Winter Wonderlands: Solvang, California

Martha Stewart Living, December 2002

Many places take pains to preserve their ethnic roots and showcase them during the holidays, but Solvang celebrates its heritage year-round. Settled by Danish immigrants in 1911, this little town -- just 2 1/2 hours north of Los Angeles -- has cobblestone streets, four bakeries, and an old windmill. Today, this walkable village calls itself the Danish capital of America.


Come Thanksgiving, clear white twinkle lights outline Scandinavian-style facades, some of which are topped with thatched or tiled roofs. Each holiday season, Olsen's Bakery builds an 8-foot-tall gingerbread house that sits in the lobby of the Royal Scandinavian Hotel. The bakery also offers stollen and Christmas cookies. The Elverhoj Museum mounts crafts demonstrations, including a display of traditional paper cutouts. And the town stages a live Nativity pageant featuring burros, baby goats, llamas, cows, and ponies. It is narrated by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

For information, call 800-468-6765 or visit


Discover Other Winter Wonderlands Across The United States


Cooperstown, New York

The Clark Foundation is responsible for Cooperstown's elegant garlands and Christmas light adornments.


Natchez, Mississippi

Antebellum architecture and modern-day decor compete for attention during Natchez, Mississippi's annual holiday festival. The highlight of the season is the city's candlelit tours. 


Santa Fe, New Mexico

Countless farolitos line the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the holiday season each year, lending further merriment to the city's celebratory bonfires and ornamented trees.


Kansas City, Missouri

"Merry" and "bright" are the watchwords in Kansas City, Missouri during December, when Country Club Plaza is set ablaze in the glow of 280,000 lights. 


Portland, Oregon

Seafarers flock to Portland's shores during the holidays to observe the city's many bedecked boats. 



Return to Winter Wonderlands 



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