California has its own little Europe corner. Head to Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County to enjoy your slice of Denmark. Solvang is known as the Danish capital of California. Solvang literally means ‘Sunny Fields’. Quitely aptly named, Solvang was created by a group of Danish teachers who were looking for a settlement away from Midwestern winters. But it was only in 1947 when Saturday Evening Post ran an article on the “spotless Danish village that blooms like a rose in California’s charming Santa Ynez Valley” that Solvang gained attention and attracted visitors.
Solvang decided to retain its Danish look and constructed buildings that offer a taste of Denmark in California. There are several quaint windmills all over the town and the half timbered houses are very typical Danish. Some other well known pieces are the copy of Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, bust of famed Danish fable writer Hans Christian Andersen and replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower.
Solvang is a cute place to spend half a day. You can walk around enjoying the Danish feel of the place, take a surrey ride, browse through cute souvenir shops, lay around on the grass of one of their parks, enjoy some ice cream and Danish pastries. Oh yes, the food there is a highlight. I had had lunch at Paula’s Pancakes. Their French Toast was amazing.
Solvang residents celebrate many festivals. If you are lucky, you can experience one of their festivity celebrations.
Attractions: Solvang Festival Theater, Vintage Motorcycle Museum, Elverhoj Museum (check out old B&W pictures on their website. Quite enchanting).
Interesting facts: Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is 10 miles north of Solvang.