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    Frankenmuth and Holland in Michigan: itinerary in Little Bavaria and surroundings

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    Martí Micolau

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    The history of the United States is founded on countless migratory waves of people who for various reasons, mainly religious or linked to wars, poverty or persecutions, have had to leave their countries of origin in search of a dignified life in a distant and unknown land. Each life carried its own story but a common denominator linked those people: an emotional wound that was not easy to heal due to detachment from own roots.

    For this reason, immigrants who arrived in the new continent very often gathered in communities from the same land of origin, they maintained customs and traditions, they helped each other and so they soothed the suffering of being away from home. . This makes us think of the many Chinatowns, Little Italy and so on, scattered around the world. These realities have a strong identity, a typical architecture of their native land and represent a small "branch" of the place of origin.

    And then our thoughts fly to one of the states of North America. We are in the Mid-West, in the area of Great Lakes on the border with Canada, more precisely in Michigan embraced by the lake of the same name, Lake Eire and Lake Huron, where nature is a paradise for those who love large spaces and practice sports both in the open air and on the water.
    But we are headed to the center-east of the state to reach a town whose name, Frankenmuth, leaves no doubts about the origins beyond the Alps; it is a real bavarian village.


    • Discovering Frankenmuth
      • History of the city
      • Typical shops, activities and restaurants
      • Accomodation
    • What to see in Holland
      • Typical shops, activities and restaurants
      • Accomodation
    • Further information

    Discovering Frankenmuth

    History of the city

    Frankenmuth was founded in 1845 when a group of fifteen German Lutheran missionaries he was sent to help the pioneers of the new world from Germany who were encountering enormous difficulties due both to the lack of churches, pastors, schools and to religious differences with the Chippewa Indians. They managed to reach America only after having endured all kinds of dangers at sea between accidents, storms and diseases. Even once they arrived on the continent they found very hard times waiting for them so much so that, as the name of the city reveals, they needed a lot of courage. The first part of the name in fact indicates the province of origin, Franconia, while the term mut means courage in German language.

    Since its origins the timber production it was the most important local activity followed by agriculture which continues to be a driving force of the local economy, flanked in more recent times by the tourism and sports industry. The rural roads around the town in fact attract hundreds of bikers and many cycling events take place throughout the year, as well as triathlon and running competitions. Fishing is also very popular.

    Crossed by the Cass river, Frankenmuth develops in an area of ​​about 8 square km with a population of almost 5000 inhabitants. Route 83 leads to South Main Street, the main artery along which there are various shops, businesses and restaurants within the characteristic buildings with decorated fronts and particular architecture that immediately make you feel like you are in Michigan's Little Bavaria. Among them also the Visitor Center (635 S. Main St.), a valuable source of information for tourists.

    Typical shops, activities and restaurants

    We recommend that you take a look at all commercial businesses, passing from the most common gift shops to specialty shops, from the most refined restaurants to bakers' shops which in our opinion are absolutely worth a visit and a purchase. So let yourself be tempted by scents and everything that strikes your attention.

    For the shopping we point out the characteristic building of the Rau’s Country store (656 S.Main St.) while for the Catering we recommend the bavarian inn restaurant (713 S.Main St.) e lo Channel restaurant (730 S.Main St.) both with a wide choice of good dishes, large portions and a marketplace downstairs. Also not to be missed is the Zender oven attached to the restaurant. If you love the beer there is no better place than Frankenmuth Brewery (425 S. Main St.), the oldest brewery in Michigan, which also serves as a restaurant, where you will be taught the production techniques of the drink so appreciated in the world.

    And after having a snack why not try your hand at a great one maze al Frankenmuth corn maze? (5450 Weiss Rd). It's a full-blown adventure with two miles of walking, three observation decks and a mystery to solve! The little ones, and not only, will appreciate the farm animal zoo as well as the named game Gnome hunt (hunting for gnomes).

    River Place Shops (925 S.Main St.) are enclosed in a sort of typically Bavarian village and, regardless of the desire to go shopping or not, are a very pleasant area in which to walk and reach the covered bridges that for the most romantic, and not only, they represent an obligatory stop together with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. If you want to book the service you can contact the Fantasy Carriage company or to Frankenmuth Carriage company.

    For many visitors the Bronner's Christmas Wonderland it will be a real surprise or rather, a discovery. AND' the largest Christmas shop in the world and is located at 25 Christmas lane. Its dimensions are that of a football field and a half. At night it is illuminated and there is also one chapel called Silent Night, a replica of the church where the famous Christmas song of the same name was played for the first time in 1818.

    But in Frankenmuth the music is not only in clubs; those who stay in the summer can enjoy free concerts in the Memorial park (798 E. Tuscola St.) every Sunday evening from the end of June to August.


    The hotel Bavarian Inn Lodge (1 Covered Bridge Ln.), From the medium-high level, it is certainly a structure with an ideal setting for a pernottamento in the center. For certain periods it is necessary to book well in advance but in the low season there are attractive offers. Alternatively there are other valid structures in the village or within a radius of about ten kilometers with cheaper rates such as Frankenmuth Motel (1218 Weiss St.) o Americas Best Value Inn & Suites (9235 E.Birch Run Rd. a Birch Run).

    Find all hotels in Frankenmuth

    What to see in Holland

    We leave Frankenmuth with its perfect balance of pleasant Bavarian architecture, music, beer, good food, recreation and sports. Considering the great distances within the American states, the two and a half hours to travel on the motorway in a southwest direction to get to the next final destination are little thing.

    Our goal is The Netherlands, another delightful town which, as the name suggests, keeps its cultural roots alive. It is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and the lake Macatawa and is full of attractions to be enjoyed one by one. We don't immediately visit the characterful area of ​​the Netherlands because we take a walk in the award-winning downtown with pleasant Victorian architecture, along whose streets Dutch folk dance performances take place at various times of the day. An unusual feature deserves to be mentioned, “invisible” but of undoubted usefulness; through an innovative water system, during the winter the road pavement and sidewalks of the streets of the center are heated allowing the melting of the snow and avoiding falls to people and the spreading of salt. The idea works great and more and more city areas are benefiting from it.

    Typical shops, activities and restaurants

    The main shopping streets are there 8th Street and S.River Avenue. We suggest Apothecary Gift Shop (35 W.8th St.), The Seasoned Home (43 E.8th St.), Cottage Roses (170 S.River Ave.) e Michigan Pantry (210 S. River Ave.) where you can buy, among other things, local products prepared according to healthy criteria and others made according to “old world” recipes.

    There are various ways to learn about Holland's origins and we choose to start with Nelis’ Dutch Village (12350 James St.) which allows you to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Netherlands of the 1800s in the midst of 4 hectares of authentic Dutch architecture, canals and spectacular gardens accompanied by dancers, music and crafts.

    To follow, in Windmill Island Gardens the main protagonist of the area is The Swan, the only one Dutch mill operating in the United States from the top of which you can admire the well-kept gardens, dams and canals. It is enjoyable to listen to the beautiful street organ and watch the hand-painted flying Dutch carousel. Any doubts or requests for information will be satisfied by the park staff who are well recognized for their typical Dutch clothes.

    To taste good food here are some suggestions: 8th Street Grille (20 W.8th St.) e Windmill restaurant (28 W.8th St.) with their casual atmosphere and great central location, the most sophisticated Alpen Rose restaurant (4 E.8th St.), or the Boatwerks Waterfront restaurant (216 Van Raalte Ave.) which is worth a visit for its strategic location on Lake Makatawa.

    And for the series "you never stop learning", al Deklomp Wooden Shol & Delft Factory (12755 Quincy Ave.), it is possible to observe the craftsmen making wooden clogs while working on machinery imported from the Netherlands; You can also interact with the artists who model, paint and polish the authentic blue and white Delft ceramic. Those who are interested in the history of the arrival of the Dutch in this region in 1847 will have all the answers to theThe Netherlands Museum (31 W. 10th St.) Wednesday to Saturday.

    All 'The Netherlands State park (22150 Ottawa Beach Rd.), Famous for its beautiful wide sandy beach on Lakes Michigan and Macatawa, as well as the surrounding dunes, you can sunbathe, play or just relax. Those traveling by camper can register inside at Beach campground, happily located between sand dunes and equipped with pitches with the necessary attacks.

    On billboards about local attractions it is very common to read: “don't miss the Big Red lighthouse"(Do not miss to visit the great red lighthouse), that is the lighthouse which is located in Holland State park and which can be seen from the campsite as well as from above from Mount Pisgah, after having walked the steps along the dunes that leads to just over 50 meters above the lake level. Fortunately, the history of the lighthouse has a happy ending as it was in danger of being eliminated after years of "honorable service". Thanks to the tenacity of the citizens, a solution was found for its conservation and maintenance. Now its light is visible from up to 20 miles away and is definitely one of the area's favorite photo spots.

    Il Tunnel Park (66 Lakeshore Dr. Park Township), with its beach overlooking Lake Michigan, takes its name from the suggestive tunnel carved through a large dune and right along the dunes a walkway leads to a beautiful panoramic view of the lake. This park is ideal for any activity, from swimming to volleyball games, from picnics to pure relaxation.

    But in Holland, in May, there is no shortage ofspecial event which represents a topical moment in the Netherlands: the Tulip Time. It is an annual festival that celebrates the spectacular flowering of tulips. It develops in various city areas, parks and places of attraction with dances, parades, concerts, shows, exhibitions of crafts (along the streets and at marktplaats, 480 State St.), games, tours, floriculture and fireworks. The event lasts 10 days.


    In Holland, along the US 31 that crosses it, there are many hotels for any need. We mention in particular the Best Western Plus Holland Inn & Suites (2888 West Shore Drive) as it is an excellent value for money structure, but those who want to live an unforgettable experience in an old-time B&B should try the Baert Baron Mansion Bed & Breakfast (120 South Church Street in Zeeland) just 8 kilometers from Holland.

    Find all hotels in Holland

    Further information

    Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

    The closest airport to Frankenmuth is Detroit which is 1 hour and 30 minutes away, while for Holland both Detroit (2 hours and 40 minutes) and Chicago (2 hours and 35 minutes) are ideal.

    Those coming from Chicago and entering Michigan along the lake can also make a short stop in a park where the dunes are protagonists: the Warren Dunes state park (12032 Red Arrow Hwy in Sawyer). Where he will discover a taste of a show that in our opinion finds its best manifestation at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore (9922 Front Street, Highway M-72, Empire) specifically for a dune to climb and scenic drive. This park, located in the northwest and about 3 hours from both Frankenmuth and Holland, has been awarded a major beauty award by ABC's Good Morning America television show.

    We liked to tell about these two little "pearls" that certainly cannot compete with "giants" of the caliber of New York and San Francisco, but what is certain is that they have their own distinct identity that distinguishes them and makes them unique. We recommend the joint tour of the two towns; it will be an opportunity to learn more about the many faces of America.

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