Little Bavaria

Delve a little deeper into the City of Frankenmuth’s origin and you’ll gain greater appreciation for this quaint location that attracts more than three million visitors each year.
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October Fest in Frankenmuth
Photography courtesy Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce

It was a lack of pastors, churches and schools in parts of the Midwest noted by German missionary Frederick Wyneken in 1840 that would attract Wilhelm Loehe, pastor of the country church in Neuendettelsau, Mittelfranken, Kingdom of Bavaria.

Pastor Loehe organized a mission society, still operating today, to train teachers and pastors for work in the United States. In part, his plan was to give spiritual comfort to German pioneers in the Midwest, specifically the Saginaw Valley. 

In German, the word “Franken” represents the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria and the word “Muth” means courage, so Frankenmuth means “courage of the Franconians.” 

Bavarian Festival Frankenmuth

With immigration, many trades would resume here, including flour, saw and woolen mills, along with the making of beer, cheese and sausage. After World War II, interstate highways made the enchanting community easily accessible to others and its popularity — courtesy in large part to engaging cultural attractions — has grown ever since. 

Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Take a one-hour historical narrated tour along the Cass River on this authentic paddlewheel riverboat (bavarianbelle.com).

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. A fixture in Frankenmuth for 70 years that’s the size of one-and-a-half football fields, this retail store allows visitors of all ages to revel in holiday wonder year-round (bronners.com).

Summer Lodge FrankenmuthFrankenmuth River Place Shops. With over 40 shops and attractions, visitors experience a realistic recreation of a German/Bavarian village (frankenmuthriverplace.com).

Frankenmuth Historical Museum. Uncover this city’s history through artifacts, documents, educational programs and exhibits. (frankenmuthmuseum.org)

Bavarian Inn Restaurant. Experience the Old-World European flavor of all-you-can-eat chicken and ribs in tandem with lodging, shopping and swimming (bavarianinn.com).

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. Another top spot for traditional family-style chicken dinners, Zehnder’s also features a golf course, indoor waterpark and marketplace (zehnders.com).

— Jeanine Matlow, Michigan BLUE Magazine 

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