Sunday, November 20, 2011

Solvang -- Danish Capital of California

Snuggled in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, is the charming town of Solvang, which translates a "Sunny Meadows," and is known as the 'Danish Capital of California."  One of my husband's co-workers told us to make an effort to take a detour east from Santa Barbara to visit this town on our trip north to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway. She knew that we'd enjoy its friendly, fairy tale appearance.

Solvang was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the Midwestern winters. There is still a significant Danish population in Solvang, and a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark. The architecture of many of the facades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style.

There was so much to see and do there that I'm sorry we could only spend one afternoon walking around town.

On the top floor of this charming little book store called The Book Loft, located at 1680 Mission Drive, was the Hans Christian Anderson Museum.  Hans Christian Anderson was Denmark's most famous writer.  Although Andersen wrote travel journals, plays, novels, and poetry he is best know for his endearing children's Fairy Tales, which have been translated into more than 100 languages.

The Book Loft also contained a large collection of books about all the Scandinavian countries,  books in the various Scandinavian languages, as well as book in English, and a large selection of children's books.

The museum is devoted to presenting the author's life and works. Displays include models of Andersen's childhood home and of his The Princess and the Pea fairy tale.. The museum also contains hundreds of volumes of Andersen's works, including many illustrated first editions.

We also took some time to visit the Mission of Santa Ines located at 1760 Mission Drive in Solvang.  Santa Ines is the nineteenth of 21 missions established by Franciscan priests from 1769 to 1823.  It was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estévan Tapís. Santa Ines is the Spanish version of the name "Saint Agnes." Early English settlers changed the spelling to "Santa Inez" when naming the mountains surrounding the area. Saint Agnes was a Christian who was martyred for her faith in Rome in 304 AD. 

The interior of the church is beautiful and very decoratively painted. The statue of St. Agnes, dating from the 18th Century, is located in a niche above the main altar, and almost appeared to glow, as the soft afternoon light shone upon it.  The mission is still an active parish.

The historical museum at Santa Inés is one of the best in the mission chain. It contains an extensive display of Latin missals and handmade parchment music books, some far older than the mission and many magnificent works of art work, vestments, statuary, documents and mission  artifacts.

As with all the missions we visited on this trip, the gardens and cemetery of Santa Ines were lush and peaceful. We really enjoyed visiting this "Hidden Gem of the Missions," as it is also known.

Before we departed Solvang the next morning we stopped at Olsen's Danish Bakery for a Danish pastry and coffee.  There were so many delicious pastries to chose from that of course we had to have more than one!

We went back on the road, headed towards San Luis Obsipo.   I had to visit a fun location there that I read Susan Branch blog about ... I love Susan's cheerful  blog! I'll be sharing more about that in my blog post for Pink Saturday .. you won't want to miss it!

I'm linking this post to:

Mosaic Monday
Blue Monday
Ruby Tuesday
Our World Tuesday

Many thanks to all the blog hosts!

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LDH said...

What a wonderful trip with so much to see! Beautiful photos!

Snap said...

Pat, who knew??!!! I sure didn't know California had Solvang. Looks like a wonderful spot to visit. I've enjoyed your images of the missions, too. I remember *doing* many of them years and years ago. All those memories that sneak up on me and bring me a smile.

Betsy said...

Oh my goodness! What a lovely trip. Everything looks so charming! I've never heard of Solvang! And I would have to have a few danishes myself...what a cute place. I bet it smelled amazing!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Pat, beautiful, beautiful photos again!! Solvang does look like a fairy tale spot! Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales was my favorite book as a child. I still have it. Those missions are amazing. Just amazing. Sure would have loved some of those delectable baked goods! blessings ~ tanna

Joanne Kennedy said...

It's been fun reading about the places here in CA that you have been visiting. I've been to Solvang so many times I can't count them all.

Did you know you were right near Michael Jacksons Never Never Land? It was a short drive from where you were. I'm sure there isn't much left there to see though.

I hope you make a stop in Morro Bay. It's a charming little sea town just a little ways down from San Louis Obispo.

Are you going to Hurst Castle? It is so pretty there! Again, I used to go there all the time but have not for a few years now.

There are so many fun stops on the way to San Francisco. Just depends on how much time you have.

Enjoy your visit!


GrandmaK said...

Isn't Solvang just the most marvelous village! We'd drive there and visit on our was from Ft. Ord to LA to visit family! Lovely pictures! Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Cathy

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Well, you know I loved this post...I have got to get to Solvang one day!!Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Pat.

camp and cottage living said...

You lucky lady. It looks like a wonderful place to visit. I like that they have kept their Danish roots visible still in all the architecture. I bet that pastry was

Pamela Gordon said...

Very interesting post. I enjoyed all your photos and the history of the area. It's such a beautiful state! Pamela

Barbara F. said...

What a cute town. Looks like a big amusement park. The pastries looked so good. xo

Jeanne said...

Hello Pat, This post is awesome as always. I would love to visit Solvang. The Hans Christian Anderson Museum would be wonderful to see. Our daughter Christina, a redhead, is so sensitive to everything that touches her body we call her the Princess and the Pea. the Mission of Santa Ines is beautiful. A very interesting post to say the least.

I want to let you know my Memories program is downloaded as of today. Hurray!!! We are in Fl and my dtr, helped me get it done. I am so excited. She and I are going to make some scrapbook pages together before we go home a week from today.
Thank you so much for the best giveaway ever.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Blessings, Jeanne

Carol said...

It does look like a Fairy Tale place! I loved Hans Christian Anderson tales! And especially the movie, too :)

Really a fantastic trip, Pat, I'm enjoying the posts, looking forward to what's next!

Shelia said...

Hi Pat! Oh, I've been to Solvang a few times as our daughter and her husband lived in Santa Barbara for awhile! You've captured it beautifully! Don't you just love it? There's a place before you get to Salvang called Anderson's Pea! It's a motel and restaurant! They serve the most delicious split pea soup! I've so enjoyed touring around with you.
Be a sweetie and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Shelia ;)

Lorrie said...

Solvang sounds like a fun place to visit. If I ever travel to California, it's going on my list of places to see. Those pastries look amazing!

Ginny said...

It DOES all look like a fairy tale!! And I love the windmill shot! The inside of the mission is just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

All of it, so lovely! I'm enjoying your travels!

Kris said...

My sis in law lives in Santa Maria, so we are very familiar with that area. Love the Central Coast!!!

diane b said...

You do great travel posts. This town is lovely with its Danish influence. The hidden gem Mission is gorgeous and the photo with the sun on the statue is stunning. I loved Hans Christian Anderson's stories when I was little and I would have love to visit this museum.
San Luis O'Bispo is where one of my cousin's live.

Pondside said...

We loved Solvang too. I was thrilled to find a needlework store there and bought some little patterns and kits from Denmark. I'd wanted to visit from my days as a new bride, when I mail-ordered some Danish cookware from a shop there.

Teagarden said...

What a wonderful trip! Looks a little bit like some german houses.
Have a nice week,

eileeninmd said...

Looks like a wonderful trip and place to visit. Your photos are beautiful. The danish lookds delicious. Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving.

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

Oh my gosh, what a post! I had no idea the Danish capital of CA even existed.... but the church and the icons!!!! Swoooooooooon! Yes, you can swoon over icons.

Great photos Pat!

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

Gracie said...

Do you remember posting a message on my blog about HCA a while back?
Well, it seems you did it!

Old Kitty said...

What an incredible place! Demark in the heart of Spain and Mexico in America. How amazing! I love it!! And the Hans Christian Anderson museum is just lovely!!

Oh but these danish pastries are yummy!! Look at the size of that one!

California is really growing on me! Take care

From the Kitchen said...

I had my first bowl of split pea soup in Solvang. It was close to 30 years ago!! What a charming little town nestled by the sea.

I can't wait to see where we'll be going with you and Susan Branch!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


Ola said...

At first glance I do thought you have visited Europe lately:) It is really very Danish!

Tracy said...

Oh, what fun! I would love to see Solvang... That Sladerbaeken is cute--which means gossip bench. ;o) It is interesting how one can find countries in miniature in the US. Happy Days, Pat...and wishing you & yours a very happy & blessed Thanksgiving ((HUGS))

Grace said...

What fabulous photos and things you saw and did and ate. I love visiting your blog, you uncover so many different areas when you travel. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving to you and your family. Grace xoox

Ron aka TheOldGeezer said...

Greetings From Southern California

Great photos and information. My wife and I have been to Solvang several times. She loves to shop and I love to eat. Solvang has some of the best bakeries in the world.

Take care and have a nice day :-)

Thanks for your recent visit to My Blog


Pie Lady Pat said...

Thank you so much for this post. I stayed here in 1980 and absolutely loved it. I will always remember this particular mission church. Now on to St. Luis Obispo... another favorite!

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Ingmarie We said...

Oh, I didn't know about Solvang. Thank you very much for telling us. What a charming town. Very lovely photos and mosaics.

Liza said...

Beautiful collection of photos.

My entries:
Moms...Check Nyo

Riet said...

You find the most beautiful places along your trip north Pat. What a lovely city Solvang is and that mission is so beautiful. Those wonderful gardens and the interior of that church are wonderful.
Have a nice week.

Oliag said...

Solvang looks like a place in a fairy tale itself! How beautiful! I always get the urge to travel when I read your blog:)

SmilingSally said...

Thanks for sharing these blues and for sharing your wonderful trip.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Blue Monday, Pat!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Well thanks for taking us along to Solvang...a place I've heard much about but never visited. Most interesting! I would be stopping by that Danish Bakery soon after arriving in town...I know!

nanny said...

What a great trip. That danish made my mouth water....

ellen b. said...

Another favorite of ours Pat! We love to order Ebelskivers for breakfast here. There are also lots of great wineries in this area. Your photos as usual are fabulous.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I remember going to Solvang on my first trip to California years ago. Looks like I missed some of that great Danish pastry - time to go back.

Kathiesbirds said...

What an absolutely adorable place! I had no idea that such a place existed here in the USA! I would love to visit this place! Thanks for the tour! The mission is awesome also!

Pieces of Sunshine said...

What a delightful, yet authentic, place to visit. Beautiful photos.

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

I'm loving these posts about your "mission trip." Being of Dutch descent, I especially enjoyed this one. Indeed looks like you entered a fairy tale. Would love to visit Solvang myself one day. Need to add it to the list.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Now that I see all those reds, Solvang is definitely on my list of places to see!


Whenas in red my Julia’s clad,
Then, then (methinks) she’s wicked bad—
Like Hester Prynne, but not so sad.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
Those crimson skirts flow full and free,
Her sweet seductions taketh me!

(With apologies to Robert Herrick, 1591-1674)

© 2011 by Magical Mystical Teacher

Red Lichen

Carver said...

What a great place to visit. It does look like it's straight out of a story book.

Sylvia K said...

Oh, I do love Solvang! I haven't been there in many years but it was always the most fun and beautiful place to visit! Thanks for taking me back! Your photos are really superb and do catch the beauty and delight! Hope you have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving, Pat!


~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What wonderful photos! And you visited the Hans Christian Andersen special! It really makes things come to life to visit places like this! Happy Thanksgiving week to you, my friend! ♥

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

This looks like a charming little town. How fun!
I hope you come join us for Traveling Tuesday's at the WhistleStop Cafe~

Vee said...

Yes, I think that Susan Branch's blog is a hit with many of us.

I'm so glad that I watched TARace last night. I haven't seen it for a long time and last night it was set in Denmark with a fair amount devoted to Hans Christian Anderson.

Sweet little town and that pastry just looks terrific!

J Bar said...

So beautiful.

podso said...

You do make me want to visit Ca! just the kind of little town I would love to spend time in! Delightful!

Al said...

That looks like a beautiful town, it reminds me of when I lived in Holland. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

Joyful said...

Fabulous collages. They remind me of my trip to Solvang so many years ago.

chubskulit said...

Lovely blues!

Blue in the Wild, come and see.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

You find the coolest places! That is like stepping back in time in another country... fabulous photos.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & Vinny!
Hugs, Sherry, Wes & Chris

Sivinden said...

A great collection of pictures!

Francisca said...

For only spending one afternoon in Solvang you sure saw (and captured) a LOT of it! I really enjoyed my visit there some years back too. Terrific montages.

Claudia said...

I don't know this town at all - pure enchantment. The interior of the church is just breathtaking. I am always inspired when I see such artistry at work. Happy Thanksgiving, Pat. May you have a gracious day filled with gratitude.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I certainly wish my Danish grandparents would have settled in Solvang, California instead of Wisconsin! Both of my paternal grandparents and my maternal great-grandparents came here from Denmark. I have many Olsen and Petersen relatives ;)

Another great tour!

guild-rez said...

I am so pleased to stop by your blog and read about Solvang.
Great pictures!!
Love danish food and pastries.
Very often I visit Denmark on my way to Sweden. My daughter, her husband including three wonderful grandchildren live in Varberg, Sweden:)
- Cheers Gisela.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Annie said...

Wonderful trip and photos.
Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Sara said...

Hmmmmm, it is about time for me to visit Solvang again! Those pastries are calling me.

cassandrasminicorner said...

Beautiful photos, thank's for sharing

Visiting a bit late for Ruby Tuesday! Hope you can visit me too:)