SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CITIES – SOLVANG

Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang, known as “Little Denmark”  is what I would call the Accidental Tourist Attraction, but a tourist attraction it has become.    Solvang has retained much of its Danish culture through its residents – many descendants of Danish immigrants, its architecture and its businesses.

Between 1850 and 1930 it is said that Denmark was suffering economically and it was during that period that one in ten Danes immigrated — most of them to the US and specifically to the midwest.  My father immigrated in 1919 at age 19 and settled initially in Iowa and then moved across the border to Minnesota.

Many sources say that Solvang was established by some “hardy” Danes who first settled in the mid-western states and became really tired of the cold winters so they packed up their belongings and headed to California.    I find the descriptive “hardy” amusing as I think the real “hardy” Danes stayed to face the snow and cold.  But at any rate those that headed west found “sunny fields” and the town was appropriately named Solvang which when translated means “sunny fields”.    They discovered that California had drought cycles which was hard on their crops.  They depended on “dry farming” for making a living .  They grew hay to feed their dairy cows and they sold the left over hay and enjoyed the rainy years when they produced bumper crops.   Word spread and the population grew.

Welcome to Solvang

Welcome to Solvang

Sunny Fields

Rolling Hills Fields

Rolling Hills Fields

Green Grasses

Green Grasses

Our first stop was at our lodging for two nights:  Hadsten House Inn and Spa.  Great place and true to the Danish architecture and furnishings.  Traveling mid-week has advantages.  The Hadsten House also has a deal if you stay two nights between Sunday and Thursday.  The rate goes from $132 to $89.  Traveling during the week seems to have its advantages everywhere during the winter months.  Great place to stay!

Typical Room - King Size

Typical Room – King Size

HADSTEN HOUSE ROOM 3

HADSTEN HOUSE ROOM 2

Next stop was to the Visitor’s Center!  Solvang welcomes over a million visitors each year and who better to extend a welcoming hand than this gentleman we found manning the Visitor’s Center.  He was a great story teller and he even entertained us with a tune on his 1947 accordian.

Welcome Serenade

Welcome Serenade

The day was almost gone and shops were closing so we went over to the The Bethania Lutheran Church.  It was built from a photograph of a church in Denmark, and was completed in 1928.  It’s a beautiful little church.

Bethania Church

Bethania Church

Bethania Sanctuary

Bethania Sanctuary – Note ship hanging from the ceiling.

Pipe Organ

Pipe Organ

Many Scandinavian churches have model ships hanging over the nave.  These sea faring people view the “church as a ship that carries them over life’s stormy waters”

Ship at Bethania

Ship at Bethania

ship

Supper… time for a Danish Smorgasbord.  Food was delicious!

Bit O' Denmark

Bit O’ Denmark

BIT O DENMARK

A Danish Village just wouldn’t be a Danish Village without…

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen Park

Hans Christian Andersen Park

The Viking

The Viking

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Flowers

Flowers

And then there is the amazing architecture

The Town Clock

The Town Clock

The Round Tower

The Round Tower

The Windmill

The Windmill

A great shop with everything you could want

A great shop with everything you could want

SOLVANG CLOCK

SOLVANG 3

Paula's Pancake -- Great Pancakes

Paula’s Pancake — Great Pancakes

Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Hans Christian Andersen Museum

5 S ARCHITECTURE

4 S ARCHITECTURE

A look down a street

A look down a street

7 S ARCHITECTURE

Unlikely Decor for a Subway

Unlikely Decor for a Subway

There is so much more to see and experience in Solvang and the surrounding area, but that will have to wait for another time  The area is filled with interesting history, particularly for the visitor with a Danish heritage.

(Photos by Bill Toninato)

© HeididmSchmidt and Little USA Trips July 1, 2012.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to HeididmSchmidt and Little USA Trips with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One Comment on “SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CITIES – SOLVANG

  1. Love this little town; maybe a better descriptive word is “smart”.

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