Located in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang ranks as one of Santa Barbara County’s best destinations. Sunset Magazine has voted Solvang (pop 5000) one of 10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States.
Solvang’s quaint Old World architecture with blue-green copper roofs, wood beams sitting on inlaid brick walls and tile roofs, mingles with flower-lined streets creating a delightful and walkable village, considered by many to be the Danish Capital of America. A genuine Danish settlement, Solvang is community-oriented in its values. The name Solvang translates as “sunny fields” and this is a setting that captivates.
Danish educators wanting to establish a Danish folk school in an area where immigrants could live and farm founded the town in 1911 on an earlier Spanish land claim. With the educators came farmers and master craftsmen who constructed Solvang’s first homes and businesses. Their folk school helped lure more Danes, new settlers from America’s Midwest and Denmark.
In 1936, as part of Solvang’s 25th anniversary celebration, the future King and Queen of Denmark visited, attracting ever more attention to the community. And 75-years later, Danish visitors continue to be surprised by Solvang’s architectural authenticity displayed in half-timbered walls, decorative use of tile, stained glass windows and cobblestone walkways.
Four windmills are spread throughout Solvang and gas street lamps originally used in Copenhagen light some portions of the town. A three-quarter-scale replica statue of the Little Mermaid stands on one corner at a major intersection. The Little Mermaid is Denmark’s national symbol; the original statue stands in Copenhagen Harbor, honoring Hans Christian Andersen the Danish author who wrote children’s fairy tales more than 200 years ago.
Solvang’s delightful shops offer quality European imports and the Solvang Antique Center is considered one of the finest multiple-dealer galleries in California and filling the town’s air is a wonderful aroma from the many authentic Danish bakeries. Local restaurants observe the Scandinavian culture by serving up a scrumptious smorgasbord of superb food.
Spanish and Mexican influences are also evident here. Solvang grew a short walk from the Old Mission Santa Inés. Founded in 1804, it is number 19 of 21 missions founded by Fr. Junipero Serra, “Father of California Missions.” The town itself was built on land that was formally part of Rancho Jonata, a Spanish Land Grant.
Many of the area’s population can still claim a multi-generation residency. Descendants of the Chumash Indians live on a nearby reservation and the varied cultures of Spanish-American and Danish-American’s make for an interesting blend.
With its interesting blend of populace what better place to come and taste a bit of Denmark. An especially pleasurable time to visit Solvang is during the Danish Days Festival, held in September. The mood then is festive, as the community celebrates Denmark’s Independence Day with costumed folk dancers and three days of street activities.
Solvang is less than 150 miles north of Los Angeles, just over the Santa Ynez Mountains 45 miles northwest from Santa Barbara.
Velkommen! You are welcome in Solvang!