Lindsborg, Kansas: A Touch of Sweden in the Middle of America

Midwest Travel

You’ll find Lindsborg, Kansas, known as Little Sweden, USA, at the intersection of Sweden and the United States. If you’re taking the all-American road trip along the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, which spans 80 miles of north-central Kansas, Lindsborg sits about mid-way along the route.

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In 1869, settlers from the Swedish province of Dalarna founded Lindsborg; with a current population of 3,286, it’s a small town big on small-town American charm. While Lindsborg celebrates its Swedish heritage through festivals, food, and folk art, its middle America also sparkles. According to Good Morning America, they have one of the nation’s best college town hangouts.

Thank you to Visit Lindsborg for hosting my visit.

What to Do in Lindsborg, Kansas?

Art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to hold their interest. From traditional Swedish folk art to contemporary National Geographic photography, those seeking to indulge their inner artistic interests will enjoy Lindsborg. Those who want to spend time outdoors will enjoy the Välkommen Trail and nearby Coronado Heights.

Artisan Painting a Dala Horse
Artisan Painting a Dala Horse

Watch the Creation of a Dala Horse at Hemslöjd

You’ll find artisans creating Dala Horses at the Hemslöjd. Make your way through the front gift shop to the back of the store to the Dala Horse Factory, where you’ll feel like you’re passing through Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. Like in Sweden, artisans handcraft the Dala Horse, the tourists’ symbol of Sweden.

So what’s a Dala horse? The Dalecarlian horse, or Dala horse, is a traditional carved, painted wooden sculpture of a horse that originated in Dalarna province, in central Sweden. Once the Dalecarlian horse was primarily a children’s toy, but today it represents Dalarna, a general symbol of Sweden and a popular souvenir. The most popular color is the red-orange horses, but they also paint them blue.

At Hemslöjd, they also feature many versions of the gnome-like character, tomte, said to safeguard the farmer, his family, and his land from adversity. Pick one up to decorate your Christmas tree.

Dala Horse Outside Hemslöjd
Dala Horse Outside Hemslöjd

Search for Wild Dala Horses

When you think of Kansas, you might think of America’s wild west—cowboys, gunfights, and saloons. Of course, horses also come to mind, but in Lindsborg, you’ll find a different type of wild horse. Contemporary artists decorate the Swedish version of wild Dala horses cast from a large fiberglass form. After visiting Hemslöjd, if you want to see bigger Dala horses decorated in a myriad of ways, you’ll discover them throughout Lindsborg. To start, you’ll find the four-foot-high Dala horses on the corners downtown.

Discover the Red Barn Museum

The Red Barn Studio Museum was once home and the studio of folk artist Lester Raymer. Today, it’s a museum that pays tribute to his work. Raymer considered painting and printmaking his most important work, but he created art in all mediums except glass blowing and weaving. The Spanish masters influenced his work.

Raymer met his wife Ramona while studying at the Chicago Art Institute. They returned to Ramona’s hometown of Lindsborg to live and work. Beginning in 1960, he started making a toy each Christmas for Ramona. Over 30 years, he created 53 toys. You’ll find Ramona’s mechanized toy collection at the Red Barn Studio Museum.

Visit the Galleries

Small World Gallery features the images of National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson. The shop also offers original jewelry designs by IBISwoman, created by Kathy Richardson and Briana Zimmerling, a Bethany College Alumnae.

Another gallery you won’t want to miss is the Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery. The gallery is more like a museum than a gallery you shop, although they have a gift shop. Birger Sandzén was a painter born in Blidsberg, Sweden. He came to Lindsborg to become a Bethany College faculty member. He planned to stay two or three years and travel throughout the United States and Mexico. However, he adored his new home so much that he only returned to Europe three times and spent most of his life in Lindsborg.

The gallery is the most extensive collection of his work and includes paintings, watercolors, prints, and drawings. Other artists featured at the gallery are Henry Varnum Poor, Doel Reed, Lester Raymer, Carl Milles, Raymond Jonson, Marsden Hartley, B.J.O. Nordfelt, John Bashor, and John Stuart Curry.

The Connected Fair Trade and Trollslända Toy Store are other shops to explore.

Attend a Festival

While Lindsborg celebrates over a dozen festivals throughout the year, two that represent the Swedish heritage are the Midsummer’s Festival and the Svensk Hyllningsfest. The Midsummer’s Festival, a traditional Swedish festival, happens on the third Saturday in June. During the longest day of the year, you’ll find Swedish dancing, Swedish food, and craft demonstrations. Svensk Hyllningsfest honors the Swedish immigrants who settled in the Smoky Valley. They came in 1869, and the festival started in 1941. Plan your visit for an odd-numbered year if you want to attend this biennial celebration. The festival highlights art, crafts, Swedish foods, ethnic music, folk dancing, a parade,  and a smörgåsbord.

Take a Stroll Down the Välkommen Trail

Välkommen Trail is a four-and-a-half-mile paved trail that rambles through Lindsborg and presents signs telling brief stories of people and places. The rails-to-trails path is excellent for an early morning run or cycle, paved with limestone millings. I’m not a runner, but if you are, go a bit farther and explore the Meadowlark Trail. It extends from the Välkommen Trail three miles south of Lindsborg. Even here, you’ll find art. For example, artist John Whitfield created the Välkommen Trail sculpture. Another place to stop is the trestle bridge and get a look at the Smoky River, where you’ll spot a glimpse of the Old Mill’s early 1900s dam.

Where to Eat in Lindsborg, Kansas?

I had breakfast at the Dröm Sött, the Sweet Dreams Inn; however, you must stay there to experience one of their authentic Swedish breakfasts. That’s reason enough to stay at the charming inn. Check out my Swedish breakfast in the “Where to Stay in Lindsborg, Kansas?” section.

Ol Stuga

Stop at the Ol Stuga, Beer Cottage, for a fan favorite and a finalist in Good Morning America’s Best Bites Challenge: College Edition. Ol Stuga is one of the best college town hangouts with great food and a relaxed atmosphere. The fan-favorite here is for the Brent Nelson sandwich.

Fish and Chips at Farley's in Lindsborg, KS
Fish and Chips at Farley’s in Lindsborg, KS

Farley’s Bar and Grill

Located right next door to the Dröm Sött, in a late 1800s building that a Lindsborg native and her architect husband renovated, Farley’s Bar and Grill is an excellent place for dinner. A bonus is you can enjoy a drink or two and not have more than a few yards to walk to your overnight accommodations. I chose the fish and chips for dinner, and while this dish originated in the United Kingdom, fish is a staple in Sweden. In addition, they have a lovely patio here, where I spent some time people watching as a solo diner.

White Peacock Coffee & Tea Company

Grab your favorite beverage at the White Peacock Tea and Coffee Company, where the Strawberry Basil Lemonade is a local favorite. They have a lovely outdoor area to enjoy during the warmer months.

For more information on places to explore in Kansas, check out this article:

Lobby at Sweet Dreams Inn
Lobby at Dröm Sött

Where to Stay in Lindsborg, Kansas?

I checked in to Dröm Sött, Sweet Dreams Inn, a charming 18-room bed and breakfast located in the heart of Lindsborg. The newly renovated inn decorated with Swedish flair features pastel yellows, blues, and teals, furnished with traditional Swedish furniture, including the decorative heart cut-out.

You’ll find your overnight stay not only charming but within walking distance of many of your stops during your stay. However, we didn’t need to take a walk at all for breakfast. Breakfast at Dröm Sött is a traditional Swedish breakfast, complete with Swedish meatballs and pickled herring.

A Traditional Swedish Breakfast
A Traditional Swedish Breakfast

Dröm Sött: A Traditional Swedish Breakfast

The host presented me with a stunning plate featuring Sweden’s favorites, although sometimes they offer a buffet. The dish had a hard-boiled egg at the center. To the right in the photo is a green utensil called an egg scaler, where you can crack the egg and insert the egg scaler between the egg and the shell to remove the surface quickly.

I also had rolled ham, fresh fruit, and two kinds of Swedish cheese at the top of the plate. The white cheese is farm cheese, and orange is Bond-ost, which coincidentally means farm cheese in Swedish. Finally, they served Swedish meatballs on a tiny skewer, and these are breakfast meatballs, so they don’t have a gravy over them.

My host told me, “Swedes like to put lingonberry on pretty much everything. It goes great with savory meats, dairy products, ice cream, and Swedish rye.” Lingonberry, a bush berry, grows in the artic. The taste is the marriage between the sweetness of a strawberry and the tartness of cranberry. It even goes great with fish.

Then I had pickled beets and pickled herring. The best way to be introduced to having fish for breakfast is to take a bit of the rye cracker or hardtack, a Swedish cucumber, and put your herring on the top of it. The variety of all those textures is nice. Swedes have all kinds of herring. If you go to a mid-summer smorgasbord, you’re likely to find at least seven types of herring.

Breakfast included a lemon poppy seed muffin, which is on their muffin rotation. Yogurt is another item that Swedes have in a large variety. Mine was honey vanilla with fresh blueberries and granola.

If you’re looking for some free authentic Swedish recipes until you can visit Lindsborg, or once you return home, you’ll find some online at Hemslöjd.

Getting There

Located in McPherson County, Lindsborg, Kansas, is in the Central time zone.

The closest airport to fly into is Salina Regional Airport (SLN / KSLN), situated 15 miles from Lindsborg. United Airlines services Salina Regional Airport.

How far is Lindsborg from these towns?

CityDistance
Denver, Colorado446 miles
Dallas, Texas433 miles
Kansas City, Kansas195 miles
Lansing, Michigan895 miles
Lincoln, Nebraska210 miles
St. Louis, Missouri431 miles
Wichita, Kansas72 miles
Driving Distance from Lindsborg, Kansas to Other Cities

Getting Around

The best way to get around Lindsborg is by car. If you fly in, you’ll want to rent a car.

Want more information on things to do in Kansas, check out Roxie on the Road’s book, 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die?

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Dala Horse in Lindsborg, Kansas - Pinterest Graphic
Piper
Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.

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8 Comments

  1. Kelly Francois

    IT WOULD BE GREAT SEEING ALLOF THE MUSEUMS AND ARTISANS AT WORK, BUT i’M AN OUTDOOR ENTHUSIAST AND FOOD LOVER, SO i WOULD BE HITTING THE TRAIL AND SAMPLING ALL OF THAT YUMMY FOOD

    Reply
    • Piper

      It was fun talking to the artisans. They have a lot of history to share.

      Reply
  2. Kavita Favelle

    I love when places hold tight to the traditions of their ancestors, like this. So lovely to read about this little patch of Sweden in the USA! For me, those Dala horses take me straight back to Sweden, would love to see those being crafted. And of course, being able to enjoy authentic swedish food is a draw too!

    Reply
  3. Agnes

    I haven’t heard about Lindsborg, Kansas, before! It seems to be a charming town. It’s great to know that it is known as Little Sweden, as I love Sweden. I will add it to my next road trip. I would like to visit Red Barn Museum and Small World Gallery, especially Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery.

    Reply
  4. Catherine

    Sweden in Kansas?! I love the idea of feeling like you’ve left the US without the jetlag. This town looks really family friendly too, my kiddo would love all the trails and hunting for the “wild” horses. Definitely putting this on my US family trips list.

    Reply
    • David Hale

      We lived on a farm 8 miles south of Lindborg for 25 years..it is the real deal..the dancing, the Hymn sing at the church at Christmas (all in Swedish) the whole deal.
      We are not Swedish but wish we were!

      Reply
  5. Rudy @ Backpack & Snorkel

    I love the Dala Horse – definitely worth a photo opp after all the photos of bison and guitar statues etc. I have taken elsewhere in the US.
    With a population of under 4,000 people, I would guess that most restaurants will be mom and pop operations, meaning that the food is probably real good.

    Reply
  6. Adam Pracht

    Don’t forget Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum on the south side of town!
    We have a complex of about a dozen historic structures, including two on the National Registry of Historical Places: A late 19th century restored flour mill (the inside, in particular, is a work of art, with beautiful wooden and steel machinery taking center stage across four floors), and the original 1904 World’s Fair Swedish Pavilion.
    You can see some more about the museum at our website at http://www.oldmillmuseum.org.
    Hope you’ll consider us, too, on your next trip to Lindsborg!

    Reply

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  1. The 100 Things to Do in Kansas book tour recap | Roxie on the Road - […] visited Lindsborg numerous times. My husband Eric is a Bethany College alumnus, so we go there often. But somehow,…

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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in luxury and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.

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