Skip to Content

Frankenmuth Thanksgiving: Celebrate Thanksgiving in Michigan’s Little Bavaria

Thanksgiving in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Whether you visit for a day or make it a holiday getaway, celebrating Thanksgiving in Frankenmuth is a memorable experience and a great way to kick off the holiday season.

From mouth-wateringly delicious food to the lighting of a 100-foot musical Christmas tree; from a glistening open-air ice-skating rink to the town lit up with sparkling Christmas lights, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to visit Michigan’s Little Bavaria.

Sure, Christmas in Frankenmuth is a tradition for many, but Thanksgiving in this town is pretty spectacular, too.

Toy Soldier outside a Frankenmuth - Frankenmuth Thanksgiving

Treat Yourself to a Frankenmuth Thanksgiving

It’s a special time, too, right before the big Christmas rush and just as the splendor of the Michigan fall season fades. The Halloween events are over and the holiday events are just gearing up. I’ll be honest: it’s my FAVORITE time of the year to visit Frankenmuth.

Charming Frankenmuth is one of Michigan’s top tourist destinations, and with good reason. Home to Bronner’s, billed as the “largest Christmas store in the World,” a picturesque covered bridge over the Cass River, two large indoor water parks, cute downtown filled with boutiques and cafes, and amazing restaurants serving “World-Famous Chicken Dinners,” you’ll want to visit Frankenmuth Michigan soon.

I’ve put together a guide to the best things to see and do to celebrate Thanksgiving in Frankenmuth, including weekend activities and the best places to stay and eat. Read on to start planning your Thanksgiving in Frankenmuth now!

holidays lights in frankenmuth thanksgiving
Downtown Frankenmuth holiday lights / Photo by @austinoutside90

Is Frankenmuth Open on Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving falls on November 24 in 2022. Many people wonder if Frankenmuth is open on Thanksgiving and the answer is…mostly. Many of the shops and restaurants remain open on Thanksgiving Day, some with adjusted hours.

The Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s are open for amazing Thanksgiving feasts (see more on that below), and the River Place shops are open as well.

Many of the stores and restaurants along Frankenmuth’s Main Street are open, too. If you have someplace special in mind to visit that we have not mentioned, be sure and check with them to ensure that they are open on Thanksgiving Day.

Please note that Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is not open on Thanksgiving Day but opens bright and early the following day and remains open through the weekend.

Visiting Frankenmuth on Thanksgiving

I’ve already said it, I love to visit Frankenmuth on Thanksgiving weekend.
It’s a relaxing place, despite the hustle and bustle, and you can really feel like you’re on vacation. It might be the German-Bavarian influences: think brightly colored gingerbread trim and the 50-foot Glockenspiel Tower at the Bavarian Inn.

It might be the festive atmosphere of even the perfectly placed holiday decorations. It’s almost like stepping directly on the set of a Hallmark movie, starring YOU!

What I like most about it, though, is that it is a perpetually cheery place: everyone from the costumed waiters and waitresses serving “world-famous” chicken dinners to those tending to the horses in the horse-drawn carriage lines is friendly and welcoming.

zehnders chicken dinners- frankenmuth thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner in Frankenmuth

The Bavarian Inn
713 S. Main Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

There are many options for a Thanksgiving dinner at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, including an amazing “Ultimate Family Style Bavarian Dinner” that features five meats served family-style, including World-famous Frankenmuth Chicken, Kasseler Rippchen (smoked pork loin), Sauerbraten (marinated roast beef), Bratwurst and Schnitzel (breaded loin of pork).

You can also opt for the “All-You-Can-Eat Frankenmuth Chicken & Roast Turkey” dinner, which includes creamy mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and more, including dessert. This is a family favorite.

Bavarian Inn Thanksgiving Take-Out

Bavarian Inn also offers a completely cooked and prepared carry-out Thanksgiving Dinner. The meal includes a whole roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked dressing, buttered noodles, Hubbard squash, coleslaw, cranberry relish, and a loaf of delicious Bavarian Inn house-made bread

Oma’s (Grandma’s) Restaurant at the Bavarian Lodge

The Bavarian Inn Lodge hosts a fabulous Thanksgiving Day Harvest Buffet at Oma’s Restaurant.
The Thanksgiving harvest buffet at Oma’s Restaurant is legendary. You can choose from entrees such as roasted turkey, prime rib with au jus, world-famous Frankenmuth chicken, and more.

You’ll find other favorites like pancakes and eggs, macaroni and cheese, a wide variety of salads, and delicious breads. You’ll also find 10 amazing desserts including pumpkin pie, banana bread, apple strudel, creme Brule, and more.

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
730 S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

You’ll have a lot of options at Zehnder’s, including a complete family-style Thanksgiving dinner, a Thanksgiving buffet, and a Thanksgiving takeout meal that’s big enough for the whole family.

There are many options for Thanksgiving dinners at Zehnder’s, complete with all the trimmings. My favorite is the family-style Thanksgiving feast that includes an all-you-can-eat chicken dinner with the addition of slow roasted Turkey; breaded jumbo shrimp and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Of course, you’ll get all of the amazing Zehnder sides like a chicken liver pate with garlic toast; mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes; buttered noodles, and more. There are other options here, too, including Holiday Grill specialties like New Zealand lamb chops, broiled salmon and prime rib.

The Thanksgiving buffet includes most of these items and more as well as carving a carving station and a dessert buffet as well.

The holiday takeout meal includes a whole roasted Turkey or ham mashed potatoes with gravy sage dressing, egg noodles, whipped sweet potatoes, cabbage salad, cranberry relish, Hubbard squash, Zehnder’s famous white bread, and a 9-inch pumpkin pie.

ice skating in frankenmuth at thanksgiving

What to Do on Thanksgiving in Frankenmuth

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling – Frankenmuth Visitors Center
November 25

Attend the annual Frankenmuth tree lighting and join in the singing of Christmas carols as the 100-foot Christmas tree is lit. The tree itself is a thing of wonder: it’s a musical tree and the music is set to the lights.

This one-of-a-kind tree is lit with 23,000 synchronized lights You’ll be able to hear the holiday tunes as you stroll along the shops and restaurants. The tree fills the street with the sweet sound of Christmas multiple times every day. The tree is located by the visitors center in downtown Frankenmuth.

Go Ice Skating in the Open Air Skating Rink

Lace up your skates and head for the ice on this 60-by-120-foot open-air ice-skating rink in downtown Frankenmuth, located by the visitor center. It’s so much fun to skate around the rink with the festive feeling of the holidays in the air. The best news? Ice skate rental is available, too.

Tour the Amazing Christmas Light Displays

Does anything put you in the holiday mood faster than Christmas lights? You can pick up a map of some of the amazing holiday light displays in the Frankenmuth area at the visitor’s center.

covered bridge in franknemuth - frankenmuth thanksgiving

Visit the Silent Night Memorial Chapel

Don’t miss the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, an ornate 56-foot tall, exact replica of the chapel in Oberndorf, Austria where the hymn “Silent Night” was first sung in 1818. The chapel is open daily and is free to the public.

Shop the Frankenmuth River Place Shops with Christmas Carolers

The Frankenmuth River Place Shops are a German-themed outdoor shopping mall with fun gift shops, boutiques, restaurants, and eateries. During the Thanksgiving weekend, costumed carolers stroll the heated cobble-stone walks in the area, bringing a fun and festive air to the mall.

A few of my favorite stops in River Place Mall include Zak & Mac’s Chocolate Haus, where you can find some of the best toffee around; and N’Orlins Beignets and Coffee, where you can try a taste of New Orleans. Black Star Farms winery, one of the top Traverse City-area wineries, has a tasting room here. Their Arcturos is my favorite, and one of the top Michigan wines, too.

Visit Santa’s Reindeer Farm at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm

When: Saturday, November 26-27

Bring your little ones to Grandpa’s Tiny’s farm, where they can experience Santa’s Farm during the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the Christmas season! The farm is in full-on holiday mode for this stroll-through event, where you will get to see how Santa has transformed the farm into his headquarters preparing for the big day.

Meet Santa himself along with the (real) reindeer in training. Bring a letter to hand to Santa if you haven’t already mailed it! Watch and chat with the jolly workers helping to keep Santa’s Farm running smoothly. Included is making an ornament with the Woodworker to take home with you. Be sure to purchase a ticket in advance.

How to Get to Frankenmuth MI

Getting to Frankenmuth By Car

Frankenmuth is located in mid-Michigan, five miles off of I-75 at exit 136.
From Detroit: 90 minutes
From Ann Arbor: 75 minutes
From Grand Rapids: 2 hours
From Chicago: 5 hours
From Traverse City: 3 hours

Getting Frankenmuth By Air

You can also fly to Frankenmuth MI by flying into Flint Bishop International Airport (FNT) or Saginaw Airport (MBS).

bavarian inn lodge- frankenmuth thanksgiving

Frankenmuth Thanksgiving: Where to Stay

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure policy here.

Bavarian Inn Lodge
One Covered Bridge Lane, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

It’s more than the Bavarian Inn’s 50-foot Glockenspiel tower that will charm you. The spacious rooms, as well as the clean and comfortable setting, will have you relaxing almost right away. I like the Bavarian Inn, and my kids do, too.

There is so much to do here that they’ll never get bored; from the giant indoor waterpark with three pools to the 18-hole miniature golf course to the Family Fun Center with over 150 arcade games. Adults like it, too: there’s an adult-only pool. The Bavarian Inn has a perfect location: right downtown, so you’re close to the shopping and other fun activities.

Marv Herzog Hotel
501 South Main Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

Every time I walk through the lobby of the Marv Herzog Hotel, I find people hanging out and having fun in the comfortable lobby or on the patio overlooking the picturesque Cass River. It’s just that kind of place: you immediately feel at home.

The Marv Herzog is right up there for favorite hotels in Frankenmuth, thanks to its clean, spacious rooms and great location in the heart of downtown.

Springhill Suites by Marriott Frankenmuth
530 South Main Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

I really like Springhill Suites. The exceptionally clean rooms are quite large so if you’re traveling with a family or others, this might be the perfect spot for you. These are suites, so you’ll find special amenities like a desk and pull-out sofas too.

The Springhill Suites also has a nice indoor pool ( I love to swim), as well as a good fitness room with newer equipment. You’ll find a nice daily breakfast buffet, too.

michigan thanksgiving dinners

More Michigan Holiday Fun

Michigan Christmas tree Lightings
Michigan christmas parades
What is there to do in michigan in November
november michigan activities and things to do