Fall into Christmas Town

Whether you get lost in the corn maze or brave the Halloween Spook Train, there is something for the entire family to enjoy when visiting Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Guest blogger Ashley Smith from the Frankenmuth Convention & Visitor Bureau shares just some of the many things to look forward to during a visit to Frankenmuth this autumn.

Every year, thousands of people flock to Frankenmuth in the fall and early days of winter in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season – enjoying the glistening lights along Christmas Lane near Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland and the all-around festive spirit throughout town.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Although Michigan’s Little Bavaria is well known for its winter holiday delights, guests should take time to embrace the joy of the season before them as autumn boasts its own charm in Frankenmuth.

The Frankenmuth Corn Maze is host to a gigantic 5-acre corn maze, petting zoo and hayrides for the family. A tradition for many locals, the Frankenmuth Corn Maze is also great for newcomers looking to start a different holiday custom in the Great Lakes Bay Region. This year, kids – and kids at heart – can become a “farm scene investigator,” discovering what happened to Farmer Joe by looking for clues throughout the 2.5 miles of twisted trails within the maze. The maze will be open until Nov. 1.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

And what’s fall without a straw-filled sack made to look like a person? Adorning most of a shopping center and the majority of downtown businesses will be scarecrows as part of the Scarecrow Fest in Frankenmuth, held Oct. 17-18 and 24-25. As a true showing of the fall spirit, festival goers can enjoy activities like pumpkin catapulting, face painting and trick or treating within the Frankenmuth River Place Shops.

If you need more fall fun and are looking for a memorable way to pick out your pumpkins this year, consider heading about 14 miles north of the downtown to experience Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm where the kids can ride a barrel train.

If trains are what you’re into then you might also enjoy the Halloween Spook Train at Junction Valley Railroad, just west of Frankenmuth.

You might also consider checking out the Haunted Forest of Bavaria at The Adventure Park at Frankenmuth on Weiss Street, – directly behind Bronner’s. Open from 6-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays throughout October, but closed on Halloween, the Haunted Forest of Bavaria features ghastly zombies, creepy clowns and a host of other terrifying monsters that are sure to frighten. Designed for kids who are 10 and older, this is a haunted trail the family can explore together. The park will also still be open to climbing during the event, so if you’re not one who enjoys being startled, you’re still able to zip and climb through the trees in the cool evening air.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

When taking a break from the festivities for a world-famous chicken dinner at Bavarian Inn Restaurant or Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, make sure to check out the cleverly costumed scarecrows outside many of the local businesses and vote for your favorite. And speaking of eating, fall is one of the best times to indulge at one of the two famous restaurants as they feature locally grown blue Hubbard squash as the seasonal vegetable and as the key ingredient in their pumpkin pies, which are not only crowd favorites, but great ways to really celebrate the fall harvest.

While the annual holiday celebration, snow lined streets and Christmas cheer will always echo throughout Michigan’s Little Bavaria, make sure to fall into Frankenmuth this autumn for a whole new take on the popular German-themed destination.

What do you plan on doing in Frankenmuth this season?

IMG_8007About the author: Although originally from Arizona, Ashley Smith, Sales and Communications Coordinator for the Frankenmuth Convention & Visitor Bureau, has become an honorary Michigander and loves the Great Lakes state. Be sure to share your favorite memories with the hashtag #MuthMoments and follow Frankenmuth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 

Top 5 Day Trips To Take From Detroit

Detroit is known for putting the world on wheels and introducing us to Motownmusic , but did you know that there are great day trips just a short drive away from the city? Read more on these quick Pure Michigan getaways, authored by The Awesome Mitten’s Jennifer Bowman.

Detroit is a phenomenal hub for entertainment: sporting events, concerts, burgeoning restaurants, and more–if it’s at the forefront of urban renaissance, the Motor City’s got it. When visiting or living in an area with so many things to do, however, it can be easy to miss some the other great places that surround us! Whether you’re in Detroit or the metro area, there are numerous day trip options out there for people of all ages and walks of life. Get away for the day with one of these top five picks, all within  a 90-minute drive of Detroit.

1. For History Buffs: Lansing

If you’re looking for somewhere to learn about Michigan’s history, there’s no better place to start than our state capital! Less than an hour and a half from Detroit, Lansing is home to the Michigan Historical Museum, a collection of artifacts and exhibits that range from our state’s first settlers through 20th century wartime efforts, pop culture influences, and more. After browsing everything the museum has to offer (and there’s a lot, so set aside at least a couple of hours), head next door to the adjoining state library and archives (Michigan’s most comprehensive resource for studying government history and personal genealogy!). Follow up with a trip downtown to the architecturally beautiful State Capitol Building for a lesson in Michigan legislature, then cap off your visit in historic REO Town to see the birthplace of the commercial automobile.

The Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

2. For Creative Types: Ann Arbor
When it comes to an artistic community with a flair for all things creative, Ann Arbor is the place to go. Spend time admiring the work of others at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, get hands-on with a class or art party at the Ann Arbor Art Center, or head to town each summer for the widely-popular Ann Arbor Art Fair. There are also countless resources available for makers, including art and stationery supply shops, resale and thrift stores, and other unique finds like The Scrap Box, which allows artists and teachers to give new life to discarded materials. At the end of your day, stop by Zingerman’s for some local, artisanal food and get your dose of artistic performance with an indie flick or film festival at the Michigan Theater or State Theatre. With a multitude of unique options, Ann Arbor brings together several opportunities that will entertain and inspire.

Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

3. For Those Who Like To Play Tourist: Frankenmuth
You don’t have to venture out of the country (or state, for that matter) to experience a little slice of Bavarian life! German-inspired Frankenmuth allows you to play tourist without the hassle of a passport. Visit downtown for tons of unique shops–clocks, cheese, fudge, and other souvenirs await–and stop by Zehnder’s or the Bavarian Inn Restaurant for authentic German dishes or a famous fried chicken dinner.

Of course, no visit to Frankenmuth would be complete without a trip to Bronner’s, the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Christmas Store.” Finish your holiday shopping early with a few ornaments for family and friends, or pick up a trinket or two for yourself! On the way out of town, stop by one of the local antique stores for an amazing selection of treasures, followed by a trip to Birch Run Outlets for some great deals before hopping back on the interstate.

Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

4. For Nature Lovers: Milford
In addition to a beautiful downtown, Milford provides access to plenty of outdoor trails and water activities. See the best of what this area has to offer at Kensington Metropark, where visitors can explore over 4,400 acres of recreational area by bike, foot, boat, kayak, or canoe. Nature lovers will appreciate fishing, camping, and bird-watching opportunities, while moderate enthusiasts are sure to enjoy picnic and swimming areas, seasonal concerts, paved paths, disc golf, and much more. The best thing about Kensington Metropark, however, is that it’s open all year! In the winter, take part in sledding and cross-country skiing or make the most of frozen water season with ice skating and ice fishing. There’s also a year-round farm center for viewing a slew of cute animals, and educational events such as maple tree tapping tours (complete with live syrup-making demonstrations).

Milford’s Kensington Metropark, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

5. For Your Great Lakes Fix: Lexington
When you’re traveling the Great Lakes State–why not visit a Great Lake? Situated on the shores of Lake Huron, Lexington is an adorable beach town that’s perfect for a day of scenic views and leisure activities. Browse one of several charming shops, grab lunch or dinner at a local eatery, then make your way to one of three public beaches to play in the water. Other attractions include Lexington Park (complete with pavilions, swimming and beach access, restrooms, and playground areas), and Lexington State Harbor, your front seat to boat watching and fantastic sunset viewing. An impressive combination of small town living and the Great Lake “wow” factor, Lexington is a delightful getaway for city and suburban dwellers who need a brief disconnect from the busyness of everyday life.

Calm Waters at Lexington State Harbor, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

What’s your favorite go-to day trip from the Detroit area? Share in the comments!

JenniferBowman

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan in 2011 and has been exploring the state ever since. A marketer and online community manager by day, Jennifer is fascinated with discovering new places and spends her free time traveling and writing about her experiences. To learn more about her adventures, you can follow her on Twitter at @JHBowman or on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes.

Brewers Tell All: What To Expect at Michigan’s Largest International Beer Sampling Event

Cheers! Guest blogger Kirsetin Morello gives us all the details for what you should be expecting from the World Expo of Beer this year. 

Michigan’s largest international beer sampling event, the World Expo of Beer (WEB), is just weeks away from returning to Frankenmuth (Friday & Saturday, May 15-16), and, lucky for you, we’ve got the inside scoop from a few of the festival’s local brewmasters on what to expect.  So, grab your fellow brew lovers and get ready to Go Great Lakes Bay, where you’ll be able experience great craft beers from around the world: nearly 300 different beers from more than 60 breweries, including local brewers Frankenmuth Brewery, Tri-City Brewing Co., and Midland Brewing Co.

World-Expo-of-Beer-1

“There are a lot of people, there are a lot of craft beer enthusiasts, and there’s a lot of energy at WEB,” says Paul Popa, Head Brewer and part owner of Tri-City Brewing, based in Bay City, MI. One of the benefits of attending WEB, he says, is that you can sample so many different beers and find out what you like before buying it at a store. “It’s like a big party where people get to try a lot of different beers from a lot of different breweries,” he explains.

Tri-City Brewing typically brings 6 – 8 different beers to the festival. “We usually do a special release that we may or may not have in the taproom at the time,” says Popa. You can look forward to sampling something special from Tri-City Brewing at WEB again this year. It’s in the works, but Popa says they won’t make a final decision about what to bring until closer to the date of the festival.

Midland Brewing Co 13

Photo Courtesy of Midland Brewing Co.

Midland Brewing Company will also bring some special beers to WEB. “We have a cream ale that we just recent put out that we’ll have there,” says Sam Oswald, Director of Brewing Operations at Midland Brewing Company, “and we’ll probably have a Blackberry Hefeweizen and maybe a Munich Dunkel. We’ll bring fresh beers that people haven’t had yet or haven’t had in a long time.”

One of the big advantages for brewers who attend WEB is the opportunity to showcase their beers and brand to such a large audience. For Oswald, getting to meet the public is a highlight of the event. “We like to educate people on what craft beer is and what it can be,” he says. Oswald explains that the eastern side of Michigan doesn’t have as many breweries as the west side, so it’s important to talk to people about their craft. “With an event this large in our backyard, we like to take the opportunity to talk to people about craft beer and why it’s good for Michigan,” he says. Oswald believes that Michigan is turning out craft beer that can stand up against some of the bigger national players. His take: “Support Michigan. Drink Michigan beer.”

Midland Brewing Co 11

Photo Courtesy of Midland Brewing Co.

Another benefit for the brewers is the chance to network with other brewers at WEB. “Being able to bounce ideas off fellow brewers is really nice,” says Oswald. “We’re all friendly, we talk about recipes, share ideas, talk about mistakes we’ve made with certain recipes, and help each other out. We’re very collaborative.”

In addition to sampling the wares, you can learn more about craft beer by attending one of two special WEB events. On Friday night, you can enjoy a Fine Food and Craft Brew Pairing, hosted by the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Experts will lead you through the multi—course meal and explain how and why they chose each pairing.

If you like to mix your beer with other ingredients—including liquor—the Saturday night Beer Cocktails and Mixology event is for you! Learn the fundamentals of creating your own beer–based cocktails at this unique event. And while you’re busy creating your signature beer-based cocktail, you won’t go hungry—a delicious selection of appetizers will accompany the cocktail instruction.

Space is limited and early registration is strongly recommended. You can sign up to attend either special event and buy weekend ticket packages here.

If you’re a newbie to the WEB, tap the knowledge of the brewers, owners, and volunteers at the booths. “Our owner is at our booth every year, training volunteers and talking to the public about beer,” says Oswald. If you’re used to drinking macro beers, he suggests asking a lot of questions, including which beer is at the lighter end of the scale. If you like chocolate, try a stout. “Stout can be a light, sweet beer, and just have a dark color,” explains Oswald. “Don’t be scared, be adventurous! You might find a couple you don’t like and you might find a couple you really enjoy.”

Midland Brewing Co 7

Photo Courtesy of Midland Brewing Co.

Still thirsty for more?  Check out last year’s post on the World Expo of Beer to learn the story behind how this international beer event was started on a cocktail napkin!

Location: 
Frankenmuth Heritage Park – 601 Weiss Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734 (just 500 feet from the Bavarian Inn Lodge)

Dates & Times:
 Friday, Friday May 15th from 5-10PM and Saturday May 16th from 3-10PM

Admission: 
$10 admission (includes a free collector beer sampling mug; beer sampling tickets sold separately). Proceeds will be donated to charitable causes; 21+ only.

For admission packages, including beer sampling tickets and World Expo of Beer Fast Passes, click here.

 

Guest Blogger - Kirsetin MorelloKirsetin Morello is an author, freelance writer, and mother of 3 boys from Grand Rapids, MI whose family loves to travel and explore new places. In addition to writing about travel, she writes about parenting, business, and specializes in writing profiles of interesting people. Among other publications, you can find her work in Parents, West Michigan Woman, and Teach and Travel, as well as lots of places online, but you’ll most likely find her playing basketball, hiking in a park, or cheering her kids on at their sporting events.