Today may be the final day of Munich’s Oktoberfest, but New Ulm celebrates German culture all year long. Ninety minutes southwest of Minneapolis, the town is home to 13,209 residents, a polka-themed music store (KNUJ Polka Parade), and the German-style brewery Schell’s (which, btw, celebrates Oktoberfest on October 15).
New Ulm is also the subject of Minnevangelist co-founder Andrew Parks’ latest Trip on a Tankful guide for Explore Minnesota. Among the highlights:
🥾 Climb the winding staircase in Hermann Heights Park to see the 102-foot-tall, 4,000-pound monument known as Hermann the German (real name: Arminius), who has lorded over the town since the late 1800s. His big claim to fame: helping Germanic resistance fighters defeat the Romans in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D.
🍖 Load up on bratwurst, smoked pork chops, four kinds of schnitzel, red cabbage, and German potato salad at the 84-year-old German restaurant Kaiserhoff.
🍺 Go easier on your stomach with a beer and a brat at Minnesota’s oldest continually operated bar, The Rathskeller, at New Ulm Turner Hall. While you’re there, check out the wall murals; they date from the 1870s.
Let the kids play, play, play all day in German Park, home to a newly renovated amphitheater, flower garden, Herbie the Hedgehog statue, and an inclusive playground featuring a fantastical Bavarian castle, gravity rail, interactive musical instruments and a fully rubberized surface.
🇩🇪 Shop for sauerkraut and steins at Domeier’s, a traditional German store that’s been importing holiday ornaments, garden gnomes, cuckoo clocks, hot curry ketchup, chocolate-covered nougat, and more since the 1960s.
🕰️ Gather around the town’s 45-foot glockenspiel, whose 37 bells ring out at noon, 1, 3, 5 and 6 p.m. between April 1 and Halloween and at noon, 3, and 5 p.m. between Nov. 1 and March 31. The clock’s rotating cast of characters includes a brick mason, flour miller, three-piece polka band, and a beer drinker (good work if you can get it).
To scope Andy’s full New Ulm itinerary, head over to Explore Minnesota.