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Wednesday, April 16, 2014 9:04 AM

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Willkommen to Michigan’s Little Bavaria


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Sample aged cheddars, flavored cheese spreads and house-made chocolate cheese at the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus. Photo by Erin Klema

Sample aged cheddars, flavored cheese spreads and house-made chocolate cheese at the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus. Photo by Erin Klema

Published on: Friday, February 14, 2014

Erin Klema, Sentinel Travel Editor

Want to eat bratwurst with sauerkraut, shop for beer steins and cuckoo clocks, and stay in a Bavarian-style inn?

Then, Willkommen to Frankenmuth, Mich.! Dubbed Little Bavaria, this small Michigan town settled by German immigrants offers visitors the flavors, sights and sounds of Germany without the transatlantic flight. With its white exterior walls, a wooden peak at the roof and colorful shutters around the windows, the Bavarian Inn Lodge transports visitors to the Alps. In addition to looking like an Alpine village, guests will delight in the sights of lederhosen and dirndls worn by the staff.

The Bavarian Inn is a family-friendly resort with an indoor water park and mini golf course. Its restaurant is known for its family-style chicken dinners and such traditional German dishes as Bratwurst, Sauerbraten and Wiener Schnitzel. Photo by Erin Klema

The Bavarian Inn is a family-friendly resort with an indoor water park and mini golf course. Its restaurant is known for its family-style chicken dinners and such traditional German dishes as Bratwurst, Sauerbraten and Wiener Schnitzel. Photo by Erin Klema

Stay overnight in the family-friendly resort and splash around in one of four indoor pools. With three whirlpools, two waterslides and a full 18-hole indoor mini golf course, the Bavarian Inn Lodge is fun for all ages.

Frankenmuth is known for its “world famous” golden chicken dinners served family style. You’ll find these filling meals at two eateries along South Main Street — Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. For wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, bratwurst, sauerkraut and Michigan’s largest selection of German beers, dine at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

Looking for a German snack? Head to the Castle Shops below the restaurant for delicious, freshly baked German pastries and gourmet soft pretzels like the ones served in Munich’s beer gardens. At the Castle Shops you’ll also find such traditional German trinkets as beer steins and a wide variety of German beers to take home. There is no shortage of shopping in and near Frankenmuth, where you’ll find charming gift shops along South Main Street, name brands at Birch Run Premium Outlets and the world’s largest Christmas store. A short walk from the Bavarian Inn, the River Place Shops is an outdoor shopping center designed like a Bavarian village with fountains and boutique stores. Stroll through unique gift shops, women’s clothing boutiques and Michigan’s largest bead store. Kids will enjoy the video arcade, toy stores, flavored popcorn and sweets such as fudge, ice cream and candies.

Across South Main Street, the Frankenmuth Clock Company has the largest selection of Black Forest cuckoo clocks east of the Mississippi River. A must-visit shop is the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, which sells more than 120 varieties of cheese. Try aged cheddar, house-made flavored cheese spreads on crackers or even chocolate cheese!

No matter the time of year, a trip to Frankenmuth isn’t complete without shopping at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland for novelty ornaments. Before you leave, be sure to visit the Silent Night Chapel, a memorial erected on the store’s property to honor the Austrian church that inspired “Stille Nacht” — or “Silent Night” in English.

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