5 Reasons to Visit Frankenmuth This Summer

If you’re looking for family fun with a German twist, look no further than the Christmas town of Frankenmuth. Between water parks, small-town strolls and the world’s largest Christmas store, there’s so much to do in Michigan’s Little Bavaria.

Read more on five reasons to visit Frankenmuth this summer, courtesy of the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau.

1. Outdoor adventure awaits you!

Frankenmuth has long been known for chicken and Christmas, and while we still have those things (see numbers 3 and 4), there’s also many opportunities for outdoor adventure, you just have to know where to find it. Zip line through the trees at Frankenmuth Adventure Park on a zip line & ropes course and then hit the water. Frankenmuth Outfitters offers kayak and paddleboard rentals right out of Heritage Park. Paddle along the scenic Cass River and take in the sights. If riding sounds more appealing, try the Bavarian Belle Riverboat cruise, a 150 passenger traditional paddlewheel style boat, or for a more intimate setting, sip wine and taste handmade chocolates on the Frankenmuth FunShips.

The Frankenmuth Adventure Park offers many fun and active challenges

Photo Courtesy of the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau

2.Unique & Local Shopping

Summer is the perfect time to shop in Frankenmuth. Revel in the charming setting of the River Place Shops, with over 40 unique boutique style shops, located in the heart of downtown. Take in the Bavarian architecture, enjoy a wine tasting or sample homemade mouth-watering fudge. Be sure to wander up and down Main Street to take in the beautiful flowers spilling over from every hanging plant and garden while stopping in at the one of a kind stores.

3. Christmas in July… And All Year Round

Arguably one of the most popular U.S. holidays, skipping a trip to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store, would be unheard of. Definitely plan on spending a couple hours there, and as founder Wally Bronner would say, “It’s free to enter, it may not be free to leave.”

Bronner's is a Christmas paradise all year-long

Photo Courtesy of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

4. Family Style Chicken Dinners

There is no way a top five list would be complete without including the world famous, all-you-can-eat chicken dinners from Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. There is a reason why hundreds of thousands of people visit there each year.

World-famous chicken dinners can be found at Frankenmuth's Bavarian Inn

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler, Promote Michigan

5. #SeeFrankenmuth Photo Contest

We love seeing how our visitors discover Frankenmuth through photography. Now through July 31st, hashtag your Frankenmuth photos with #SeeFrankenmuth for a chance to win $100 in Frankenmuth Money or the Grand Prize of a two-night stay at the hotel of your choice* and $200 in Frankenmuth Money. There’s no better time to take a vacation to Frankenmuth. Click here for full contest details.

Now that you’re ready to visit Frankenmuth, be sure to visit Frankenmuth.org and try out the handy trip planner. It allows you to easily plan your trip and share your itinerary with the lucky friends and family you choose to bring.

Don't miss the chance to enter the #SeeFrankenmuth Photo Contest

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @trever_west

We cant wait to see you this summer in Michigan’s Little Bavaria!

What do you love most about Frankenmuth? Share with us by commenting below!

All in the Family: 4 of Michigan’s Iconic Multi-Generational Businesses

Father’s Day serves as a time to be with family and share memories of the past. In Michigan, we have many distinctive family-run companies which not only maintain their roots as historic businesses, but they are paying attention to current trends and looking to the future to thrive for new generations. Read more as Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan shares the history behind four multi-generational businesses.

1. Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island—First opened in 1887, this National Historic Landmark has been operated by the current family for 83 years. In the midst of the Great Depression in 1933, W. Stewart Woodfill (who was hired as a desk clerk in 1919) was the sole bidder to take the hotel out of receivership and preserve its place in history.

His nephew, R. D. (Dan) Musser Jr., began working at the hotel as a college student in 1951. In 1979, Dan and his wife, Amelia, purchased the seasonal property on America’s most noted island and began the task of redesigning both the interior and exterior spaces, with the help of architect Richard Boss and decorator Carleton Varney.

Grand Hotel is as iconic as any other destination in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Dan Musser III grew up in the family business—serving as kitchen assistant, bellman, bartender, bar manager, front desk clerk and manager, reservations manager and vice president, before being named President in 1989 and officially taking over the 390-room “Green Certified” hotel in 2011 (along with all the outlying properties: The Jewel Golf Course, The Gatehouse Restaurant, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, Jockey Club, Woods Restaurant, Cawthorne’s Village Inn and the new Grand Sushi which just opened this summer.

2. Schuler’s Restaurant, Marshall—In 1909, a young orphaned Albert Schuler (a name he acquired from a traveling butcher who took him in after his mother died and his father abandoned him) became an entrepreneur, building the foundation for what has become one of Michigan’s most noted restaurants in historic downtown Marshall.

Bert’s first business was a cigar shop, followed by a small café, hotel and restaurant. It was here that second-generation Winston “Win” Schuler and his brother, Albert Jr., brought national attention to the restaurant, with at one time nine locations around the state (and one in Indiana).

Shuler's Restaurant in Marshall is a local favorite

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

“While it was expected that I would follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, it was a path I was actually eager to take,” says third-generation owner Hans Schuler, who officially joined the business in 1959 and in 1970 became President of the company, purchasing it from his father upon his retirement in the 1980s.

Larry Schuler is the fourth-generation to work in the family business and serve as a leader in the state’s hospitality industry. He is currently the president of Schu’s Hospitality and is a consultant for The Henry Ford Museum & Institutions in Dearborn.

3. Stafford’s Hospitality, Petoskey Area—It could be said that Stafford Smith was born to be a hotelier in the Petoskey area. Although his family was from the downstate town of Albion, they were vacationing in Petoskey when he made his appearance into the world. Today, his name is synonymous with hospitality in this lakeshore region.

He was just 22 years old in April, 1961 when he purchased the Bay View Inn. Originally built in 1886, this charming vintage inn is Stafford’s flagship property nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay. The Pier Restaurant in downtown Harbor Springs became the next acquisition (1970), followed by the Earl Young-built Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix (1986), the Perry Hotel (pictured below) (1989), the Gallery (2007), the Crooked River Lodge in Alanson (2011) and the Draw Bridge Bistro in downtown Charlevoix (2014).

The Perry Hotel is one of Smith's many popular destinations

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Stafford R. “Reg” Smith is the eldest child of Stafford Smith, and his wife of 55-years, Janice. He grew up in the business, having worked in nearly every capacity at the Inn. During the 1990s, Reg and his wife, Lori, together served as innkeepers at the Bay View Inn. Today, Reg is the Vice President of Hotels for Stafford’s Hospitality’s seven regional properties.

4. Zehnder’s, Frankenmuth—The first restaurant meals served in Frankenmuth were at the Exchange Hotel in 1856, just 11 years after the town’s founding. In 1928, William and Emilie Zehnder sold their 80-acre farm and borrowed the balance of the funds necessary for the $8,000 down payment to purchase the hotel. They opened on Mother’s Day, 1929 and on that first day served 312 guests, for just one dollar each.

The 1950s were a pivotal decade as the Zehnder family purchased the competition, the Fischer’s Hotel (where the community’s family-style chicken dinner originated), and named Tiny Zehnder as manager. Within a few years, Tiny suggested to the family that they remodel the building, adding character through Bavarian architecture. The entire family agreed and by 1959 the newly named Bavarian Inn opened with a grand celebration—the foundation to Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Festival, which is still celebrated to this day.

Zehnder's Restaurant is a must-visit when exploring Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Despite financial setbacks, the Zehnder family continued to invest in its businesses and community, helping to create an unquestionable pride in its German heritage. The successful transformation of Fischer’s Hotel to the Bavarian Inn helped to encourage other Frankenmuth property owners to develop what is now “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.”

Bavarian Inn continues to be a staple in Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Today, the third generation of the Zehnder family are still currently involved in the day-to-day operations of their expanded businsses. The Bavarian Inn branch of the family (under the guidance of their 95-year-old matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder) oversees the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, the Bavarian Inn Lodge and the River Place Shops. The Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth branch operates the flagship Zehnder’s restaurant (America’s largest family restaurant), as well as The Fortress championship golf club, Zehnder’s Splash Village and a retail facility Zehnder’s Marketplace.

Michigan is home to many other generational family businesses, what are your favorites?

Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan. She’s been an active supporter of the tourism industry since her first family vacation to Leelanau County at the age of three. Today, she is living her dream and resides in the Lake Michigan shoreline community of Petoskey. 

3 Ways to Get Your Feet Wet along Michigan’s Sunrise Coast

Michigan’s Sunrise Coast stretches from Au Gres to Rogers City along the blue waters of Lake Huron.  This picturesque Northeast coast of Michigan has pristine beaches, spectacular views and endless outdoor activities.With more than 20 miles of sandy beaches, the Au Sable River and 35 thousand acres of unique trails, the Oscoda area is a great destination for your summer vacation bucket list.

Here are three ways to get your feet wet and enjoy the sun, sand and fresh air in Oscoda.

Oscoda is a paradise destination on the coast of Lake Huron

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Bailey

1. Explore Oscoda’s Water Trails 

Take in the beautiful scenery and catch a glimpse of wildlife in their native habitat during a canoeing or kayaking trip along the mighty Au Sable River.  The Au Sable is one of North America’s best canoeing rivers and runs through Northern Lower Michigan.

Whether you’re looking for a two-hour trip or a weeklong adventure, it’s an adventure you won’t want to miss.

 2. Go Fish 

If you’re looking for a trophy size fish, Oscoda is the right place for you.  The area is known for walleye fishing, but the Au Sable River and other inner lakes and streams attract trout, salmon and perch.

Once you decide where you want to fish, ,make sure you stop by the local bait shops and spend some time talking with the locals to determine what lures are hot and what is being caught.

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3. Life’s a Beach

The pristine beaches along Lake Huron, the Au Sable River, Cedar Lake and Van Etten Lake offer something for everyone.

Want a quiet afternoon taking in the sights and sounds of nature? Take in a sunrise at Huron Sunrise Park, along the Lake Huron’s shoreline. Stay for a picnic, wildlife observation, swimming or fishing.

Kids and kids-at-heart can spend a day at Oscoda Beach Park swimming, skateboarding, playing on the playground and more. While you’re there, be sure to check out the 33rd Annual Art on the Beach where there will be more than 150 artisans display and sell their handmade arts, crafts and hobbies.

Don't miss the 33rd Annual Art on the Beach

Art on the Beach is the can’t-miss event of the summer in Oscoda

If you want to take your boat out for a day on the lake, take off from Van Etten Beach Park. This park is a fresh water lake that has all the recreation activities for swimming, boating, water skiing, wave running and of course, fishing.

After all that exploring, you’ll want a place to rest your head.  Oscoda has everything from cottages, Bed and Breakfast resorts and hotels – many of them with views along Lake Huron.

From relaxing on the beach to fishing for walleyes in the lakes and rivers, Oscoda offers endless outdoor recreation activities. It’s perfect for your next family vacation!

What are you looking forward to doing in Oscoda this summer?