A Gentleman and a Rogue

Thursday, June 14, 2012

California Thursday - A Visit to Solvang, CA


About 2 hours north of where I live is Solvang, CA, a town in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. For those who enjoy California wine, The Santa Ynez Valley is home to several fine wineries including Alexander and Wayne and Blackjack. (seen in the movie "Sideways.")

I love to visit Solvang for several reasons. In fact, these last couple of years, it's been a rare opportunity to have a night with my husband. We usually like to go around my birthday which falls around the first weekend of June.

Solvang is a town that captures Danish ambience with replicated facades, Danish cooking, and old-fashioned charm. For me, personally, its strikes a romantic chord in my heart. My husband and I were married in the Danish city of Nykobig, Denmark in 1991. And while Nykobig and Solvang are miles apart, both have an ambience that endears itself to us.


Since my husband enjoys camping, we usually camp out at the local RV park in nearby city of Buellton. After we set up, we head off to Los Olivos to visit the wine tasting rooms.

One of our favorite rooms is the Alexander and Wayne winery. They do a wonderful job on their reds. The Pinot is my husband's favorite, while I tend to enjoy the Cuvee Five, which is a blend in the French style. This year, I tried their chardonnay and found it enjoyable. I don't care for an "oaky" chardonnay, but this one was light on the oak with nice fruit flavors.

Then it was off to test some olive oil. Usually we arrive when the town is having an Olive & Jazz festival, but we missed it this year. We popped into Olive Hill and sampled the flavors, buying a bottle of the basil and garlic. Think I just found a new novelty gift.


We then headed over to the Hitching Post for a steak dinner. I had the filet mignon. It was a bit pricey, but a nice treat. The steakhouse next to the Hitching Post, AJ Spurs, was also seen in the movie "Sideways."

My husband and I loved that movie. We adore Paul Giamatti, who is a great character actor.

The next morning, we grilled our breakfast, packed up the 4Runner, and hung around Solving. I enjoyed a "Danish waffle" and coffee while Brent had a doubt chocolate delight pastry with his java.

We walked up to the Santa Ynez mission. I usually take a mass at the mission, but I didn't this trip, just opting for a stroll. The rose garden at the mission isn't what you might think of as a traditional garden, since its surrounded by desert rocks and cactus.

The Santa Ynez mission is part of the missions established by Father Junipero Sierra. It has a traditional mission fa├žade. The missions of California helped to settle the state in the late 1700's, early 1800's.


Solvang itself was settled in 1911 by Danish colonists wanting to avoid the mid-western winters. The name means "sunny fields."

On 5 June 1960, Princess Margrethe of Denmark visited the city. She returned in 1976, now Queen of Denmark. In 2011, Solving celebrated its 100 year anniversary. The Queen's husband, Prince Hendrik dedicated Solvang's centennial Plaza on 11 June, which was also his 77th birthday.

Other interesting facts:

Cyclist Lance Armstrong trained for the Tour de France in the area around Solvang since it provides a variety of conditions similar to the French challenges.

There's a vintage motorcycle museum in Solvang with bikes from 1910 on up.

My husband and I found a charming little shop with a Christmas-all-year theme. We also stopped into the Thomas Kinkcaide art gallery. I was surprised to learn Kinkcaide had painted a lot of Disney motifs, but my favorite was a portrait of Venice and St. Mark's Cathedral.

For me, Solvang reminds me of Denmark and my fond memories of Europe. Inspiration can be found everywhere. You go from the wineries, to the Olive tastings, to the mission, to the town itself and ideas just grow. Solvang is low-key, quaint, and charming. It's a nice getaway. Maybe next year I'll get 2 days to explore instead of one. ☺

18 comments:

  1. Thanks! I'm looking for some sightseeing options when I head west in a month. This will go on the list. If not this trip, then a future one for sure.

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    1. Kelly, thanks for popping in. Solvang is a nice treat, trust me. Let me know if you go and what you thought! If you get a chance, check out the movie Sideaways. You'll see a lot of the local area in it.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  2. Looks like a picturesque place to visit. And the wine tasting might be fun. I enjoyed going to the wineries around Grand Junction CO.

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    1. Tina, Don't you love visiting a winery? It's so low key and enjoyable. hehe. Do you have a favorite winery up your way?

      Steph

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  3. Enjoyed sharing your visit with you and like you reveling in fond memories of Denmark. Now I'm craving a genuine Danish pastry!

    Angela Britnell

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    1. OMGosh if I could mail you one of these, I would, Sweetie. My husband double chocolate pastry was so sweet I couldn't finish my half. And I LOVE chocolate. :)

      Steph

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  4. Steph--I am so excited! I have been to this town. One year we did a West Coast bus tour (I like someone to take me places, show me where to eat, and what to see, and then take me to my bed for the night.) Anyway, we'd done LA to some extent, and then drove N to a couple of wineries. We stopped in this little town for a few hours to eat, shop, and explore. It was just beautiful.

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    1. How exciting, Celia. Isn't Solvang a gem? What was your favorite around town? The pastries? wine? visiting the mission?

      smiles
      Steph

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  5. Oh what a wonderful place to visit.. I will put this on my list of places to visit should I ever finally get to California.. I love "Christmas" store that are open all year round and I have been to a few near me and those I have visited on my travels.. And I love to visit wineries and small villages to explore and find wonderful treasures..

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    1. Kathleen, I love a Christmas all year around store, too. You know, I believe the Yankee Candle store in Massachusetts has an all year around Christmas store as well.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  6. Sounds like a fun place to visit. I admire your adventurous spirit to hop in the car and go camping. And how fun for you guys to have that extra romantic punch of scenery to remind you of your European courting days!

    Enjoyed it. Maggie

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    1. If you're ever out here and you can swing by, Solvang, I highly recommend it, Sweetie. That's what makes the town special - how it reminds us of our trip to Denmark to get married.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  7. What a charming little town. You make it so sound so romantic, the perfect place to celebrate. Although I went to the big cities San Diego, Los Angelos and San Francisco, I'm dreaming of taking a bus tour of the West Coast.

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    1. Mona, I'd have to say San Francisco is my favorite. I love the ambience of the town and that it's close to wine country. San Diego is nice too. Lots to do with the kids since Legoland and Sea World are close.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  8. I live about an hour and a half north of Solvang, and cannot say enough about that little town. The area, really. Some of the most beautiful horse ranches are nestled there, and the tastiest wines. It's about time for another visit. Great post!!

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    1. Sheri, yes, it's time for a visit! :) Where are you at? I love the central coast region of California.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  9. What a lovely place to visit, especially when it brings back those memories of Europe for you! The only part of Denmark itself we've visited was Copenhagen some years ago.

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    1. Copenhagen is lovely in itself with its unusual buildings and spires. And I loved the people. They were very friendly and helpful.

      Smiles
      Steph

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