Solvang is about 50 minutes north of Santa Barbara. This past weekend we spent the night in Santa Barbara and then woke up early to drive out to this one of a kind Danish-American town.
Solvang was founded in 1911 by a group of Danish educators from the Midwest who were looking for a place to build a Danish-type folk school. The rich soil and picturesque setting led them to settle in this area. The Danish heritage is evident everywhere you look, from the architectural style to the many bakeries lining the streets.
Solvang loves Hans Christian Andersen, the child's storybook author who wrote The Little Mermaid, Princess and the Pea and The Ugly Duckling. There's a Hans Christian Anderson Park, a tiny "museum" (it's really just a room) that features a collection of his books, and even a Split Pea Soup Restaurant in honor of him.
I thought that downtown Solvang was cute--albeit a bit touristy. My favorite parts of the trip, however, were actually outside of the town center. The Quicksilver Ranch, just minutes from downtown, was a great find. The ranch raises miniature horses. It was a treat seeing these spunky creatures close up. The ranch is free to visit. We also stopped at Ostrich Land which is $4 admission and $1 for a food bowl. Brad said it was the best buck he's spent. The ostriches and emus at Ostrich Land can bite, so there are detailed instructions on how to feed them. It was fascinating seeing these animals eye to (giant) eye.