Stockholm has become one of MuSEEum Kids’ favorite cities in Europe. Architecturally, it holds the perfect combination of the modern sleek styles and functions with gorgeous historic architecture. It is incredibly clean, and yet there is so much character and culture oozing out of its bricks. The high number of parks is notable, there was an abundance of lush greenery at every sightline. The lifestyle is fast paced yet possesses the ever alluring European laid back charm. Everyone seems to be gracious and considerate of one another, and the feeling we got was that people are generally content with their lives. It lacks the air of competitiveness, as ever present in the US – there is a sense of comradery.
It is probably THE most family friendly city we’ve ever been to, as virtually everything is accessible and restaurants magnanimously accommodating. MuSEEum’s favorite aspect of Stockholm is that it is a city of museums. There are over 30 museums in the city of Stockholm alone. We wished we could have had a month there to visit them all.
Junibacken, located on the idyllic island of Djurgården at Stockholm city center, is a children’s museum dedicated to Swedish children’s literature but mostly dedicated to Astrid Lindgren’s works which include the world famous story of Pippi Longstocking. It was opened in 1996 by the Swedish Royal family and has become one of the most frequently visited museums in all of Stockholm. The interiors of the museum are created like an illustrated book with artworks on lockers and walls and generally beautiful décor. It is fitting that it was designed by the famed Swedish Illustrator, Marit Törnqvist, who has done illustrations for Lindgren’s recent re-print publications.
We jumped on to the museum’s central attraction, the Story Train, which is a 20-minute ride journeying through the children’s stories of Astrid Lindgren by means of beautifully crafted model scenes and audio storytelling in each car. We rode in the English language car. From the soothing voice, intense storylines and artfully crafted visuals, we were completely captivated the entire ride. At the end of the ride, we were lead into a large room with a long bank of glass windows showcasing breathtaking views of the city. The Villa Villekulla, a reconstruction of character Pippi Longstocking’s home was just as well designed as expected. It was fun watching the kids explore every nook and cranny, reenacting scenes from the story. A live interactive performance was held in the open area, and although we don’t understand Swedish, it was such a delight to be a part of the sing a long and watch the enthusiastic performances. The MuSEEum kids had no reservations following along with the motions and participating in the games. They did ask me a couple of times why they were “speaking funny” though.
My hungry daughter excitedly started heading down the stairs towards the restaurant then immediately headed back up in disappointment, stating that there were setting up for someone’s birthday party. Curious, I went down to check on the situation and realized that the fabulously designed restaurant, which was completely empty at the time, reminded her of the over the top decorations of a birthday party. They definitely know kids! Once I explained that this is just a restaurant for all of the visitors, the kids wandered in happily marveling at the “balloons”, string lights and pennants. The edible spread was even more thrilling, and the house baked pastries and ice cream goodies were all so colorful and enticing. The balcony seating area had absolutely gorgeous views of the waterways.
Storybook square, a living exhibition with cobblestone roads, streetlamps, and scenes from the stories brings the fantasy to life. The houses, airplanes, bridges, boats and more are perfect for littles ones to explore and climb. There is a forest scene from The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My was a favorite and the kids had so much fun playing cooperatively with the others picking the “apples”, collecting and storing them into the boat and sailing away on a distant journey.
The children’s bookstore and shop is known as the largest children’s bookstore in Sweden. It was definitely one of the best museum shops for kids I’d ever been to as well. My son picked a Pippi Longstocking umbrella which became incredibly useful on the rainy days that followed, and my daughtered favored a few arts and crafts items. During the remainder of our stay in Stockholm, Junibacken was the one place that they asked on a few occasions to go back to. Although we didn’t have a chance to return during our time in the city, we loved revisiting the experience by going through the photos and videos back at the hotel over the next few days. We probably will continue to do so for some time!