Solvang, California

Solvang, California

Solvang is the Danish capital of America. The sights, sounds, and aromas of an authentic Danish village are present here in the lovely Santa Ynez Valley. All around, lush pasturelands are accented by noble oak trees. Massive Coast Range mountains tower to the south, and the ocean is only a few miles away. The peaceful setting is favored by one of the West's mildest climates.

Settlement began in 1804 when the Spanish built Mission Santa Ines. It wasn't until a century later that a group of Danes established a school and village next to the mission. After World War II, visitors began to discover this unique cultural enclave for increasingly Danish specialties. As one result, merchants and homeowners were encouraged to further emphasize their heritage with more consistently Danish architecture.

Today, in this re-created corner of Denmark, creaking windmills, steep tiled and thatched roofs, cobblestone courtyards, gas street lamps, traditional guard booths, and other fanciful embellishments are everywhere. Descendants of the Danish-Americans who started all this still preside over Scandinavian import shops, gourmet food stores, bakeries, restaurants, and inns that reflect their heritage. Throughout the year, shopping and strolling in town, bicycling and wine touring in the valley, hiking and camping in the Coast Range, plus sailing and fishing in Southern California's largest lake are popular leisure-time pursuits. In summer, the ocean warms sufficiently that swimming and surfing are popular off nearby state park beaches.