Friday, July 20 , 2018, 2:25 pm | Fair 75º


Judy Crowell: Solvang Boasts Proud Danish Heritage

'If you build it, they will come' proves true in this faux Copenhagen town, from its windmills to its statues of Hans Christian Andersen

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery of Solvang.]

The 1989 movie Field of Dreams is the story of a farmer in Iowa who, when out in his field, hears voices whispering to him to build a baseball diamond and “they will come.”

Founded in 1911 following a purchase of 9,000 acres at $40 per acre, Solvang, a faux Copenhagen town, feigns a trip to Denmark, minus the cost, the flight and the passport.

Solvang, Danish for “sunny fields” and the last thing one would expect to find in Southern California, is indeed a Danish village. There it is, out in the middle of the Santa Ynez Valley, a major California tourist attraction bringing in more than 1 million visitors per year.

Drawn by windmills, statues of Hans Christian Andersen, wooden-shoe shops, half-timbered houses, award-winning wineries, a 700-seat open-air Festival Theater, the nearby Chumash Casino Resort, the Elverhoj Museum preserving Danish heritage, a Vintage Motorcycle Museum, OstrichLand, and the historic La Purisima and Santa Ines Missions, Solvang is also a shopper’s paradise. Sidewalks lined with shops featuring gift items, home furnishings, authentic Danish dresses and wine tastings are everywhere. Yes, it’s a "T-shirt and fudge" kind of place with a bakery at every corner.

A Solvang specialty, medisterpolse with aebleskiver, is translated as pancakes with apple slices. But that doesn’t do it justice! These are mouth-watering, light pancake/doughnut kinds of things with buttery warm sliced apples slithered over the top. Yum.

If you tire of pancakes and fudge, there are innumerable places to dine: Root 246 at Hotel Corque for farm to table cuisine in a sophisticated setting; Mortensen’s Danish Bakery for breakfast and lunch; Paula’s Pancake House — yes, I know I’m back on the pancake kick again, but don’t miss this local hangout complete with long lines; Panino for Euro sandwiches and fresh, imaginative salads; Succulent Café, a tiny spot creating enormous flavors; and The Hitching Post for barbecue steaks, prime rib and a chance to experience one of the main settings for the 2004 Oscar-winning movie Sideways.

A quick 10 to 15 minutes away from town are more choices: Trattoria Grappolo for a taste of Tuscany; The Vineyard House for alfresco dining; Mattei’s Tavern for excellent food and a glimpse into California’s past; Los Olivos Café for an outstanding selection of local wines and cuisine; Petros for authentic Greek dishes; and Maverick Saloon for man-sized drinks and Big Tom’s BBQ.

Solvang lodging ranges from luxury hotels to charming B&Bs. At the top of luxurious would be Hotel Corque, right in town with shuttle service to the Chumash Casino. For a more bucolic experience, you can’t beat the marvelous Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, a 10,000-acre private ranch and luxury resort. Hadsten House is a favorite updated motel close to in-town attractions, and Solvang Gardens is a boutique country inn about a mile out of town. In nearby Los Olivos, the new Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa delights with country ambiance and amenities.

“If you build it, they will come” proved to be true in Iowa, and it certainly holds true in Southern California. Hans Christian Andersen, aebleskiver, the Little Mermaid, windmills, half-timbered houses, waitresses in authentic Danish costumes and smorgaasbords await here in Solvang, where you will receive a hearty, “Velkommen.”

Who’d have thunk it?!

— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >