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America's Little Switzerland: Top 10 Things To Do In New Glarus, USA

America's Little Switzerland: Top 10 Things To Do In New Glarus, USA
Benjamin
Benjamin
Published Aug 25, 2016

Fancy visiting Switzerland without needing to travel to Europe? New Glarus is the place for you! Founded by early settlers who came from the canton of Glarus in eastern Switzerland, the village gets much of its heritage from the community who settled here in 1845. Today, New Glarus is popular for its Swiss background, old-world architecture, and ethnic dining. Take a weekend, or even a week, to visit America’s Little Switzerland and experience the Swiss culture that is still very much alive in Wisconsin.

Learn the history

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1. See New Glarus in its early days at the Swiss Historical Village

The Swiss Historical Village is comprised of 14 buildings, each filled with replicas and artifacts showcasing how the early settlers of New Glarus lived a century ago. The buildings include a settler’s cabin, blacksmith, school, church, and more. This is an ideal attraction to kickoff your stay in New Glarus as you’ll have a better understanding of what gives this place its unique atmosphere by learning about the history of the arrival of the Swiss population in Wisconsin.

Swiss Historical Village

Address: 612 7th Ave, New Glarus, WI, 53574

Price: Entrance fee costs 9 USD for adults, and 3 USD for children

Opening Hours: 10 am to 4 pm daily

Duration: around 2 hours required

Contact: +1 608-527-2317

Website: Swiss Historical Village

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2. Visit the Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum

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This authentic copy of a Swiss Bernese mountain chalet was built in 1937 and houses the historic treasures and unique collection of artifacts that belonged to Edwin Barlow, the man who brought the Wilhelm Tell (William Tell) play to America. The architecture of the building is a great sight on its own, but the items within are even more impressive. Barlow loved collecting rare antiques and unique crafts. The collection of eclectic pieces include a jeweled watch once owned by King Louis XVI, a peacock pendant and earrings set once belonging to Empress Carlota of Mexico, and 2000-year-old Etruscan earrings. Some old-world Swiss furniture can also be spotted in the museum, namely a 300-year-old Swiss slate-and-wood inlaid table, and a Swiss porcelain tile stove made in 1760. Drop in and wander around the charming chalet and delight in its whimsy.

Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum

Address: 618 2nd Street, New Glarus WI 53574

Price: 8 USD for adults, and 6 USD for students

Opening Hours: Open Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm. During festival weekends, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm

Duration: around 2 hours required

Contact: +1 608-527-2614

Website: Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum

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Experience the culture

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3. Time travel to the middle ages at a Renaissance fair

A Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians is a Renaissance fair held annually in New Glarus. For a very modest fee, one can enjoy performances that are sure to entertain guests of all ages. Singers, musicians, and jugglers are aplenty in the fairground. Another highlight of the fair is the demonstration of Renaissance weaponry by re-enactors showcasing a portion of what it was like to live during the enlightened Renaissance times. Although you won’t have a chance at swinging a sharp blade around, the whole family can try their hand at knife and axe throwing or shooting an arrow, the same way it was done in the olden times. When the children are no longer holding onto any weapons, hop over to the Beer Gardens for a fresh pint of beer. Bring the whole family down for a hearty time of merry-making!

A Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians

Address: W 5199 County Road W, New Glarus, WI

Price: Entrance fee costs 8 USD for adults, 5 USD for children 12 and under, and admission is free for children 3 and under. Weekend passes are available at 12 USD for adults and 8 USD for children

Opening Hours: October 8 & 9, 2016, 10 am to 5 pm

Duration: around 4 hours required

Contact: +1 608-558-6582

Website: A Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians

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Taste the flavors

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4. Have a taste of fine Swiss-German cuisine at Glarner Stube

Conveniently located in the heart of downtown New Glarus, Glarner Stube should be the place to head to when you start feeling hungry from viewing all the sights in town. The Swiss-German restaurant is popular with locals and visitors alike and serves mouth-watering European dishes. Glarner Stube also features a bar counter with many of New Glarus’ local brews on tap. The atmosphere is cheery and friendly, like most of New Glarus, and the portions are generous, guaranteed to leave you satisfied after the meal. For all that you can get in one great, convenient location, Glarner Stube is well worth the price you pay for the meal. Be sure to try out their fantastic hand-dipped cheese curds when you drop by!

Glarner Stube

Address: 518 1st St, New Glarus, WI 53574

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 11 am to 9 pm, Friday & Saturday 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday 12 noon to 9 pm

Contact: +1 608-527-2216

Website: Glarner Stube

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5. Try the local brew at New Glarus Brewing Company

Source: Facebook

New Glarus Brewing Company is a local brewery that produces some of Wisconsin’s finest beers. This craft brewery churns out 17 to 20 different types of beer a year; 6 types are offered all year round with the rest being seasonal brews. All of their brews can only be found in Wisconsin, so be sure to drop by and try out their liquid gold. A large garden is available and it is a great place to relax with a beer in hand. Sign up for their guided tours to learn more behind the process of creating their popular beverages, but do register early as the Hard Hat Tours are wildly popular and can be fully booked months in advance. A self-guided tour is always available for those who prefer to take their own time or missed the opportunity of participating in the guided tour. Either way, be sure to visit and have a pint! Individual pints and sample trays of 3 different types of beers are available for the same price. And, the glass is yours to keep once you’ve emptied it!

New Glarus Brewing Co.

Address: 2400 State Hwy 69, New Glarus, WI 53574

Price: Tasting room samples of 3 beers cost 8 USD. Beers start at 8 USD a pint, with refills costing 5.50 USD. Fruit beers start at 9.50 USD a pint with refills costs 7.50 USD. Hard Hat Tours cost 30 USD

Opening Hours: Mondays to Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm. Sundays 12 noon to 5 pm

Duration: around 2 hours required

Contact: +1 608-527-5850

Website: New Glarus Brewing Co.

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6. Indulge yourself at Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus

Source: Flickr

For an authentic taste of cheeses from America’s Dairyland, head down to Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus. There you will find a vast selection of cheese for all occasions, excellent chocolate fudge made fresh daily in store, a handpicked selection of wines to pair with cheese, and freshly-made ice cream. This is a great place to stop by for dessert or just to try out samples of unique cheeses to decide which ones to buy and take home with you. If you have a sweet tooth, you absolutely must give their popular fudges a try!

Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus

Address: 554 1st St, New Glarus, WI 53574-8908

Opening Hours: 10 am - 5 pm

Duration: around 1 hour required

Contact: +1 608-527-2000

Website: Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus

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7. Sip on local wines at Primrose Winery

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Primrose Winery is a terrific place for you to sit and relax and just enjoy great wines. The wines offered in Primrose Winery are primarily from Wisconsin-grown grapes and fruits. Whether you are looking for a dessert wine or something to pair with your dinner, Primrose Winery is bound to have something to suit your occasion. Even if you’re not looking to purchase any bottles for a specific occasion, it is still worth stopping by and sampling the local products. For just 5 USD you get to sample over a dozen different bottles of wines!

Primrose Winery

Address: 500 First Street, P.O. Box 958, New Glarus, WI 53574

Price: from 5 USD

Opening Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays to Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm. Sundays, 12 noon to 6 pm. Closed on Tuesdays

Duration: around 1 hour required

Contact: +1 608-527-5053

Website: Primrose Winery

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Breathe the fresh air

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8. Kick up some dust on Sugar River State Trail

The Sugar River State Trail is a 24-mile-long (38.6-kilometer-long) trail that follows an abandoned railroad line in southern Wisconsin, stretching from New Glarus to Brodhead. The trail is made of crushed lime rock that has been packed down, and it comprises more than a dozen bridges over river and marsh areas. Bike, walk, or run on the trail! The trail starts off in the open but slowly dissolves into the forest, surrounding you with lush greenery and a sense of serenity. A state trail pass is required for all people age 16 and above for cycling and other similar activities. Walking or hiking, however, does not require a pass.

Sugar River State Trail

Address: Address: 418 Railroad St, New Glarus, WI 53574-8897

Price: State trail passes cost 5 USD for a daily pass and 25 USD for an annual pass

Duration: around 3 hours required

Website: Sugar River State Trail

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9. Take a break in New Glarus Woods State Park

The 435-acre (176-hectare) state park is home to campers, hikers, and picnickers during fine weather and provides direct access to the Sugar River State Trail. It is also within cycling distance of New Glarus Brewing Company, so you can pick up some fresh local beers whenever you need your thirst quenched. The state park itself offers 8 miles (12.9 kilometers) of trails for those who would rather not stay put in one spot. It is a beautiful place for a relaxing walk, making it a nice escape from any hectic schedule. Slow things down and enjoy a picnic or just catch a breath of fresh air in New Glarus Woods State Park!

New Glarus Woods State Park

Address: W5446 County Highway Nn, New Glarus, WI 53574

Opening Hours: Open year-round from 6 am to 11 pm The campground will close for the winter season on December 1st

Duration: around 2 hours required

Access: From the village of New Glarus, take State Highway 69 south two miles (3.2 km) to County Highway NN. Turn west on NN to enter the park

Contact: +1 608-527-2335

Website: New Glarus Woods State Park

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Take home a memento

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10. Browse the shoppes and find something as unique as yourself

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At the end of your trip, be sure to visit the local shop to buy some uncommonly found goodies. Numerous shops, or, old-time shoppes, are found within New Glarus, selling everything from food to pottery. Authentic Swiss products can also be bought here to furnish your homes. Gorgeous Swiss ornaments adorn some shops, and fondue and raclette makers are also available so you can enjoy your favorite Swiss dishes in the comfort of your own home. Other finds include lace runners, handbags, jewelry, leather products, soaps, and other well-made items. Walk through the doors and browse around! Feel free to ask the store owners about the fascinating history behind some of the goods in the collections. You may just find something that catches your eye!

Brenda's Blumenladen

Address: 17 6th Ave, New Glarus, WI 53574

Opening Hours: Monday 8 am to 6 pm, Tuesday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday 9 am to 7 pm, Sunday 9 am to 5 pm

Duration: around 1 hour required

Contact: +1 608-527-2230

Website: Brenda’s Blumenladen

Esther's European Imports

Address: 523 1st St, New Glarus, WI 53574-8908

Opening Hours: Mondays to Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm. Sundays 11 am to 4 pm

Duration: around 1 hour required

Contact: +1 608-527-2417

Website: Esther’s European Imports

Sugar River Shoppe

Address: 108 5th Ave, New Glarus, WI 53574-8702

Opening Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays to Fridays 10 am to 5.30 pm. Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm. Sundays 12 noon to 4 pm. Closed on Tuesdays

Duration: around 1 hour required

Contact: +1 608-527-4290

Website: Sugar River Shoppe

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What are you waiting for?

Start planning your trip now! New Glarus gets popular during peak season and you will wish you had made your bookings at an earlier date. With so much to see, so much food to enjoy, and so much fun to be had, New Glarus is one of the places you’ll keep visiting for years to come. Start counting down the days until your fabulous getaway to Wisconsin and the Switzerland of the USA!

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Ben loves adventure and exploring places that are unfamiliar to him. He is intrigued by people of different cultures from all over the world. When he's not writing or chatting with strangers at a...Read more

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