One-Day Itinerary in New Glarus, Wisconsin
A Minnesota bar owner once landed felony charges after crossing state lines with beer from New Glarus Brewing Company. It's illegal to sell the coveted (and famously "Only in Wisconsin") Spotted Cow ale out of state. Yes, New Glarus brews are that good. But the real crime? The owner only came for the beer!
Steeped in Swiss heritage and situated a day trip away from Madison, Chicago and Milwaukee, New Glarus makes for a deliciously easy culinary getaway. The rolling green hills of southern Wisconsin have helped turn out some of the country's best cheeses for a century. And sure, the town does have a streak of kitsch, but it's also home to new and established makers drawing on more than 170 years of tradition.
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9 a.m. Rise and Shine
New Glarus Bakery has whipped up batches of cookies, stollen and other breads since 1910. Their doughnuts and almond horns are not to be missed.
10 a.m. Shop Talk
Chalet-style shops and restaurants, some built by immigrants who founded the town in 1850, line First Street and surrounding areas. At Hutch and Hide, Tory and Kelsy Hutchison sell custom home furnishings as well as hip gifts with a Midwest focus. Soak up vintage vibes and home decor inspo at Sisters. At A Well Worn Story, admire beautiful Wisconsin-made leather and canvas bags. Head to The Bramble Patch for imported Polish pottery, seasonal decor and local small-batch foods.
Stock up on all your cheese needs at Chalet Cheese Coop (11 miles south). Founded in 1885 by five dairy farmers, it's one of the country's oldest cheese cooperatives and the only remaining producer of Limburger in the U.S. They also specialize in varieties like Baby Swiss and Wisconsin Brick.
1 p.m. History Lessons
Head to Swiss Historical Village and Museum to delve into 1850s Swiss pioneer life at 14 meticulously re-created buildings, including a bee house, church and settler's cabin. You may also be intrigued by Chalet of the Golden Fleece—the Swiss Alps chalet-style house built in 1937 for Edwin Barlow. Learn about Barlow, who founded New Glarus' annual Wilhelm Tell play, and see some of the thousands of items he collected abroad.
4 p.m. Happy Hour
Take a self-guided tour of New Glarus Brewing Company on weekdays, and try flagship brews like Spotted Cow and Moon Man. If you're in town on a weekend, stop by Puempel's Olde Tavern, founded in 1893, for New Glarus brews, and add on a Green County Cheese Tray for nibbles of local cheeses.
6:30 p.m. Guten Appetit
Taste the town's heritage at Chalet Landhaus Restaurant. You'll find Wienerschnitzel, Spätzli, and cheese fondue served with Rösti potatoes. The adjacent Älpli Bar pours Wisconsin-style brandy Old-Fashioneds.
More to Try
Grab a guidebook as you enter New Glarus Woods State Park and take a hike along the 4.2-mile Havenridge Nature Trail.