Solvang: A Pocket of Europe in Your Southern California Backyard

By Makenna Dystra

Built in traditional Danish style, Solvang is the perfect getaway for those craving a foreign travel experience.

Photo: Soly Moses from Pexels.

Many international and domestic travel plans have stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Henceforth, it forced people to find comfort and adventure alike in their homes. Additionally, as vaccines and testing are reaching the public, travel has become a safer possibility, especially road trips. For those centered in Southern California and craving an international experience, Solvang is waiting for you!

Solvang is located just over two and a half hours from Los Angeles by car, slightly north of Santa Barbara. Solvang is self-described as “A little slice of Denmark in Southern California.” Danish immigrants founded it seeking to preserve a piece of Denmark in their new American home.

Photo: Elena @krulevna

About Solvang

The town is built in Danish architecture style. In particular, it has thatched roof houses, artificial timbering and four windmills in the downtown area, most of them full-sized. Not to mention, many of the residents speak Danish. This creates a truly immersive experience and a perfect opportunity to practice your Danish.

Moreover, almost all the local businesses are open for visitors in Solvang with masking and social distancing regulations in place. Most restaurants offer outdoor dining and takeaway options to enjoy the cuisines of Danish, Japanese, Mexican and traditional American-style.

For those with a sweet tooth, Solvang boasts five authentic Danish bakeries, in addition to several other non-Danish bakeries which sell delicious homemade goods. The small village is overflowing with opportunities to taste-test your favorite cream puffs, Danish waffles, Aebleskivers and more.

Located in the midst of Santa Barbara wine country, Solvang also offers over 20 wine tasting rooms in the village itself. Many of the wineries – of which there are 120 nearby – themselves are offering outdoor tours or takeaway options for their guests.

Photo: @solvangusa

Places to Eat in Solvang:

  • At the Copenhagen Sausage Garden (CSG), try one of their eleven house-made sausages (including vegetarian options) alongside a traditional Danish beer.
  • Cailloux is a local and family-owned cheese shop bustling with delicious bites to eat. Specifically, that includes cheeses, meats, fresh breads, dried fruit, olive and truffle oil, jams and jellies, chocolates, local honey and much more.
  • In like manner, try the Danish Mill Bakery for all bakery needs. Recently celebrating its 60th anniversary in Solvang, this bakery is a local favorite for everything from danish to croissants and macaroons.
  • Sevtap Winery finds its home at the base of a windmill and pours delicious wine. They specialize in Bordeaux style red wines. Tastings requires advanced appointments. Additionally, the small family-owned business is perfect for any tapas or decadent food needs.

Photo: Portia Gorman @inspiredchick

Places to Shop in Solvang:

 

Unfortunately, many of Solvang’s museums are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.  However, many local boutiques and shops remain open for shopping. 

  • Stop by The Book Loft, a quaint local bookshop. They offer classic novels, current bestsellers and even a specialized Scandanavian literature section. Additionally, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum is located here as well. They welcome masked visitors to learn about the fairytale author’s life and stories.
  • The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, located in a hand-crafted home derived from Danish architecture, is open at 25% capacity for visitors to learn about Solvang history and Scandinavian history, including Viking art and lore. Moreover, admission to the museum and the museum grounds is free.
  • The Good Life is a small shop owned by a local husband and wife. They sell premier craft beer and boutique wines from breweries and wineries in the local area. Tastings are available at The Good Life Shop, as well as bottled purchases online or in person.
  • In search of a keepsake for the Danish experience? Explore Rasmussen’s Solvang. This small shop offers virtually every Danish souvenir imaginable, including Ekelund linens, candles, chocolates, cookbooks and more.
  • For those with a sweet tooth, pop into the Old Danish Fudge Kitchen. A sweets shop offering handmade fudges in the classic Mackinac Island style, caramel apples, salt water taffies and Danish style cookies, all in seasonal flavors.

Read next: Becoming Los Angeles

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