"You have to go to Solvang"! As we met people along the way during our 2018 California road trip - this was a common recommendation we received. When learning my husband is from The Netherlands - people suggested we visit this "Dutch" town. Piquing our interest, we took a detour and discovered the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley and the very charming Danish village. 😉
With our schedule being flexible this trip, we spent a couple days in this lovely area about 35 miles from Santa Barbara.
Spend an Afternoon in Solvang
Don't miss wandering the streets of Solvang! Make a stop at the 1/2 size replica of the Little Mermaid, take a selfie with the windmill and take time to browse in the local shops. Those things may make it sound like a tourist trap... but instead I found the locals and thriving town endearing. The Solvang Visitor Center is also a terrific resource for things to see and do in the area. I chatted with a very friendly local who shared great insider tips!
Go For a Hike
Wanting to get some exercise with our dog - we chatted with a local who told us about Nojoqui Falls. It wasn't the hike we were anticipating, as it's only a short walk to the waterfall from the parking lot. What was noteworthy about it was the drive to the park on a small, winding road through beautiful farmland! Keep in mind there are numerous hiking choices in the area - but dogs aren't allowed on many of the longer trails.
Taste Local Wines (or Beers!)
We found some fantastic wineries and breweries while spending the day exploring the towns in Santa Ynez Valley. Don't miss a stop at the Fig Mtn Brewery in Los Olivos (the cutest little town!) - a casual vibe with tasty beers! Buttonwood Farm and Winery should also be on your list - a welcoming atmosphere where we purchased their olive oil for gifts.
Visit a Mission
The Old Mission Santa Ines was founded in 1804 and is one of the original 21 Missions founded by Franciscans along the Pacific Coast. There was a wedding the day we visited so we couldn't tour inside, but the grounds are nice to explore and showcase a gorgeous view of the valley!
Dine on Traditional European Fare
My husband recommends the schnitzel at the Red Viking Restaurant (in Solvang) - so much so, we had to go twice. 😉 If you have a sweet touch - you're in the right place... so many bakeries to choose from (unfortunately I didn't have time to try them all)! I suggest the cinnamon rolls at Olsen's Danish Village Bakery (also in Solvang) - yum! 🙂
Hope you've enjoyed our visit to the Santa Ynez Valley - it's a perfect weekend getaway!
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!