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A Bit of Germany in Minnesota: New Ulm

Posted by on June 6, 2016

Disclosure: I participated in a pre-tour during my TBEX North America conference experience held at the Mall of America this past May. All opinions are my own. And lets just say, I’m a bit partial to Minnesota (born and raised and all!)

Did you know that 38% of Minnesotans report German heritage?  It’s true, and it is the top nationality within Minnesota, so it only makes sense that there’s an entire town with German Heritage intertwined into the state.



Let me introduce you to New Ulm, MN.  This town, in the South Central area of Minnesota, was named after Neu Ulm in the state of Bavaria in southern Germany.  It was founded in 1854 by the German Land Company.

The town has quite the history including the location of the 1862 US Dakota War where the town was attacked twice by the Dakota Indians.  The town came together, with help from other nearby towns to fight back.  Many of the areas surrounding the town were burnt down.

In 1881, a massive tornado came through the town of New Ulm, and left utter destruction afterwards killing a total of 6 and injuring 53.

BUT, New Ulm, has left it’s German heritage in tact, and has become a fun destination for many to come and explore throughout the years.

During my recent visit to Minnesota I had the opportunity to explore New Ulm, and believe it or not, it was my FIRST time visiting.

Some of the favorites include:

Hermann Monument:


The Hermann Monument in New Ulm dominates the Minnesota River valley from a hill overlooking the city. Inspired by a similar monument called Hermannsdenkmal near Detmold, Germany, this figure served as a symbol for members of the Sons of Hermann, a fraternal organization of German Americans. In 1885, the 362 Sons of Hermann lodges across the country committed themselves to the construction of a monument representing their cultural heritage. Through the efforts of Minnesota’s 53 Sons of Hermann lodges, the monument was built in New Ulm, home to many German immigrants. The sculptor chosen for this project was a German sculptor from Ohio, Alfons Pelzer.

What’s great about this monument is that it sits along the Hermann Heights Park, and guests are welcome to climb the 99 steps to the top of the monument.  Once atop, you can enjoy 360 views of the town of New Ulm and surrounding cities.


View from the top of the Hermann the German Monument. 

New Ulm Glockenspiel:

From a distance, it looks like a clock around Town Center, but after closer inspection you’ll soon find out, this clock, aka Glockenspiel (is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano.) has musical performances daily beginning at Noon.  The musical performances last for a solid 10 minutes, but it’s a beautiful sight to see.  There are just a FEW of these around the world.


Schell’s Brewery:

With German heritage in tact throughout the town of New Ulm, it was no wonder, that a brewery was soon established.  Schell’s Brewery just happens to be the 2nd oldest running brewery in the United States, and yes, holds true to it’s German heritage in creating a German Craft Beer right in town.


And, for those with littles, during the prohibition era, when alcohol was not allowed, they learned the craft of making Root Beer, their 1919 Root Beer is still being made today, and is even sold in the local grocery stores throughout Minnesota in Keg Form.

The local Schell’s Brewery has local tours at a cost of 3.00 per person where the tour guide will tell you a brief history of the brewery and walk you through different parts of the brewery.  The tour will end in the tap room where you are welcome to taste their different beers.  They will offer Root Beer for the littles.


During the summer, their Beer Garden is open up during the hours of 11am to 5pm on Saturday and Sundays.

Summer Tour Schedule:

Weekdays: 1:00, 2:30 & 4:00

Saturday:  12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 & 4:00

Sunday: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 & 4:00

The brewery even has 2 peacocks that walk around the grounds throughout the day.  So keep your eyes open for them when visiting:


Morgan Creek Vineyards:

If Beer isn’t your drink of choice then you may just want to make a stop off at Morgan Creek Vineyards for an afternoon wine tasting. The venue is a true culinary destination that offers a tasting room, wine cafe, and gift shop.

It is also the first and only Minnesota underground winery *thus far* that established itself in 1993.

May – October
Thursday 11.00 – 9:00
Friday-Saturday 11:00  – 9:00
Sunday 11:00 – 5:00

Cafe Menu Available
Thurs/Friday 5:30 – 9:00
Saturday 11:00 – 9:00
Sunday 11:00 – 3:00 (Brunch 11 – 2:00)

Explore Downtown:

Of course, one of the gem’s of New Ulm is walking through their downtown area where you can stop into local shops to find German Beer Steins, Christmas Tree Ornaments to Marzipan.

A few local gems:

Domeier’s German Store (1020 S. Minnesota Street)

GutenTag Haus (127 N Minnesota Street)

And, if hungry, especially if craving a bit of authentic German food, a must stop off at: Veigel’s Kaiserhoff.

Weiner-SchnitzelWeiner Schnitzel at Veigel’s Kaiserhoff

So, if you have not been to New Ulm, this summer is the perfect opportunity for a weekend getaway to this German Town!  Perhaps a new tradition will be born for you and your family! It just so happens to be the Polka Capital of Minnesota too!  And is home to the Music Hall of Fame.




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