One-Day Trips: Frankenmuth, Michigan

David Monforton
| October 22, 2023 | 4 Minute Read
Overhead view of Frankenmuth Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau

If you’re looking for Michigan day trip ideas, why not head to Germany?

The city of Frankenmuth has earned the moniker Michigan’s Little Bavaria thanks to its rich German heritage and striking German architecture. A visit to Frankenmuth is like stepping back in time into your very own Bavarian fairytale. 

Just a 90-minute drive from Detroit, Frankenmuth is an ideal day trip or weekend getaway in Michigan. 

The city is also known for its varied restaurants and shopping, lively festivals and unique attractions. Whether you’re visiting with family or exploring as a couple, here are five things to do in Frankenmuth.

home with wonderful architecture on Main Street in Frankenmuth Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau

1. Stroll Main Street

With its timber-framed, slanted-roofs buildings and the clattering of horse-drawn carriages, Main Street Frankenmuth is easily one of Michigan’s most captivating destinations. The downtown area is extremely walkable, too.

Stop by the Frankenmuth Historical Museum to learn more of the city’s backstory. The museum boasts seven galleries of artifacts and documents chronicling the region’s storied history. Snag a souvenir at the gift shop, which showcases locally made products and European goods.

Tucked away on Main Street, Kernel Benny’s is worth seeking out for a mouth-watering selection of homemade gourmet popcorn. Cinnamon snickerdoodle, captain’s buttered rum and dark chocolate peanut butter are among the 30 flavors available.

For a German-themed outdoor shopping experience, head to River Place Shops, which features over 40 eclectic stores and attractions to peruse. Don’t miss Cherry Republic. The specialty food retailer offers more than 170 gourmet cherry products—from salsas and coffee to chocolate covered cherries and buffalo wing sauce. 

Bronners Chirstmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau

2. Shop for holiday decorations year-round

It’s easy to get into the holiday spirit at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Dubbed “The World’s Largest Christmas Store,” this AAA GEM attraction is stocked with a seemingly endless array of ornaments, trees, gingerbread houses and other holiday décor. There’s also a replica of Austria’s Silent Night Chapel, where the carol was first sung in 1818.

3. Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark

Non-guests can purchase day passes to enjoy this 50,000-square-foot indoor water park, making this a fantastic family activity. The park includes five waterslides, a lazy river, family raft ride and other fun ways to cool off. 

Chicken dinner at a restaurant in Frankenmuth Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau

4. Sample Frankenmuth’s restaurants

Frankenmuth restaurants abound, but two are musts—especially for fried chicken fans. AAA Approved Zehnder’s Restaurant and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant are known for their homemade family-style chicken dinners, complete with delectable freshly prepared sides like mashed potatoes and gravy, noodle soup, dressing, buttered noodles and more. Head to Oma’s Restaurant for authentic dishes like German potato pancakes, Reuben egg rolls and pork schnitzel. 

Horse-drawn carriage in Frankenmuth Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau

5. Festivals

You will likely find fun Frankenmuth events any time of the year, but two in particular should definitely be on your radar.

In June, the city plays host to the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival, featuring traditional German music, costumed entertainers, polka bands and other festivities.

Frankenmuth is also known for its Oktoberfest. Lord Mayor Christian Ude of Germany officially sanctioned the celebration in 1996, making it the only city outside of Munich to receive the honor. Attendees can enjoy authentic German cuisine, live music and the popular Weiner Dog Race.

Whether you’re a resident of the state or just visiting, making the short trek to Frankenmuth is one of the best days trips in Michigan. 

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