Several nationalities made Michigan their new home after leaving their home countries. Just south of the crook of Michigan’s hand, on the Lake Huron side, is where you can find Frankenmuth. Also known as Little Bavaria, which still celebrates its German roots and respective culture through architecture, shop offerings, and festivals. This enchanting town is very walkable, with several attractions within an easy, short drive, so that you get the full experience of this unique Michigan destination. This tour can be walked, however, you can also choose to drive. The start and end point is the same, the Michigan Heroes Museum on Weiss Street.
Mileage: 5.7 miles
Driving Time: 20 minutes
Stop #1: Michigan Heroes Museum
Honor. Respect. Remember. This historic collection does all three, preserving memories and memorabilia from Michiganders who have served our nation. It recognizes their ordinary lives of more than 900 exhibits of artifacts and stories, each devoted to an airman, astronaut, soldier, or sailor who called Michigan home. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week. Admission prices are $7 for adults and children under the age of five are free. Visit www.miheroes.org for complete information about events and museum collections.
Stop #2: Riverwalk
Close to downtown and the River Place Shops (our next stop), the Riverwalk is a one-mile loop that is ideal for a leisurely stroll around Heritage Park along the banks of the Cass River. There are canoe and kayak rentals if you feel like a paddle adventure. The pavilion can be a great place to enjoy a snack or have a picnic. The river is also home to riverboat tours on the Bavarian Belle, which has a narrated tour that will entertain everyone in the family (especially if you get snacks).
Stop #3: Bavarian Inn
A well-known establishment in town with a German-themed dining room and a complete menu of German fare (among other things). The family-style chicken dinner is what Bavarian Inn is known for. The restaurant is the big reason to visit, however, there are rooms available, too, to stay on site. And there are a lot of amenities to enjoy if you decide to stay there.
Stop #4: Holtz Brucke Covered Bridge
Visit the state’s largest covered wooden bridge! Featuring two lanes and weighing a whopping 239 tons, the bridge stretches 239 feet across the Cass River. It’s an architectural wonder that is part of Frankenmuth’s history – plus, it makes for a great photo op.
Stop #5: River Place Shops
There are more than 40 shops and attractions in this Bavarian themed shopping mall, as well as several eateries, confectioneries, and bakeries that are to die for. Taste test your way through, find a souvenir or two, and enjoy the aromas of delicious goodies. It’s a wonderful way to spend a couple hours. A full map can be found online here.
Stop #6: Cheese Haus
Although you may have had too many treats while touring River Place Shops, a trip to Frankenmuth wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Cheese Haus. For over 50 years, the Cheese Haus has been the specialty shop for imported and domestic cheese. They make their own cheese spread in house. There are also items to complement any cheese selection including crackers, meats, mustards, and sauces. Visit https://frankenmuthcheesehaus.com/ to order products online, find coupons, and more.
Stop #7: St. Julian Winery
Located on Main Street and open seven days a week, St. Julian’s Frankenmuth location is home to the Solera Sherry Barrel House. You do not need to make a reservation to stop in and taste a flight of wines for $10. Kids are also welcome, as there is sparkling juice available (a holiday must-have for young ones). The main location is in Paw Paw, but here in Frankenmuth, there’s still a wide selection of wines and spirits. It’s also Michigan’s most-awarded winery – a taste of Pure Michigan!
Stop #8: Saint Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church
Since its founding in 1845, the St. Lorenz has been a beacon for the faithful and a well-known part of the Frankenmuth vista. This particular structure, designed after the Gothic revival style, has been in place since 1880. Inside, the historic stained-glass windows and hand painted murals are sights to behold, not to mention the hand carved altar, magnificent organ, and The church is available for self-guided tours by using the call button for access via the north doors during regular hours. Guided tours are also available if prearranged. There is a German worship service once a month. It’s about a half-hour walk, if you’re going by foot, back to the Michigan Heroes Museum.
While you’re in the area: Visit Bronners CHRISTmas Wonderland or the outlet shops at Birch Run, both within an easy 10-minute drive of Frankenmuth. Grandpa’s Tiny Farm and Weiss Centennial Farm are also noteworthy destinations nearby.