A Little Bit of Sweden in Lindsborg, Kansas

Our guest post comes from Bonnie & Bill Neely of: Real Travel Adventures Ezine – Your free online monthly travel magazine with hundreds of features and photos on travel to anywhere.

What a find in the middle of a long, boring drive! Whether you are crossing the country going East-West on 70 or North-South on 135, the little Swedish town of Lindsborg, Kansas is really worth a stop for a meal, a day, or a weekend.  Just about fifteen minutes South of Salina, Kansas, four miles west of Hwy135 you’ll find this little jewel in the middle of America’s heartland of beautiful farms.

In the late 1800’s when Scandinavian settlers were given free land to help develop the American West, ten thousand Swedes came here to farm the land. They built this wonderful town with their hard labor, and four generations have kept it as pristine and scenic as their forefather’s homeland in the Old World.

Original settlers were predominantly Lutheran, and the Bethany Lutheran Church and Bethany College are important parts of this community. The college, for over a century, has been known for fine arts education. Many of the visual artists have stayed in this community, where tourists can benefit, enjoying the art and craft galleries and shops.  Every visitor must see the wonderful Sandzen Gallery Museum.

The other place history buffs will want to visit is McPherson County Old Mill Museum & Heritage Square with the 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Flour Mill and the Swedish Pavilion from the 1904 World’s Fair.

Painters, glass artists, potters, fiber artists, wood craftsmen, and photographers have beautiful creations for sale or display throughout the town.  Plan to spend hours enjoying these creations and selecting some to purchase. You’ll also find shops featuring authentic Swedish gifts from “the old world.” Our favorite shop was “Swedish Crafts,”  where we found a large store filled with delightful colorful items of the finest quality. The owners, Hilding and Esther Jaderborg, grew up in Lindsborg and have a wealth of information about their wonderful little town. Stop in and let them tell you all about their heritage and their love for their community. This is a great place to find really well-crafted, unique items and to do your gift shopping for the year.

For 124 years, Bethany College has also been internationally famous for their marvelous production of the complete Handel’s Messiah each year during Easter week. The world-class opera singer Rebecca Copley (Johnson), whose father was a professor in Bethany’s Music School for many years, grew up in Lindsborg and sang in this performance as a young woman. Each year dedicated musicians devote nearly three months to rehearse the Messiah and then present three outstanding performances at a time of year that is not traditionally the selected season for Handel’s great work. For years the concerts have had standing room only, so buy your tickets in advance.

You’ll find two unique factories in Lindsborg also.  Just across the street from Swedish Crafts store is “Hemslojd“. There you’ll find lots of handmade wooden Swedish items, and in back of the shop is the factory where the red, hand-painted, Dala horses, the symbol of Sweden, are made in the United States. Each horse is handmade, carved and painted, and you’ll find these delightful and colorful steeds in many sizes. Notice that large ones decorate the spotless brick streets of the pretty downtown.

The second unique factory is the manufacturer of Dala Clogs, shoes for extreme comfort and practicality. Some of these styles are hand-painted in bright Swedish designs.  All their shoes feature odor-absorbing material, padded lining, shock-absorbing heels, energy foam soles, wide toe-box, and adjustable straps.  The factory has a shop on North Main street called Clogs & Such, where you’ll find all their styles for men, women, and children, as well as Vera Bradley handbags and accesories and Bra-Sko shoes from Sweden.

Sweden is noted for its delicious cuisine, and you’ll not be disappointed in Lindsborg. There are several restaurants, cafes, and bakeries with wonderful and world-famous Swedish dishes. Be sure to enjoy Swedish pancakes!  You can take some of these goodies home with you from numerous local eateries. 

Within a half-hour you’ll find other fun attractions including Lindsborg Golf Course, Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure at Salina, Smoky Hill Bison Co., Kanopolis Lake and Legacy Trail, and Maxwell Wildlife Refuge and Battle Hill.