Why Swedes love Minnesota

For a lot of Swedes, Minnesota is the first state they hear of or learn about. To an American, this seems strange. New York, maybe? California? Texas even? But when you consider that over a million Swedes emigrated to the United States in the late 1800’s and that most of them settled in Minnesota and its neighbor-states, it’s not so strange. And it’s not hard to understand why. That region of the country is probably the most similar to Sweden in climate and geography. (Although one person we met wondered, “If you are moving that far and have the chance to choose a better climate, why wouldn’t you?”)

Well, add us to the ranks of Swedes who love Minnesota. And the campground at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve, outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul, is still our favorite out of all the campgrounds we’ve been to so far. It was wooded and there were enough trees between each individual site that there was plenty of privacy and had almost a backcountry feel to it (if you don’t look toward the road). It was the first place we’ve actually needed flashlights after dark, and it was dark enough to really see the stars.

img_1186.jpgimg_1189.jpgLook at all those trees! And it’s nice and big. A lot of places we’ve stayed would have fit at least 4 enormous RVs into a site this size.

While we were staying in Lake Elmo, other than visiting the Mall of America, we didn’t do a whole lot of “touristy” things either. We went swimming in the lake – a man-made, chlorinated and filtered lake with a sand bottom and sand beaches. It was just sad that the lake closed after Labor Day, so we only got a chance to swim on the first night when we arrived. We took walks, went geocaching and took care of some errands in the local area. We liked it there so much we decided to stay an extra night.

img_3036.jpgimg_3039.jpgimg_3042.jpgimg_1210.jpgEmelie even took a nap, which so far she’s only really done in the car on longer drives. She wanted to sleep outside in the grass.

We lit campfires at night and made s’mores and chocolate bananas over the fire. Staffan got out his ukulele, but it was Emelie who played most of our “campfire songs” and he didn’t get much chance to play until after she was asleep. As we headed west from there, we’ve run into fire bans because of the dry conditions and the risk of wildfires, so we’re especially thankful to have had those few nights enjoying campfires.

img_1214.jpgOne of her many self-composed songs. You really have to see the video to do it justice.


No, Pappa. It’s my “tittar”! I have to sing!


I LOVE the marshmallows Mommy! See how I hug them?


The complete look: bathing suit, headlamp, marshmallow. This girl is camping.


Brushing teeth outside in the dark by the light of her headlamp. One of the few times that tooth brushing isn’t a battle.

Campground review:
Price: $18/night plus $5/day for a park vehicle pass. Except for the first non-holiday Tuesday of the month when the vehicle pass is free. That was a bonus. This was a really great price, especially for what it was.
Location: about 30 min by car from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and Mall of America. Shopping and restaurants available nearby.
Facilities: Our particular site was a little far from the bathrooms and showers, but that was our choice. The bathrooms were clean, the showers were warm. The park has several really great playgrounds, and of course the lake mentioned above. Our site had electric but we had to walk a bit to the water spigot. Sites with electric and water on site cost a little more. No dish washing sink or wifi.
Site description: Grassy, spacious, and wooded. Nice fire pit and picnic table areas.
Neighborhood: There were several other campers there but it wasn’t crowded. Even if it had been, we didn’t have much contact with our neighbors thanks for all of those lovely trees.
Comments: We managed to leave Emelie’s shoes behind at the playground when we left, and the staff of the park were so helpful to find them and ship them to us along our route so that today they are back on her feet. They really went above and beyond so I thought a little public thanks was in order 🙂

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