Solvang – A Little Danish in California

Denmark is a country that I’ve always wanted to visit. Everything you hear about Denmark is just so nice and civil. Of course, I know that Denmark, like all other countries, has its own share of problems but what I read about the country from mainstream media is mostly about how it’s a place that’s pretty much as close to an ideal civilization as you can get. Modern, industrialized, wealthy, clean, progressive, and HAPPY. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently found that the Denmark is the Happiest Country. Just thinking about Denmark makes me happy. Plus, I have this weird fascination for their royal family, one of the oldest monarchies in the world. Who doesn’t love the real-life story of a handsome prince meeting a beautiful woman in a bar across the world, making her his country’s princess, and the two of them living happily ever after (so far) with chubby little kids in tow?

Anyways, until I get the chance to actually go to Denmark, the closest I think I’ll get is Solvang, CA. Located in Santa Barbara County, Solvang is a replica of a Danish village. It was founded by some Danes in 1911 who traveled west from the Midwest. You drive up a little hill from the flatlands and, bam!, you’re in Denmark! Or more likely, an Americanized and Disneyized version of an idyllic Danish village.

We got there around 4:30pm on a Monday so it was pretty empty. Go during the warmer months on a weekend in the afternoon and it’ll be much livelier, as many of the shops and cafes close early. It was actually much bigger than I expected, with several long boulevards extending in different directions (9000+ acres). There’s bakeries, cafes, restaurants, shops, wine tasting rooms (not particularly Danish but Solvang is in wine country after all), museums, and many Danish-style accommodations.

While many people associate windmills with only Holland, Denmark also has a lot of windmills. They also ride bicycles a lot there, like the Dutch.

Sadly, we weren’t in the mood for any Danish pastries or food (regretting not forcing myself to get SOMETHING while typing this).

I would definitely love to go back when it’s warmer so that we can sit out in a plaza and people watch as if we’re in Europe. Perhaps we’ll go again when the in-laws come a little later in the year. Until then, Farvel Solvang!

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