If you want to visit one of America’s most unique towns, you’ll find that there are tons of fun things to do in New Ulm, Minnesota. Located in the southern part of Minnesota, New Ulm is only about 100 miles away from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
New Ulm, Minnesota is famous for its rich German heritage and culture, with a history dating all the way back to the mid-1800s when the city was founded by settlers from Germany.
Are you ready to explore an authentic German town and German culture right here in the U.S. for a weekend getaway? Let’s check out the day trip ideas along with the best things to do in New Ulm, Minnesota!
The Best Outdoor Activities in New Ulm, Minnesota
Ready to get outdoors? There’s plenty to do in New Ulm.
Flandrau State Park National & State Parks New Ulm
Do you fancy a midnight ski by moonlight? At Flandrau State Park, you can ski eight miles of well-groomed trails every winter. The park is located in town, so it’s convenient to head there for a quick ski after work.
Biking, Walking, and Skating
For biking, there is a 13-mile paved loop around the city and you will find several benches along the way for resting. There is also a skate park and BMX track in the city.
Hunting and Shooting
New Ulm is located between two rivers, so it’s a mecca for hunting small game, rabbits, squirrels, ducks and geese, deer, and pheasants. Visit the MNDNR Southern Region Headquarters to get info on all of the outdoor recreational opportunities in New Ulm.
The Best Parks and Monuments in New Ulm, Minnesota
There are plenty of parks and nature areas to explore in New Ulm, Minnesota. Download this PDF that lists all of the city’s parks and amenities.
At German Park in New Ulm, you can check out the gorgeous Angel of the Waters fountain that is meticulously maintained. This fountain is a small replica of the fountain in New York City’s Central Park.
In addition to the fountain, you and your family will enjoy strolling through the beautiful gardens in the park. With seating areas, picnic tables, and paths, there is a wonderland of beautiful landscaping and floral gardens for flower lovers to explore.
German Park has free wi-fi, and there is a fun castle-themed playground for the kids.
Next on our list of great things to do in New Ulm, Minnesota is to visit Hermann Monument. A 102-foot tall monument honoring the legendary Hermann the Cheruscan was constructed in New Ulm in 1894 in Hermann Heights Park. In the year 9 A.D., Hermann famously led several different German tribes in an epic battle against Roman soldiers. A registered historical site, it costs a few dollars to climb the 91 steps to the top of the Hermann Monument (but it’s totally worth it to take in the sweeping view).
The Hermann Monument was listed a few years ago as one of the top 15 places to visit in the U.S. There are also some playgrounds and shelters located on the grounds.
The Best Historical Attractions in New Ulm, Minnesota
Are you a history buff? If so, check out these amazing historical attractions in the city of New Ulm, a city with a rich history.
While you’re in New Ulm, be sure to head out west of the city to visit the Harkin Store, an authentic 1871 general store that was opened by Alexander Harkin. At one time, this store was the thriving social center of New Ulm, and townspeople and farmers would come to barter for supplies, pick up their mail at the store’s post office, buy groceries, and exchange news.
On many of the shelves, you’ll find some of the store’s original goods. Be sure to grab some nostalgic gifts at the gift shop while you’re there.
Brown County Historical Society
The Brown County Historical Society consists of three floors, where you can explore your German ancestry.
The first floor houses an incredibly rich exhibit called Becoming Brown County: The Land and Its People. On the second floor, you can explore the Traveling Brown County exhibit, which explores the history of transportation in the area. This exhibit includes photos and artifacts. Another second-floor exhibit to check out is the history of the New Ulm Fire Department, which has been in existence since 1870.
Other exhibits at the society include the Wanda Gag family’s art collection and an extensive history of the US-Dakota War. You can also take part in history lectures at the society.
The 45-foot-tall Glockenspiel clock tower is located in downtown New Ulm and is of the area’s historic buildings. You can hear the chimes all throughout the day. This huge clock has 37 bells that collectively weigh over two tons.
At 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, and 6:00 P.M., the Glockenspiel plays programmed pieces. From just before Thanksgiving to after the New Year, a nativity scene replaces the three-piece polka band figurines.
The Best Annual Festivals and Entertainment in New Ulm, Minnesota
New Ulm Festivals
New Ulm is home to some of the best festivals in Minnesota. Here are just a few of them.
The Best Restaurants and Bars in New Ulm, Minnesota
Are you hungry? Let’s check out the best places to enjoy a pint and grab some food in New Ulm.
Schell Brewing Company
As America’s second-oldest family brewery, Schell Brewery is a unique place to visit to take in both some amazing drinks and a bit of history. The family’s beloved patriarch, August Schell, was one of the founders of the city of New Ulm.
During Oktoberfest, staff and visitors alike dress in traditional German costumes and you can enjoy music, parades, great German food, and more. For Bock Fest, you have to be 21 years old to attend. However, once you’re in the door, you can eat some brats, listen to live music, and of course, drink your share of Schell’s beer.
Morgan Creek Vineyards
Located in the Upper Midwest Minnesota River Valley water basin, you will find the picturesque Morgan Creek Vineyards. At the vineyard, you can take part in self-guided wine-sipping tours (it only costs $10) or enjoy a personalized afternoon of winemakers. If you do a private wine tasting ($25 per person at the time of this writing), you will get an overview of Minnesota’s winemaking and grape growing with the winemaker.
There is also a wine cafe located at the vineyard and you can enjoy European-inspired cuisine that’s composed of organic specialty baked goods and locally produced goods, as well as a wood-fired appetizer menu. We recommend trying the brochette sticks that are served with possibly the best pesto you’ll ever taste.
The Backerei and Coffee Shop
At The Backerei, you can immerse yourself (and your tastebuds!) in German pastries, donuts and rolls, buns and bread, and delicious cookies. You’ll find everything you crave at this little German bakery, including streusel coffee cake, sourdough bread, pumpernickel bread, kaiser rolls, strudels, turnovers, scones, apple fritters, and more.
While this is more of a snack than a meal, you don’t want to miss a visit to the historic popcorn wagon that’s located outside the city’s Brown County Historical Society and Museum. The popcorn is yummy and it’s fun to buy it from this old-timey wagon.
Mn Eis Ice Cream and Sweets Shoppe
For both traditional ice cream and German specialists like Spaghettieis and homemade waffle cones, you can visit the Mn Eis candy shop in New Ulm. Mn Eis offers 24 delicious flavors on rotation, as well as edible cookie dough, boba tea, and 30 varieties of Albanese candies.
The Best Shopping in New Ulm, Minnesota
Want to do some shopping in New Ulm, Minnesota? We’ve got you covered! From antique shops to delicious food and German gifts, you can find them in New Ulm.
Domeier’s German Store
When you step into Domeier’s German Store, it’s like time-traveling to Bavaria. Although the store began as a regular grocery store, the owners visited Germany in the 1960s and changed their store’s direction. Now, everything in the store comes from Deutschland.
At this beloved German shop in New Ulm, you can find a wide variety of German goodies, including decor items, German trinkets, and interesting foods. From charming gnomes to uniquely German clothing items, there’s something at Domeier’s for everyone. And don’t even get us started about the Christmas selections. Just wow!
Guten Tag Haus
Do you have an authentic German cuckoo clock on your wish list? Well, you can buy one at Guten Tag House, a gift shop in New Ulm that stocks tons of German imports and gifts. At Guten Tag Haus, you can also buy German Christmas ornaments, beer steins and mugs, German food, New Ulm souvenirs, and more.
Wrapping Up: What Are the Best Things to Do in New Ulm, Minnesota?
Now that you know all of the best fun things to do in New Ulm, MN, which ones will you choose first? Are you going to make it a day trip or plan to spend a fun-filled weekend trip in New Ulm, Minnesota? Let us know in the comments.
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.