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A Tradition of Addition in Michigan’s Little Bavaria

Generations of tourists know Frankenmuth, Saginaw County’s tourism heavyweight, as a family tradition. Yet for all that remains comfortably familiar, this community works hard to increase its appeal for visitors old and new.

Frankenmuth is a key player in the Great Lakes Bay Region’s Pure Michigan campaign.

Generations of tourists know Frankenmuth, Saginaw County’s tourism heavyweight, as a family tradition. Yet for all that remains comfortably familiar, this community works hard to increase its appeal for visitors old and new.

Many remember Frankenmuth for signature experiences: hearty, family-style chicken dinners at Zehnder’s or Bavarian Inn, or unrivaled yuletide shopping trips to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. While these family-owned enterprises continue to delight, increasing options beckon to new markets.

“Frankenmuth is much more than chicken and Christmas,” explains Jamie Furbush, president and CEO of the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce. While these attractions established the area as a tourism hot spot in the 1950s, she says, the community bills itself as a multi-generational destination where an entire family finds fun. Its expanding list of amenities helps deliver on that promise.

Some visitors might enjoy a quiet “chocolate and wine” electric boat cruise on the sleepy Cass River. The more adventurous can dare and wear themselves out at Zehnder’s Splash Village. The new facility’s $20 million investment offers a four-season opportunity for aquatic amusement and thrills. Designers kept Michigan’s climate in mind, incorporating a retractable roof that lets weather in during good behavior.

The Fortress, a lush, 18-hole championship golf course, caters to the true enthusiast. Minutes away, adrenaline junkies can zip line through a verdant canopy or test their confidence on ropes courses at The Adventure Park.

Investment doesn’t stop at bricks and mortar either. Frankenmuth employs digital technologies to help tourists arrange and purchase an experience from their desktop—or their smartphones. A custom app can guide visitors through town based on interests.

“Mobile usage of our website is up every year. Forty to 50 percent of our visits arrive via mobile devices,” Furbush points out, underscoring the need to cater to visitors using technology on the go.

Knitting it all together is Frankenmuth’s prominent role in the Great Lakes Bay Region’s Pure Michigan campaign. The investment promotes the destination far beyond Michigan and a few traditional, adjacent markets. With Pure Michigan as a partner, Frankenmuth’s unique recipe for family fun can reach not only the entire country but the world at large.

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