Dubbed “the Danish Capital of America,” Solvang has an interesting history. The charming town was founded by Danish-Americans in 1911, with the desire to preserve their Danish culture. They migrated from Iowa and purchased 9,000 sun-drenched acres of the former Rancho San Carlos de Jonata, then situated their new community adjacent to the historic Old Mission Santa Inés.

Old Mission Santa Inés

Be sure to visit the mission as it is very close to the town (see more info below). A Danish folk school and church was established (the building now houses Bit O’Denmark Restaurant, 473 Alisal Road). Atterdag College was built and opened in 1914. It is now the site of Solvang Lutheran Home, 636 Atterdag Road. (For more info about Solvang’s history see the Solvang Tourism Bureau website by clicking the link at the bottom of this article.)

Old Mission Santa Inés; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG

The quaint walkable town attracts over one million tourists each year. This is where the classic movie about wine – “Sideways” was filmed. If you are a lover of wine, read my article “The Wines of Solvang.” CLICK HERE for a direct link. I also wrote an article about my birthday trip to SolvangCLICK HERE for a direct link.

Located several blocks from the heart of Solvang, the mission was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis. It was the first European settlement in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Mission, which commands a superb view of the Santa Ynez River Valley and the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges, continues its central role in the spiritual and social life of the Santa Ynez Valley as an active parish church of approximately 1,000 families. It is administered by the Capuchin Franciscan order. https://missionsantaines.org/

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art celebrates the Danish-American immigrant experience and promotes fine art and artists. Learn about the town’s founding in 1911 and its evolution over the decades. The museum offers information-rich exhibits which tell the story with extensive use of historic photographs, video, models and artifacts. https://www.elverhoj.org/

An Early Solvang Store; photo courtesy of Elverhoj Museum of History & Art

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum is housed in the same building as the Book Loft, and operated by the Ugly Duckling Foundation. The non profit organization was established to foster the enjoyment of Hans Christian Andersen and his work. Visit the website for more info, hours, etc. https://www.solvangusa.com/directory/hans-christian-andersen-museum/; https://www.bookloftsolvang.com/

Stop by the Solvang Visitors Center located at 1637-1639 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463. Visit the official tourism bureau website for more info – https://www.solvangusa.com

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