The Danish Villages: Shelby & Audubon Counties (Our 76th and 77th Counties!)
Where do you go when you feel like getting a little Scandinavian culture? What if I told you that you didn’t need an expensive plane ticket to get a taste of the land that gave us the Vikings. I know that you’d ultimately like to take the trip across the pond, but let’s take baby steps. Start with a gallivant through Western Iowa and the Danish Villages!
The story behind this Danish windmill is as inspiring as it is incredible. Originally built in Denmark in 1848, it now has a permanent home in Elk Horn where so many of the citizens hold on to their Danish roots. It was dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic in the 1970’s and was painstakingly put back together like a giant 3 dimensional puzzle.
This puzzle was numbered, but that didn’t mean it was easy to put back together. That project was completed with 100% volunteer labor and countless hours of fundraising by the locals. They kept the original purpose to this mill which was used for grinding grain. You can even buy some of it in the gift shop! That’s eating local to the extreme.
Speaking of the gift shop! This could be the most unique of its kind in Iowa’s welcome centers. Danish themed gifts are everywhere, with many of them made in the old country. There was plenty of shopping to do, but there was one thing we weren’t leaving without. Authentic Danish Kringle baked fresh from just a couple blocks away. Soft, crusty, topped with toasted almonds and, what we took home, was loaded with a strawberry-rhubarb filling. This is what we travel for and what we return for, my friends.
We needed a quick snack before leaving town and The Flour Mill provided us with a boost we wanted. Their spicy bruschetta was one of the best we’ve ever had in our travels, so imagine what their pizza tastes like!
Down the road from Elk Horn is the town of Kimballton and one of Iowa’s most cherished fountains. This Little Mermaid is a replica of the famous Little Mermaid sculpture that’s on the shore in Copenhagen, Denmark and now has a twin in Iowa. Thousands of art lovers have flocked to see her in Europe while travelers discover this beautiful piece in Audubon County.
The local park is home to more sculptures and the Audubon County Freedom Rock. We have a sweet spot for public art and the Danish Villages have plenty of it to go around.
The Danish Villages showed the very reason why we write The Iowa Gallivant. We focous on the splendor and this area is bursting with it. One of Iowa’s most iconic roadside attractions was constructed by volunteers and some of the state’s most noticeable artworks are free for the public to see. You just need to get the trip planned and be Danish for the day and see this and sooooo much more for yourself.
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