New Glarus Wisconsin – America’s Little Switzerland
Attending one of the several seasonal festivals in New Glarus, it is not unusual to hear people conversing in Schweizerdeutsch or hear English spoken with a decided German accent!
The Swiss culture traces back to 1845 when a Swiss community of 200 immigrants from the Canton of Glarus, Switzerland purchased 1200 acres of land for their new settlement. In succeeding years, immigrants from other Swiss cantons arrived to fuel the population growth of New Glarus as well as other areas in Green County. Learn more about the history of the settlement here.
While the town has become more ethnically diverse, it maintains its strong connection to its roots in its architecture, food and drink, festivals, and cheese. The historic (1853) New Glarus Hotel anchors the downtown business and entertainment district. While no longer housing guest rooms, the hotel’s restaurant has a long history of authentic Swiss cuisine and Swiss hospitality. And on the weekends, the hotel treats you to another piece of Swiss culture – polka music and dancing. In the lower level of the hotel, the Edelweiss Cheese Factory has its factory store offering a selection of their award-winning cheeses and a selection of excellent cheeses from other area producers and from Switzerland. While the shop is more modest in size and offerings it is not to missed by a cheese aficionado. Despite smaller size, in addition to the cheese are a selection of wines, sausages, local beers, crackers, and other gift items, plus a small sidewalk café where you can enjoy your deli purchase with glass of wine or stein of beer.
Across the street from the hotel is the Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus that offers a broad array of cheese and other goodies (like Swiss chocolates and ice cream). Next door is the New Glarus Bakery (doing business here since 1910), known for its excellent Swiss and German pastries, breads, cookies, or dessert items. Further down the street is one of our favorite Swiss restaurants – The Glarner Stube. Nearby is another New Glarus favorite – Puempel’s Olde Tavern which dates back to 1893. Several other interesting shops, boutiques, pubs and restaurants are within walking distance of downtown. Like Monroe, the Swiss Heritage has been well preserved in its buildings and structures.
Another New Glarus fixture worth visiting is the New Glarus Brewery on the top of a hill south of town. It began life as a small craft brewery in 1993 and has grown in size and has attained a national recognition for quality brews. The brewery moved from its original location to an entirely new facility featuring state of the art brewing technology and automation. Both self-guided tours and guided tours are regularly available and its old world style beer garden offers an opportunity to taste several brews.
Popular annual events include The Polka Fest, Heidi Festival, the Volksfest, Wilhelm Tell Festival, and OktoberFest, sponsored by the New Glarus Brewery. Two weeks after OktoberFest, the annual Fall Harvest Fest is held at the Swiss Historical Village, a replica of an 1850s Swiss settlement with 14 artifact-filled shops and buildings from that era.
Links to New Glarus Attractions
- New Glarus Tourist Information
- Swiss Historical Village and Museum
- Edelweiss Cheese Factory Cheese Shop
- New Glarus Brewery
- Puempel’s Olde Tavern
- New Glarus Hotel