Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Frankenmuth, MI and Michigan Campgrounds…

Xmas in July 009

Xmas in July 007When we first got into Michigan one place we heard we should visit was the town of Frankenmuth... a city just below the thumb of Michigan. Why Frankenmuth? Because the whole town is Bavarian-themed with lots of shops along the sidewalks but mostly because it is home to imageBronner's the largest Christmas store in the world, or so they say. While navigating toward the parking lot at Bronner's it is impossible not to notice the numerous large Christmas decorations. As we drove through arches lined with ornaments and decorations we had the distinct feeling that it must be Christmas in July.

Once inside Christmas music drifts through the air and you find yourself humming along to some of the music even though your mind is saying it is not Christmas! I have never seen so many different kinds of ornaments than we did this day. There are also jumbo ornaments and giant decorations all along the walls of the store. For those of you that love Christmas and love collecting Christmas things this is surely the store for you…

Xmas in July 008Next we drove on into town where I had hoped to get a little feel of Germany (I lived in Germany as a child) but sadly as we drove down the streets I really never got that feeling… I mean they have the Bavarian Inn and they have a Glockenspiel Tower but our timing was such we missed its musical display on the hour. And unfortunately I did not get that authentically Bavarian feel since the town so heavily geared toward the tourism that I assume Bonner’s brings into town. Nonetheless we had a nice drive through this part of Michigan and enjoyed a picnic lunch along the river…

Xmas in July 005We are currently in Mt Pleasant at the Isabella County Fairgrounds.  They offer a passport America discount so we have electric, water and a nearby dump station for $12.50 a night!  There are also horse races held here at the fairground on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays so we plan to watch one those tonight, our last night here.

We are finding that our stays in Michigan fall out of the norm for us.  We have had the best luck staying in Xmas in July 004County Fairgrounds so far.  The State parks that we had hoped to visit have priced themselves out of our budget what with the added fees charged for out of state cars and motorhomes (on top of the camping fees).  Furthermore they often only have electric and few can accommodate larger motorhomes.  Even our tried and true Passport America has provided limited selections either because the parks do not offer the Passport America discount during the peak season, they have poor ratings on rv park reviews, or they too don’t accommodate big rigs.  On the other end of the spectrum there are “resorts” available anywhere from $45 to $70 a night but few offer amenities other than full hookups.  Therefore we are finding that the super values at the fairgrounds give us extra money in our pocket for exploring, entertaining ourselves and eating out.

IMAG0117We did tour nearby Central Michigan University since it is in Mt. Pleasant. Although the buildings were not architecturally interesting, we did think the athletic facilities were nice.  Had they had anywhere to park for free we might have lingered longer but every lot had meters or permits required.  The downtown area of Mount Pleasant is a nice place for a walk and we enjoyed the many hanging flower baskets and flowerbeds in every green space.  Michigan seems to celebrate summer in much the same way we saw in Canada.

Xmas in July 003There is also a very nice Indian Casino, The Soaring Eagle in Mt Pleasant so we had to stop by to try our luck.  Usually upon signing up for a player card we normally can score some free play on the slot machines, we love playing on “their” money not ours. However, they said they didn’t have that perk for new enrollees but they let us know that anyone having served in the military can receive a “heroes card”.  This card allows for weekly $20 free play and a once per month free buffet IMAG0119and hotel stay.  Score! I showed them proof of my military service and on one of the evenings of predicted thunderstorms we stayed at the hotel where we enjoyed the fabulous indoor pool and hot tub.  We even met a former Michigan State and pro football player named Tony Ellis while lounging in the hot tub.  He was a very friendly fellow and we had a great conversation.  The hotel was very nice and we enjoyed a one night unplanned mini vacation there.

Next we are off to another fairgrounds as we will be at the North Michigan Fairgrounds just outside of Traverse City, Michigan, getting us much closer to the UP…


  1. I'm very interested in your take on the state parks. I'm finding that true in New England as well. Very expensive for electric alone. Do you have electric at the fairgrounds? Or are you boondocking through Michigan? How are you able to find them throughout the state? Sounds like a great casino deal as well.

    1. nearly all the fairgrounds have at least 30 amp and most have water but none have had sewer yet... I am scouring the maps for decent places to stay that one won't break the budget and two that we can get into without damaging the paint job or the RV...

  2. We have never been to Frankenmuth Christmas store but have heard only great things about it. Some day...maybe.

  3. Frankenmuth and Bronners are touristy things but need to stop and peak while you are passing by. Wew have found too that a lot of state parks (even Canadian Provincial parks) have priced us right out of their systems.
    We still make good use of our membership parks, we have quite a few in Michigan that are pretty decent and over 600 more thru out the USA and Canada. We have yet to have a need for Passport America.
    Enjoy your adventures

  4. Wow! $45 to $70 a night? At a state park? That shocks me. (Another reason to visit Arkansas...the state parks here are about $18, with hookups [residents pay half price]). I'm really amazed to hear that so many state parks are so expensive. We have the senior pass for the federal parks (works for Bureau of Land Management, National Parks/Forests and Army Core of Engineer), and most of those are pretty nice. I am still in shock. $70 a night???! Wow.

  5. did not mean to cause any confusion but the 45-70 day rate are private full hookup sites, the state parks are expensive in only that we would have to buy annual passes for our RV and car separately

  6. I think the state parks in the north are expensive but they have such a short season they have to make their money in but it does price us out of those parks. We did find some great city parks with campgrounds when we were in the UP of Michigan and along the Lake Superior shores in Wisconsin. I'll have to keep those county campgrounds on our radar for the future.

  7. Sounds like you are going to the UP. Yay. We met Mike and BJ and Steve and Diane for the first time at the Sault Locks RV Park. Sites are a little close (ask Mike), but the place is right on the river connecting Lake Huron and Lake Superior and has FHUs for around $30 a night.