Minnesota : Safety by City
- Brooklyn Park
- Detroit Lakes
- Fergus Falls
- Grand Marais
- Grand Portage
- International Falls
- Maple Grove
- New Ulm
- Red Wing
- St. Cloud
- St. Paul
- Two Harbors
The Midwest has several cities that preserve the culture of its German immigrants, and New Ulm, Minnesota, is one of those.
While it’s not nearly as kitschy as Frankenmuth, Michigan, it does have the sights, sounds, and salty smells of German life.
The town is about 90 minutes from the massive Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
It’s a small town of 14,000 people and home to a brewing company dating back to 1860, one of the oldest in the nation.
The legendary Hermann the German stands atop a tower where visitors can climb the stairs for fantastic views.
New Ulm was dangerously close to being destroyed before it was even a decade old as the U.S./Dakota War started.
Native Americans were battling to take back their land, and Minnesota settlers backed by the U.S. Government weren’t going to release their grip.
New Ulm was surrounded and overpowered but protected three blocks of the city while everything around it burned down.
The settlers evacuated before returning to build on the German heritage and expand the culture to this new land.
Although it claims to be “The Most German Town in America,” there are several other cities that use the same claim.
Looking for more German towns to explore?
Check out our articles on Pella, Iowa; The Amana Colonies, Iowa; and Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Warnings & Dangers in New Ulm
OVERALL RISK : LOW
The risk is low here, with crime rates that barely register and plenty of activities to keep you busy shopping, dining, or in nature.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Hermann Express City Bus system isn't very elaborate, but it will get you around. While it was free for a while, as of April 2023, rides will cost $1. Taxis and rideshares will be available, and rental cars are a great option too for exploring other cities like nearby Mankato or Walnut Grove (home to Little House on the Prairie).
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The city doesn't even see two thefts per week, so there's a low risk here. The one note is to keep your car locked with no personal items inside, as car break-ins or accessory thefts (like pricey catalytic converters) make up 31% of all thefts.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
This area can get hit by tornadoes starting with spring's tornado season. In 1881, a powerful tornado came through and killed six people. You don't want to be caught outside in a Minnesota storm. Winter brings heavy snow, ice storms, and blizzards. Temperatures can also get dangerously low. With such an ongoing medium risk, you'll need to stay weather aware in this region.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
New Ulm has had six robberies since 2000, so that's an extremely low risk. Since very few cities are this safe, you should keep up all the smart protective safety practices.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is another low risk with no hard targets or concerning landmarks that could be troublesome. While there's always a risk of domestic terrorism or Lone Wolf acts, it's important to report any suspicious activity you see.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Most scam and fraud reports over the past few years center on people defrauding the government or organizations. You can always review the top trending scams in the state at the Attorney General's website.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Yet another low-risk here with plenty of safe spaces for single parents, solo travelers, and girlfriend getaways.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations while giving plenty of conservation and safety tips in the detailed document. You can always look for the latest version of the report on the city's utility website.
Safest Places to Visit in New Ulm
NewUlm.com is the official tourism site for the city, including everything from German heritage to nearby parks and river activities.
Check out the sample itinerary page to help plan the trip, whether it’s a day or a week.
You can also find more New Ulm information on the Explore Minnesota website.
New Ulm is built with square blocks throughout the slender city, with the Minnesota River on the east side and the Cottonwood River on the west.
Minnesota Street is the main road through the city, with the center point being the Glockenspiel.
This 45-foot tall clock with 37 bevels and a dozen dancing figurines is scheduled 3–5 times a day with chimes heard throughout the city.
A few places you might want to put on your dining/drinking list are New Ulm Turner Hall, boasted as the state’s oldest bar, and Kaiserhoff, a landmark in the city serving authentic German food and a special recipe for ribs.
Grab an Uber or set a designated driver and head south to August Schell Brewing Company.
The grounds are stunning, wrapped in a forest and set against the rich brick and stone exterior.
The history of the brewery is as interesting as the confidence it had even through Prohibition and the “light beer craze.”
The brewing still makes the same recipes as when it was founded in the 1860s.
Basic tours and new “Into the Depths” tours are available.
Enjoy a drink in the Bier Halle, Biergarten, or a special room for sour beer set to specific atmospheric conditions.
Not a beer buff?
How about heading 10 miles south to Morgan Creek Vineyards and Winery?
Events are held from morning to night, with special Jazz nights scheduled.
You can sample solo or hire a wine connoisseur to walk you through the flavor of this fertile land.
Flandrau State Park is just outside the western edge of the city, with historic buildings, hiking trails, swimming holes, and cross-country ski rentals.
It is named after one of the men who led the charge to defend New Ulm during the Dakota War of 1862.
You can get a dose of nature and a lesson in history as you explore this expansive park.
Herman Heights Park is undoubtedly on your to-do list, with Hermann the German statue being the most popular staircase in town.
Much like a lighthouse, there’s a walkway at the top with sweeping views of the Minnesota plains.
Hermann’s history is explained on plaques around the site.
Places to Avoid in New Ulm
You don’t need to worry about bad neighborhoods or staying in a dangerous part of town.
Every bit of the city is designed for tourists to have the best experience, and you can choose from traditional hotels, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds all in safe spaces.
Before you visit a place that serves alcohol, call ahead or check the website to see if children are allowed.
For example, Schell’s brewery allows children on tours and in the public dining spaces with special non-alcoholic drinks, including a 1919 root beer!
Safety Tips for Traveling to New Ulm
- Sign up for Nixle alerts through the Emergency Management section of the city’s website. You’ll be able to get information on weather warnings, criminal activity, accidents, and road closures. The account is free, and you can unsubscribe easily when you leave.
- New Ulm does have its own police department. The website is part of the city’s site and isn’t very robust, but you’ll get some basic contact information. The department doesn’t have a Facebook page but is on Twitter @newulmpd.
- The city has many popular events throughout the year, which could impact hotel room availability and prices. Check the Chamber of Commerce website for the next event date so that you can plan well in advance. HermannFest, Oktoberfest, and Bavarian Blast bring the biggest crowds.
- Beer drinkers beware – German beer has more alcohol content than regular beer, so even if you drink the same number of pints as you would at home, you could get more intoxicated off the same volume.
- Watch for bitterly cold temperatures in the winter. On New Year’s Eve 2022, the wind chill in New Ulm was -30º(F). Even police were warning people to get a designated driver instead of walking around or walking home. When you’ve been drinking, you are more susceptible to hypothermia but less able to know that it’s happening.
- Never trust ice on a lake or pond. If you don’t know how to judge the thickness of ice for skating or ice fishing, don’t attempt it until you study the Department of Natural Resources website section “Ice Safety.” Even if it’s really cold when you’re there, mild temperatures the week or month before could make the ice dangerous.
- Anglers need a fishing license from DNR before they can fish or ice fish. While you’re purchasing the license, bookmark the Fish Consumption Guide, so you don’t eat fish that could make you sick.
- You should also check the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency before you visit any lake or river in Minnesota. You’ll get information about water quality, flood risks, and current. If you go to any lake and see a blue-green layer on top, stay out of the water. That’s algae, and it can make people sick and be deadly for pets.
- The city has a downloadable parking map that shows where the parking locations are and which ones allow overnight parking. You should also know that during a snow emergency, street parking will be banned. Anyone vehicle that violates the snow emergency will be towed at the owner’s expense.
- When touring the brewery, you should know they don’t serve food. You can bring in your own food, provided it is cooked and ready to eat when you arrive. No appliances can be brought in, and no utensils like sharp knives are allowed.
So... How Safe Is New Ulm Really?
New Ulm is a city that has avoided the brunt of violent crime surges, juvenile crime issues, and increased drug problems.
While there have been some high-profile sex crimes, including an officer who pleaded guilty to sexual conduct of a minor.
The city saw six violent crimes in 2021 and hasn’t had a homicide since at least 2000.
With just six robberies in 22 years, the most common crimes aren’t likely to happen here.
What the city has been dealing with is an anti-LGBTQ sentiment that does speak for all community members but has prompted rallies and calls for change.
“I live in New Ulm, and I’m tired of not feeling safe in my own community, so I want to come out and show that we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere,” resident River Reed said at one rally.
“I’m visibly trans, my partner is visibly trans, we would get names in Walmart, I’ve been followed around being called horrible slurs, just made to feel not safe shopping, and I wanted to show that we’re not going anywhere.”
Challenges like this in a conservative, religious community aren’t uncommon and don’t pose a travel threat, but it’s just something you should be aware of before you visit.
If you use common sense and standard safety practices, you’ll have a great time in New Ulm from the moment you arrive until you say, “Auf Wiedersehen!”
How Does New Ulm Compare?
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- Visas - International visitors need a passport and visa from the U.S. State Department. Use the Visa Wizard program on the department's website to start the process in the right category. Then you'll want to visit the Customs and Border Patrol website for a list of things you can't bring into the U.S. or leave the country with at the end of your trip.
- Currency - Even with all the German influences, you still can't use the Euro (or the former Deutsche Mark, for that matter). Only the U.S. Dollar (USD) is accepted here. Exchange currency before you arrive to get the lowest fees. If you do need to exchange currency stateside, don't use a public ATM. Go inside a bank for safety.
- Weather - Minnesotans are a tough breed and used to brutal winters, but it can catch some tourists off guard. You'll need many layers to keep you warm, insulated, and prevent water or sweat from sticking to the skin. Bring comfortable walking shoes. Spring and fall are very temperamental with temperatures, so you can get a mild day in early spring or a freezing day in early fall—pack layers. Bring bug spray for spring through fall.
- Airports - It's a 90-minute drive to the major airport in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Most of the drive is rural, so traffic shouldn't be too much of a problem.
- Travel Insurance - The USA doesn't require travel insurance for international guests, but you'll be wise to invest in it since the health care costs, even for a minor accident, can be hefty. You also want to protect the investment on your flight in case of a weather delay or cancelation.
New Ulm Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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