My best friend whom I spend most of my free time with is moving 12 hours away in less than three weeks. It's one of those things where I'm happy she is pursuing a great opportunity but my selfish side is sad because we may only see each other once or twice a year; if at all with her new schedule.
I'm trying not to think about it.
At the beginning of the summer we decided to take a little trip somewhere to celebrate our friendship and spend some quality time together before she leaves. We decided on Michigan but we weren't sure where in Michigan. [Insert Tim Allen puremichigan.org commercial here]
When I travel, I am more of a along for the ride type. I do not have street smarts and I am very directionally challenged. We are lucky I make it out of my driveway in the right direction most days. I told Marie to do some thinking on where we should go. We have fun no matter what we do so I wasn't too concerned. If you don't know much about Michigan, there are so many places to visit and so many things to so. With the lakes alone it is an amazing place to go. Marie is more of am exploring, hiking, laying out on the beach person when on vacation and I am more of a tourist shopper or let's look at beautiful scenery from a distance type. I'm not very brave.
Anyways, we decided to check out a little German influenced tourist trap town located by the "thumb" called Frankenmuth. I had never heard of it. I briefly checked out some things online. They had restaurants, a river boat tour and lots of shops including the largest Christmas store in the world. I was game. As usual, I was along for the ride.
Geographically, the area was much like northern Indiana. As we entered into the Frankenmuth area, we were greeted by corn fields on each side. You pass Bronner's Christmas Wonderland on your way into town. It's kind of out in the middle of nowhere across from a corn field. Typical in my world. As you enter Frankenmuth you instantly notice all the German influenced architecture. What an adorable little town. There were flowers everywhere and everything was so clean and well kept. There were shops galore. We didn't know where to begin!
We started off our first morning by visiting Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Yes, you guessed it. It was basically a ginormous store with Christmas thrown up everywhere. It was really breath taking, though, with all the displays and history everywhere. You're probably thinking a Christmas store in July? No worries, I had the same thoughts myself! Everything was so clean and the staff were all so friendly. Ornaments galore. You name it, they had an ornament for it. However, I think it would have been more appreciated if it were closer to Christmas. We didn't purchase anything but we did enjoy walking around.
On the property, the Bronner's built a replica/monument to the original chapel where the carol Silent Night was first written and composed. This was fun to visit with Marie because she had actually been to the real chapel in Germany with her family. It was a very moving experience to stand in the chapel with Silent Night playing in the background. I'd like to go back at Christmas and take it all in again.
After Bronner's, we had lunch and purchased our ticket to take the Bavarian Belle Riverboat tour. I highly recommend this trip because the ticket was only $10 a person and it was a nice relaxing ride where you got to see most of Frankenmuth. There were some scenic areas and once again, I was amazed with how extremely clean the river bank and the river was. You can tell that the locals really take pride in their town. I would imagine the riverboat tour brings in a majority of the tourists along with Bronner's.
This was the first boat my Sperry's have been on. They were excited.
Anyways, we shopped, ate and shopped some more.
It was a wonderful little town and I'm sure there was much more to do but we had very limited time. There was an Inn with an indoor water park and many other things I'd like to go back and check out. They also have a German Oktoberfest that seems interesting.
If you ever get a chance, visit Frankenmuth. Especially if you like Gnomes, German Beer and Christmas.
I am excited to check out more of Michigan's little gems in the future. Macinac Island and Holland are two on my list. We just need to get in the car and go on a free weekend. We are so lucky to live where we do. Brown County, Chicago and Indy are just a few hours away. Michigan is just north of us and we have beautiful Tennessee less than 6 hours away. Illinois is beautiful too. I'm not too familiar with Ohio but I've heard great things.
Everyone is so concerned about visiting every state and other countries. I just want to experience everything around me that I've been missing out on!
Cheers to a fun trip with an amazing friend.