Updated: Nov 14
Have you ever watched Hallmark Christmas movies and wondered if those charming places really do exist? I found one in Frankenmuth, Michigan! This adorable town has Bavarian influences and a plethora of Christmas spirit. It comes to life with twinkling lights, horse carriage rides, and Christmas music. The air even smells like chocolate!
My husband and I drove from Cincinnati to Frankenmuth in about 5 hours. We stayed for 2 nights during a weekend in December which was plenty of time to explore this cute area. Frankenmuth is very walkable and has public parking spots if you're driving. Make sure to grab a parking spot earlier in the day to prevent looking around as it gets busier. The best Hotel to stay at is the Bavarian Inn Lodge which has an indoor
waterpark and is located right off Main Street.
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Here are the best things to do during your visit!
Stop at the Frankenmuth Visitor and Welcome Center
This is a great first stop. This visitor center is right on the main street and will give you plenty of ideas and events that are going on in the area. You can also grab a coupon book to save some money. If you enjoy beer and wine, make sure to purchase a Bavarian bierpass passport. You can collect stamps from different locations in Frankenmuth. If you get enough stamps you can turn your passport in for a free t-shirt. It also comes with a
cute little glass stein souvenir.
Take a Stroll Down Main Street + River Place Shops
Simply walking down Main Street is magical. The twinkling lights, Christmas music, and smell of hot fudge baking are an instant boost of serotonin.
Our favorite shops we visited:
N'orlins Beignets & Coffee
This cute little coffee shop is a walk-up window where you can order a warm drink and yummy beignets. If you don't know what a beignet is, it's a deep-fried French pastry covered in powdered sugar. You can also add chocolate, caramel, raspberry, or frosting dipping sauce. I will warn you they are messy but so worth it. My favorite drink I ordered here was the spiced chai tea latte. We came back here a couple of times because it was so good!
Zak & Mac's Chocolate Haus
Zac & Mac's smells like heaven when you walk through the door. This chocolate store has it all, including Michigan's best Toffee (if you like toffee, I'm really not a fan). What I do like is fudge. They make the fudge in-house and have up to 17 different flavors of it. You can also buy gift boxes to take back home.
Frankenmuth Cheese Haus
There was a time in my life when I tried to vegan. It only lasted a couple of weeks and the reason was that I can't live without cheese. If you're like me and can't fathom life without cheese, you'll love this store. I've never seen so many blocks of cheese in my life! Along with domestic and imported cheese, they also make cheese exclusively in their shop. You'll find cheeses you didn't think existed. Chocolate mint and chocolate peanut butter cheese were new to me!
Make sure to check out the Figurinespiel Tower that's part of the cheese haus building. It's an animated story about how cheese is made across Europe and the US. I was so surprised to see the doors opening on the tower and cute characters popping out. The animation lasts 10 minutes and is at 9am,11am, 2pm, 5pm, and 8pm.
This quirky gift shop has some fun finds. Make sure to go in and grab a festive cocktail at the bar before you shop. One of my favorite things here was the wall full of hot sauces and the sock wall. This shop is different and definitely stands out. It's worth a visit!
Bavarian Inn Restaurant Castle Shops
These shops are located in the basement of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. You'll find a bakery with a variety of baked goods including award-winning pies. My favorite shop was next to the bakery that sold German Steins and beer. There's also a toy and candy store. You can also make a reservation here to learn how to roll your own pretzel.
Do the stop and snap challenge
Visit this website and you'll click on the stop and snap challenge link to download the correct app. Here you'll find the best stops to take pictures around Frankenmuth. Once you reach the spots you can check in the app with your locations. Once you reach 15 spots (they are all close to each other and easy to find!) you can show your notification of completion to the Frankenmuth visitor center and get a free Frankenmuth Christmas ornament.
Go Iceskating at the Frankenmuth Ice Rink
This rink is lit up beautifully with Christmas lights and looks like it came out of one of the ceramic Christmas Villages. No reservations are needed for this rink. All-day admission is $10 and skate rental is $3. It's the perfect winter activity!
Visit the world's largest Christmas Store- Bronner's Christmas Wonderland
A trip to Frankenmuth isn't complete without a visit to this Christmas store on steroids. One of my favorite things was driving through the dramatic entrance. The drive is a half-mile long and lined with colorful Christmas lights and displays. It's safe to say I was in awe and I'd never seen anything like this at a retail store. There are over 100,000 outdoor Christmas lights that illuminate the grounds. The building itself is over 7 acres of space and has 350 decorated Christmas trees on display. It's open year-round and is busiest from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Planning a Christmas weekend shopping visit? Prepare to wait in a long line to get in and I hope you like large crowds. The first time we thought about going was in the afternoon. After driving up, we couldn't believe how long the lines were from the different entrances to get in. It was wrapped around the whole building! We went back later in the evening and ended up waiting in line anyways.
When I got in, I noticed the store was organized into different sections by Christmas theme. My favorite was the ornament section. There are isles and isles of ornaments! You can get any ornament personalized, but I will warn you that it includes another line to wait in. I personally thought everything was overpriced and didn't end up buying anything. It was a neat experience to walk around and window shop.
Grandpa Tiny's Farm
This adorable farm is located near the Bronner's Christmas store and holds a lot of Frankenmuth history. It was founded in 1938 by Tiny Zehnder who also helped run the Bavarian Inn restaurant. He was part of the inspiration for spreading the Baravain theme around Frankenmuth.
You'll find different things to do and special events all year round. In the winter, this farm turns into Santa's Reindeer Farm. Inside the main barn, we found a hot cocoa stand and cute Christmas photo ops. Outside we found a station where you can make your own ornament with a woodworker to take home with you. In another barn, we found Santa and got to pet some friendly reindeer. You can walk around the grounds and pet the farm animals that are out. Tickets for this event are only available online. This was one of my favorite things we did in Frankenmuth!
Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Frankenmuth Fun ships
Warm up with some wine and chocolate at this cute wine store. You can try 6 different wines paired with 5 handmade chocolates. The staff pairs the first four wines with four chocolates and you get to choose the last two wines to pair with your fifth chocolate. We had so much fun doing this!
Grab some amazing food and a German beer at Michigan's oldest microbrewery. Make sure to try the Christmas town ale which I really loved! I also loved how decorated it was for Christmas and the fun atmosphere.
Enjoy a horse carriage ride through downtown Frankenmuth
This was pricey just for me and my husband so we didn't do it, but for a family of 4-6, it's reasonable. They charge $80 for a 30-minute tour or $45 for a 15-minute tour. I looked at reviews and the majority of people said it was well worth the price. I will say seeing and hearing the horses clip-clop down the street really made it feel like a Christmas wonderland!
Walk or drive across the covered bridge
This covered bridge is the icing on the cake when it comes to the charm in Frankenmuth. It's the largest wooden covered bridge in Michigan and was built in the 1980s. It stretches 239 feet across the scenic Cass River.
Shop small at Frankenmuth's ChristkindlMarkt
Located at 534 N. Main Street (Frankenmuth's Farmers Market)
This market is inspired by Germany's Christmas Market. Here you'll find handmade gifts and goods made by locals! There are over 40 vendors and admission is free.
Have a glass of wine and charcuterie board at Prost!
I'm so happy we stopped here before heading home! This place was so good. We had brunch and mimosas, but it's also a great stop to grab wine and a charcuterie board!
I hope I've inspired you to visit this cute Hallmark Christmas town! If I did, make sure to leave a comment!
Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to share with other Christmas season lovers!
Safe travels & Happy Holidays,