The city of Solvang, California was founded a century ago in 1911. It is located approximately 46 miles northwest of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 5,245 (definitely not a large metropolis). However, it has become a very popular California tourist destination because of it’s unique flavor. In fact, more than one million people a year visit this small town in the coastal valley. The photos on this page were taken in the early 1990’s but the town still retains it’s charm and appeal.
Solvang, California was started by Danish settlers and began to draw tourists to the area in the mid 1900’s. The town features lots of interesting Danish architecture which is patterned after building styles found in Denmark cities (such as Copenhagen). There are four Danish windmills in the town. The first one of these was built in the 1940’s.
Shopping for Danish souvenirs is one of many things to do in Solvang. Another enjoyable activity is eating Danish cuisine at a number of excellent restaurants and bakeries (I have a very hard time resisting bakery items). Serious cyclists enjoy training in the surrounding countryside which features a lot of hilly and varied terrain. One of the cyclists who has trained here is 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Solvang was one of the race locations at the 2009 Tour of California bicycle race.
You can rest easy at one of the Solvang hotels and enjoy the beautiful scenery in the area. Former President Ronald Reagan’s California ranch is located just six miles from the city of Solvang. During Reagan’s presidency, it was known as the “Western White House”.
The word Solvang means “Sunny Fields” in the Danish language. My wife’s grandfather came to the United States from Denmark back around 1914, so this town holds a special place in her heart. It brings back thoughts and memories of the old country. Solvang, California is a very special place to visit – and one you should not miss if you are in the Santa Barbara area.