Sojourn to Solvang
You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged since last Wednesday. I have a perfectly good explanation for that. I was on VACATION! Yay! My family and I took a little trip to the Santa Ynez Valley – an agriculturally rich area just north of Santa Barbara. We had an awesome time and saw sooooo much in our mini vacay.
So, in honor of my trip I now crown this week – SANTA YNEZ WEEK. Each day, I will be writing about a town we visited on our stay (with a break for the 4th). Without further ado, I present our first stop – SOLVANG.
As you may have inferred from the photo above, Solvang is a town with a theme. That theme would be Denmark. Over a hundred years ago the town was settled by Danish immigrants who decided to create a miniature version of their homeland in the Santa Ynez Valley. Over the years, the town has evolved into a sort of theme park with Danish themed stores, restaurants, hotels…pretty much everything. For some, it may be the epitome of kitsch, but to me it’s all about nostalgia. You see, when I was a little kid Solvang was a regular vacation spot for me and the fam. As such, I will always have a soft spot for the it and it’s phony Danish ambiance.
We ended up using Solvang as our home base and found a nice inexpensive place to stay – the Hamlet Inn.
A former cheap motel, the Hamlet Inn has been completely redone in hipster. It maintains a Danish theme but with a definite IKEA edge.
At $99 a night it was one of the cheapest games in town. I have no complaints – it was clean and quiet and offered one of my favorite parts of the trip – bikes!
When you stay at the Hamlet Inn you get free access to their bicycles. My sister and I made good use of this and took a morning ride around the town. LOVED it!
Now the biggest lure for most to Solvang is the food (danish pastries specifically) and the shopping (gift shops galore). I’m not too interested in either of these things so what’s a gal to do?
For one a visit to the Book Loft is in order. One of the few shops that stays open after 5 (8pm y’all!) it’s a hidden gem amongst the tourist traps. The loft has a wide selection of new books on the first floor and a plethora of used on the second floor. AND it’s home to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. You see, Hans is a big deal around these parts as he’s probably the most famous Dane around.
So naturally, they would have a museum devoted to him. It’s a hidden gem located on the second floor of the shop. Admission is free and you’ll find lots of information on the writer and his works. Here are some of my favorite pieces –
|The Princess and the Pea|
|So many versions of The Little Mermaid|
I was so happy to come across this place. The staff was super friendly, the book selection was excellent, and museum was a delight. If you’re in Solvang, be sure to stop in!
When it comes to food and drink
|this place actually had a great selection of Danish candy|
Solvang is also home to many Danish restaurants and bakeries. We didn’t delve too deeply into the selection and only tried a couple of places.
For dinner we went to the Solvang Brewing Company. Like the Hamlet Inn, it offers an updated take on the Danish theme with a craft brewery hidden inside a touristy building.
And like the Book Loft it’s one of the few places open late (2am, wha???). Not too hungry, we decided to go share a bunch of starters – sausage and pretzel platter, open faced sandwiches, and fries (sweet potato and plain). I’d show ya, but we dug in before I was able to snap a pic. The fries were excellent and the others dishes were also good. When, I’m back in the area I’m definitely gonna give the brewery another whirl.
As it was so convenient (and had great Yelp reviews) we made sure to stop here for breakfast. OH MY GOODNESS! It was deeeelicious! Their specialty is Danish pancakes – very thin, very large, covered in powdered sugar and so, so tasty. Again, I totally forgot to take a pic but here’s an example –
Doesn’t it look so good! And believe me, it was!
So aside from books and food, what else is there to do in Solvang? Well, no road trip in California is complete without a visit to a mission and Solvang has a lovely one – Mission Santa Ines. It’s only $5 to tour and is worth every penny. Here are some highlights –
Isn’t it beautiful? And this is the view from the parking lot.
So much open space! For a city girl like me this is a rare sight.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part two: Lovely Los Olivos.