With its fairytale architecture, fabulous bakeries, and more than 150 unique shops selling everything from souvenirs, antiques, and homemade chocolates, to imported “old world” items, Solvang is the perfect place to spend a mini-vacation. Located 28 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, Solvang was founded in 1911 by a group of Danish immigrants. Rolling hills studded with ancient oaks, shady valleys, natural water sources, and a mild climate made this an idyllic place for the Danes to farm and build their enchanting village. Today, over a million visitors from around the world visit Solvang each year.
For an overview of the charming little town, board the horse-drawn Solvang Trolley for a narrated tour. Or rent a surrey-style bicycle and pedal off those extra calories you’ve consumed by eating scrumptious pastries at one of the many local bakeries.
Speaking of food, Solvang has a nice selection of places to eat. There are a variety of restaurants in town, but since you’re in Solvang, why not taste the local fare? The Danes are famous for their smorgasbords, a buffet-style meal consisting of salads, sliced meats, cheeses, meatballs, mashed potatoes, sweet red cabbage, and many other dishes. Recommended are Bit O’Denmark or The Red Viking for a nice selection of Danish dishes.
Long before the Danes arrived, Chumash tribes lived and hunted in the verdant region. The Spanish discovered the area and founded their 19th California mission, Santa Ines, in 1804. The mission and its lovely gardens have been renovated and are open to the public. Included in the exhibits are a rare vestment collection from the 16th century and other priceless works of art.
In addition to the Santa Ines Mission, there are two museums in town that are worth a visit. Dedicated to the history of Solvang and Danish culture, the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is situated in a historic house on the edge of town. The Hans Christian Andersen Museum contains displays of the famous author’s manuscripts, letters, and books.
If you’re traveling in an RV or prefer to camp rather than staying in one of the local motels, Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground has just about every conceivable amenity. Besides full hook-ups, cable TV, and a swimming pool, Flying Flags is located a convenient five minutes from Solvang.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Before you go, check out these web sites for addresses and hours: Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau; and Mission Santa Ines.
When you’re in Solvang, stop by the Solvang Visitor Information Center to pick up maps and brochures.