Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frankenmuth, MI

Frankenmuth is a small town of German Lutheran Heritage. In the 1840s some German Lutheran missionaries came here to convert the Chippewa Indians to the Lutheran faith. Following this, German immigrants starting arriving and the settlement thrived. Today, 2 places have made this a prime tourist stop, Zehnders All You Can Eat, Family Style, Chicken Dinners, and the Bavarian Inn and Lodge with its traditional German menu. And of course, there are the fudge shops and gift stores and anywhere there are Germans you will find a brewery.

The Glockenspeil rings its carrollon bells every hour, but at noon, 3, 6 and 9, you get 10 minutes of music and and short play on the legend of the pied piper. The play is using moving, mechanical figures on the clock/carrollon tower with narration.

We had a traditional German lunch here. It was OK, but in my opinion, all done for the tourist trade. If you want good German food, go to Fredericksburg, TX.

This is Zehners Chicken House Restaurant. It seats 1700 and is said to be the largest restaurant in America. Both places did not start on this grand of scale. They were both built back in the 1880s as hotels. Zehnders was originally the Exchange Hotel and Bavarian Inn was the Union Hotel. Theodore Fischer, a bartender at the Exchange Hotel, built the Union Hotel in 1888. It is said his son and wife started the tradition of the family style chicken dinners. In the 1950s distant relatives of Fischer, the Zehnders, bought the chicken restuarant and continued the tradition of family style dinners. In 1959 they extensively enlarged, renovated and redocorated with the Bavarian style architecture.

They try to make you feel like you are in the 'old world' with the waitstaff dressing in traditional German garb.

Many of the shops which have sprung up in the area also hold to the Bavarian style.

And we always find ways to have fun. Her Max, the pied piper, is leading myself, Maynard and Nancy away to the forest.

We watched some fudge being made.

The murals on the museum were quite informative, showing the history of the area in pictures.

The Fischer Platz, or Fisher Place, is the outdoor summer beer garden at the Bavarian Inn. For the summer they have live entertainment, mostly polka style music, nightly. They also serve German beer and brats.

They even have a small dance floor in front of the stage.

It sits right under the Glockenspeil, so when it is time you just turn your chairs around and watch the show.

Frankenmuth is also famous for The Christmas Store. Said to be the largest in the U.S., it has every kind of ornament or Christmas decoration you can imagine.

I walked through the entire store and it didn't seem like 8 acres. But it was so much stuff, it was overwhelming. I didn't buy a thing.

Frankenmuth Brewery has been in operation since 1862, making it Michigan's oldest breweries. They also brew homemade root beer. Yum.....

We also biked a local rail to trail. The trailhead was blocked off because of some asphalt work being done, but we just went down the road a ways and and started further down the trail. Instead of a 19 mi RT, we only got to do 15 mi of the trail.

But I did miss out riding over the old wooden railroad bridge.

Later today is the Frankenmuth Brewery Tour, then we leave for Jackson, MI, and the next gathering.

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