Just fifty miles from Ann Arbor, less than 100 miles from Detroit, right off of I-75 in the groove of the Michigan thumb (IYKYK) lies Frankenmuth.
The town was founded in the mid-1800s after Frederick Wyneken, a German missionary, appealed to the Lutherans back in Germany describing the hardships of living in the New World. As someone who went to college in Michigan, I can attest that it certainly shouldn't be on the top of anyone's list. [ed. note: Allegra is totally just kidding [ed. note: Allegra is editing her own work]
Wyneken's pleas worked their way to Wilhelm Loehe, a Lutheran pastor in Bavaria. Loehe formed a plan: to send a mission congregation to both spread the Lutheran faith by the doctrine of Wie gut und schön es ist bei Jesu zu sein, and provide comfort and resources to the German pioneers in the surrounding area.
And thus Frankenmuth, meaning courage (muth) of the Franks (the province of Fraconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria) was born. The missionary settlement prospered as a Germanic outpost from its initial founding in 1847 up until World War II. After WWII with the creation and expansion of the federal Interstate system, Frankenmuth evolved into a tourism center celebrating Germanic culture in the United States.
Today, Frankenmuth is truly "Little Bavaria." Half-timbered houses line the main streets, and restaurants such as The Bavarian Inn and Zehnders are famous for their chicken dinners and other german specialties.
Frankenmuth comes alive from late November through the end of the year with their Christmas Experience events, but if you're visiting at another time of the year, you can celebrate Christmas all year round at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland! Billing itself as the largest Christmas store in the world, you can get lost in a world of whimsy full of ornaments, carols, and trees.
Frankenmuth is easily accessible by car from all of Michigan's major cities.
Want to add Frankenmuth to your next USA Road Trip? Let your travel designer know today!