Hermann, Missouri is a small town on the Missouri River.
Located in the heart of Missouri wine country, Hermann has serious German history. In fact, the region is known as the Missouri Rhineland.
I visited Hermann because I needed somewhere to stop between South Dakota and Memphis on a cross-country road trip from Canada to the US South.
Hermann, with its combination of German heritage and historic American riverside charm, jumped out to us 5 minutes of Google searching. So off we went.
We spent one night at a cheap hotel in Hermann, Missouri. This makes me entirely qualified to write this article.
Here are the must see things to do and sights to see in Hermann, MO.
1) Eat Sausages and Drink German-like Beer at Hermann’s Oktoberfest
Hermann has genuine German heritage. Like every other town in the world with a splash of German heritage, Hermann hosts its own Oktoberfest.
Visit Hermann during the first four weekends of October to attend Oktoberfest.
Hermann calls itself the sausage making capital of Missouri. I don’t know how competitive the sausage scene is in Missouri, but good for you, Hermann. Eat some sausages and drink some Budweiser the next time you’re in Hermann in October.
2) Visit a Winery Along the Hermann Wine Trail
Did you know Missouri has its own wine country? The area around Hermann was one of the first federally recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).
The Hermann area received its AVA designation in recognition of the legions of German immigrants who moved to the region and started wineries on the banks of the Missouri river throughout the 1800s.
Some wineries in the Hermann area trace their roots back 170 years.
Prohibition dampened the German spirit for winemaking in the 1900s. By the 1960s, however, it had been revived.
Today, many people visit the Hermann area for the wineries. Some of the top wineries in the area include:
- Stone Hill Winery
- Hermannhof Winery
- Adam Puchta Winery Bias Vineyards
- Oakglenn Vineyards and Winery
- Bommarito Estate Almond Tree Winery
- Robbler Vineyards and Winery
The first two wineries (Stone Hill and Hermannhof Winery) have locations in Hermann. The others are located around town. Spend a day or a weekend exploring Missouri’s wine country.
There’s a whole website dedicated to the Hermann Wine Trail: https://hermannwinetrail.com/, and it features the latest events at each winery.
3) Check Out a Distillery
Honestly, a lot of the things I recommend doing around Hermann involve alcohol.
Hermann, population 2,500, has three (!) distilleries. If you’re not boozed out after the wineries, then you a) came to the right blog and b) are ready to visit a distillery in Hermann.
The three distilleries in Hermann include:
Black Shire Distillery: Black Shire Distillery makes spirits using locally-grown grain and white oak barrels that are charred right down the road. The distillery’s spirits include rye, gin, bourbon, blackberry whiskey, brandy, and vodka. Black Shire Distillery has a tasting room downtown, although the distillery itself is located on an historic farm just outside of town. That farm, like seemingly everything in Hermann, was established by German immigrants in the 1840s. If you like the tasting room, you can book a private tour of the farm.
Fernweh Distilling Co.: Fernweh Distilling Co. launched in 2016-2017. Today, the distillery distributes its straight bourbon whiskey, straight rye whiskey, and stardust vodka across the state of Missouri. Tastings are available by appointment at the downtown location. Fernweh, by the way, translates to “wanderlust” in German.
Copper Mule Distillery: Hermann’s third distillery is Copper Mule Distillery. They make straight bourbon whiskey just a few minutes drive away from downtown Hermann at a family farm established in 1908. One of the proprietors’ grandfather was Captain Gustav Wohlt, who helped found the Hermann Distilling Company in 1893. The distillery gets its name from the mules that have roamed the property since 1910 – and continue to roam today.
4) Walk Through Historic Downtown
Hermann has a cool and historic downtown area.
Today, Hermann’s population is only about double what it was in the mid-1800s, so the downtown hasn’t changed much (I honestly don’t know if it’s changed much, I wasn’t there in the 1800s, but it feels historic).
Tin Mill Brewing is located downtown. There’s also Black Shire Distillery, two wineries, a concert hall, and a couple cafes.
You can also walk up to the Missouri River and stroll along Riverfront Park.
It’s not the most exciting downtown area, but it’s nice enough.
5) Absorb the German History at Museums and Historic Sites Around Town
Hermann has a cool history. German immigrants loved the Missouri river area because it reminded them of the Rhineland.
But the German obsession with Hermann went beyond just founding a town: early German immigrants wanted to create a utopian German-American colony.
Today, you can absorb that German history at sites around town, including:
Deutschheim State Historic Site: This site features two preserved structures that trace their roots back to Hermann in the 1840s and 1850s when German immigrants were first settling the region. There’s the Pommer-Gentner house (built in 1840) and the Carl Strehly house (built in 1842).
Herzog Mansion: Want to see more old German houses? Walk a few blocks to Herzog Mansion. Built in 1885, the mansion is a private residence and the family home of William Herzog, an original owner of Stone Hill Winery.
Historic Hermann Museum: Located in the heart of historic downtown Hermann, the Historic Hermann Museum is an appropriately-named museum highlighting the town’s German history. Up until 1955, Hermann’s elementary school was found in this building. The school was bilingual, teaching children in both German and English. The school was also built in 1871, which is, coincidentally, the year Germany became a country.
Gasconade County Courthouse: Located on a dramatic hill above town, the Gasconade County Courthouse dominates the “skyline” of Hermann when viewed from across the river. You can walk up the steps to the courthouse and check out the random cannons on the grounds. You could probably get married there or pay your speeding ticket, because it’s still the functioning courthouse for Gasconade County.
6) Drink Local Craft Beer at a Brewery
You’re reading the Wandering Boozebag’s blog. Of course three of the items on my list of must see things to do in Hermann involve alcohol.
Breweries in the area include:
- Bias Winery & Gruhle Microbrewery
- Tin Mill Brewery
Both breweries are worth visiting.
Bias Winery & Gruhlke Microbrewery is a small, family-owned winery and microbrewery with a limited production but a fun atmosphere. The winery’s website sums it up: “A winery and a microbrewery – does it get any better?”
Tin Mill Brewery, meanwhile, is located in Hermann’s historic downtown in a literal 100 year old tin mill. They’re also the only real lager microbrewery in the state of Missouri, according to Hermann Wine Trail.
Other Things to Do in Hermann, Missouri
There’s a surprising number of things to do in Hermann, Missouri and area.
Other things I recommend include:
- Check out a spa
- Bike or walk along the Katy Trail, which is a 240 mile trail between Machens and Clinton, Missouri (you can join up just across the river from Hermann)
- Get drunk and eat cheap burgers at the Sharp Corner Tavern (we had a great night here and even smoked cigars inside, which was somehow legal)
- Go golfing (there’s a 9-hole golf course at the Loutre Shore Country Club 3 miles north of Hermann)
- Take a zipline (Eco Zipline is Missouri’s longest, fastest, and highest zip line, and it’s located nearby)
Other Fun Facts to Know About Hermann, Missouri
- Hermann was founded in 1837
- The town as named after a guy named Hermann der Cherusker, a Roman officer who later became chief of a German tribe and destroyed several Roman legions, playing an influential role in early German history and European history
- Hermann translates to “Mister Man” in German.
- Singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff (he did that S.O.B. song you definitely recognize) is from Hermann
That’s about all the fun stuff you need to know about Hermann.
Hermann is worth visiting.
Although we only spent one night at a cheap hotel in Hermann on a cross-continent road trip, there’s plenty to see and do around Hermann, and it punches above its weight class based on its population and location (population 2,500, located in the middle of rural Missouri).
Hermann’s no secret to the people of Missouri. The town is known across the Midwest for its German heritage.
But for a couple pale Canadian tourists, Hermann, Missouri was a unique slice of German-American history off the beaten tourist trail.