Difference between revisions of "Solvang"
Revision as of 19:22, 26 January 2008
Solvang is in Santa Barbara County in Southern California. The city is Danish themed as if it were the Danishland section of Disneyland. While the tourism industry does try to import genuine Danish culture and architecture, it can be a bit skin-deep. If you have a last name that is common in Denmark, expect the desk clerk at the hotel to be unable to spell it.
If you are vaguely interested in shops selling Danish wares, or interested in seeing Americans pretending to be Danish, by all means have a visit.
Highway 101 is the closest main artery to Solvang. Exit at Buellton and follow Highway 256 to Solvang.
Santa Barbara and Santa Maria are the nearest airports. Both are small; the nearest large airports are in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Santa Maria and Santa Barbara also have the nearest Amtrak train stations.
Downtown Solvang is very compact and walkable; however, it is advisable to have a car to explore the surrounding area, and because the most convenient way to get into town is by car, you are likely to have one during your visit.
Parking throughout town is free, and even the off-the-beaten-path spaces are not too far from the action.
Keep an eye out for windmills all along the main streets. Many are shops and restaurants in disguise (albeit thin).
An ostrich farm marks the rough halfway point between the village of Solvang and the highwayside town of Buellton. Ostrich burgers are featured on many local menus; the meat, while red, is very lean and a great favorite among the health-conscious.
Mission Santa Ines  is one of 21 missions founded along the California coast by Spanish priests in the late 18th century. Some of the original adobe building material is visible in places. Catholic Masses take place regularly.
Rent a surrey bike and pedal through town.
Stock up on fruits and veggies at the farmers market, 1st St. at Copenhagen Drive, Wednesdays 2:30pm - 6pm. Take your purchases to the adjacent park for a picnic.
Delve into a bit of Danish culture and history at the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art .
Live out your own fairy tale at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum .
Get in a round of golf at the lovely riverside Alisal Resort .
Visit the Chumash casino , which offers slots, table games, dining, entertainment, and spa services.
Downtown is full of bakeries offering pastries of all types. Be sure to splurge on a plastic tub of assorted Danish butter cookies. There are also a number of tempting candy shops offering assorted chocolates, candies, and European specialty sweets.
Toy stores also abound in the town. Many specialize in hand-crafted or Danish-style toys.
Vinhus of Solvang, 440 Alisal Road,  sells a selection of European imported groceries. A hearty selection of international wines, cheeses, and condiments are complemented by tea service items. Stop here to gather ingredients for a picnic. Make sure to chill your bottle in the wine bath before you leave.
Two notable area specialties include aebleskievers (a sort of spherical pancake, often served with a raspberry jam sauce) and the smorgasbord (a Nordic-themed all-you-can-eat buffet). Both are Danish-inspired and shouldn't be missed! Most local restaurants have a version of one or the other, if not both.
Watch local menus for ostrich burgers, which taste much like hamburgers but are much leaner and lower in cholesterol.
The Red Viking, 1684 Copenhagen Drive, offers Danish and American classics.
The Solvang Restaurant, 1672 Copenhagen Drive,  boasts the best aebleskievers in town.
Paula's Pancake House, 1531 Mission Drive, is a local breakfast institution.
The Hitching Post II  is a bit out of the way in Buellton but is now too famous to be passed up. Huge portions of unique and delicious BBQ as well as a fabulous selection of local wines will satisfy any palate.
Mattei's Tavern  in nearby Los Olivos started out as a stagecoach stop and now serves fresh California cuisine and local wines.
After the smash hit movie, the vineyards and wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley are more famous than ever.
Nojoqui Falls  (read NAW-ho-ee) is a pleasant state park with parking and picnic facilities. A lovely fifteen-minute walk inclines steeply at the end but rewards the effort with a beautiful pond and waterfall.
There are several beaches following Highway 101 South.
Other California missions near Solvang include Mission La Purisima Concepcion (101 South toward Lompoc), and Mission Santa Barbara (101 South to Santa Barbara).
Santa Barbara, approximately one hour south of Solvang, represents the quitessential California beach town.