A guide to a great weekend in New Glarus
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on June 4, 2007 at 5:22 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
Just southwest of Madison sits a quaint town blanketed by rolling green hills, peaceful pastures and a palpable Swiss influence. New Glarus has earned a reputation for being the "Little Switzerland" of America, and the affectionate nickname makes a lot of sense -- the town was originally settled in 1845 by a band of Swiss pioneers who fled Canton of Glarus in Switzerland during an economic crisis.
With its beer gardens, Chalet-style architecture and penchant for polka, its no wonder thousands of tourists -- including many Swiss natives -- come to experience the rich Swiss heritage of this Wisconsin village each year. And at only about a two-hour drive from Milwaukee, it's a perfect destination for a summer weekend getaway. Here's the scoop on Swiss Town, USA, which, in our opinion, puts the "fun" back in fondue.
WHERE TO STAY
During the warm months, you can't beat a night out under the stars in New Glarus Woods State Park. And at $15 a site, you can't beat the price either. New Glarus Woods has 18 drive-in campsites in the Lead Road Circle Campground for RV, pop-up or tent camping, and 14 walk-in sites for tent camping 50 to 1,000 feet along a paved trail from the parking area. The walk-in campground is less than a mile from the edge of downtown New Glarus and is the start off point for the 23-mile long Sugar River Bike Trail.
New Glarus Woods State Park
W5446 County Highway NN
New Glarus Woods
Hotels/Bed & Breakfasts
If the great outdoors isn't your idea of a vacation, there are plenty of four-wall lodging options in the New Glarus area. Whether you're looking for a quiet retreat, a weekend of romance, or a more active adventure, you will find it here.
Albany House Bed and Breakfast
405 S. Mill St.
Some of the highlights include the Joshua Wood Master Bedroom, which has a fireplace, and the Eagles Nest, which occupies the entire third floor. Albany House is a good place for groups.
Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn
1090 Severson Rd.
Dawn and Gary Bahr offer romantic and elegant Victorian-style accommodations on a 120-acre estate of woods, hills, views and private hiking trails. Cameo Rose is rated one of the prettiest B&Bs in the country. Their breakfast is simply awesome, and though the B&B is more "new construction" than advertised, its basement level whirlpool suite is quite nice. And it's located in the UFO capital, Belleville!
801 Hwy 69
The Chalet Landhaus is built in traditional Swiss style-with a perfect blend of modern convenience and old-fashioned Swiss decor to give you a touch of Switzerland close to home.
Hoch Haus Bed & Breakfast
218 2nd St.
This is turn-of-the-century living in the heart of the New Glarus village, complete with Swiss/German breakfast buffet.
Swiss Aire Motel
1200 Hwy 69
The Swiss Aire Motel is located right along the Sugar River Bike Trail and has a nice picnic area.
WHERE TO EAT
New Glarus is known for its savory Swiss cuisine and there are no shortage of restaurants, pubs and cafés lining the historic streets. Here are a few highlights.
518 1st St.
Charming Old World atmosphere and hospitality in the heart of New Glarus. It looks like a bar, but is one of the two restaurants best known for New Glarus' most famous cheesy staple: fondue. It also claims to have the world's biggest urinal in the men's room but it will have to duke it out with Leff's over that one.
New Glarus Hotel Restaurant
100 6th Ave.
Built by Swiss immigrants in 1853, the New Glarus Hotel has long been landmark known for its fine Swiss Cuisine, atmosphere and entertainment. You can't stay in the hotel part anymore, but this might be the best spot to experience an authentic dinner. You might not think that boiling cheese is worth about $30 (for two), but we dare you to finish your complete meal. With soup, salad and rolls, the fondue is out of this world ... and more than enough to bring home in a doggie bag. Check out the regular live polka on weekends.
New Glarus Bakery
534 1st St.
As nationally featured on the Food Network, this little bakery continues with its old-world recipes to produce the most flavorful homemade breads, cookies and pastries just as it did back in 1912.
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