America’s Little Denmark: Solvang, California

What’s that? A little slice of Scandinavia in California? At first I was rather dubious, but Solvang is apparently well known amongst Californians and I guess it would be. Unlike all the Little Italy’s, Chinatowns and other ethnic communities that thrive in California, it’s not every day you come across a Little Denmark or any hint of Scandinavian culture on the West Coast of the United States.

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I wanted to stop in Solvang partly to see if it lived up to the hype and also to see if I might find any Moomins (yes, I know, it’s not Little Finland but one is always on the lookout for Moomins). I imagined we would spend at least an entire day exploring what many have described to be a charming escape but sadly, it turned out to be a bit of a tourist trap. We were bored after two hours and left rather disappointed.

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Although Solvang could be quite the gem of a town to some, it really wasn’t for us and there were of course no Moomins to be found! There was plenty of ‘Danish’ tat — some imported from all over Scandinavia and the rest from local crafts makers and wineries. There were also some lovely Danish bakeries and chocolatiers but for the most part the shops were simply depressing and had an old musty smell to them.

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I do hope my review of the town doesn’t put anyone off having a butcher’s for themselves. We were blessed with amazing weather and the surrounding scenery is truly beautiful — stunning really. I should also add that it’s wonderful that the local people here have found a way to preserve their cultural heritage by keeping Solvang alive.

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As some of you may know, I’m all for tourist tat, sometimes the tattier the better but in the end all we came away with was a box of handmade chocolate turtles from Ingeborg’s, which were actually quite nice (and massive), but obviously not traditionally Danish. I saved them for home and as you can see, Snorkmaiden is nearly engulfed in these American-sized chocolates!

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I’ll leave you with a random thought for the day: I’ve been wondering if only local shops call themselves ‘world famous’ as I have never heard of Ingeborg’s until our stop in Solvang. I don’t believe Neuhaus, Godiva, Lindt, or even Cadbury bother to slap the phrase on their packaging as they truly are internationally known. What do you think?

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