Not too far out of Los Angeles is the beautiful Danish village of Solvang. Mostly known for its Danish architecture and heritage, it’s also become a player in Santa Barbara County’s wine scene. I was looking to get away by myself for a couple days, and this seemed like a fun destination to explore.
You immediately know when you’re there, because of its authentic Danish architecture and windmills.
When in Solvang, be sure to look up at the storks atop many of their buildings. While these are replicas, actual storks are known to nest on rooftops in Denmark – in fact, people will often try to attract them to their roofs, as they bring good luck & protection to the homes on which they sit.
I spent most the afternoon walking up and down the two main streets, Copenhagen Drive and Mission Drive. The town is very pedestrian friendly, and the streets are lined with many shops, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants. As a solo traveler, I found it very easy to get around by just walking – even from my hotel which was a couple block off the main drag, it felt safe and comfortable both day and night. For my wine tasting, I decided on the Wandering Dog Wine Bar. I sampled a Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Cuvée, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. While I’m always partial to a good Cab, I especially liked their No Leashes Cuvée (45% Grenache, 45% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah).
COST: Wine Tasting Flight $15
California is home to over 20 historic missions and Solvang is home to the beautiful Mission Santa Ines. For a donation of $5 (to help with restoration & maintenance), you can take a self-guided tour through the grounds. Founded in 1804, this Mission survived a revolt in 1824 and established the first Seminary in California in 1844. The Church houses many beautiful artifacts, artwork, and vestments. The garden, which also includes the cemetery, is beautiful. And, there is a stunning rendition of the Stations of the Cross on their grounds, overlooking the nearby countryside that’s just breath-taking.
COST: Mission Santa Ines $5
After the Mission, I walked the length of Solvang one more time, enjoying the local decor and artwork. My favorite statues were of Hans Christian Anderson, the Little Mermaid, and Holger Danske – the mythical Danish folklore who, according to legend, will awaken the next time the Kingdom of Denmark is threatened by its enemies.
For something a little different, I made a stop at the Wildling Museum of Art & Architecture. Such a wonderful space! On the first floor was the “Celebrating the National Parks of California” exhibit, with photos, signage, and multi-media pieces highlighting the beauty in California’s National Parks. I saved a little here by buying an admission off Groupon.
COST: Groupon for Wildling Museum Admission $4
A short drive outside of town you’ll find Nojoqui Falls Park. It’s an easy, out-and-back trail that takes about 15-20 minutes to walk, depending on how much you like to explore the flora and fauna surrounding you. The effects of the drought were present at the time I went (2016), and there was no water running in the falls. A sad happenstance, yet still a beautiful sight.
COST: Nojoqui Falls Park Trail FREE
Here’s a look at my itinerary and budget for the weekend:
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