Isn’t it time we got back to taking real family vacations? The kind where our phones go off, our out-of-office replies go on, and we’re not just around our families — we’re really with them. Where our kids surf through Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark instead of surfing the internet on their smartphones, and we pass family-style platters of world-famous chicken around a dinner table, instead of chicken nuggets around the car.
No doubt, the timeless traditions our Bavarian village was built on have kept families coming back to Frankenmuth for generations, but a fresh take on fun for the modern crew is here, too, parents — and we can’t wait for you find a new way to #SeeFrankenmuth as it should be seen: with family.
1.) Make A Big Splash
At the mere mention of a visit to Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark, you can almost hear the screech of your kids’ “Are-We-There-Yet’s” starting, long before the luggage is packed. And can you blame them, parents? Because, here at Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth, over 50,000 square feet of aquatic fun and two (yes, two!) indoor waterparks await, along with one massive retractable roof that’ll keep your kids splashing all the way to a perfect family getaway, rain and shine!
Pack your suits, too, parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends!) — because a six-story, four-person family raft ride means more time well-spent (screaming at the top of your lungs) together! After some serious family bonding on the raft ride, go for the Super Loop Speed Slide, swim in a zero-entry pool with water geysers, take on the four-story tube slides, or stir up a little healthy family competition with a game of water basketball or volleyball.
But a family vacation isn’t all about the kids, right? Parents: relax and revel in the fact that two Whimsical Whirl Hot Tubs and private, poolside ready-to-rent cabanas (complete with adult beverages, cozy lounge furniture, and widescreen TVs) wait to welcome you in, even if just for a few fleeting moments of “you time”.
Keep in mind, parents: Zehnder’s Splash Village isn’t the only way to enjoy endless days of waterpark play while you’re here. Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge is equally packed with fun for the entire family! Hotel guests can enjoy four indoor pools and three whirlpools inside this amazing Bavarian-themed indoor waterpark, complete with a mega arcade and 18-hole indoor mini golf course!
2.) Cruise Along
Rather spend a perfect Pure Michigan day with family on the water instead of in it? Then cruising Frankenmuth’s Cass River aboard Frankenmuth FunShips or the Bavarian Belle Riverboat will be the new go-to for you and your crew. Hop aboard the 12-passenger electric boats of Frankenmuth FunShips for a spontaneous spin on the water during one of their open cruises, or charter the entire boat for some totally uninterrupted togetherness. Psst, parents: did we mention on-board wine & chocolate tastings are an option, as are adult beverages on all cruises? You’re welcome.
Or, head to the docks found at Frankenmuth River Place Shops’ waterfall, where you’ll set out to explore Frankenmuth, sightseeing from the spacious deck of the Bavarian Belle Riverboat. This authentic paddlewheel riverboat offers 1-hour narrated history tours, and a one-of-a-kind way to get to know Frankenmuth together as a family.
3.) Go Out On A Limb
As if Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark weren’t enough to get your kids actually into the idea of family vacation, Frankenmuth is also home to Pure Michigan’s first aerial forest park — the Adventure Park at Frankenmuth. Here, you and yours can try five trails, seven zip lines, five difficulty levels, and more than 60 challenge bridges! For an even more unique experience your kids won’t soon forget (and won’t stop recounting to anyone who will listen), take to the Adventure Park after dark. The Adventure Park is open as late as 9pm on weekends for night climbing, and, believe us — the family fun gets taken to all-new heights in the glow of an LED-lit course. Taking your kids ziplining through a forest at night? Polish up your “Parents Of The Year” trophy now, moms and dads!
4.) Feast Family Style
Here in Frankenmuth, when we think “family dinner”, we think real food — locally-sourced and labored with love, then shared around a table with the ones we cherish most. Full bellies (and hearts) can always be found inside two of our Frankenmuth favorites: Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. Together, these two German gems serve up more than 2 million chicken dinners annually, and it’s no surprise why. At Bavarian Inn Restaurant, your world-famous, family style, all-you-can-eat dinner includes everything from platters of premium golden chicken, to warm, German buttered noodles (with an out-of-this-world crispy cracker topping), plus specialty breads and sides.
Just across Main Street behind the neon Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth sign (and that giant, chicken-shaped topiary that simply can’t be missed), you and yours will find another world-famous family style dining experience, complete with all-you-can-eat golden fried chicken, freshly-baked breads, and loads of other favorites (like Grandma Zehnder’s irresistible dressing)!
5.) Stock Up On Sweets
Before (…or during… or after…) your family adventures in Frankenmuth, take the kids to stock up on sweets. Trust us, they’ll burn off the added energy later! From local favorites like SugarHigh Bakery (winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars) and their sister store, SugarRush Sweets & Treats, to out-of-this-world fudgemakers (think: Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen, Zak’s Fudge, and Murdick’s Fudge Frankenmuth), you’ll find no shortage of sweets and treats here in Frankenmuth! Watch taffy pulled before your kids’ saucer-wide eyes at Frankenmuth Taffy Kitchen, stop into the stately-home-turned-chocolate-haus known as Zak & Mac’s, or make the big haul at Frankenmuth’s oldest and largest candy shop, Rau’s Country Store, featuring old-fashioned, nostalgic favorites like Mary Janes & Slo-Pokes.
Whether spending a day splashing at the waterpark, soaring through the trees, launching from the docks to discover a whole new Bavarian world, feasting family style, or stashing away some souvenir sweets, time in Frankenmuth is always best spent with family.