8.8 out of 10


34.588495179055 -120.139096603359
Great for
  • Clean & Green
  • Eating Out
  • Medical Facilities
  • Safe & Sound
  • Schools
Not great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Pest Free
  • Public Transport
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers


5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5

"Copenhagan California"

Despite having become way too touristy, Solvang is still one of my favorite places to stop off when I am in this neck of the woods—which is usually only when I am headed up to the Bay Area. Solvang was founded as a Danish Colony and has capitalized on this European heritage by making their little town into a replica of the kind of place you might find on the outskirts of Copenhagen.

The main drag has everything made up as if you had just stepped into a Brueghel painting—lots of half timbering like you usually see on Tudor homes, those thatched, tiled roofs shaped like milk-made hats and, of course, purely decorative windmills. It is all, of course, more like Disneyland than Denmark, but it is at once wonderfully charming even as it is super-kitschy.

The theme is carried through everything from the parks—“Hans Christian Anderson Park”—to the theater, “Hamlet Theater.” There are a number of restaurants, bakeries and stores here as well. My favorite of these is the Cabernet Bistro. (Though for lunch you should head over to nearby Buellton and go to Anderson’s Pea Soup—it is our ritual to always stop off there whenever we go to SF.)

The time to go is in September when they have Danish Days. For a couple of weeks they give you as much Danish Culture—from stuffing your face contests, to milkmaids hoofing it in wooden clogs. It’s completely silly and ridiculous—kind of like a family friendly Oktoberfest (I know, I know! Oktoberfest is German).

The other attraction that often gets overshadowed is the Santa Ynez Mission, one of California’s 27 Mission Museums. If you are a fan of Spanish California, it is definitely worth checking out. And if growling hogs are more your speed, try the Classic Motorcycle Museum that is also in town.

So what is it like living it this little slice of Denmark by the Pacific? Solvang is a tiny town of barely 5,000 residents. It’s an older town, with the average resident being in their forties. These are mostly store owners and operators looking to capitalize on visiting tourists. When you get beyond the main drag, you leave the windmills and dormer windows behind, and you get a pretty straightforward So Cal town. In other words, its Ranch House city. Except for the occasional street name, this could be Chatsworth or Reseda in terms of appearance. On the western end of town you have Rancho Santa Ynez Estates—which is a pleasant, leafy mobile home park. (It is about as nice looking as a mobile home park gets but it is still a mobile home park nevertheless.) The nicest residential section of Solvang is on the northern hillside. It is still Ranch House city, but these are the larger Brady Bunch style Ranch Homes (though not split-level) with big yards, prairie fences and wide lanes.

Crime in Solvang is virtually non-existent. There has not been a murder here in more than a decade, rapes and violent crimes are about as rare as they get, and even petty theft is low. Rarely does the crime index break into the triple digits.

There is a hospital on the northern end of town (often a concern for country living) and supermarkets and auto repair shops. In other words, you have all of the basic amenities you need for suburban living in the 21st Century.

The local high school is Santa Ynez Union High in neighboring Santa Ynez. If test scores are a good indication, the school is ranked as high as any school around, getting an 850 API rank and having the majority of its students testing proficient on standardized tests.

Put simply, if you can find work in the area, this is a great place to live and raise kids (though I suspect the whole Danish thing probably gets old pretty fast).
  • Great Danish Festival Town
  • Great Schools
  • Crime Free
  • A Little Boring
  • Expensive
  • Remote
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers

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