Enjoy one of the world’s largest Christmas stores, alpine buildings and beer and wine festivals in this enchanting city sometimes called Little Bavaria.
Germanic architecture and customs are what distinguish Frankenmuth, a quaint city of wineries, breweries and Lutheran churches, from other Michigan towns. Set up in the 19th century by Lutheran evangelists, the town presents itself as an old-fashioned and idyllic German village. Attend festivals celebrating such fierce German traditions as beer, Bavaria and Christmas.
For an appreciation of proud local rituals, drop in at a pub or inn in the downtown village-like zone, which is decorated like a typical German hamlet in the 1800s. Charming European façades adorn buildings with antiquated or Germanic names, such as Cheese Haus and Prost.
Explore the seven galleries of the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, which celebrates the heritage and traditions of Germany’s historic Franconia region. Walk along the footpath that crosses the Cass River to reach the modern River Place Shops. The Bavarian Belle Riverboat takes passengers on trips around the downtown district.
On the river’s northern bank stands the Lager Mill Brewing Museum, containing more than 450 artisanal beers from across the globe. Try local wines at St. Julian Winery on the city’s northern outskirts. Head west to see the enchanting 19th-century St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, built to remind worshippers of the city’s Franconian origins.
Nowhere is Frankenmuth’s quaint ambiance better evoked than at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm, where you can pet animals as you learn about Bavarian farming traditions. Find out about Grandpa William “Tiny” Zehnder, who is known affectionately by locals as Mr. Frankenmuth. Across the road is the alpine cottage of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, displaying festive treasures year-round beside its large snowman and Santa models.
The city lies between Flint and Saginaw in Saginaw County, Michigan. Drive south from the southern end of Saginaw Bay to get here in about 30 minutes. Visit other landmarks in the area, including Huron-Manistee National Forest, the Roscommon State Forest Area and Detroit.
Frankenmuth is a little slice of old-world Europe in Michigan.