Six U.S. Towns with Swedish Roots

These American destinations deliver a taste of Sweden right here at home.

Chances are, your interest in Sweden doesn't end with the snus in your pocket. And thanks to a few hundred years of Swedes coming to America, a little Swedish tourism is just a road trip away.

1. Lindström, Minnesota

You’ll find Lindström in the Chicago Lakes region of Minnesota. There’s ample natural beauty around Lindström, canoeing and kayaking on the lakes, plus a town park with 125 acres of wilderness trails. Notice the “ö”? The people of Lindström are so proud of their Swedish roots, in 2015 they re-added the Swedish letter ö to the city name.

The Swedish pioneers who settled Lindström became famous back in Sweden, thanks to one of the town’s founding fathers, Erik Norelius. His personal journal inspired a Swedish novelist to write a celebrated book series about the Swedes who came to Minnesota.

 

2. Wausa, Nebraska

The farming community of Wausa, Nebraska, may be humble, but the people are proud of their Swedish heritage. You’ll be greeted by a welcome sign in the form of a Viking longship as you enter the town along Nebraska Hwy. 121.

One of the best times to stop over is on the fourth Saturday in October, when Wausa holds its annual Swedish Smörgåsbord. Anybody with a Viking-sized appetite will find Swedish favorites like potato sausage, meatballs, lingonberries, herring, fruit soup (!), and ostkaka (aka Swedish cheesecake). Just so you know, “smaklig måltid” is how Swedes say “bon appetit,” but if we see you there, we’ll probably just say, “Pass the meatballs, bud.”

 

3. New Sweden, Maine

New Sweden’s story is fascinating. In 1870, the state of Maine sent an American diplomat named William Widgery Thomas, Jr., to Sweden to recruit 51 immigrants to leave their homes in Sweden to carve out a new life in the virgin forests of northern Maine. Life was hard but the Swedish pioneers prospered, eventually adding two more Swedish-American townships to the settlement.

New Sweden is located within Aroostook County, where vacationers seek out northern Maine’s vast and stunning beauty. It’s a hike, but it’s a beautiful ride the whole way there.

 

4. Lindsborg, Kansas

Lindsborg, Kansas, was settled by Swedish immigrants over 150 years ago and immediately thrived thanks to the arrival of the railroad. Thirty percent of its current residents have Swedish ancestors.

Lindsborg truly earns its nickname, “Little Sweden USA.”  The town holds the Svensk Hyllningsfest, a celebration of Swedish heritage, every other year. The town symbol is the Dala Horse, a traditional carved, painted wooden statue of a horse originating in the Swedish province of Dalarna. And Lindsborg was even the site of a royal visit — Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf visited this modest Kansas town during his royal tour of the United States.

 

5. Kingsburg, California

Kingsburg, California, calls itself Central California’s Swedish Village, and it’s easy to see why. Swedish natives began to arrive in the 1870s, and within 50 years, over 90% of the population was Swedish-American. Today, the buildings in town are detailed with Swedish-inspired architecture.

But the big draw is the Kingsburg Swedish Festival. It’s always held during the third weekend in May, and it features a traditional Swedish breakfast, a smorgasbord dinner, a 2K and 10K run, the crowning of a festival queen, folk dancing, a parade, live entertainment, and — yes — a Pea Soup and Pancake Dinner. It all sounds maybe a little silly, but thousands of visitors attend every year, and it’s proud to be a family-friendly event.

 

6. Swedesboro, New Jersey

Swedesboro, New Jersey, 20 minutes south of Philadelphia, was founded by Swedes and Finns in 1638 as part of the American colony of New Sweden, which would become parts of New Jersey and Delaware.

Swedesboro’s churches, cemeteries and landmarks tell stories of early American history. The oldest remaining log cabin in the U.S. was built in Swedesboro around 1640. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as is Trinity Episcopal "Old Swedes" Church. So it’s no surprise King Carl XVI Gustaf also visited Swedesboro during his American tour. But Swedesboro isn’t all history lesson. You’ll find a small winery and a microbrewery in the city limits. We recommend you arrive thirsty.

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