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Thanks to recent “Mamma Mia” films and ABBA The Museum, a new generation of pop-loving sprites has ample reason to identify with one of Sweden’s most famous exports — ’70s pop music group ABBA — and plenty of reasons to visit Stockholm.
In Sweden’s capital, kids and their elders have opportunities for hands-on fun at ABBA The Museum’s interactive exhibits, where virtual “sound booths” offer up karaoke-like moments and hologram projections allow fans of all ages to become dancing queens on stage with Agnetha, Frida, Benny and Bjorn.
In this Scandinavian gem of a city, there are plenty of activities for visiting families. They can learn about Sweden’s history and regal traditions during a visit to the Royal Armoury, where gilded carriages, toys and clothes that once belonged to the royal children are displayed. But it’s not all just for show — kids get to dress up as monarchs in the Play & Learn Room.
Thankfully, with budget-friendly airfares from Scandinavian Airlines, you don’t have to be as well-off as a king to afford a trip to Stockholm. New three-day weekend fares to Stockholm from seven U.S. gateways offer a value-priced long weekend, and the airline’s Kids Fly Free promotion is expected to be launched for the third year in a row this winter, covering a wide variety of departure dates. Families only pay taxes and fees for children ages 2 to 12, and kids under 2 fly for free as lap babies. The airline also offers youth pricing year-round for ages 12 to 26, so even those in college are covered.
Besides amazing wallet-friendly shopping in the city center — which is the home of H&M’s headquarters, after all — teens can take advantage of the free admission for ages 18 and under at Vasa Museum. The resting place of a 17th-century warship that was painstakingly reassembled after being salvaged from the ocean floor, the museum now features exhibits, short films and activities appropriate for many different age levels.
It’s the same story at Skansen, an outdoor living-history museum and zoo, where bread is baked the old-fashioned way (with samples to taste), children can ride ponies and spot native species, and costumed re-enactors explain what it was like to live in Sweden centuries ago.
Weekends here are made for sweets; in fact, Swedes consume more candy per person than any other country, partly due to an honored tradition known as lordagsgodis — literally, “Saturday’s candy.” Pick-and-mix by the pound is available on just about every street corner, so for a low-cost souvenir, fill up a bag with salted and sweet licorice; gummies and chewies in every shape, size and color; and crunchy, creamy and dark chocolate.
On weekends in Stockholm, there are just as many couples strolling together as pushing strollers, enjoying fresh air and fresh coffee during "fika," an afternoon caffeine and pastry break that is a Swedish tradition.
Perhaps take fika in the Djurgarden neighborhood, a green oasis in the middle of the city. Grona Lund amusement park is just across the street, and fair food starts at just about $4 for a decent-size hot dog if you want to keep mobile to explore more. With the Stockholm Pass, admission is free, as is entry to the nearby Junibacken Museum that’s dedicated to children’s literature. There’s a special emphasis on the colorful world of Pippi Longstocking, along with indoor-outdoor play spaces and a cafeteria replete with whimsical balloons, pennants and parasols.
Dining is just as delicious as it is entertaining at Hillenberg, where kids love the action at the chef’s table near the kitchen, and parents can chill out with a glass from the extensive wine catalog. Whatever you know about Swedish meatballs courtesy of IKEA gets tossed aside with fresh local game in a resplendent savory sauce, while Sunday brunch splurges include puffy, pink cotton candy.
Elevated indulgences come thanks to the new Bank Hotel, where the pinata-like piggy bank dessert at Sophie’s restaurant is covered in gold and presented with a flourish. Let the little ones grab the small hammer and smash through the treat like the Norse god Thor to reveal meringue nuggets and caramel beads — it’s all served with blackberries, sorbet and vanilla parfait drenched in caramel.
The hotel and its refined exterior offer up treasures inside as well, with art deco flourishes that feel both contemporary and comfortable. Many rooms include bathtubs for families with kids, in addition to one of the best locations in town, featuring stunning views of the Strandvagen seaside promenade. The DetailsVisit Stockholmwww.visitstockholm.com