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Solvang, USA: California's Danish City
The city of Solvang sits in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California and is best known for its Danish-inspired architecture and design. Throughout the city, visitors will see windmills and aspects of Danish culture that aren't seen anywhere else in the country, providing a unique holiday destination and an escape from the trendy cities that make up the rest of this region.
Solvang was established by immigrants from Denmark and has kept those roots alive since it was founded in 1911. Visitors often find it enjoyable to wander the city and head into some of the windmills that they come across, as there is usually something interesting inside.
Explore Wine Country
No holiday in Solvang is complete without stopping by one or more of the area's wineries. In total, more than 120 different wineries can be found in the region, with most of them being small, family-run operations. Many of these wineries, such as Lost Point, Carivintas, Presidio, and Royal Oaks, have tasting rooms located right in the heart of town, making them accessible from hotels in the city. Other venues, like Passages Winery & Vineyard, Shoestring Winery, and Larner Vineyard sit just outside of the city itself but can be reached in a matter of minutes by car.
Another option is to take a wine tour of the region. Both cycling and motorised tours are available, so it is possible to experience some different wineries and vineyards on the same day, allowing visitors to see everything that this part of the world has to offer.
Shop the Boutiques
While a lot can be said for the convenience of shopping at a large mall, browsing the boutiques in a small city is always appealing. In Solvang, the downtown area has more than 150 shops that can't be found anywhere else in the world. This opportunity makes the city the perfect place for those who want to make a day out of wandering and seeing stores that don't exist anywhere else.
In particular, guests of the region enjoy looking through the art and antique boutiques that are scattered throughout Solvang, CA. Keep in mind that there are hotels in the area around these shops, as well, so it is easy to spend a care-free day having a look around.
When visiting Solvang, CA, you are sure to spend lots of time outside, as there is always plenty to do away from the city's hotels. Solvang Park is a popular destination that is open throughout the year and provides an excellent location for a picnic during the summer. Hans Christian Andersen Park is a Danish-themed park in the city that is full of large trees and features a castle archway.
Golf is a popular activity in Solvang, as well. The city has five golf courses in the surrounding area, with each featuring wonderful views and a natural environment. Alisal River Course is perhaps the most famous course, and it sits right along the Santa Ynez River, with the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background. The course also has four lakes. In addition, La Purisima is a challenging course that has hosted PGA events in the past, while Zaca Creek Golf Course offers more of a beginner's experience.
Festivals and Events
In late September, Solvang hosts Danish Days. This festival is always free to attend and features parades, dancers, music, and many other attractions. The festival takes place over an entire weekend, and most of the events are family friendly, giving those who are visiting the city during this time plenty to do.
Solvang Julefest is another popular event that brings people to the city's hotels every year. Since Solvang has been labelled as one of the top ten "Christmassy" towns in the entire country, California residents often flock to the area during this festival to revel in its Christmas spirit. This festival features shopping opportunities, visits with Santa Claus, a wine and beer tasting festival, a nativity pageant, and a holiday lights tour for visitors to experience.
Culture and History
There is plenty of history and culture to explore whilst in Solvang, starting with Mission Santa Inés. This building was the 19th of the 21 missions that were built along the California coast between 1769 and 1836 and still hosts Catholic Masses on a regular basis. Another famous historic venue in the city is the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, which allows visitors to experience a taste of Danish history without leaving the United States.
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum, while small, offers insight into the history of Denmark, as it celebrates the life and work of perhaps the country's most famous son. The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum is a favourite venue because it features a range of old and rare motorcycles, including race bikes from Europe. Keep in mind that due to the small size of Solvang, these venues are within walking distance of most of the city's hotels.