Named by Sunset magazine as one of the "10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States," Solvang's rich heritage dates back to 1911 when adventurous Danish-Americans traversed the plains from Iowa to establish a settlement in the golden state of California. They purchased 9,000 sun-drenched acres of the former Rancho San Carlos de Jonata and situated their new community adjacent to the historic Old Mission Santa Inés. To preserve and promote Danish culture, the founders constructed a Danish folk school and church (the building now houses Bit O'Denmark Restaurant, 473 Alisal Road); then built Atterdag College, which opened in 1914 and educated through 1970 (now the site of Solvang Lutheran Home, 636 Atterdag Road).
Over 1 million visitors come each year to experience the northern European culture, cuisine and unique boutique shopping. The pedestrian-friendly village about half-an-hour’s drive north of Santa Barbara hosts three museums, 15 inns and hotels, a full-service guest ranch, meeting facilities, 30+ restaurants and bakeries, 150 retail shops and the Solvang Theaterfest, an alfresco 700-seat theatre.
Heritage . . .
It was not until 1946, after the end of World War II, that promoters of the idea of a "Danish Village" were finally able to move ahead with plans to redesign the existing facade of the town, and to mandate this style for new construction.
And the Wine . . .
Solvang is in the center of Santa Barbara County's acclaimed wine region--known especially for outstanding Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, but also produces superior Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and many other varietals from 125+ wineries. The majority are boutique operations run by families. In downtown Solvang, tempt your palate at 20 wine tasting rooms and wine bars all within easy walking distance. Savor fruit-flavored vinegar “Shrubs” by Broken Clock Vinegar Works at Wandering Dog Wine Bar. Plus, you can also taste locally crafted beers including Solvang Brewing Company among others. Plus, there's a new “tiki bar” at Sort This Out Cellars and owner/winemaker Michael Cobb just launched his line of specialty “Betty Page” rum. Fun Fact: Most scenes in the 2004 Academy Award-winning wine trip movie Sideways were filmed around Solvang.
Editor’s note: More information about Solvang can be found at www.SolvangUSA.com. If you’re planning a visit to this part of California’s Central Coast, you may want to check out Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory, where you’ll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options. Our Resource Directory also includes links to Central Coast Wineries and purveyors of Craft Beer.