Solvang, the beautiful “little Denmark” in the United States, always exudes a warm and sunny atmosphere, just like its name suggests, attracting anyone who sets foot here. Everything in Solvang, from its architecture, culture, art, to the way of life of its people, bears a distinct Danish character.
Located in Santa Barbara County, California, Solvang, meaning “sunny field” in Danish, is home to over 5,000 residents. The village was established in 1911 by a group of Danish immigrants seeking a warm refuge from the harsh winters of the Midwest. However, it wasn’t until 1939 that Solvang gained attention from visitors after a visit by Danish Prince Frederick and Princess Ingrid. In 1947, it became a popular tourist destination after an article was published in the Saturday Evening Post.
Solvang does not feature towering skyscrapers; instead, most of the houses in the town are low-rise buildings constructed in traditional Danish architectural style. The noticeable architectural elements in the houses are rectangular, square, or triangular timber frames in various colors, with pointed roofs resembling the Northern European style to withstand snow. Many houses here are over 400 years old and are well-preserved, adding to the unique beauty of Solvang. Moreover, since most of the houses serve commercial purposes, it’s not hard to come across restaurants, Danish pastry shops carrying the Danisa brand, cafes, antique shops, souvenir stores, and more. The central area of Solvang is adorned with numerous vibrant flower beds, creating a lively landscape. Though not extensive, the town is home to four iconic windmills, characteristic of Denmark. Additionally, master architects have erected a perfect replica of the famous Rundetårn (Round Tower) in Copenhagen. Furthermore, they have replicated the iconic statue of the Little Mermaid sitting on a rock at the Langelinie pier, also in Copenhagen, and placed it in a prominent location at the town center. Strolling through the narrow streets of Solvang, one can easily notice that not only the architecture, art, and culture but also the way of life of the locals are imbued with Danish spirit. Many services in Solvang bear the name “Viking” – the ancestors of people from the Scandinavian region, including Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. If you visit Solvang during the September festival, you can immerse yourself in eating contests, music, dancing, and parades featuring marching bands and dancers. If you’re not fond of walking on the streets, you can hop on an electric vehicle designed in a vintage style and take a leisurely tour around the city. Alternatively, you can opt for a ride on a magnificent golden carriage pulled by a pair of large white horses or rent a four-seater bicycle or electric skateboard to explore Solvang. This beautiful town has served as the backdrop for many famous Hollywood movies, including “Sideways,” which received four nominations and won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2004. After visiting the famous landmarks, make sure to visit the Danish pastry shops to indulge in freshly baked pastries, renowned in this town! It would be wonderful to take some time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee by the street or savor an authentic Danish beer, refreshing and delicious. And don’t forget to taste the various California wines and buy a few bottles as gifts for your loved ones. Solvang offers a delightful blend of Danish culture and American charm, making it a unique destination that transports visitors to the enchanting landscapes and flavors of Denmark while staying in the United States.