Too many travelers find Kansas to be just another “fly-over” state. To us, that term also refers to those that just cruise along I-70 on their way to some other place. What many of them do not realize is that by getting off of the interstate, they have an opportunity to enjoy a truly cultural experience. A great example of this is the city of Lindsborg, which sits less than 3 hours from Kansas City. Nicknamed “Little Sweden USA”, this immigrant established city just begs to be explored.
We want to thank Visit Lindsborg and all of the local businesses for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Our First Taste of Lindsborg
With Lindsborg being so close to our hometown, we decided to start our visit on a Friday evening. Crystal had the car all packed for a hasty departure after work. After a pleasant drive through the Flint Hills, we arrived just in time for dinner. Located in the heart of downtown, we stopped in Farley’s Bar & Grill. As soon as we walked through the door, we knew we were in a local hot spot. The place was packed with people socializing over dinner and drinks. Even with a wait, there was no way we were going to pass this place up. It ended up being a perfect “first taste’ of Lindsborg.(Read more about Farley’s here.)
A Real Home Away From Home
With our bellies full, we were ready to unwind for the night. Our lodging was arranged at a local AirBnB called Lavendel House. Our host, Mark Galloway, happened to be there when we arrived. He showed us around our “home away from home”, which is a four-bedroom farm-style house. It certainly was much larger than we would need, but we appreciated the hospitality. This place even has a tree-house loft, which Mark was in the process of completing. When finished, it will make for a cute little couple’s escape destination on the edge of Little Sweden USA.
With a full day of exploring on the horizon, it was time to crash for the night. The Lavendel House had plenty of sleeping options and would be perfect for a big family. With a full kitchen and even a large family room to watch TV, it made for a good home base. By the way, we opted not to sleep in the bunk beds. After a refreshing night’s sleep, it was time to get our Saturday started. Our itinerary was packed with sights all through the town. Lindsborg is home to around 3500 residents, but the number swells significantly during the school season, with the arrival of Bethany College students.
During the summer, you may find the numbers larger from an influx of tourists. When we arrived downtown, we found a car show set up on the main drag. We took a quick peek at a few, before heading into Blacksmith Coffee for breakfast. We love exploring spaces that have had a new breath of life brought to them. This building once served as one of the town’s blacksmith shops. To this day, you can still find signs of the previous use scattered around the space. With our coffee fix taken care of, it was time to move along. (Read more about Blacksmith Coffee here.)
What would a visit to Little Sweden be without a stop at Hemlöjd? This cute shop has been a staple of Main Street since 1984. Once inside, we found it filled with colorful items that can be immediately associated with the Scandinavian culture. Their name means handicraft, which is appropriate when you see all of the interesting pieces. The ones that caught our eye were the Dala horses. It is a well-known Swedish souvenir, and we just couldn’t leave the store without picking one up for our home office. (Read more about Hemslöjd here.)
Take a Walk
Lindsborg is a perfect place for pedestrian visitors. The landscape is relatively flat, so it’s also popular with bicyclists. Our friends at the Visitors Bureau clued us in on the Välkommen Trail. (The word means welcome.) This 3.25-mile trail was developed from an abandoned railway path. It cuts right through the middle of town and has a collection of informational boards scattered along the way. It gave us a chance to learn more about the history and culture of the people of Little Sweden USA.
After a delightful stroll on the trail, we ended up near the southern end. From here, we could see our next stop, at the Old Mill Museum. Wherever we travel, we love immersing ourselves in the history of the destination. At the Old Mill Museum complex, we were able to see a broad spectrum of historical artifacts. The namesake mill is open to visitors but only runs for special events. There is also a historical museum, as well as a grouping of buildings across the street. This portion of the complex is called Heritage Square and includes the Swedish Pavilion built for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. So much to see here, that you will want to set aside plenty of time for exploring. (Read more about the Museum Complex here.)
Another pleasant walk led us back into the downtown portion of Little Sweden USA. Since we were visiting in late July, we were ready to quench our thirsts, as well as our growing hunger. What better place than Ol Stuga, which translates to the alehouse. Stepping through the door, we were greeted by a gathering of locals. This bar and grill are not just known for their ice-cold drinks, they also serve up a historic dish. While we waited for our meals, I did a little exploring around the space. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that Mikhail Gorbachev had visited this place.(Read more about Ol’ Stuga here.)
A Little Retail Therapy
With our late lunch complete, we were ready to check out some more of the downtown shops. Little Sweden USA draws quite a few visitors from around the world. While we were there, we saw a busload of tourists wandering around the downtown. This has helped maintain a good variety of boutique-style shops in Lindsborg. We wandered through stores that offer apparel, handbags, toys, and home furnishings. We even dropped by a fair trade shop that features items made by artisans from around the world.
A Stitch in Time
Stepping through the door of The Ivory Thimble, we found an interesting mix of apparel and accessories. We also discovered that this is the shop of the lady who produces many of the costumes for the local theater productions. As we looked around, we saw hints of what was to come during our evening entertainment. We knew the name of the show, but really very little else. For now, we were getting clues of what it may involve.
An Evening Under the Stars
Dinnertime was drawing nigh, so we ran over to The Brickhouse Grill for one of their delectable pizza pies. The visitor’s bureau had arranged for us a wonderful “date night”, which included dinner and live performance. As we were leaving our dinner destination, we noticed a local grocer next door. Inside, we found some Swedish sweet treats to share later in the evening. Now it was time to head to the park. Lindsborg has an active theater troupe, which puts on a live performance each year. We joined our host, and her daughters, for an evening of frivolity. (Read more about our date night here.)
Coffee for the Road
Our evening’s show had kept us out late, but it was well worth it. The next morning, we packed up our car in preparation for more travel. Before we departed Little Sweden USA, there was still one more stop. Breakfast and coffee are imperative for a good start, so we stopped in The White Peacock. This coffee shop serves some interesting dishes for breakfast and lunch. I sampled their Swedish Pancakes, which include lingonberries. This tangy Swedish berry adds a layer of flavor to the crepe-like cakes.
Little Sweden USA
Our time in Lindsborg was short, but we packed it full of entertaining attractions. This central Kansas city is a great destination for Kansas explorers and is perfect for a weekend excursion. You will want to visit their tourism site for more places to check out. (Find it here.) You may also want to consider visiting one of their many annual events. You will find something for just about everybody in the culturally rich destination. Who knows, you might just come home with your own Dala horse. (You can read our Travel Kansas article about this trip here.)