MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Planning to visit Swedish sites in Minnesota

I have started to plan a trip to the US for my family in May next year. We would like to see the parts where the Swedish emigrants arrived: Taylors Falls, Lindstrom, etc. I would also be interested in the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. Can you please help us to find a good plan for this? We are 9 persons, 5 adults and 4 children (aged 3-14). Thanks for your kind help. - Johanna-Maria, Reftele, Sweden

That sounds like a great trip. If you're flying into the Twin Cities and are interested in Swedish heritage, you also should stop by the American Swedish Institute in south Minneapolis, and also the famous waterfall in Minnehaha Park, where there's a large statue of Swedish poet and statesman Gunnar Wennerberg.

As they prospered, many Swedish immigrants (including my grandmother, who came to Minneapolis from Stockholm in 1906) moved southward from the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood toward Minnehaha Park.

On Lake Street, Ingebretsen's store and deli is one of the last remainders of that time.

From Minneapolis, it's less than an hour north to Chisago County, where Vilhelm Moberg set his famous "Emigrants'' series of novels. You'll find many nods to the towns' Swedish heritage as well as statues of Moberg and his main characters, Karl Oskar and Kristina.

From Chisago City, Lindstrom and Center City, head east to Taylors Falls and the Dalles of the St. Croix. Just west of Taylors Falls, stop to let the kids play at Franconia Sculpture Park.

They'll like climbing on the rocks at Interstate State Park, too. Take a paddlewheeler cruise to see the famous formations, such as the Old Man of the Dalles.

Then head south along the Minnesota side of the river to Scandia and tour  Gammelgarden Museum, which includes six Swedish heritage buildings on 11 acres. There's a butik, too.

Keep going along the river, through Stillwater and on to its confluence with the Mississippi River. Continue to Red Wing, where you'll find some familiar items at the UffDa Shop. This is a beautiful area and very popular as a day trip from the Twin Cities.

Cross the bridge into Wisconsin and keep going down the river; you'll soon find yourself in Stockholm, founded by Swedish immigrants.

A good place to stay there is the TansyHus, which sleeps nine.

From Stockholm, it's only 10 minutes to Pepin. Drive up the bluffs and you'll find a re-creation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthplace.

All of these sites are within an hour and a half of the Twin Cities. If you want to go farther afield, other Laura Ingalls Wilder sites are in Burr Oak, Iowa; Walnut Grove, Minn.; and De Smet, S.D.

Or, you can continue around scenic Lake Pepin (a 26-mile-long wide spot in the Mississippi River) and cross at Nelson to Wabasha, home of the National Eagle Center. From there, you can return to the Twin Cities on the Minnesota side.

Last updated on November 23, 2010