Solvang: Denmark in California

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So you have long wanted to visit the home of famous writer Hans Christian Andersen and you have long yearned for some delicious Danish food including their well-known pastries. But you just don’t like those long airplane rides and your passport expired a year ago. No problem, just fly into Los Angeles International Airport, rent a car and head north on the 101 Freeway for about 138 miles right up the California coast to and through beautiful Santa Barbara and then just a wee beyond take the Route 246 exit and you will soon arrive in Solvang in the heart of the stunning Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County.

The statue of Hans Christian Anderson

Founded in 1911 “Solvang” is the Danish word for “Sunny Field” and it certainly lives up to its name. But it is also home to many examples of traditional Danish architecture, housing, a plethora of bakeries, wine merchants, restaurants, gift shops, clothing stores and just about every imaginable type of business focused on fun and pleasure.

Most visitors spend a few hours walking the bustling streets of Solvang enjoying the sights, sounds and fragrances. But you do have options such as a horse drawn carriage and tricycles which you may peddle through the streets.

One of the many sights is a bronze statue of renowned Danish author Hans Christian Andersen who in his 70 years wrote well over 3,000 plays, travelogues, novels and poems. However he is best known for such classic children’s tales as The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling.

Whether you live in California or you are visiting the Golden State, Solvang richly deserves to be on your “do not miss” list. It is a great way to immerse yourself in the unique culture and history of Denmark without the added expense or jet lag. A one day immersion into the exciting Danish experience will leave you with a lifelong fond memory. But beyond all of that there is one more attraction deserving of your time.

Between the town of Buellton which is very near the Highway 101 and 246 interchange and Solvang you will find the amazing “Ostrich Land USA” where you can walk about the park with hundreds of the stunning birds eager to accept your offer of food. These African natives are irresistible with their long spindly legs and neck connected by a more or less egg shaped body covered with wildly large feathers. The gift shop offers nothing Danish but plenty of other exotic options such as Emu oil products, feathered masks, stuffed animals and more. There is a modest admission charge and food to feed the Ostriches is only $1.00 a bowl.

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Photos by Ron Irwin