Welcome to Solvang

Welcome to Solvang

“Velkommen Til Solvang”

Solvang is a place where someone will ask you if you want aebelskiver ( pronounced ebel-sku-wyr) with your coffee. Say yes and you will taste one of the joys of the area, a combo pancake and doughnut hole pastry served with powered sugar and maple syrup or raspberry jam. Add a medisterpole (sausage) to that and you’ve really got a meal. Don’t forget to try the local smorgasbord, the Scandinavian buffet style meal, available in many of the local restaurants.

The name Solvang is Danish for “sunny fields,” perfect for the town with four windmills that sits in the wide, sunny Santa Ynez Valley, 35 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. In fact, “Denmark,” actually means “field of Danes.” “Little Denmark,” Solvang’s nickname, was founded nearly 100 years ago as a repository of Danish heritage. Educators who immigrated from Scandinavia founded the town in 1911 to preserve their culture. Long before it was the village of Solvang, the area was inhabited by Chumash Indians, the indigenous hunter/gatherer/fishermen, who helped to build Mission Santa Ines for the Spanish in 1804. The 9000 acres that the immigrant Danes purchased for their new settlement of Solvang came from the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican land grant. Although everything in town seems to be imprinted with a Danish influence, Solvang’s roots are inexorably tied to the Chumash and the Spanish.

Today’s Solvang is imbued with Danish architecture, museums, bakeries, quaint motels, a year round Wednesday farmers’ market, and streets where tours are given by Danish streetcars drawn by Honen, Belgian draft horses. White flags with a red cross, the national flag of Denmark flies proudly here, the oldest national banner in the world.

Both the Elverhoj Museum and the Book Loft, with its Hans Christian Anderson Museum, will provide you with insights into the history and traditions that have created Solvang.

Just down the road is the Chumash Casino, in case you get overwhelmed by all the quaint “Danishness.” Also nearby is the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts with performances from June through October. Outdoor activities abound at Lake Cachuma and there is an easy hike to the 80 foot high Nojoqui Falls.

Right next to Solvang, lies the small city of Buellton founded by the owner of the Mexican land grant, R.T. Buell. It’s famous primarily for Andersen’s Pea Soup, a landmark, restaurant and tourist attraction and for being the centerpiece of the 2004 movie, “Sideways.” The Hitching Post is where Miles and Jack meet Maya, the restaurant’s waitress.

Stop by the Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau at 1639 Copenhagen Drive to pick up information on area attractions. (805) 688-6144. There is also a free visitor guide available for down load on their website.

~ Written by C.S. Nicholson