• Constance Kellogg, PhD.

Solvang – Step into a Fairytale


Nestled along the California coastline, in the beautiful county of Santa Barbara, there lies a lovely town known as Solvang. This storybook neighborhood embraces the faith and hope of its 1911 Dutch founders who moved west seeking the embodiment of their heritage snuggled in the sunny fields (English translation for Solvang), of the Santa Ynez Valley.

This laid back charming town is a throwback to gentler days where the people are always friendly, the food is always delicious, and the hospitality is remarkably unique. As you enter the city, your senses become flooded by the truly unique atmosphere. The beautiful architecture is captivating as the half-timbered buildings, unique to their Nordic history, greet you. Four traditional Scandinavian windmills grace the town solidifying the sense of a stroll through the old country. The flower-lined streets emit a gentle fragrance, mixing with the wonderful aroma wafting from the traditional bakeries that dot the landscape delighting the senses. And, in the center of this unique village sits the city center park where people can gather for Shakespearian plays, festivals, poetry readings, and parades depending on the town’s ever changing activities.

Today, tourists from near and far visit Solvang with the same spirit as it’s early founders. They come to be transported to a place that exists in their childhood memories, if only from fairytales. They come to have a taste of the authentic family owned Danish bakeries, eat traditional Nordic foods, and taste the wines of the valley. They meander into unique shops offering often one-of-a-kind wares from local artists or hard to find treasures that can delight and inspire the most discerning of shoppers. There are bookstores for those interested in bringing home a piece of Solvang literature.

For the history buffs, meander through Solvang’s two theme appropriate museums. The single room housing the free Hans Christian Andersen Museum is upstairs in the Book Loft, replete with stories, first editions, and a model of the famed Danish author’s childhood home. Browsing through this museum one is transported back to their childhood as they view copies of The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, among others. Visitors can meander through viewing artifacts important to the author and reading trivia about his life. One can also stroll a few blocks from the town center to visit the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art housed in the home of the late Danish sculptor and artist Viggo Brandt-Erichsen. Here one can bask in the museums incarnation of the museums motto: To collect, preserve and exhibit the history and Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts.

With all these lovely things to enjoy and experience, it’s no wonder that people travel from all over the world to visit this unique place. It is very true that Solvang is a lovely town, in the middle of the California coast where a work weary world can travel to find respite and be inspired.


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