• Article by: KELLY JO MCDONNELL , Special to the Star Tribune
• Updated: December 12, 2014 – 2:01 PM
In Lindstrom, Minn., they’ve put the kettle on for you, and it says “Välkommen till Lindström.” A Swedish coffee pot/water tower welcomes visitors to this little gem of a town, only 30 miles from the Twin Cities, that offers charming holiday shopping, antique finds, coffee and pastries, and a glass of wine to top it off.
The town of Lindstrom, incorporated in 1894, was settled by Daniel Lindstrom, who left his beloved Sweden for America in 1853. Ever since, the town has attracted its fair share of Swedish immigrants. In a small park on the main street, visitors will find a statue memorializing Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, fictional characters in a series of novels about early Swedish emigrants. The statue also honors the many Swedish peasants who immigrated to the United States and settled in the area in the mid-1800s. The town’s motto is “America’s Little Sweden,” but whether you have Swedish roots or not, this town has something for you.
Where to shop
This time of year, holiday shopping is on everyone’s mind, including the shop owners in Lindstrom. Park the car right downtown, which is decked out for the holidays, and walk to all the charming shops.
You can’t shop downtown Lindstrom without hitting the cornerstone, which is Gustaf’s Up North and Välkommen galleries. The UpNorth Gallery opened in 1973, and exhibits works by Midwest artists. The Välkommen Gallery focuses on art and gifts from northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway and Finland. During the holidays, Gustaf’s always has something going on. On a recent day, Minnesotans Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen were at the gallery to sign their book, “The Christmas Wish,” complete with a live reindeer outside the store, unlimited homemade Swedish almond cake and coffee (651-257-1821; http://www.gustafs galleries.com).
Homespun Treasures carries only locally created gifts. Sometimes the artists are roaming the shop, answering questions on their creations — from refinished antique tables to mittens and hats to jewelry, including necklaces made from old keys and locks (the artist works down the street at the local newspaper).
The Lindstrom antique mall, right on the main drag, holds handmade treasures from floor to ceiling (651-257-3340). Miss Elsie’s Yarnery, a part of Cottage Gifts, has wonderful handmade hats, including a “Downton Abbey” style, a great stocking-stuffer.
In the Moment Boutique, a little shop that opened this fall, offers quirky clothing and accessories for the holidays. It’s in the old State Bank building, with clothing displayed around the old bank vault doors. Holiday apparel arrives daily, including fur-topped tube scarves, sparkly wraps, leg warmers and cool, funky jackets (651-257-9855; http://www.inthe momentbou tique.com).
Deutschland Meats is easy to find — just look for the giant wiener on the top of the building. It’s a family-owned and -operated meat processing company that offers German sausage, pork and bratwurst. The place is busy during hunting seasons, as they process deer and wild game for local hunters. There are always samples sizzling when shoppers come in the door (651-257-1128; http://www.deutschlandmeats.com).
Raise a toast
What’s a little shopping without a little wine? WineHaven winery and vineyard is down the road from Lindstrom on Deer Garden Lane. The wine label imparts the owners’ other pursuit: They are beekeepers. Kevin and Kyle Peterson are the successful father-and-son winemaking team, and they have racked up the awards to prove it. The atmosphere is warm and comforting, and the wine tasting room and gift shop are open year around. White wines include a Lakeside Chardonnay and a Gewürztraminer. The reds include an intense ripple black cherry wine called Lakeside Red, and a Deer Garden Red, made from their Chisago grape. But the sleeping giant on the wine menu is their Stinger Honeywine Mead, a winner of 29 medals. It smells like flowers and honey and boasts a crisp yet sweet taste. Have it served last on your flight tastings; it’s worth the wait (651-257-1017; http://www.winehaven.com).
Where to stay
Just down the road from the winery is the area’s newest place to stay, the Grandstay Hotel and Suites. The hotel is perfectly situated for the Chi¬sago Lakes area and Lindstrom, sitting quietly next to woods and water. The rooms are large and immaculate, and guests can choose from king suites with a whirlpool to a one-bedroom with full kitchen (1-855-455-7829; http://www.grandstayhospitality.com).
Where to eat
A must-stop on your Swedish trail should be the Lindstrom Bakery, which boasts a full array of fresh-baked breads and Swedish cookies and pastries. Daily specials can range from Scandinavian doughnuts to savory tomato bread, but a must-try is the Swedish almond cake. Get there early; they can sell out of favorites fast (651-257-1374).
Just down the street, take your pastry to the Northwoods Roasterie. Swedes are known for their love of coffee, and this cheerful coffeehouse doesn’t disappoint. The outdoorsy motif is cozy, and visitors can sip coffee while gazing into the roasting room to see how it’s done (651-257-5240; http://www.northwoodsroasterie.com).
Once the downtown shops close, head to the lake for a little history with your holidays. Family-owned Meredee’s Bistro, newly located in the former Dinnerbel building, overlooks the lake in downtown Lindstrom and is the site of Daniel Lindstrom’s first log home.
A hotel opened there in 1889, where it thrived until the Depression. In 1946, it was bought and reopened as the Dinnerbel; the entire building is a historical treasure. Have a glass of wine or a local brew and some grilled portabella caps, and sample their gigantic, fresh salad bar while you hear tales from the locals on the “friendly spirits” who reside in the building.
The owners and staff know every story (here’s one: If you smell the scent of roses in the lobby or the ladies restroom, it’s Rose, a late resident who still visits). (651-257-9144; http://www.meredeesbistro.com).
Midwest Traveler – Lindstrom, MN., knows how to warm up holiday shopping!
• Article by: KELLY JO MCDONNELL , Special to the Star Tribune