Traveling to New Ulm is the perfect family day trip if you’re looking for education, German heritage or Mexican pizza. Interesting combination, no? Located two hours south of the Twin Cities, my family typically plans a visit to New Ulm the first or second weekend of October to celebrate Oktoberfest. But New Ulm is lovely anytime during the fall, and here are the top things I like to do when venturing to the quaint German river town.

oktoberfest jpeg Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

(credit: New Ulm Oktoberfest)


Holiday Inn
2101 S. Broadway
New Ulm, MN 56073
Phone: 507-359-2941
Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Oct. 7-8
Cost: Free, but reservations are required

Headquartered at the Holiday Inn with additional festivities sprinkled throughout New Ulm at places like Schell Brewing Co. and the Wanda Gag House, residents do Oktoberfest right with entertainment, food and, of course, beer. This year Oktoberfest will be held Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8. Live music is our family favorite, and visitors can also hear traditional German folk, polka, Tubas or dance a waltz. Named USA Today’s “10 Great Places to Celebrate Oktoberfest,” the small, friendly event welcomes guests to “discover Germany in Minnesota” each year. Admission to Oktoberfest at the Holiday Inn is free but reservations are required.

tacothinkstock Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

(credit: Thinkstock)

Happy Joe’s

1700 North Broadway
New Ulm, MN 56073
Phone: 507-359-9811
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 11:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.

When my family heads to New Ulm, we don’t need to check Yelp for lunch ideas. Happy Joe’s is our special spot. While the menu boasts pizza, salads, pasta and sandwiches, we specifically go to Happy Joe’s for the taco pizza. Mexican pizza isn’t a variety that we can easily find, and my family is crazy about it. With only two Happy Joe’s locations in Minnesota, the restaurant is always a treat. The New Ulm location also has an arcade if little ones need to release energy while waiting for lunch.

hermanngerman jpeg Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

Photo Credit: City of New Ulm

Hermann Heights Monument

Hermann Heights Park
14 Monument St.
New Ulm, MN 56073
Hours: Daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Fri.-Sun., first four weekends in October
Cost: Adults $2.00. Children age 5 and under are free

A celebration of German heritage and stick-to-it-ive-ness, New Ulm has honored the life and legend of Hermann (Arminius) since 1897 with a 102-foot monument of Hermann raised above the city. The monument, fondly known as “Hermann the German,” is modeled after a similar monument of Hermann that stands in Detmold, Germany. Germans revere Hermann for defeating three Roman legions in 9 A.D. Caesar continued to drive troops to Germany, but Hermann prevailed, and in 17 A.D. Rome left Germania for good. If that’s too boring for your children, let them tear up the steps to the top of the monument. Even the smallest kiddo will be able to see most of New Ulm from Hermann’s advantage.

bockfest2009 Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

Photo Credit: Schell’s Brewing Co.

Schell’s Brewing Co.

1860 Schmidt Road
New Ulm, MN 56073
Brewery Tour Hours: Sept.-May — Fri: 3:00 p.m.; Sat: Every hour on hour Noon-4:00 p.m.; Sun: (Sept.-Dec.): Every hour 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., (Jan.-May): 1:00 p.m.
Memorial Day through Labor Day — Mon-Fri: 1:00, 2:30 and 4:00 p.m.; Sat: Every hour on hour Noon-4:00 p.m.; Sun: 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $3.00, adults, children 12 and under are free

Museum of Brewing

Memorial Day through Labor Day
12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Please call for winter hours: 800-770-5020
Cost: Free admission

Think brewery tours are for adults only? Think again. Schell’s Brewing Co. makes beer interesting for the entire family.

August Schell and his wife Theresa were German immigrants who migrated to Minnesota after hearing an area settlement was struggling. Their settlement merged with another nearby town to become what is now known as New Ulm. Schell loved his new adopted home but quickly realized good German beer was hard to find. In 1860 he partnered with Jacob Bernhardt, a former brewmaster from a Saint Paul, Minn. brewery, and Schell’s Brewing Co. was born. Established on the banks of the Cottonwood River, Schell’s brewery is located near an artisan spring, providing some of the freshest water for brewing.

Today Schell’s diverse history makes the brewery tour fun for kids and adults alike. You can see the historic copper kettle, stroll through the gardens and have your wee ones look out for the peacock roaming the grounds, and of course, sample beer or for the under 21 set the 1919 Root Beer.

flandraustatepark Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society

Flandrau State Park

1300 Summit Avenue
New Ulm, MN 56073
Phone: 507-233-9800
Hours: (Office) Daily, 9:00 a.m.–3 p.m.
Cost: $25 for 12-month state park permit

Originally one of the Work Projects Administration (WPA) camps in the 1930s and 1940s, and later a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, Flandrau State Park still maintains some of the historic buildings of the WPA, and also has a group center that can sleep up to 110 people, two year-around cabins and a sandy bottom swimming pool (open until Labor Day). There are grasslands, wooded river bottoms and either flat hiking trails in the Cottonwood River valley or more challenging inclines in the bluffs. Bird watchers should bring their binoculars if they want to spot one of the many varieties that live in the park, and white-tailed deer are also a common spectacle throughout the area. Fossil imprints can even be seen in the sandstone on the eastern edge of the park.

mmhf Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

Photo Credit:

Minnesota Music Hall of Fame

27 N. Broadway Street
New Ulm, MN 56073
Phone: 507-354-7305
Hours: Wed.-Sat., 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $3.00

Some of America’s greatest musicians over the years have come from Minnesota, and this is a fantastic place to see a collection of these artists all in one spot. The museum is located in the former New Ulm public library, exhibits for greats such as Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Prince, Bobby Vee, The Andrews Sisters, Whoopee John Wilfahrt and many more honor music legends throughout the center. Best of all, this small exhibit packs a lot of punch, without requiring a large time commitment. If you are in New Ulm during the fall or early winter, special festivities include an inductee showcase and holiday music shows.

Wanda Gag House

226 N. Washington St.
New Ulm, MN 56073
Phone: 507-359-2632
Hours: May–Oct., Sat., 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Sundays, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Call for hours in Dec. for Christmas tree display.

Wanda Gag, the Newbery Award winner in 1929 for Millions of Cats was an American writer and illustrator born in New Ulm in 1893. Millions of Cats pioneered the literary creation of one illustration being spread over two pages. The oldest daughter of Bohemian parents, she was also known for her lithographs. The Wanda Gag House preserves the memory of Gag’s childhood home and the life she lived in New Ulm until age 20. Copies of her books are also for sale in the gift shop.

glock Family Fun Guide To New Ulm

Photo Credit: City of New Ulm

New Ulm Glockenspiel

Schonlau Park
4th North and Minnesota Streets
New Ulm, MN 56073
Cost: Free
Hours: Daily – 12:00, 3:00, 5:00 p.m.

No German town is complete without a glockenspiel, which is exactly why New Ulm has one. Standing 45 feet tall, the largest bell weighs 595 pounds. With traditional moving characters on display, visitors can view the clock chiming every day at Noon, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. During the Christmas season, the characters of the glockenspiel are changed to a nativity scene. . Underneath the bells on the west side, traditional animated polka band figurines play ten months a year.

Colleen McGuire is a digital marketing communications professional and author of the blog Travel Snapshots. When she is not touring the Twin Cities for interesting festivals and events, she is wandering the world with her camera and iPad.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Watch & Listen LIVE