Solvang feels like northern Europe, yet “Little Denmark” lives in the center of the Central Coast of California.
From the Danish traditions of Solvang to the Western roots of the entire region, arts and culture have played an important role over the last century in the Santa Ynez Valley.
The past is still celebrated today in the museums, art galleries and historical buildings found throughout the region.
Solvang’s rich heritage dates back to 1911 when adventurous Danish-Americans from the Midwest traversed the plains to establish a settlement in the golden state of California. Celebrating its Centennial in 2011, Solvang means “sunny field” in Danish.
Solvang was named by Orbitz Worldwide Travel as one of the “Top 5 US Domestic Destinations with International Flair.” To appreciate Solvang’s Danish heritage, visit the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, the Solvang Amber Museum, the Solvang Viking Museum, and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. For more cultural diversity, visit the National Historic Landmark 1804 Old Mission Santa Inés and the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature.
Solvang Founder statues located in front of The Copenhagen House 1660 Copenhagen Drive. The nearly life-size installation celebrates Rev. Benedict Nordentoft, Rev. Jens M. Gregersen and Professor Peder P. Hornsyld. The three men formed the Danish-American Colony Company as they searched for land where they could create a Danish colony complete with a church and school. On Jan. 23, 1911, they settled on the 9,000-acre Rancho San Carlos de Jonata land grant and named it Solvang.
Historical churches such as Bethania Lutheran embrace Danish architecture and public art such as the Little Mermaid fountain, numerous murals and Hans Christian Andersen bust. A replica of Copenhagen’s famous 17th century Rundetaarn (Round Tower) is nestled behind one of the village’s four large windmills that all enhance California’s “Little Denmark.” Be drawn into Scandinavian culture strolling the flower-lined streets or stepping into authentic bakeries, unique shops and art galleries, restaurants and over a dozen wine tasting rooms. In 2009, Solvang was designated a national “Preserve America Community” award by First Lady Obama. As Danish tradition holds that the presence of a stork on a rooftop wards off lightning and brings good luck, you will see good fortune continues to smile on Solvang and all its visitors today.