Solvang: A Taste of Denmark in California

Want to visit Denmark but don’t have the time or budget to do so? Consider heading to Solvang, CA instead. Located at the heart of Santa Ynez Valley, this city is pretty accessible, especially if you’re in Southern California, as it is only about 2 hours northwest of the City of Angels.

According to its Wikipedia page, Solvang is Danish for “sunny fields” and was founded almost 100 years ago “by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the midwestern winters. The city is home to a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the facades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style.”

Things to Do

Solvang offers a variety of activities for the whole family. Take a tour of the city by foot, or rent a surrey bicycle at Wheel Fun Rentals . Surrey rental rates are really affordable. A single surrey costs $25 an hour, a double costs $35 an hour, while you can rent the grande surrey for just $45 an hour. You can also choose to ride aboard the Solvang Trolley to experience “a street car tourpulled by a pair of magnificent horses.” Feeling more adventurous? Opt for mountain bikes instead which you can rent at just $10 per hour.

Want some quiet time? Solvang has a wide range of museums and it is also home to about a dozen wine tasting rooms, all within walking distance"it couldn’t be more convenient than that! In fact, the 2004 movie Sideways was actually set in Santa Ynez , resulting in a boom for the wine-tasting business in Solvang and surrounding areas.

Things to See

Solvang has a lot quaint attractions that you certainly won’t find anywhere else. While you’re in this lovely city, be sure to keep an eye out for the village’s four windmills and get a photo! You’ll also find great statues of Hans Christian Andersen and the Little Mermaid as you roam the city, and you’ll get to see the Round Tower as well as the Danish Rural Church.

If you’re feeling especially religious, stop by the Old Mission Church and get a glimpse of its beautiful architecture and serene surroundings.

Food to Eat

Just because the city Danish, doesn’t mean that’s all the food that you’ll end up eating. Numerous restaurants in Solvang offer a variety of cuisines, including America, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, European, and Danish (of course).

Explore the city’s wide range of restaurants, bakeries, and diners. The most note-worthy ones include Paula’s Pancake House (which serves the best Danish pancakes in the area), the Big Bopper Drive-In (a charming 50’s style drive-in which really takes you back to the old days), Café Dolce (for the best shaved ice, gelato, and ice cream in town), and the Red Viking Restaurant (which offers authentic Danish and American Cuisine).

Yes, Solvang clearly has something for every taste, personality, or palette out there. Be sure to visit this wonderful town whenever you’re in the Santa Ynez area (or even if you’re not). You won’t regret it.

Image credit: vmiramontes on Flickr

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