In the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin, you’ll find a pretty little town where the Alpine-style buildings are adorned with flower-filled window boxes. The breeze might carry the sound of yodeling, or the scent of sausage smoking. You’re in New Glarus, America’s Little Switzerland.
New Glarus was first settled by Swiss immigrants in the 1840s, and has kept its ties to the old country ever since. It’s a unique destination for a getaway, with all sorts of old-world fun to be found.
Start your day at the New Glarus Bakery, one of the oldest in Wisconsin. They specialize in old-world pastries like the Swiss nut horn, their most popular treat. At breakfast time, though, the morning buns are the way to go. You can always stop back later to stock up on desserts!
Next, wander around and visit New Glarus’ unique shops – keeping an eye out for the 15 life-size fiberglass cows around town, decorated by local artists. You’ll notice a distinctly culinary theme to a lot of the shopping in New Glarus, so start planning for a picnic lunch now, and give yourself a good excuse to fill your shopping bag with provisions.
- Ruef’s Meat Market makes traditional Swiss sausages. Pick up a Landjaeger, a dried beef and pork sausage akin to jerky, which Swiss hikers traditionally carried on their treks.
- At Esther’s European Imports, you’ll find authentic and fun Swiss goods, like traditional cowbells, fondue sets, and yodeling CDs.
- The Bramble Patch has Wisconsin-made salsas, mustard, award-winning maple syrup, and fine Polish pottery.
- The Sugar River Shoppe has an extensive and interesting selection of jewelry, clothes, gifts and Midwestern and Southwestern home decor
- Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus sells local and European delicacies. Their resident Master Fudgemaker offers 40 flavors – including sugar-free options.
When picnic time rolls around, you’ll have a choice of parks in the village. Or, head just out of town to the tranquility of the New Glarus Woods State Park – note that a vehicle admission sticker is required, though you can buy it there. After lunch, you’ll have a number of adventures to choose from:
- Hike the Sugar River State Trail, which you can access from the New Glarus Woods State Park.
- Visit the Swiss Historical Village Museum, and get a glimpse of settlers’ life in the 19th century. Admission is $9 for adults and $3for children. Like quite a few New Glarus shops and attractions, the museum is only open May through October.
- Take a free, self-guided tour of the New Glarus Brewery, home of Wisconsin’s beloved Spotted Cow farmhouse ale.
- Drive to nearby Monroe, the Swiss Cheese Capital of Wisconsin, and spend some quality time at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern on the town square – Wisconsin’s oldest cheese store.
For dinner, treat yourself to the Glarner Stube, literally “the living room of New Glarus.” Start with the cheese fondue and then take your pick of Swiss favorites. Afterwards, if you have one more outing in you, head to the charming Puempel’s Olde Tavern – established in 1893 – for a nightcap. And when you’re ready to wind down after a day of New Glarus fun, sleep in Alpine style at the Chalet Landhaus Inn.