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A Touch of Denmark in Southern California. Velkommen til Solvang.

Just a two and a half hour drive north of Los Angeles, you exit the 101 freeway you are just in time to stop and get some pea soup at Split Pea Andersen’s, but instead you take a right. About two miles in you see the sign, Welcome to Solvang, in that fabulously old European font. Set in the San Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara is the small Danish town of Solvang. With their building facades and windmills placing any visitor right in Denmark, Solvang is a wonderful place to spend a quiet weekend or even take a day trip to enjoy the shops and restaurants.

A windmill in downtown Solvang, Calif.
Megan Oliver

Any trip to Solvang has to start the same way. A stop into the Solvang Restaurant on Copenhagen Drive to have a taste of their famous aeblwskivers, the traditional Danish pancakes. Located right in the middle of town you are able to walk in any direction and explore any of the many store fronts that line the downtown area. From antique shops, bakeries, used book stores, tasting rooms and mom and pop shops this town has something for everyone.

On a recent Thursday afternoon I had family in town and wanted to entertain them. Already seeing the sights of Los Angeles we hoped in the car and took the short ride up the coast. Antique shopping and wine tasting kept us busy for the afternoon spending a lot of time in Lucas and Lewellen’s tasting room.

We just happened to stumble into the tasting room and my sister and I were pleased by the company we had with the servers and the two different flights we chose. Their red wines were rich yet light and their whites were fun and flavorful. Our server explained to us that the grapes are locally grown within 40 miles of Solvang in the three different climates of Santa Barbara County.

With a little buzz on we continued down Copenhagen Drive stopping into the different tourist shops and antique shops. Solvang Antiques was a true treasure. Coo coo clocks, record players, paintings, jewelry and even an old cash register; there was hundreds of items to ooh and awe at. The jewelry was amazing; unique and colorful. I was in love with all of the rarities in the store. Chocolate stores, the used book store and a Thomas Kinkade gallery were also on our list to stop at while we were in town.

After a few hours we decided to beat to traffic back to L.A. and get on the road. On our way out of town, right at the Solvang-Buellton town line is an ostrich farm my sister had to stop at. Ostrichland USA cost $4 admission per adult for us to walk around a few pens with hundreds of ostriches and emu walking around. For another fee we were even able to feed them, but this city girl opted out of that. After strolling around the gift shop we headed back home.

With their fabulous tasting rooms, quant shops and delicious aeblwskivers, Solvang is the perfect getaway from the big city. The drive up the coast is relaxing and beautiful and the perfect beginning to your central coast mini vacation. Until next time Solvang. Farvel.