the Rummel PlatzDrive about an hour and a half north of Ann Arbor and you might think you’ve entered Germany. Frankenmuth, known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, where small shops sell cheese, sausage, and plenty of beer, and a chicken dinner is an event.

Chicken Dinners, Family Style
My family and I make the trek to Frankenmuth once or twice a year, specifically for the fried chicken. An hour and a half may seem like a long drive for a dish that’s easily accessible via drive-thru window, but the family-style chicken dinners served up at Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth are worth the drive.

zehndersMeals are served family style and are all-you-can-eat, meaning the server brings dish after dish of mashed potatoes and gravy, cabbage salad, dressing, cranberry sauce and, of course, chicken. In other words, there’s something to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters – although maybe not for the most health conscious.

Tip: Zehnder’s restaurant has nine dining rooms with a total seating capacity of 1,500 guests. However, if you don’t want to end up waiting in line behind all those other guests, they offer reservations for lunch and dinner by phone.

Shopping in Frankenmuth
After indulging, we like to take a walk along the main street and pop into the many shops and stores. Specialty stores sell everything from homemade fudge, cheese and sausage to toys, clocks, and jewelry. In addition, the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s, is located just south of downtown and offers everything you can think of for the holidays. The store is the size of one and one-half football fields and has over 50,000 gifts and decorations. Each night, the half-mile-long Christmas Lane outside the store sparkles with Christmas lights and decorations.

Teresa J. Shaw is editor of the Free in 50 States section and also writes about Southeast Michigan for Traveling Mom. Visit her blog and follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw.

Photos courtesy of Welcome To Frankenmuth.