It’s a long way from Europe. If like me you have never set foot in Denmark but you like sunshine, Danish cookies & pastries, windmills and something bigger than the world showcase at Epcot Center, then you might want to check this place out.
Northwest of Los Angeles (just east of highway 101) and a short drive from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley lies the picturesque village of Solvang. It vaguely sounded familiar and now I know why – it was mentioned in the movie Sideways. A movie which I loved by the way. The friend I was travelling with suggested we go on the advice of her sister who had just been there. If her sister suggested we go then that was enough for me to want to see what this town had to offer.
Okay, so it is touristy like we figured it would be with a population of roughly 5,000 people. But since we were already not too far away it was definitely worth the visit which included a stayover and lots of treats. It’s a funky getaway which appropriately translates to mean “sunny field.”
Founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants, Solvang now boasts many Danish bakeries. The woman who owned the hotel we stayed in the Solvang Inn also owned the restaurant across the street and several bakeries. She claimed Michael Jackson (his Neverland Ranch was in the Santa Ynez Valley) used to come in to buy her cookies. Turns out she owns half the town. There’s a Hans Christian Andersen Museum, four windmills, boutique inns and lodges with peaked roofs and monikors such as Svendsgaard’s Lodge and the Hamlet Inn, along with bedspreads emblazoned with the red-and-white Danish flag. Kitsch cuteness!
And you can’t escape the sugary appeal of Solvang’s multiple family-owned Danish bakeries. “There are more bakeries here than probably in the whole world” said one of the owners. So for breakfast we had coffee and multiple shared pastries. I chose the delicious Danish with custard but my travelling companions ordered a cinnamon bun and a bear claw – all pretty darn delicious. Not to mention non gluten-free and fairly fattening.
Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the 2004 wine soaked movie Sideways, which was partly shot in Solvang, and wineries in the area owe a certain amount of credit to the tourist boom that followed the film. Kind of like the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” did for *Savannah, Georgia. *I will post soon about this most charming city.
Next to bakeries sit more than 20 wine-tasting rooms. One winery is called Lucky Dogg Winery which I should not even plug since I sent my dogs photo in to a contest so he could be chosen to be on one of the bottles for their “Doggone Wines” label but he didn’t make the cut. I sent one
okay threeamazing photos. It may have something to do with his nose. Nevermind.
And so we’re told with Solvang its like they took the best parts of Denmark and put them onto two streets (it’s really bigger than that). Which means you don’t have to walk very far to get good pastries, wine and cheese.
Source: taken in part from The Vancouver Sun Travel