"SOLVANG, AMERICA'S LITTLE DENMARK" Top 5 Page for this destination Solvang by travelgourmet

Solvang Travel Guide: 270 reviews and 682 photos

TOURISTY BUT QUAINT

Most towns in the USA are made up from the people of the world. It is well known that everyone came to America, even the first person to step foot, maybe some thousands of years ago. Everyone came for different reasons, both good and bad, but they came and one of the main attractions for most, is the reminder of the home they left behind. It could be the lay of the land, from high mountain peaks, to rolling hills, to flat valleys, to the dry desert sands. Perhaps the sky overhead, or the crashing waves of an ocean in sight or within a short distance drew them to this new found land. To their descendants, it is the nest they call home. A reminder of their past and a fulfillment of a dream.

So too, is Solvang. Located in the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley, only thirty-five miles from Santa Barbara, Solvang became home to the relocating Danes of Denmark. The replica windmills, the structure of the stores and homes, the food and the fun were all memories of the land of their forefathers. Founded in 1911 by Danish educators as a home for the center of a Danish academy, word spread and those of Danish ancestry came to this town of ideal weather and soil conditions for farming to reclaim their memories of Denmark. Here, the sights, sounds, and tastes were all Scandinavian.

But, today, the times are a changing. Oh, you can still see the quaint buildings, hear the Danish language, and taste the delightful foods of Denmark, but the movie "Sideways" made the area a wine destination and the Native American Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians added gambling, both new visitor destinations for the area. Tourists still flock to the town, but for different reasons. Oh, some families still enjoy the Danish flavor, but the spark is gone. Too many empty storefronts and lower revenue due to the influx of wine tasting rooms and the casino being the new kids in town that are drawing the crowds. Perhaps, and I trust the towns leaders of today will be able to fulfill the dreams of the founders, Solvang will merge the past with today and still be a great getaway with the spirit of Denmark sparkling in the eye of the beholder. The annual "Taste of Solvang Food and Wine Festival" helps keep that fire burning as the old blends with the new and the new realizes they need the old to keep the smile on the tourist. After all, this is a special town with a special need to keep the tourist happy.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The feel of Denmark is still in the air.
  • Cons:A tourist area that closes up too soon at night.
  • In a nutshell:Charming, touristy, but looking for help.
  • Intro Updated Jul 22, 2011
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Reviews (29)

Comments (12)

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Nov 9, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    What a lovely page on Solvang - yes, it looks Danish for sure :)

    • travelgourmet's Profile Photo
      Nov 9, 2012 at 11:12 PM

      Thank you. Most of the locals are Danish and the food is Danish, but the wine is California. :-)

  • tropicrd's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Larry,what a great town I never knew it existed until now.I would love to shop at the Mole Hole and go to the Casino.
    Thanks for sharing.
    D

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    What an amazing find for this town with such culture and nice sites. YOu did a good job of picture taking and comments

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Jun 12, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    You call that a goal??? I do, how bitter that ale must taste in jolly ole England right now. ;-)

  • MissyWQ's Profile Photo
    Apr 13, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    Wow, what a lot of info about Solvang with photos. Congrats.

  • Odinnthor's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Larry, - had to check out one of my many California Tours stops, that treated me like a long lost son. Could have had to do with the fact that I brought 40 paying people with me, heh heh. Not mucc from Iceland though. Great wine tips as well!.....Erik

  • janetanne's Profile Photo
    Dec 23, 2009 at 1:36 AM

    Larry! What am I doing here??? I've just started to see results of my diet kicking in and now I'm reading about Aebleskivers, Danish pastry, and rich risotto with braised and pulled lamb shank??? You gotta be pulling my leg!

  • Slapshot1's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    Great tip on Route 246. My wife and I enjoy Solvang very much and will visit this restaurant. ...I wonder why the town shuts down so early.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2009 at 2:11 PM

    Beautiful page Larry. It looks so different from many moons ago. Seeing this place makes me want to visit again. Excellent tips and photo's!

  • TravellerMel's Profile Photo
    Jun 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

    Wonderful Solvang page! My grandma lived in Lompoc, so we would always bring her to Solvang when we came to visit- I remember Mortensen's Bakery fondly! :-)

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