5 best spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan: Christmas town!

5 best spots in Frankenmuth Michigan

Frankenmuth, Michigan

It’s hard to narrow down the 5 best spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan because this Christmas town is so fun! Frankenmuth is called Michigan’s Little Bavaria, and it definitely lives up to its name!

Here’s what their Visitor’s Guide says about the town. I like it so much I’ll type it out for you.

Willkommen. In German, it means welcome, an offer to come and join in. It’s something we don’t hear enough of these days. Well, there’s a place that’s all about being welcome. Welcome to family time. Welcome to playtime. And welcome to Christmas time. All year long…

2021 Visitor’s Guide

That’s a terrific sentiment to me. It’s how we want our home to feel, now when the house is a tiny truck camper or before when we lived in a larger family home, or even when we downsized to a small apartment in the city.

Steve and I always strive to extend a warm Willkommen to friends and family. Even now, this website is an extension of the home that we’re welcoming you into. This could turn into its own post, so I’ll hush about it for now and tell you about this extraordinary city of Frankenmuth! (but look for future ramblings about home because now I want to explore that a little more…)

Update: I did turn Willkommen into its own post...check it out, if you’re interested.

About Frankenmuth, the Christmas Town

Frankenmuth is only 2 square miles in size, but it’s sufficient in terms of things to do! All the basics are also here, like groceries, hardware, and gas/diesel, so don’t worry about anything you may have forgotten at home…it’s here.

Plus, there are some outlet stores in Birch Run, just a little to the South, so honestly, this town has it going on!

It’s located where the thumb meets the hand in the mitten-shaped state of Michigan, about an hour and a half north of Detroit and an hour and a half west of Port Huron. It is ideally situated for exploring!

best spots in Frankenmuth
Image: Canva

RV Parking in Frankenmuth

There is tons of city parking; I’m talking substantial open lots that fit cars, trucks, RVs, and Cupcake herself! Parking is usually a concern for us, although Steve did recently parallel park our truck camper on a busy street outside Chicago. It was impressive, let me tell you!

There’s lots of parking and a Cracker Barrel about eight miles away, so we “dry camped” there. Being self-sufficient is the way to go; we can boondock or city dock anywhere!

1. Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

The top 5 best spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan list would only be complete with Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. This ginormous Christmas shop began with a more modest-size store and grew over the years.

It currently covers 2.2 acres of store space, yep, acres! Of course, the whole complex sits on 27 acres, so there’s plenty of parking.

A fun fact is that Bronner’s electric bill averages $1250 per day. That’s a lot of Christmas lights. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. We both felt a little (or a lot) overwhelmed.

If you can think of an object, it’s likely here as an ornament. There are more than 250 styles of Nativity scenes. That’s insane to me! How many versions of a baby, parents, animals, and wise men do we need?

Each year Bronner’s sells more than 2 million ornaments and 125,000 light sets. As a result, it’s one of the state’s most visited tourist attractions, making it top my 5 best spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan list!

We visited mid-week, and the store was jam-packed. So many shoppers! It was fun to be there just at the start of the Christmas season but before the enormous after-Thanksgiving crowds. I can’t even describe how huge this store is. It’s a Christmas extravaganza!

5 best spots in Frankenmuth Michigan
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

Bronner’s from the outside

Each night there’s a half-mile drive-through Christmas light show. Every night of the year. We didn’t drive through because have you seen how tall Cupcake is?

Silent Night Memorial Chapel

But it looked spectacular. We did, however, visit the Silent Night Memorial Chapel. It’s a replica of the original chapel from Oberndorf/Salzburg, Austria. The chapel provides a quiet space to enjoy the beloved Christmas song Silent Night. Steve and I enjoyed the solitude it offered after the sensory overload inside the store.

Silent Night Memorial Chapel

2. Chicken! #2 in the 5 best spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Chicken, yep, chicken. There are two main places to eat this Christmas Town’s specialty. The Bavarian Inn and Zehnders both offer this plate full of deliciousness. Or make that plates-full because both locations provide an all-you-can-eat-family-style dinner.

We chose to eat at Zehnders for no reason other than the vast parking lot behind it. However, the Bavarian Inn is literally across the street and offers pretty much the same meal. So you can’t go wrong with either choice of restaurant.

We opted for the lunch choice of a single serving, but lunch and dinner are offered all day, depending on your hunger.

The chicken is dipped in flour/spices and fried, but it’s not crispy like KFC. It’s more like pan-fried rather than deep-fried. Along with chicken comes freshly baked bread, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and dressing. Deliciousness!

The staff wears period clothing from the turn of the century maybe. And the setting itself is rather opulent. It’s a fun outing, for sure.

We waited about a half hour for seating, which gave us plenty of time to chat with people around us. It seems like they come from all over the country to visit this little town and eat a chicken dinner.

Come to Frankenmuth with an empty stomach, and you won’t be disappointed!

5 best spots in Frankenmuth Michigan
Ah the chicken!

3. Visit Zehnders

Beyond the chicken dinner, Zehnders of Frankenmuth is a great place to visit. However, it’s spread out a little, with part being where the restaurant and shopping lie in the center of town. The other part is down the street with the Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark.

Calling Zehnders only a restaurant or a gift shop is a disservice. The main floor serves as the restaurant, with several rooms of tables spread throughout. The marketplace and bakery are primarily downstairs, alongside a smaller café.

Thankfully we visited the bakery after eating lunch, or I’d have stocked up on too many sweets! There’s even a Pandora jewelry shop and a Polish Pottery shop downstairs. It’s fantastic!

Down the street and across the town’s covered bridge, Zehnders features The Fortress, an 18-hole championship golf course. Open from mid-April to October, it’s a great way to get outdoors after eating and shopping.

And finally, Zehnders’ Splash Village stays fun-filled all year round with its retractable roof over the waterpark. This hotel is fun for the entire family and even offers waterpark day passes for those not staying there.

I’d love to return here in January for the Snowfest, with larger-than-life snow sculptures and ice carvings. Zehnders has something for everyone, which makes it #3 on my top 5 spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

4. Bavarian Inn and River Place Shops

At number 4 on the list of best places in Frankenmuth, Michigan, we enjoyed wandering through the 40+ shops in River Place and all its fun shopping. Catch a riverboat cruise from here or even a horse-drawn carriage ride during the summer.

The Bavarian Inn offers Frankenmuth’s famous chicken dinner and a German-themed resort. In addition, there is no shortage of fun with the Inn’s four indoor pools, indoor mini-golf, and video arcade.

Have you caught on yet that Frankenmuth is a seriously fun place?!

5 best spots in Frankenmuth Michigan
Frankenmuth Covered Bridge

The Bead shop called to us, where we spent most of our time. Steve got an amethyst bead bracelet because amethyst is his birthstone, and Michigan is his birth state. So that’s neat.

We also loved the bookstore and, of course, the popcorn store!

In addition to shopping, River Place has a spa, a wine tasting spot, a Mirror Maze and game room, so there’s really something for everyone.

For such a small town, it packs a punch! Steve and I enjoyed visiting Sugarhigh Bakery. The owners are the Season 7 winners of Cupcake Wars on Food Network, so you know there’s nothing but sugary goodness here.

#5 in 5 best spots in Frankenmuth, Michigan

The fifth spot in my top 5 list goes to Raus Country Store.

We loved this quirky shop, from the creaky wooden floors to the barrels of sweets and the rows of puzzles. Focused on nostalgia, the shop offers lace doilies and reproduction metal signs.

It also has t-shirts and souvenirs, but I mostly liked seeing the barrels full of hard candy and taffy. It reminded me of going to Sears when I was a kid. My sisters and I each got a quarter to spend at the candy counter. I always chose chocolate stars, and I loved those things. Of course, I got quite a few for my 25 cents too!

Anyway, Raus brings up those old feelings of nostalgia, and it’s just a fun place to stop in. We picked up a puzzle for our puzzle-loving friend, Carol. It’s a fun store, so check it out.

5 Best Spots in Frankenmuth, the Christmas town

I enjoyed our stop in Frankenmuth. We came here for the chicken but were pleasantly surprised to see how much we liked the town too. Yes, it’s touristy.

It’s a bit like Leavenworth in Washington State…another little Christmas / Bavarian town in the middle of America. Clicking that link will take you to Steve’s Pacific Crest Trail hike into Leavenworth. What a great adventure that was!

Frankenmuth is cheesy, it’s lovely, and it’s super fun. I liked the Christmas decorations around town, so I’m glad we came when we did, a week or so before Thanksgiving.

We also got our Covid booster shots here, making it easy to remember! We went into CVS to see about a Covid test for crossing into Canada.

Getting the results takes longer than we cared to wait, so we chose to go South around Lake Erie to get to our next stop of Niagara Falls instead of cutting through Canada. But we asked about the booster and got it on the spot, so that was an unexpected bonus!

Frankenmuth also has a cheese shop, a clock shop, and much to offer. And chicken. You have to try the chicken. It’s a great Christmas town and probably my favorite spot in Michigan.

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