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Explore Solvang: California's Danish Disneyland!

Solvang, California, the Danish Capital of America, has evolved into an exciting culinary destination, as renowned chefs and food-savvy entrepreneurs set up shop in this Danish Disneyland. Solvang now boasts three Michelin-recommended restaurants, including a Bib Gourmand. Venture beyond traditional pastries, meatballs and aebleskiver (“able-skeever”) to enjoy Solvang’s burgeoning gourmet scene.

Located in the Santa Ynez Valley above Santa Barbara, the village of Solvang feels worlds away from city life. Surrounded by rolling green hills with four wooden windmills, Solvang is somewhat reminiscent of a pristine English village or idyllic German countryside town and has become one of the most visited spots in America.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Solvang!

Five Dining Discoveries

Ramen Kotori

Find some of the best ramen in California at 5-year-old Ramen Kotori. The owners worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Napa and a Michelin Bib Gourmand ramen shop. This noodle gem offers hearty portions and unique options like Oxtail Wonton Ramen and Udon Noodles with Hope Ranch Mussels. Try the Shoyu Ramen, Vegetarian Miso Ramen or locally sourced specialties like uni rolls, spiny lobster and shrimp dumplings with uni butter and chanterelle mushrooms.

peasantsFEAST

The only restaurant in California’s Central Coast to be awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2022 Michelin Guide, peasantsFEAST is an indoor/outdoor dining room with plants, cookbooks and grandiose basket-weave chandeliers. Lunch or dinner here is the highlight of any culinary road trip, with menus that change regularly based on seasonal ingredients and new flavor profiles. Sandwiches put the restaurant on the map—Instagram-worthy Grilled Cheese Creations, Hot Chicken, Pastrami Smoked Salmon, and the Lil’ McFEAST Smash Burger—and are also available picnic-style next door at to-go-only peasantsDELI.

First and Oak

Winner of the Michelin Plate Award in 2019, First and Oak at the Mirabelle Inn has now been listed in the Michelin Guide for a 5th consecutive year. Choose from 3/5-course set seasonal menus (with wine pairings). Spring Menu highlights include a Sweet Potato and Granny Smith Apple Salad, Morro Bay oysters, Sunchoke Risotto and Braised Short Rib with broccolini, locally foraged chanterelles and sweet potato puree.

Solvang Restaurant

Try traditional Danish bites like juicy Danish sausage with a sweet sauce or Aebleskiver, doughy pastry mounds doused with raspberry jam and powdered sugar, which are traditionally served around the holidays in Denmark.

The Village’s “Fab Five” for Danish Pastries

Find traditional pastries—Danish Kringle, cinnamon rolls or a cream cheese blueberry Danish—at one of the original Danish bakeries: Birkholm’s Bakery & CafeOlsen’s Danish Village BakeryDanish Mill Bakery, Mortensen’s Danish Bakery and Solvang Bakery. The count recently rolled up to six, when Danish Mill Bakery opened storefront offshoot Brød & Kage.

Four Sipping Situations

Brick Barn Estate Winery

While technically minutes outside Solvang, Brick Barn Estate was voted Best Tasting Room in the Santa Ynez Valley. Enjoy a sunny outdoor tasting experience at this former 36-stall barn, part of a former world-class Arabian horse farm.

Kings Carey Wines

For a boutique wine-tasting experience, make an appointment with local winemaker James Sparks to sample small-production wines with single varietal and single-vineyard bottlings, made with minimal manipulation. Kings Carey Wines “Let the region tell its story and help the fruit fulfill its destiny.” Savor the grenache and sparkling pinot noir rose in the small bottling facility.

V Lounge at The Vinland

Come for Happy Hour at V Lounge from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m., for custom craft cocktails and a stellar lineup of martinis. Pair one with Danish meatballs smothered in gravy, Caramelized Brussels or a freshly made Smoked Salmon Flatbread with crème fraiche and fresh veggies. You’ll go home thinking about this orchestra of flavors.

High Roller Tiki Lounge 

Have a blast day or night, surrounded by colorful tiki décor. Meet a whole cast of characters while sipping an Island Tsunami in a tiki glass with glowing ice cubes and all the tropical fixings. Try the signature Neon Numbskull served in a slot machine ceramic tiki mug with a spicy Szechuan flower, bound to make your mouth tingle, buzz, feel numb and all sorts of weird sensations enhancing each cocktail sip.

Three Memorable Hotels

New Haven Inn

Convenient for walking downtown, the New Haven Inn is newly renovated with plush modern décor, featuring comfy linens, stylish bathrooms and fire pits on private patios in select rooms. Recent updates include an expansion with 10 new guest rooms and suites including two penthouses with full kitchens.

The Winston

Situated in the heart of town, this adorable hotel with 14 unique rooms offers the convenience of self-check-in, with cheery, colorful, whimsical décor and design. Ask for a room with a balcony on the top level overlooking the park. The hotel has hip common areas such as an Honor Bar stocked with local wines and craft beer.

Alisal Ranch

Just outside downtown Solvang, this 10,500-acre working ranch offers a menu of activities including a petting barn, horseback riding, golfing, tennis, ax throwing, archery, biking, wine tasting and fishing in a private lake. The country-luxe property offers 73 suites and private cottages, all donned in an upscale Ralph Lauren feel. Relax at the spa or pool and energize at the fitness center. Breakfast, drinks (alcoholic and non) and dinner are included in the nightly rate. Alisal Ranch has been welcoming guests for over 75 years and it’s no wonder so many return.

Two Unique Museums

Hans Christian Anderson Museum

Marvel at an amazing collection of the author’s rare books and artifacts donated from a local family at The Book Loft, celebrating one of the greatest Danish writers who influenced millions of children with many popular stories.

Elverhøj Museum of History and Art

Explore the history of the town and its Danish roots in a half-timbered former home where Solvang’s rich past is now preserved and displayed along with the arts.

Solvang has three other little museums worth a visit: California Nature Art Museum, Solvang Viking and Amber Museum, and the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum.

One Danish Capital of America in the Sun-Soaked Santa Ynez Valley: Solvang!

 

 

 

Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, the village of Solvang feels worlds away from city life. Surrounded by rolling green hills with four wooden windmills, Solvang is somewhat reminiscent of a pristine English village or idyllic German countryside town and has become one of the most visited spots in America.

  • Alisal Ranch
  • First and Oak
  • First and Oak
  • New Haven Inn
  • Solvang Restaurant
  • The Winston
  • V Lounge