with you some of my favorite places, new and old.
All pictures in lens, except those from Amazon and YouTube, taken by author. Copyright 2013 by WhiteIsland88 - all rights reserved.
Have you ever visited?
Have you visited Frankenmuth, Michigan?
If you live in Michigan, you've probably heard Tim Allen in the Pure Michigan radio advertisements. These ads really serve their purpose: afterwards, I always feel relaxed and desirous to visit whatever place he's describing. :)
Some Traditional Frankenmuth Souvenirs
If you're not familiar with Frankenmuth (or even if you are), learn about its history and how the town became what it is today.
More history, with a little extra focus on the background of the people (founders/settlers).
Since it's a German-style tourist town, beer and sausage are common. Try your hand at beer-making with this kit.
Let's Get Started!
We arrived in Frankenmuth around lunchtime, after stopping for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel a little ways down the interstate and then browsing the Birch Run outlet stores.
We had planned to stop and play mini-golf on the way in (right after you turn onto Gera Rd, which takes you straight into downtown Frankenmuth, there's a fun mini-golf course), but they were still closed for the season.
We were too early to check into our room at the Bavarian Inn Lodge (check-in time is 4:00), so we walked around town in the sunny, cold day. (That's the problem with having an anniversary at the beginning of April: when you live in Michigan, everything is still closed for winter, and the weather is unpredictable. ;)
We tried out this new whisper tube bench near Rau's Country Store (on the main street), and we checked out the River Place shops across the street. Here are a few of the places we saw:
River Place Shops
River Place Bridge
River Place Waterfall
The River Place shops are separated from the rest of downtown Frankenmuth by a river (and a bridge). Normally, there is a paddlewheel river boat, called the Bavarian Belle, giving tours on the river, but it wasn't out yet -- April anniversary. ;) It is a nice, relaxing ride, and they have delicious popcorn on board. The dock is off to the left of the River Place bridge, and if you look off to the left, you also see the small waterfall above. I love to watch (and photograph) the waterfall. :)
Funky Skunk! Fun Gifts, Clothing and Accessories
From your favorite movies and superheroes to specially flavored candies and gum, this place has it all. Creative gifts for everyone!
My favorite things in the shop this time around were the super-hoodies (Captain America, Spiderman, Batman, even Darth Vader), with hoods that look like the character's mask.
Go On... Be A Hero!
While Spiderman was funny (it zipped all the way over the head), and Batman is classic (complete with ears)... this was my favorite hoodie. Captain America: you never have to worry about your hood flying off on a windy day again! ;)
Humor-Us: Gag gifts and geek merchandise (Big Bang Theory, Dr. Who, and more)
I'm pretty sure this is my husband's favorite store, and it's a must-see on every trip. We've recently gotten into Dr. Who (the 2005 series), and it made this store that much more fun.
They have shirts, posters and more from classic movies (old and new). They have silly hats and prank items, as well as (one of my personal favorites) historical action figures! There's no reason you would ever need anything in this store, of course... but that doesn't mean you won't want it all! :)
I walked out with a Dr. Who T-shirt and 2 (pin) buttons... and my husband was the one determined to buy something. :P
Learn and Play at Any Age!
These make me laugh every time I see them. The backs of the boxes tell about the historical character, usually with some silly commentary included about how to play with them.
Get Your Gear! - Doctor Who
This is the shirt I purchased (available in other sizes than XXL). I love it, because it features a quote from the tenth doctor, who is my personal favorite. (He's a hard man to follow... and to track down.)
Ooh, I want this set! :) For myself, I just bought a button that says "Doctor Who" (it looks like the classic Doctor Who, but I can't find it on Amazon).
I also can't find the pin I got for my sister on here, but this one may be better, anyway. I love it!
The Ultimate Mirror Maze: Get Lost for Minutes, Hours... or All Day!
We didn't do the Mirror Maze this time, but we did last time we visited. It was better than I expected! We were laughing the whole time. My husband worked out a strategy that he thought meant sure-fire success, but we kept ending up in the same places. We returned to the entrance (accidentally) at least three times, but we did finally get through.
You get an all-day stamp and can try it as many times as you like!
(Right next to the maze is the laser vault challenge, which we have yet to try, but it looks like a lot of fun! You have to work your way through a room criss-crossed with lasers without tripping any, just like in the movies. ;) It's also timed, so if you're quick, you can set a record!)
The Michigan Shoppe: Your Destination for Michigan Souvenirs
"Festival Platz": Sit and Rest, or Play a Game
The area to the right (in the picture above) is a nice, grassy area, where you can sit and rest (there's a low, stone wall encircling it, or tables and chairs outside the wall) or let the kids run off some excess energy.
In the summertime, there is usually a bean bag toss or a few other lawn games. We often stop and play a round or two.
On the stage at the front of the yard, they have juggling or magic shows (again, with the April anniversary, we were too early for the activities).
Festival Platz Stage: Free Entertainment!
Gem Mining by the Riverboat Dock
If you have little ones, they might enjoy this activity: you can buy a bag of gems, dirt and rocks, and they have to "pan" for the gems (rinse them all through water to find the best ones).
I did this when I was younger, when we went to visit a cave in Ohio, and it was a great, memorable experience.
"Thunder Bay Mining Company"
Time For A Treat?
While I haven't yet bought anything from Sugar High Bakery, I love the colors, ambience and name. I will definitely try something one of these days! They have all sorts of yummy treats, from giant cupcakes and rice krispies treats to gelato (which looks amazing, with fresh fruit on top!) and candy.
This shop gave me the initial inspiration for my wedding cake, so it will always have a special place in my heart. ;) (Although I changed plans, theirs was the first topsy-turvy cake I ever saw, and it was so cool!) They also participated in season seven of Food Network's Cupcake Wars... and won!
Look At The Time... I Mean, The Clock!
What's for Dinner?
After we got our exercise (and planned what we were going to buy the next day before going home), we were ready to visit the hotel waterpark and whirlpool. We thought we might not want to come back out after, so we stopped at T. Dub's for an early dinner.
This little restaurant is right in the middle of downtown, but it doesn't quite look like it fits in (it's just a typical diner, but it's surrounded by a bunch of Bavarian tourist sites and shops). I've been curious about it every time we visit Frankenmuth, though, and the smells were always tantalizing, so we decided to forego the "Frankenmuth famous chicken dinners" to give it a try.
...*drumroll*...This is now my favorite place to eat in Frankenmuth! We split a pizza (half of which we saved for later) and a burger: both were delicious!
I'm not saying you shouldn't try the Frankenmuth famous chicken dinner, but if you are in Frankenmuth for more than one meal, I recommend you make at least one of them T. Dub's!
In The Inn...
When we went up to our suite, I went out to see the balcony. I shot the view to the left...
And to the right...
And straight ahead (just messing around... I was experimenting with close-up shots)...
And then, *heart attack moment* the lens cap slipped from my hand and went skittering down the roof, jumping over the gutter at the edge (thankfully it didn't get stuck, and there was no balcony beneath us for it to land on, either) and falling... falling... falling...
Our room was at the very end of the hall, not close to the elevator, so it was quite a walk going anywhere, and my poor husband had to go all the way down (I stayed in the balcony so he could tell which it was) to retrieve it.
Yep, That Top Peak Was Our Room...
A Late-Night Stroll
After that excitement, we went down to the pool and water slide, then we went back out for a night stroll through Frankenmuth. Since we had never stayed overnight before, this was a first, and probably my favorite part of the trip (even though it was cold). I had a blast (and a challenge) trying to photograph everything in the dark.
This little "summer garden" is next to the Bavarian Inn, where we stayed. The path leads to a patio, which is the "adults only pool" sun deck. That was closed, since it wasn't warm enough, but the patio itself was a nice spot to enjoy the river.
This mural is on the wall by the patio. I love how this picture turned out, since I took it at night, and the scene is set at night. It looks almost real.
Bavarian Inn: Where We Stayed
Bavarian Inn: Decorated for Easter
River Place At Night
We walked back along the road near the River Place Shops to the covered bridge. I loved the lighting on everything; it's a whole new experience at night.
The Covered Bridge At Night
Covered Bridge: Main Thoroughfare
Horse-Drawn Carriage Coming Down Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge: Walking Path Along The Side
At the end of Covered Bridge Lane, you come to the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Castle Shops. This glockenspiel is on the side of the restaurant.
Right below the bells, there is a story circuit (I'm not sure what it's really called, but the little dolls/statues perform to a narrated tale of the Pied Piper -- it reminds me of a cuckoo clock, in a way, with the doors opening and shutting for the different characters). This is played at regularly scheduled intervals, so be sure to check the times and stop to see it!
Pied Piper: Doors Under The Bells And Over The Clock
We walked down the main street and found that everything was closed (it was a little after 9pm), except for one coffee house, where we stopped to warm up.
Don't be deceived by their sign: they were open until ten, even though their sign says nine. ;)
I like the names of their drinks: the Easter special drink was called the Fluffy Bunny and (I believe) was made with Peeps (the marshmallow candies).
This coffee shop has an open layout, with a 'second floor' (visible from the first, just elevated) that is a used book shop.
We sat outside for a minute as we drank our coffee, then we kept walking.
The Harvest Coffee House
The Harvest: Cute Outdoor Table
Frankenmuth Cheese Haus: Where You Can Get Every Kind of Cheese Imaginable
White House Jewelry: I Just Love The Building
Zehnder's: Frankenmuth Famous Chicken - And A Cool Crosswalk, To Boot!
Zehnder's and Bavarian Inn Restaurant both claim to have famous chicken dinners. Zehnder's sign says "Frankenmuth Famous Chicken Dinners" and Bavarian Inn Restaurant says, "World Famous Chicken Dinners." Wouldn't you think world famous has to be the better of the two?
I've now been to each, and surprisingly, I enjoyed Zehnder's chicken dinner much more. It's also my favorite of the two buildings, and the crosswalk in front is so... interesting!
Zehnder's Dancing Statue Fountain
This fountain is off to the left of the Zehnder's house/restaurant. I think it is beautiful, and it just seemed photo-worthy, particularly at night.
Dancing Statue Fountain
Coming Full Circle
That was our walk up and down the main street, and now we headed back to the lodge via the River Place bridge.
You don't really notice the lights during the day, and this is the first time we had seen them on. Pretty neat (and I love that little curving path to the bridge).
Waterfall At Night
Covered Bridge At Night, As Seen From River Place Bridge
Still Cool, But It's So Much Better In Lights!
Perhaps This Is Where We Should Have Started Our Tour...
The visitor center is in the middle of the downtown area, where you can find brochures and posters of the events and locations.
I like this fountain, with the 'children' running and playing, and a pair of shoes 'taken off' on the side. This is the first time I had seen it without water. (It's better with water.)
With or without water, I just had to snap a picture on our way to breakfast next morning.
Visitor Center Fountain
We returned to T.Dub's for breakfast, and again, we sat in the corner booth. Silly me, I finally decoded the picture above us. This is all I had seen the day before; I just wasn't noticing much.
And here's what the full picture is...
Oh! It's A Face!
T. Dub's Ceiling Lights: What A Fun Place!
The Menu... Ok, Maybe I Got A Bit Carried Away.
And... My Breakfast: The Farmer's Bowl. Absolutely, Amazingly Delicious!
One More Round
After breakfast, we made one final round of the shops to purchase our presents to ourselves. ;)
I love the sign this place posted for shoplifters...
Who Doesn't Love Leather? Find Belts, Hats, Wallets, Gloves And More Here!
Flower Bowl Kaleidoscope: A Fun Must-See
...In Front of Zak's Kandy Haus
Frankenmuth Cheese Haus
We bought chocolate cheese (it's a different kind of chocolate treat: not as rich and sweet as fudge, and with the consistency of cheese -- I was skeptical, but after the sample, we had to buy some) and jalapeno cheddar spread. Both are delicious, but better in small quantities, so you can savor the flavor. :)
We also stopped and bought some sausage: we got a spicy sausage sampler, and a package of chorizo (my husband is Mexican, after all ;).
Willi's Sausage: More Variety Than You Can Shake A Stick At!
I'm Not Sure What The Bean Commission Is, But It's A Good Name...
This Building Got Me Excited (It's Gorgeous!)... Then I Saw That It's Insurance (Aw...)
Frankenmuth Kaffee Haus - Another shot of fun, please!
Ever since our first visit to Frankenmuth, I've wanted to stop at this place, but there was always some reason we didn't. The sign reads, "Gifts to Espresso Yourself" and that line just drew me in.
Well, we finally made it in on this trip, and it didn't disappoint! I love this little shop. Read more about the experience here.
This Place Is Definitely On The List For Next Time...
There are so many places for fudge, taffy and ice cream and, even though I'm a sucker for sweets, I can't justify stopping at more than one in one trip.
This is another place where I always notice the sign, and I am intrigued... but I haven't had a chance to stop yet. It was too cold this time around, so I'll plan for next time! :)
I hope you enjoyed visiting Frankenmuth with us. Will you plan your own trip now?
Will you join the fun?
Would you like to visit Frankenmuth, MI?
Ready to Plan Your Trip? - Here are some sites that will help!
- Michigan Vacation | Bavarian Inn Lodge
Looking to take a fun-filled Michigan vacation? The Bavarian Inn Lodge has world-famous lodging, restaurants, and entertainment options that guarantee a good time.
- Zehnder's of Frankenmuth, MI | Your Top Michigan Family Vacation Destination
Welcome to Zehnders of Frankenmuth - World Famous Restaurant, best Michigan water park, Zehnder's Splash Village, Mid Michigans Largest and ONLY Indoor Water Park and The Fortress, 18 hole Championship Public Golf Course.
- T Dubs Wicked Good Pizza
Frankenmuth Wicked Good Pizza Menu. Phone:(989)652-3809
- Frankenmuth, Michigan
Plan your trip to Frankenmuth, MI: download a special "explore Frankenmuth" smartphone app, see what events are going on, and check out the shopping, dining and lodging options.
- Pure Michigan - plan your Michigan vacation here
Discover everything that is Pure Michigan. Find attractions, events, shopping, dining and lodging. Plan your outdoor adventure or weekend trip, at michigan.org.