Solvang, CA

Only a 45-minute drive from Santa Barbara, Solvang is a charming Danish-style getaway, nestled in the middle of Wine Country.

Midwestern Danes founded this village over 100 years ago when they traveled to settle around a 19th-century Spanish-colonial mission. I imagine they yearned for some California sun while in the dead of an Iowan winter.

Today, the village treasures its Danish heritage with a bit of kitsch and international flair. Rich in history and warm Christmas spirit, visit in December to soak in the twinkling lights and holiday cheer. Enjoy a stroll along Copenhagen Drive and a taste of Denmark at Solvang Restaurant, home of the Scandinavian pastry: Aebleskiver.

Solvang is an excellent base for exploring the Santa Ynez Valley, with plenty of accommodation to choose from in the village. If you prefer to avoid cutesy motels, The Landsby instead offers a modern Scandinavian aesthetic and is also an ideal starting point for exploring Solvang’s shopping nooks and bakeries.

Visit boutique shops across the street, like The Giving Ink for local crafts. A few blocks away, the Solvang Farmers Market is where California culture meets Danish tradition on Wednesday afternoons. 

Small Town USA

Villages like Solvang have so much to offer curious travelers. While it’s difficult to travel internationally this year, we still have a melting pot of cultures right here in our backyard. Bavarian-themed Leavenworth, WA comes to mind as another domestic example. Wherever you are, what are some of your favorite local gems?