Amongst the hills of Southern California is the Danish Capital of America. A small town, a little over 2 hours north of Los Angeles, located in the heart of the SoCal Wine Country, Solvang makes a great getaway full of fun, history, and delicious treats! You’ll immediately notice the farm-style architecture, perhaps the windmills, and plenty of great restaurants and shops in this town that was established in 1911. There are over 150 shops in this town with a population of just over 6,000. Personally, being part Danish makes visiting this town that much more special!
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Let’s start with the good stuff, food! There are many different restaurants to indulge in, so it’s hard to go wrong. However, if you want some Danish treats, I recommend checking out Paula’s Pancake House. Obviously, you should try the Danish Pancakes! Then there’s Mad & Vin, with a wine country inspired, farm-to-table menu, and a great happy hour. The Copenhagen Sausage Garden has lots of…you guess it, sausage! At the Solvang Restaurant you can try an Æbleskiver. If you’ve never had one of these, they’re yummy! I actually make them at home because they are just delicious! Then stop off at Solvang Flavors for dessert. While they have regular food, they also have Italian Gelato, chocolates created by a French chocolatier, and a coffee bar.
Danish Treats in Solvang Bakeries
Now that we’re done with meals, let’s talk treats! Our first stop was Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery and we got a large variety to take with us on the rest of our road trip. One of the treats we were excited to see was these wafers with marshmallow fluff, and then dipped in chocolate! Here they called it a Copenhagen Kiss. Growing up it was always one of our favorites! Next is Mortensen’s Danish Bakery where you can get a bucket full of fresh Danish Butter Cookies, along with so much more! There’s also the Danish Mill Bakery and The Solvang Bakery. While you’ll find a lot of similar items in each bakery, can you really have too much of a good thing? (The answer is no by the way!)
For even more treats, you can visit the Swedish Candy Factory, Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates, Old Danish Fudge Kitchen & Solvang Trolley Ice Cream Parlor.
For those adults visiting Solvang, there is no shortage of wineries to visit! In fact, there are over 125 area wineries (obviously not all in Solvang directly, but around it). A couple of places to consider visiting for a wine tasting include Demetria Winery & Vineyard, Bridlewood Estate Winery, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vino Vaqueros. A bonus is that at Vino’s they have horseback riding!
Visit the Jule Hus for Classic Danish Christmas Items
There’s more to do in Solvang than just eat and drink though. You can also shop! A favorite for me is Jule Hus. I’m kind of obsessed with Christmas, so I was like a kid in a candy shop! There are many beautiful Christmas decorations, including plenty of Nisses. These tiny gnome-like creatures from Scandinavian folklore that is most common around the holidays. They also have some beautiful nativity sets. Other great shops to check out include the Solvang Toyland, Book Loft & Copenhagen House. At the Solvang Shoe Store, there is a large red clog outside, but at the Copenhagen House, there’s a much larger one inside!
There are other great things to see and do around Solvang! You can visit the Mission Santa Ines. This was the 19th of the 21 missions established in California. It was founded on September 17, 1804, and currently offers tours. You can also visit Ostrichland USA, where you can feed some of the over 100 ostriches and emus. Then you can check out the Little Mermaid fountain. It’s a miniature version of the statue in Copenhagen. There are also a bunch of museums you can check out. There’s the Hans Christians Andersen Museum, the Wilding Museum of Art & Nature, the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, and The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art.
On Wednesdays, you can visit the Farmer’s Market from 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Here you can get fresh produce, flowers, and other food treats. Or consider renting a surrey bike to cart you around town. Think golf cart shape, but with bike petals instead of a motor. I mean, how fun is that!? And finally, you can take a Horse-Drawn Trolley around town! These operate Friday – Monday from 12 pm – 5 pm in the Summer, Winter, and early Spring.
When to Visit Solvang, California
If you’re trying to decide what time of year to visit, here are some other seasonal items to keep in mind! In the Spring there is a bit more rain, but it turns the hills bright green. In the Summer they have Danish Days in September. Typically, this includes parades, Æbleskiver breakfasts (like a pancake breakfast), folk dancers and musicians, lots of food, and fun activities like axe throwing. (This festival may have some adjustments as we return to normal.)
In the Fall you can partake in the Solvang Grape Stomp. As I mentioned earlier, you’re in the heart of the SoCal Wine Country, and with grape harvest happening in the fall, it’s the time when grape stomping would typically take place. So let your inner Lucy out enjoy feeling those grapes between your toes, and then go on to taste many other delicious wines that were not created with a stranger’s foot!
Finally, in the Winter Solvang becomes one of the “most Christmassy Towns in America” with their Julefest! There’s a Santa’s Village, tree lighting ceremony, a nativity pageant, local markets, candlelight tours, and another parade. The Nisse also tend to pop out and make an appearance during this festival, as there is a scavenger hunt of sorts where you can search for them around town. As a bonus, if you live somewhere it gets really cold in the winter, the average temperature in the winter here is 65 degrees F with an average low of 38.5 degrees, but rarely any measurable snow!
If you’re looking for other great winter vacation ideas in the US, check these out!
Would You Visit Solvang?
So, the next time you’re visiting Southern California, or if you live around there, make sure you add Solvang to your list of places to visit! Have you ever been? I’d love to hear about your experience!
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