Old Meets New in New Ulm
Driving into New Ulm, the sign reading “Willkommen” is the first of many tributes this southern Minnesota town pays to its German heritage. Old traditions hold true here, especially in the winter months, with holiday celebrations and festivals modeled after those in the motherland.
But there are plenty of new things to see, too, from downtown restaurants to museum exhibits. Even if you’ve visited before, now’s the time to discover how New Ulm’s rich past continues to shape its ever-changing present.
August Schell Brewing Company, established in 1860, is the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the country. The New Ulm landmark offers tours every Friday-Sunday throughout the winter, with stories about company history and samples of six varieties. Though most of the recipes remain unchanged, the Snowstorm takes on a different style every year.
Two downtown museums honor the area’s past with modern exhibits. At the Brown County Historical Society, the story of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 is told through interactive touchscreen displays and videos. The exhibit, one of three currently on view, won a 2013 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.
Around the corner, the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame celebrates artists from all genres, from country to polka to opera, who have made a significant contribution to the state’s music scene. New artists are inducted every November; 2013’s honorees included the St. Olaf Choir and famed guitarist Leo Kottke.
Nearby on Minnesota Street, look for unique souvenirs at shops including GutenTag Haus, Lambrecht’s and the new location of Hope & Faith Floral & Gifts.
Festival season starts back up March 1 with two big events. Held at Schell’s Brewery, Bock Fest attracts thousands of revelers with live music, brats and sauerkraut, a scavenger hunt and, of course, beer. Meanwhile, the historic Turner Hall on State Street plays host to Fasching, a German Mardi Gras celebration with a costume contest, dancing, food and drinks.
For outdoor recreation, Flandrau State Park has six miles of cross-country ski trails and two miles of groomed snowshoe trails; equipment can be rented at the park office. Harman Park has multiple rinks for hockey and ice skating, and indoor rinks are open to the public at the New Ulm Civic Center.
When it’s time to eat, one classic spot is Veigel’s Kaiserhoff, which opened in 1938 with three dishes on the menu and now offers a full range of American and German fare, including schnitzels, bratwurst and German potato salad. At Turner Hall, murals painted in 1873 provide a scenic backdrop for dinner or drinks in the Rathskeller.
NU Chef’s Pantry sells breakfast and lunch items, as well as bread and pastries made in-house. Across the street, Pepperboy serves dinner Tuesday-Saturday; specialties include wood-fired pizza, barbecue and the signature pistachio salmon fingers. The restaurant is connected to The Grand Kabaret, which has live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Lodging options include two bed-and-breakfasts and a handful of hotels along Broadway Street. For more information and help planning your trip, visit newulm.com.
More Winter Getaways
- Visit the wineries and brewery and take a horse-drawn carriage ride in Stillwater
- For outdoor recreation, check out the forests and ice-covered lakes around Ely
- Take in a play and learn about local history in St. Cloud