This Phenomenal Midwest Destination Will Make You Feel Like You're In Switzerland

There are times when you have to fly thousands of miles to have an authentic cultural encounter. Then there are times when you're delighted to find those moments are within easier reach than you could have anticipated. Explorers who travel to New Glarus, Wisconsin, will likely fall into the latter category and wonder if they haven't been transported to the heart of Switzerland upon arrival.

The look, vibe, and pace of New Glarus are designed to be an immersive Swiss experience visitors can have right in the Midwest. Just over 25 miles from Madison, New Glarus is located in Green County, which is defined by farms, hills, and pastures that easily remind one of the rural Swiss terrain. New Glarus has even earned the nickname "America's Little Switzerland," not only for its similar topography but because of its rich history.

Here, there's a clear dedication to preserving culture and tradition that stems back to 1845 when New Glarus was established as a colony for Swiss settlers. Many of these original residents left New Glarus behind when the economy took a downward turn. In re-establishing their lives in Wisconsin, they hoped to not only thrive but keep their Swiss heritage alive as well. It's an effort that continues today in New Glarus in the form of fantastic cultural festivals, charming architecture, and delicious food options.

Experience Swiss immersion in Wisconsin

As you walk around New Glarus, the soundtrack to your experience will be a mix of modern and traditional elements. It's common to hear both English and Swiss-German languages spoken as the city continues to welcome Swiss immigrants as well as host residents who have long called New Glarus home. The vast majority of buildings that make up New Glarus are designed with chalet-inspired architecture in mind. It makes for a picture-perfect fairy tale destination when looking for Swiss-inspired aesthetics without leaving the center of the U.S.

There are also cultural museums in New Glarus that are worth checking out when you're interested in learning more about Swiss heritage and traditions. The Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum is the former home of Edwin Barlow, who served in the war and lived in Europe before moving home to Wisconsin and building a Swiss-style chalet in the late 1930s. The historic home-turned-museum is filled with Barlow's personal collection of items for guests to browse that represent Swiss heritage. The building sits on the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places as well as the National Register of Historic Places for being an authentic testament to Swiss chalet architecture. The Swiss Historical Village and Museum is another must-visit in the area. This museum lets you wander through a replica Swiss village and learn about the founding of New Glarus from its founding through the present day.

Enjoy specialty shops, fantastic food, and festivals

If it's Swiss specialty shops you're after, you won't have to look far to find what you're searching for in New Glarus. The city is home to Brenda's Blumenladen, where you can purchase gifts, flowers, home goods, and seasonal décor. Kinderladen has you covered with one-of-a-kind toys, games, and crafts, while the Chalet Cheese Haus features wine, chocolate selections, and, you guessed it, a variety of cheeses. If you're looking for a more robust taste of Switzerland in New Glarus, be sure to swing by the Chalet Landhaus. This Swiss-themed inn hosts a cozy and inviting restaurant where you can enjoy traditional dishes like cheese fondue and "geschnetzeltes," which is sliced veal or pork in a creamy white wine and mushroom sauce.

Travelers excited to add cultural festivals to their lineup of fun in New Glarus will have plenty to pick from. A summer trip in this direction puts you in the right place to enjoy the New Glarus Polkafest in June as well as the New Glarus Beer, Bacon, and Cheese Festival. If you're traveling here in the wintertime for fun over the holidays, you won't want to miss out on the New Glarus Christkindli Market hosted downtown in December. It's a great place to pick up unique gifts and souvenirs that you might only otherwise stumble across in Switzerland.