Road Trip: Frankenmuth, Michigan

Michigan’s Little Bavaria is a great place for families to feel the “willkommen” spirit. 

Known for its German roots and Bavarian-style architecture, Frankenmuth is a great place for families to visit because there is so much to do and see. Nicknamed “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth is a five-hour drive from Indianapolis, making it an ideal road-trip vacation destination or a spot to visit during a long weekend. Here are just some of the places to stay, things to see and food to taste during a visit to Frankenmuth, Michigan!

Where to Stay in Frankenmuth

If you’re looking for a hotel where you can stay and play all all in one spot, the two popular options in Frankenmuth are the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Zehnder’s Splash Village. Both of these family-friendly hotels have waterparks, arcades and other activities to keep your family entertained during your stay.


Bavarian Inn Lodge

You’ll find the Bavarian Inn Lodge is just a short journey across Frankenmuth’s historic Holz Brucke, or covered bridge. The bridge is made almost entirely of wood and is a great place to snap a family photo!

At the Bavarian Inn Lodge, visitors can enjoy four pools, two water slides (including a tube slide and body slide), 160 video games, an 18-hole indoor mini golf course, and nightly entertainment. There are even fun family activities that happen throughout the day, like pretzel-making!


Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark

The other popular family hotel is Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark. This huge hotel offers 178 deluxe rooms and two distinct waterparks — it’s Michigan’s only retractable roof waterpark! — offering more than 50,000 square feet of aquatic fun.


The waterpark at Zehnder’s Splash Village has something for all ages, including a six-story family raft ride, zero-entry activity pool with water geysers, water basketball and volleyball, a dumping bucket, a lazy river and hot tub.


What to Eat in Frankenmuth

From world-famous chicken restaurants to family-friendly breweries, there really is something delicious waiting around every corner of Frankenmuth. Here are just a few restaurants you need to add to your list! 

Feast Family-Style: Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth and Bavarian Inn Restaurant

When in Frankenmuth, you will want to make a point to get an all-you-can-eat family-style dinner. Luckily, there are two places in town where you can find such a meal: Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn, which are both famous for their family-style chicken dinners. Located across the street from each other on downtown’s Main Street, these two restaurants prepare nearly 2 million pounds of Frankenmuth’s chicken each year!


Other Places to Eat

If you’re looking for a breakfast or lunch place that will appeal to vegans and meat-eaters alike, Honey B’s Eatery is the place in Frankenmuth. The chef-driven restaurant combines scratch-made favorites — like buttermilk pancakes, hash and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits — and offers a deli and bakery inside the cozy space.


Step back in time for lunch and dinner at Tiffany’s Food & Spirits, a beloved Frankenmuth haunt. Old-time card tables, Tiffany lamps and a ceiling mural decorate the popular restaurant, and you’ll find lots of family favorites on the menu, including pizza, salad, sandwiches, brauts and a wide variety of appetizers.


What to See in Frankenmuth

The best way to soak in the Bavarian charm of Frankenmuth is to stroll around and explore. Here are just some of the places you should see while you’re in town!

Bronner’s Christmas Store 

In Frankenmuth, Christmas is a big deal. The town is home to the world’s largest Christmas store, which is open 361 days a year! This amazing store with all-things Christmas is almost two football fields in size and has almost every imaginable ornament, decoration and trinket you can think of to add to your holiday collection. 


Even just walking through the store and enjoying the dazzling lights, festive colors, and fun holiday scenes all throughout the store is an experience in itself. Don’t forget to pose and take a photo with the gigantic Santa statue outside the entrance!

Main Street Frankenmuth

Take time to walk through downtown Frankenmuth’s Main Street, and you’ll be treated to a Bavarian wonderland. Beautifully themed buildings house unique shops selling all kinds of Bavarian items. You’ll find many places to grab a bite to eat or snag a souvenir to take home. 


Stop by Frankenmuth Cheese Haus to find all kinds of cheeses (including chocolate cheese!), and snap a pic outside with the giant Cheese Haus Mouse. Peruse the basement of the Bavarian Inn restaurant and you’ll find a toy store and chocolate shop. Find old-fashioned bulk candy at Rao’s Country Store, and watch fudge being made and grab a slab or two at Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen.

While you’re wandering down Main Street, stop in at the Frankenmuth Visitor Center and pick up a Gnome Hunting tip sheet to find the gnomes that are located all around downtown. Find at least 10 and you’ll get a prize when you bring your sheet back to the Visitor’s Center!

River Place Shops

Located just south of the Cass River is the aptly named River Place Shops, an open air shopping destination in Frankenmuth. Although most of the quaint shopping center is outdoors, there are some places that are indoors, too. You’ll find an indoor arcade, a mirror maze and a place to forge your own sword, as well as fun shops to check out, like a fairy store with miniatures to add to your fairy garden and Michigan’s largest bead store. To eat, you’ll find eateries to dine on crepes, beignets, local chocolate, and honey.


To discover even more reasons why Frankenmuth, Michigan, is a great destination for families, visit

Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe is the editor of Indy's Child and Southwest Ohio Parent magazines. She has a BA in Journalism from California State University Northridge, and has been involved in the print and digital publishing world for most of her life. Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole traded the city and sun for corn and creeks, and now lives in central Indiana with her husband, two sons and Collie. Her latest book for children, “All About Me! Art Journal” was published in 2022 by Walter Foster Jr. In her spare time, she likes traveling with her family, enjoying good food and drink, volunteering at her children’s schools and around her community, and practicing yoga.

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