The little village of Solvang is a true delight. Nicknamed “Little Denmark, USA” and “The Danish Capital of America,” Solvang was founded by three Danish immigrants in 1911 and is located in sunny Santa Ynez Valley in sunny Santa Barbara County. In fact, the Danish word solvang translates to “sunny field,” which my mom and I learned when we took a horse-drawn trolley tour of the whimsical little town not too long ago.
Everything is so quaint and supposedly reminiscent of a Scandinavian village. There are windmills, thatched roofs, timbered houses, plenty of Viking history, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, and wooden storks, which are believed to bring good luck and protection to the house upon which they nest. Also interesting is that this little Danish community is right next to Old Mission Santa Inés, which was established in 1804 by Spanish explorers and religious padres, well before Solvang was founded.
In 1914, the Danish pioneers of Solvang built a folk school called Atterdag College. Used as a Danish expression of hope, atterdag means “tomorrow there is a new day” or “there will be another day.” As a teacher, I thought this was quite clever. As a foolish romantic, I thought this was quite lovely.
In addition to enjoying the informative carriage tour and wandering wide-eyed around the sunny little village as truly charmed tourists, my mom and I also recognized the importance of trying some Danish cuisine. Take a look at my photo below for what I ate. And no trip to Solvang (or Denmark for that matter) would be complete without enjoying some fresh Æbleskivers. They’re sort of like Danish pancake puffs and they’re usually served three on a plate. Quite yummy with some berry jam. The aebleskiver may have originated with the Vikings. According to legend, the tasty dessert-like snack was used to restore their strength after a battle.
We spent only a day in Solvang, so I am sure we missed all sorts of interesting historical information, tasty Scandinavian foods, and quirky Danish details. We’ll have to go back another day, perhaps in September for their Solvang Danish Days festival.
Our trolley tour guide concluded her half-hour-long speech with a bit of a bummer: people from Denmark think Solvang looks nothing like their homeland. Apparently, it’s too sunny. Go figure.
As always, thanks for stopping by. ❤