Town of Solvang

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Solvang, California

Town of Solvang Reviews

Cho Cho
84 reviews
A little piece of Denmark in the USA Oct 21, 2016
As the title says, there's a small city called Solvang in the US which is supposed to be a replica of a typical Danish town. It is located in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.

My daughter and son-in-law had been there before and wanted me to see it. So, last July we took the scenic drive to beautiful Santa Barbara county. It took us about 2 and a half hours as we stopped for breakfast along the way.

My first impression of Solvang was yes, it looks like a cute little town, but definitely a tourist trap as well. I thought they must have built this town especially to attract tourists. But wait, when I did a little research after our trip I found out that the town was actually founded in 1911 by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony in California. Later on, I think someone must have come up with the idea that the place could become a tourist attraction.

Although I've seen quite a bit of Europe (I lived in France for 8 years) I have never been to Denmark, or any Scandinavian country for that matter. So, I expected to see what I thought would be a typical Danish town. However, it looked to me more like a typical small town in Germany especially the design of the buildings. Yes, there were a lot of Danish-themed restaurants, bars, confectioneries, shops, etc., even a big windmill (which reminded me more of Holland than Denmark). Also, a lot of wine tasting establishments.

As the size of the town is relatively small, everything is within walking distance at least in the Danish inspired section which is the popular draw for tourists, domestic and foreign. I wasn't very surprised to see a large group of Chinese students waving their pennants, accompanied by their teachers. As it was the July 4th weekend there were a great number of other visitors too.

One may think it strange, but we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant called 'Mandarin Touch' (separate review written on another page) which was on one of the side streets away from the main attractions. So, if you're not in the mood for Danish food, there is an Italian eatery as well as a Vietnamese restaurant. And if you want to keep it quick and simple, you can go to some good old American fast food joints selling hot dogs or hamburgers. But yes, we did get some Danish pastries from a bakery, to snack on while we were walking around the town.

If you ever wish to see a miniature Denmark (so they say), without leaving the US, give yourself at least a couple of hours to walk around and enjoy the place. Parking is free - if you can find space, but the heat can wear you down, particularly during the hot summer months. We were there in July, so you can imagine....

On the way back home we stopped at the San Marcos Pass to take in some sweeping views of the valley and the surrounding hills. Also passed a couple of pretty little beach towns besides the Pacific Ocean (see photos)
Welcome sign
We're on our way
Entering city of Ventura
We passed through Ventura
6 / 6 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
monkeymia79 says:
I agree Cho.
Posted on: Oct 22, 2016
Cho says:
@Melanie: Thank you very much. One day I hope to see the real Denmark!
Posted on: Oct 22, 2016
monkeymia79 says:
Solvang is beautiful but like you said there is many things there that is not typically Danish (windmills, wine.)

Congratulations on the featured review Cho.
Posted on: Oct 21, 2016
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williamsworld williams…
275 reviews
No passport needed May 25, 2010
The gentle rolling hills, windmills, quiet streets, horse drawn carriages, family bicycles, golf courses, horse ranches, wineries, Danish bakeries, authentic Danish costumes worn by some shop keepers, Danish smorgaasbord restaurants, museums of racing and Solvang history, in the Danish atmosphere and architecture are all here in this little town just north of Santa Barbara, CA.

If you have never heard of this town, you may be the first and only person in the area. This place is really famous for being a small replica of an old traditional Danish Village. It was also known by the movie Sideways.

So, not only movies and the Danish heritage, but so much more. I would suggest if you have 3 days in the Santa Barbara area, it might be worth a visit. There are wineries nearby, and it is a very pretty drive, especially over the pass. As you probably know, Solvang was settled by Danish farmers, and the small downtown was built in a faux-Danish style--- California stucco with fake half-timbering--- and that, plus the many Danish-style bakeries and restaurants and cute little gift shops, made it a stop for travelers driving to the wine country of the San Ynez Valley.

There are quite a few restaurants and hotels to choose from all with the Danish charm. The town is very accessible by car, train, or bus. We really enjoyed our time here and will definitely return soon, maybe during the Danish Days in September.
I am here
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
williamsworld says:
That movie is becoming quite a cult classic around wine circles. Some great scenes and some not so great scenes. But got to love a pinot
Posted on: Aug 01, 2010
shirlan says:
Hi Britt. I was watching tv and a movie came on called Sideways. How coincidental, I had to watch it. Wasn't much good but still had to watch it. :-)
Posted on: Aug 01, 2010
sarahsan says:
Congrats on your featured review. I lived in LA for a year, but never went there. What a shame!
Posted on: Jul 20, 2010

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