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Michigan's Little Bavaria in Frankenmuth, MI

Featuring: Christie Bierlein

Director of Sales & Marketing , Frankenmuth Chamber & CVB

Explore a destination expert's favorite downtown spots and outdoor sanctuaries in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

America has plenty of unique destinations, but you won't find another place quite like Frankenmuth, MI. Also known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria," this three square mile city prides itself on German culture, celebrating Christmas year-round, and world-famous chicken dinners. We recently spoke with Christie Bierlein, Director of Sales & Marketing at Frankenmuth Chamber & CVB, to hear what she loves most about this one-of-a-kind city.

#1 Enjoy the Outdoors

How can people enjoy Frankenmuth right now?

Hiking & Biking Trails

We have a lot of trails that run through Frankenmuth, like the Iron Belle Trail. We also have a bike park called Heritage Park that has a nice walking path by the Cass River for about a mile. A lot of our visitors have been getting takeout from their favorite places, heading down to the park for a picnic, and enjoying the scenery.

"Frankenmuth is unique in that chicken and Christmas put us on the map." Christie Bierlein, Frankenmuth Chamber & CVB

#2 Venture Downtown

Where do you bring visitors to show them the real side of your destination?

Downtown Frankenmuth

Of course we have to take them to a chicken dinner at Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn, and experience Christmas at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. I also encourage visitors to hop on the pedal trolley and explore downtown Frankenmuth and some of the cool local bars that have been around forever, like Tiffany’s.

"There are a lot of great places to discover downtown, and it gives you the chance to see all of the Bavarian architecture, the charm, and the artisan craftsmanship of the town." Christie Bierlein, Frankenmuth Chamber & CVB

#3 Seek Beauty

Where do you go for visual inspiration and creativity?

The Cass River

The dam at the Cass River used to be a big barrier that prevented fish from swimming upstream to spawn. Four years ago, the town removed the old dam and added a raft dam. It made for a beautiful, peaceful place, and you can see the Bavarian architecture of the River Place Shops as a backdrop. It’s beautiful, and a bit out of the ordinary.

#4 Explore Local History

Who is the coolest character to meet in your destination?

Dorothy Zehnder

Dorothy Zehnder is our local celebrity, she is the matriarch of the Bavarian Inn Corporation. She turned 98 years old on December 2nd, 2019, and still works in the kitchens that are open 6 days a week. I love the chicken drumsticks at Zehnder’s, they're my favorite.

Dorothy Zehnder, 98, working at the Bavarian Inn

#5 Go Off the Beaten Path

What is your family’s favorite place to explore on a day trip?

Frankenmuth FunShips

People think they know Frankenmuth, because they think they've seen everything. I encourage those people to go to Frankenmuth FunShips, a really cool hidden spot. It looks like a small shop from the front, but at the back there are wooden stairs leading down to the river. There’s a beautiful patio where you can sit and enjoy wine tasting and chocolate sampling, and they also offer boat tours.

More Local Tips

Getting Here

Driving Distances

Get here from these nearby cities:

  • Flint 30 miles
  • Detroit 103 miles
  • Cleveland 245 miles
  • Columbus 268 miles
  • See more . . .

Wine & Dine

Try a Local Hotspot

Prost Wine Bar & Charcuterie is a new local favorite. They have an outdoor fireplace, a gazebo with a chandelier, great live music, and delicious cocktails.

Family Adventures

Gain a New Perspective

The Frankenmuth Aerial Park is a ropes course with five levels of climbing and zip lining. There are a lot of different levels to do with the kids, and you can zip line through the trees. Just one minute from downtown Frankenmuth!

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About the Contributor

Christie Bierlein

Director of Sales & Marketing

About The Contributor

As Director of Sales & Marketing for the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce & CVB, Christie has been helping visitors fall in love with Frankenmuth since 2013.