Tuesday, April 19, 2016

USA 2015 - Day 7: Solvang: the "Little Denmark" of California

Who would have thought that a quaint Danish village can be found nestled in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley, a good 2.5 hours drive from Los Angeles and just an hour away from Pismo Beach? Well, that's where we had our third stop of the day before heading to Los Angeles - in SOLVANG.

Before we arrived in the town though, the Taco Bell shop at Buellton, California, caught our attention. And since we haven't tried any tacos/burritos yet, we decided to drive by and get some take-out burrito. We got a burrito steak combo for USD7 inclusive of taxes. It was filling enough, considering we had just had our sandwiches an hour ago. 

Taco Bell
Address: 191 E Hwy 246, Buellton, CA 93427, USA
Phone number: +1 805-688-6683
SOLVANG. California 93463
Solvang, which means "sunny fields", was named by H. C. Hansen.

The historic town of Solvang was recommended by a friend who went on a trip to the US a few months ahead of us. When I saw her family travel photos I thought this place would be a good pit stop for lunch or snacks.

How to get there
From Taco Bell Buellton, the town of Solvang is just 3 miles away via Hway 246 E. 
From Los Angeles, 128 miles via US-101 N
From San Francisco, 297 miles via US-101 S


633 Chalk Hill Rd, Solvang, CA 93463

How to get there
Along Hway 246 into Solvang, turn left on Atterdag Road once you're in town driving along Mission Drive. Turn left after Eucalyptus Drive (3 blocks away) into the main entrance of the park - driving into a castle entrance.

One of the first Danish-inspired attractions to see on your way to the center of Solvang (coming from San Francisco or Monterey). It is a huge park with facilities for skateboarders and playgrounds for younger kids.

Junction of Mission Drive and Park Way

Center of the action for Danish Days celebrated in September, winterfest in December and Free Friday Night Movies in Summer. Also popular for picnics.

From the park, go along Park Way and you will find a parking lot which is a good place to leave your car and start your walking tour of Solvang.

Address: 1639 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
Phone Number: +1 805-688-6144
Website: solvangusa.com

Where else best to start our journey than to walk into a visitor center. We got our maps and asked for tips on what to see and how to go about exploring the town center given our limited time in town. Everything else is almost within walking distance from this point. Mostly merchant shops, you can find apparels, gifts and souvenirs, sweets/ice creams/chocolates, jewelry, museums, antiques, Danish bakeries (of course!) and much more.

The appeal of this town is far too different from the other cities in California. It gives visitors that Danish feel to the town with some familiar icons like the windmill, European-style shops/buildings and, yes, the aroma of freshly baked Danish bread. Hmmmmm...

"Where contemporary Denmark meets traditional Solvang"

Address: 1660 Copenhagen Drive

The one-stop shop for the best design brands from Denmark. I think this building is one of the more modern-designed ones in town as compared to the other more traditionally Danish shops. We were tempted to drop by and see what items were on display. Knowing that Lego is one of the brands showcased in The Copenhagen House, Ira was the eager one to march into the shop. I was a bit surprised to find Pandora to be the first shop after the entrance. I didn't know it was from Denmark! Just proves that travel is a learning experience ;)

Since I am embarking on my travel charm bracelet project, it was worth checking out if there was any special charm for Solvang (with a special price, of course). I was offered the windmill charm but the price was higher than my expected price so I said I'd think about it while we walk around town. Ira, on the other hand, has set his eyes on a Lego water bottle which he said was going to be his souvenir in this leg of our trip.

There were various products on display like toys, home furnishings/decors, jewelry, watches, kitchen items, etc. Brands include Lego, Pandora, Bering, Living, Danclog, and others. 
at the entrance of Copenhagen House
Here is the map of Solvang:

Here were some of the other places we've seen during our walk....
Solvang, California souvenir shirt....
and in front of that was a My Little Pony toy. We couldn't resist taking Ira's photo with it. And he obliged.
Solvang Toyland1664 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
Toys galore for the young and young at heart
Rasmussen's1697 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, USA
(corner of Copenhagen Drive and Alisal Drive)
Sells fine collection of Scandinavian products since 1946.
Perfect photo op just as you cross to see the windmill.

Address: 436 Alisal Rd # C, Solvang, CA 93463, United States

This Round Tower is a replica of the original round tower in Copenhagen 
but 1/3 of its original size. This is actually a pizza joint!
this was what we walked the stretch of Copenhagen Drive for, to see the windmill
Alisal Road is dotted with several chocolate shops and bakeries and souvenir shops. Good place to sit down, eat some ice cream or chocolate or Danish bread while mommy goes shopping for Solvang souvenirs.

Then we walked back along Copenhagen Drive and stopped by the Solvang Shoe Store to take a photo with this giant clog shoe.

Solvang Shoe Store1663 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463solvangshoe.com

After an hour or so walking around SOLVANG, it was time for us continue our travel on the road. It was good to be able to have a short break to stretch our legs and walk along the streets of this very interesting town of Solvang. It was refreshing for the eyes as the scenery was very different from the other cities in California.

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