A place not quite like any other, where the norms include shopping for Christmas in June and taking a beach day in January.
In a place like Frankenmuth, the seasons never slow, and the Christmas spirit never fades.
1-800-FUN-TOWN is situated two hours north of Detroit. A year-round home to some 7,000 residents, it welcomes millions of visitors from all around the world every year. Some make the journey for Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland and some to try the world-famous Bavarian chicken.
Bronner’s is the largest Christmas store in the world, combining more than two football fields of ornaments, decorations, Christmas trees, games, and lights. The decorations on the inside and outside run up a daily bill of nearly $1,300 in energy costs. Every night, from dusk until midnight, a light show made up of nearly 50,000 lights turns “Christmas Lane” into a real life Christmas fairy-tale.
Frankenmuth’s chicken dinners are consumed by over one million people per year. Within the town, there are two main family-owned restaurants that serve these meals: Bavarian Inn of Frankenmuth and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. Each offer almost identical menus, and nearly 70 years ago Zehnder’s opened to take the overflow diners from Bavarian. Now, Zehnder’s is the largest family-owned restaurant in the country.
No matter the reason, those who visit leave with more than they bargained for. In fact, Frankenmuth is much more than Christmas and chicken (although that’s enough reason to go). On a recent trip, I discovered just what else was hidden in a picture-perfect town nestled along the Cass River.
Funships Tour & Tasting
Combining a boat ride, city tour, some wine, and delicious chocolate is never a bad idea. Frankenmuth Funships is a small business that sits along the main street where they offer hour and half-hour river tours. If you wish, these tours include five wine tasting samples, each paired with a chocolate that accents the flavor.
After loosening up on the boat, guests are welcome to hang around and enjoy a full glass of wine wandering the store or overlooking the river in the gazebo.
Great Lakes Escape Room
Those seeking a challenge must experience the newly opened, Great Lakes Escape Game. Escape games are a growing trend in the United States, and this one gives others a run for their money.
Those who take on the challenge will have one hour to solve a series of puzzles with seven other teammates. Together they must piece together clues in order to beat the clock and avoid dire consequences.
Currently, there are two escape games open: A speakeasy crime solve and an escape from the bridge of Blackbeard’s pirate ship. The new escape room made it’s debut in Frankenmuth on August 20th, 2016, and is already working to expand the games offered.
Prepare to test yourself, open your mind, and look beyond the surface. Do you think you have what it takes to make it out in time?
The Adventure Park of Frankenmuth
Gear up, grab a camera, and head out for an adventure. The Adventure Park of Frankenmuth is a high-ropes and zipline course fun for all ages. The different courses are based on height and difficulty, so each person experiences it on their own personal comfort level. Yellow is the shortest and easiest course, and black is the highest and most difficult. Obstacles include a series a ziplines, swings, ladders, balance beams, and tunnels.
The best part of the Adventure Park of Frankenmuth is the ability to decide freely what one is comfortable with doing and how fast they wish to complete the course. There are a total of six courses, including a zip-line course that soars you through the trees at adrenaline-pumping heights.
Prost, meaning “cheers” in German, is a downtown restaurant that is packed every night of the week. Both a local and visitor favorite, they offer cozy indoor and outdoor seating. Even on chilly nights, those who sit outside will be comfortable thanks to a warm fireplace and blankets provided by the staff.
Those who visit in the fall can’t miss their special “hot spiced wine.” Served warm with just the right kick, it is the perfect drink to end a long day of exploring around Frankenmuth.
Kayaking the Cass River
A new and booming addition to the Frankenmuth area are water recreation sports including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Frankenmuth Outfitters is a watersport rental company that has a handicap accessible launch on the banks of the Cass River. The Cass River is an easy-flowing river, which means kayakers will have an easy time paddling both down and up stream.
In rain or shine, kayaking the river of Frankenmuth gives visitors a whole new perspective on the town. There is no other way you can glide next to the Bavarian Belle Riverboat, or take a paddle under the famous wooden bridge.
Opened in 1862, the Frankenmuth Brewery is the oldest brewery in Michigan. It’s brick interior mixed with modern touches gives customers a vintage chic feel as they dine and drink. Although famous for beer, the restaurant’s food (especially appetizers) keep customers coming back for more. It’s location along the Cass River is perfect for a patio dark lager while watching the Frankenmuth riverboat float by at sunset.
On your next trip to Frankenmuth, you’ll go to Bronner’s and eat some chicken, but don’t forget about the activities that will turn your trip from great to tremendous. What are your favorite things to explore in Frankenmuth?