Solvang is the Danish word for sunny fields, which is an appropriate name for this little storybook town that allegedly experiences sun for more than 300 days of the year.

As you wander the streets you feel like you’re in the middle of a Hans Christian Andersen story and not in Santa Barbara county, California.

Solvang was founded in 1911 by a group of Danes looking to settle in California — their final destination was in the middle of the Santa Ynez Valley near the Santa Inés Mission. This year (2011) marks the town’s centennial year.

I’ve not been to Denmark, so I can’t comment on the authenticity of the architecture, however it seems more touristy than it does European.

The Danish Provincial style is thought to be unique to Solvang. It was first brought to the town by architect Ferdinand Sorensen, the same man responsible for the town’s four windmills.

Whatever the architectural origins, the buildings and Danish atmosphere draws tourists in and makes the town a popular weekend destination.

What’s the best way to travel around Solvang?

Beyond walking (if you can find decent parking near the town core), my personal favourite means of transportation is the Hønen, which takes people on leisurely sightseeing tours; and, the 4-wheel surrey for self guided tours — if you have four people to work the bicycle pedals.