Frankenmuth is a fun town, and with so many activities to choose from, it should be on your family vacation bucket list.
It might even become a family tradition with you packing up your kids and taking a road trip to Frankenmuth to eat the best fried chicken around and shop in the largest Christmas store in the world.
From taking riverboat rides, splashing in a waterpark, and riding in a horse-drawn carriage to visiting fantastic museums, mining for gems, and getting lost in a maze of mirrors, Frankenmuth has everything a family could want to do on vacation.
10 Things For Families To Do In Frankenmuth, Michigan
1. Bavarian Belle Riverboat
One of the fun family things to do in Frankenmuth is to ride on the Bavarian Belle Riverboat.
Your family can enjoy a one-hour tour along the Cass River on the authentic stern-driven paddlewheel riverboat narrated by the captain.
My nephew and I had such a wonderful time on this river cruise enjoying the scenery.
As a nature photographer, I loved the trip and took so many photographs of the birds, the other boaters on the river, and the landscape.
Weeping willows on the banks of rivers are just begging to be photographed.
The Bavarian Belle has room for 150 passengers in the open air on the upper deck and the enclosed lower salon and where you can get snacks and souvenirs or make use of the restrooms.
You can find the riverboat by the waterfall at the Frankenmuth River Place Shops.
The ticket booth is at the top, and there is a ramped, handicap-accessible dock if needed.
The boat rides are offered Mondays through Sundays, 11 a.m. until dusk (departing every 90 minutes), from early May to mid-October depending on weather and the captain’s discretion.
Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and kids 4 & under FREE.
2. Bavarian Inn Lodge
If you are looking for a place to stay with your family, one option to look at is the Bavarian Inn Lodge.
The Bavarian Inn Lodge has 360 guest rooms along with a German-themed indoor water park, mini-golf, an arcade, bird aviary, and of course, gift shops.
The resort also has two lounges and two restaurants where you can dine on German cuisine among other options, plus they offer nightly entertainment.
This is a convenient family destination that is right across from all the downtown activities.
All you have to do is cross the Holz-Brücke Bridge, and you are right in the middle of all the fun!
You can’t beat the fabulous views of the Cass River.
Bavarian Inn Lodge is at 1 Covered Bridge Lane in Frankenmuth.
3. Frankenmuth Carriage Company
This carriage company can be found in Bavarian Inn’s Parking lot under the Glockenspiel clock tower with the black carriages.
If you are looking for a short ride, you can take a quick one that takes you through the Holz-Brücke Wooden Bridge through a parking lot and back to the restaurant.
Carriage tours of 20 minutes or 40 minutes are available on a first-come/first-served basis.
Pricing is per carriage, not per person, and the maximum capacity is six people per carriage.
This is a walk-up service.
They do not accept reservations.
4. Frankenmuth Historical Museum
The Frankenmuth Historical Museum is a neat seven-gallery museum detailing the history and evolution of this fabulous German community.
This small museum has thousands of artifacts and documents detailing how and when settlers to the area arrived and how they started a community.
This is a fascinating and lesser-visited activity in Frankenmuth, but it has a wealth of knowledge to share, including how this German town had to clearly separate itself from Nazism in World War II and explain to the world that they weren’t connected to them.
It’s fascinating stuff!
In addition to the fantastic history lessons, there are hands-on exhibits for the kids and a unique gift shop filled with locally crafted and European goods.
For $2 per person, you can spend some time learning all about Frankenmuth’s history.
Oh, and don’t forget its beer brewing history as well!
Free parking is available at the rear of the building.
The museum is at 613 S Main Street.
5. Holz-Brücke Wooden Bridge
One of my favorite things to do when visiting Frankenmuth is to walk across the Holz-Brücke Wooden Bridge.
It is a 239-foot, 230-ton covered bridge made entirely of wood which spans the Cass River in Frankenmuth and joins the Bavarian Inn Lodge and the festival grounds to the parking on Main Street.
This beautifully crafted bridge is also Michigan’s largest covered wooden bridge.
It is open year-round for autos or pedestrians.
There is a separate walkway area for pedestrians.
If you are driving over the bridge, it is a little nerve-wracking with how tight it is, but you can fit two cars side by side.
However, there is a sign for bigger vehicles/trucks to drive in the middle.
If you happen to be on the Bavarian Inn side during festivals, there is a long wait to cross over due to the light on Main Street being so close to the other side of the bridge.
If you want a great photo of the bridge, you can get one from Frankenmuth’s River Place Shops bridge, or even better, take a walk on the new path down by the Cass River that goes below the bridge.
6. Michigan Heroes Museum
The Michigan Heroes Museum, I think, is often overlooked as it isn’t in the downtown Frankenmuth area.
Since 1987, the Michigan Heroes Museum focuses on the history of Michigan’s military and space heroes.
It is dedicated to retelling the stories of the sacrifices made by Michigan’s servicemen, servicewomen, and astronauts.
At first glance, when you walk in, all you see is cabinet after cabinet filled with uniforms and photos.
However, there is so much more.
You just have to start reading the information in the cabinets, and then you will be floored.
There are so many fascinating stories of true bravery, like a young man who jumped on a grenade to save his troop standing nearby or Seaman 1st Class Russell Davenport assigned to the U.S.S. Oklahoma, and when the Japanese started bombing, instead of jumping ship, he went below to his battle station to help.
Russell Davenport was the last person pulled from inside the ship, and he was only 18.
There are even more incredible stories of heroes and beautiful tributes to those who have served.
Plus, there are tons of artifacts that are just as fascinating to see.
Kids can enjoy a Scavenger Hunt that helps them interact with the museum and exhibits.
You can find the Michigan Heroes Museum at 1250 Weiss Street in Frankenmuth.
7. Rau’s Country Store
No visit is complete unless you stop at Rau’s Country Store, Frankenmuth’s oldest and largest candy store.
This is where you can find all your favorite old-fashioned candies such as Mary Janes, Zots, Saltwater Taffy, Mini Wax Bottles, Slo-Pokes, plus hundreds of other nostalgic varieties.
They also have a large selection of licorice, gummies, chocolates, and sugar-free treats.
My favorites are the Candy sticks, and I always pick up a handful for the ride home.
You can also get their famous dill pickles right out of the wooden barrel.
This is the perfect little country store that will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.
Rau’s Country Store is located at 656 South Main Street in Frankenmuth.
8. Thunder Bay Mining Company
Have you ever wondered what it was like to be part of the gold rush and mine for your own gold and gems?
Well, Thunder Bay Mining Company allows you and your family to do just that.
This is where you can “sluice” for your own surprise of mineral and gemstone treasures.
The Thunder Bay Mining Company is located in the Frankenmuth River Place Shops by the Bavarian Belle Dock.
It is open when the boat tour is in the dock.
While you are waiting for your boat ride or just finished it, come and sift for gemstones or fossils using an old-fashioned wooden water flume.
If you want to do more, ask about cracking a geode!
Different mix bags are ranging from $7.50 to $19.50.
How lucky are you going to be?
9. Ultimate Mirror Maze
You can never go wrong with exploring a mirror maze.
Frankenmuth’s Ultimate Mirror Maze will put you to the test and challenge you to find your way through numerous halls with thousands of mirrors.
For $8 per person, you can go back as many times as you want all day long.
It might seem easy to get through if it is only you and your family, but it becomes so much more challenging if there is a large group going through the maze.
If you think this will be a cheesy activity, I ask you to reconsider.
It might be the funniest thing you do all day in Frankenmuth with your family!
10. Zehnder’s Splash Village
Zehnder’s Splash Village is one of the few indoor water parks in the nation, offering two distinct waterparks, each with a retractable roof!
I stayed here a few years ago and had so much fun with my nephew floating on the lazy river and riding the water slides down to splash in the pool.
So much laughter can be heard when you visit Zehnder’s Splash Village.
They have more than 50,000 square feet of aquatic fun that offers something for every member of the family.
They even have a resort shuttle to the Zehnder restaurant when you get hungry later in the day for that fabulous chicken dinner.
Some of the things you will find here are a woodland-themed restaurant with a giant tree and a fireplace, an arcade, a fitness center, cabana rentals, and you can even get the kiddos swimming lessons.
The waterpark is one of the best indoor parks I’ve been to.
When you stay here, make sure to get the package deals with breakfast, pizza, and the famous chicken dinner along with the splash pass.
Then it is Cowabunga time!