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NEW ULM

German culture pervades New Ulm, making for a memorable weekend of Deutsch food, arts and culture.

Image by dvcronan/flickr

New Ulm is primarily known as a destination for all things German—after all, the town is named for a Deutsch city on the Danube River. Founded in 1854 by German settlers, the lush Minnesota River Valley town is located about 90 miles southwest of Minneapolis, and displays its heritage in everything from German Restoration Revival architecture to a 45-foot glockenspiel in Schonlau Park.

One of your first stops should be the Hermann Monument. Called “Hermann the German” by locals, the 100-foot monument celebrates New Ulm’s German heritage and traditions by honoring an ancient hero. Another historic hotspot is August Schell Brewing Co., the second oldest family-owned brewery in the United States. Enjoy tastings and tours of the operation, and keep your eyes peeled for the peacocks that roam the brewery grounds.

While historic German culture permeates New Ulm, there’s more to the town than lederhosen, beer steins and oompah music. Visit contemporary shops, restaurants and cultural centers in the downtown district that put the “new” in New Ulm. At the top of the list is Semblance, a boutique that wouldn’t be out of place in the hippest corners of Brooklyn. The gallery-like shop features one-of-a-kind clothing designs by a Minneapolis designer, chic cowhide clutches and minimalist jewelry handmade in Israel.

After a morning of shopping, grab lunch at Lola: an American Bistro. While the charming café is known for homemade scones and buttermilk biscuits, it also makes a delicious daily “farmers market” flatbread, as well as a roast beef po’ boy with grilled onions, roasted tomato and horseradish served on a house-made baguette.

For a couple fresh dining options, try family-owned eateries Pepperboy and The Pantry. The café-style Pantry has a menu dominated by fresh-caught perch—try it batter-fried for tacos with house-made slaw—while Pepperboy offers wood-fired pizza on par with the best in the metro. The “Nutty Italian” is a favorite, featuring an inventive and tasty blend of walnut pesto, Calabrese salami, peppers, pepperoni, onions and fresh mozzarella. In support of the local food movement, both restaurants source many of their ingredients from their own aquaponic farm and greenhouse located on the outskirts of town.

Veigel's Kaiserhoff in downtown New Ulm

Image by Doug Kerr/flickr

If you are looking for some authentic German fare, visit Veigel’s Kaiserhoff in New Ulm’s historic downtown district. The restaurant has been a landmark in the town for 75 years, serving all the Deutsch staples—Wiener Schnitzel, sauerkraut, and braised ribs with dumplings and rye bread, and bratwurst served with hot German potato salad. We recommend ordering the Kaiserhoff German Sampler. For less than $20, you’ll enjoy their famous ribs, bratwurst, Old German-style pork, red cabbage, German potato salad, sauerkraut and house-made bread.

After dinner, enjoy a little evening entertainment at the Grand Center for Arts & Culture located in the former Grand Hotel. The historic building includes the 4 Pillars Art Gallery, artist studios, workshops and classes, and the Grand Kabaret, which features live jazz, bluegrass and folk music (including the occasional polka tune) on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Rest your weary head at the Deutsche Strasse Bed and Breakfast. The historic 1884 home is located only a few blocks from New Ulm’s downtown district.

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