Solvang CA: History of Solvang

Dubbed “the Danish Capital of America,” Solvang CA has an interesting history. When visiting this darling community, you will feel as if you are in another country. In addition, the authentic Danish architecture creates an endearing quaint small town feel.

Solvang local businesses including Bit O’ Denmark Restaurant on right; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG

Solvang CA History

Danish-Americans founded this charming town in 1911, with the desire to preserve their culture. They migrated from Iowa and then purchased 9,000 sun-drenched acres of the former Rancho San Carlos de Jonata. Next they 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). The establishment of a Danish folk school and church (the building now houses Bit O’Denmark Restaurant, 473 Alisal Road) occurred. Atterdag College was then 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. You may remember the classic movie Sideways; well, they filmed this classic movie about wine here. 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 as well as the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges, continues its central role in the spiritual and social life of the Santa Ynez Valley. Therefor is an active parish church of approximately 1,000 families. Capuchin Franciscan order runs the mission.

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art celebrates the Danish-American immigrant experience and also promotes fine art and artists. Learn about the town’s founding in 1911 and its evolution over the decades. Additionally, the museum offers information-rich exhibits which tells the story utilizing extensive use of historic photographs, video, models along with artifacts.

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 is operated by the Ugly Duckling Foundation. The non profit organization was established fostering the enjoyment of Hans Christian Andersen as well as his work. Visit the website for more info, hours, etc.;

Stop by the Solvang Visitors Center located at 1637-1639 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463. Visit the official tourism bureau website for additional info –

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