One Fine Day is a series inspired by my favorite now-defunct Chicago Tribune column of the same title. The posts in this series are short, sweet, sometimes themed, and always a charming snapshot of a city.
Some may know of New Ulm, Minnesota because of its amazing Oktoberfest. But there’s more to this charming southern Minnesota town than pretzels and beer. We visited on a perfectly crisp autumn weekend and loved exploring the natural beauty and complex histories of New Ulm. And with endless options of places to eat and drink, you’ll never have to worry about finding someplace to snack. After only a long weekend, we knew one thing for sure: there are many ways to spend a delightful day in New Ulm, Minnesota.
Start your day with breakfast at Lola’s, a cozy bistro located in the heart of downtown New Ulm. Their cheesy, herb covered breakfast biscuits make for the perfect sandwich and the coffee flows freely to prepare you for a big day of exploring. During our visit we also heard wonderful things about dinner at Lola’s, but didn’t have time to stop back to see for ourselves.
After you’ve eaten, head away from downtown to the Hermann Heights Monument. Climb the 99 steps to the top of Hermann the German and learn about New Ulm’s unique history.
Fun fact: You can see a giant footprint left by Hermann himself encased in stone on the outer wall of the New Ulm Visitor’s Bureau in downtown New Ulm.
While you’re back downtown, take in a bit of New Ulm’s unique history. The Brown County Historical Museum is a charming, small museum that gives visitors a wonderful overview of events that shaped the southern Minnesota community. From an exhibit on the U.S.-Dakota War to featured works by New Ulm artists, this hidden gem is worth popping into for an hour or so.
Next, if you have some time, take a walk through downtown and explore even more of New Ulm’s history. We loved stumbling upon attractions like the historic Glockenspiel and Kiesling House, one of only three downtown buildings to survive the Dakota War. Everywhere we looked, little pieces of German history were peppered throughout New Ulm.
Next head away from downtown and enjoy a scenic drive to the historic Harkin Store. Located outside of New Ulm on the banks of the Minnesota River, this site is a perfectly preserved time capsule. The Harkin Store’s wonderful volunteers give visitors a comprehensive history of the family business while the smell of the smoldering original 1870s wood stove wafts through the air.
After a full morning of exploring, there’s no better place to relax than the August Schell Brewing Company. Founded in 1860, Schell’s Brewery and is the second oldest family-owned brewery in the United States. The brewery has a rich history and offers a wide variety of German craft beers. Brewery tours cost $5 per person and include a tasting of six different Schell’s brews. We especially enjoyed the Firebrick, a Vienna-style amber lager, and the seasonal Schell Shocked Grapefruit Radler.
Finally, rest your weary feet and indulge with a traditional German dinner at Veigel’s Kaiserhoff. The staff will treat you like family in this cozy, dark-wooded restaurant and you definitely won’t be leaving hungry. While Kaiserhoff boasts its famous barbecue ribs, we found the wiener schnitzel and spaetzel to be delicious as well.
Have you ever visited New Ulm, Minnesota? What are your must-see spots?