For those who found this post scouring the internet for best California wines, be warned, this is not a post about wine country. Sølvang had been on my list of places to visit for years now, ever since I heard about a small Danish town inland California that lives and breathes traditional Danish culture, I was hooked. I’m not Danish but my close family is, my aunt and cousins live in Copenhagen and we try to spend as much time there as we can, whenever possible. You can say my love for Danish things is of an adopted kind. Not to mention that Denish architecture, design and fashion is some of the world’s best. It’s a powerhouse when you think that Denmark only has 5 million people!
I’m willing to bet there are a ton of brands you didn’t even know were Danish: LEGO, Pandora, Bang & Olufsen, Bo Concept, Ganni, Ecco & Carlsberg to name a few. Some of these and more can be found at the Copenhagen House in Sølvang, a store dedicated to the best of Denmark, and you can pick out some clogs there while you’re at it.
But back to Sølvang and what makes it such an attractive place to visit. It’s a short 2.5 hour drive from LA which makes it a perfect weekend getaway. Located in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley it is also home to some of California’s famous wineries. If you’ve ever watched the movie ‘Sideways’ you will already know some of the highlights but what you may not know is that Sølvang is also home to a whopping 5 windmills and a Danish bakery at every corner. For a town of just under 6,000 residents that’s pretty impressive if you ask me. Most recently it was also location of a Vogue shoot with Bella Hadid. It’s the perfect place to come and chill out. There is no pressure to see everything because everything is within a 10 block walking radius. In fact you may want to make a point to spread everything out over a few days.
So where do you stay in a cute town like Sølvang? While there are adorable hotels all along the main strip, The Landsby stole our hearts. The hotel is one of the newer additions and it’s the perfect marriage of midcentury, Danish modernism and California cool. There are minimal amenities but I think you will find the centre courtyard, beautiful design and delicious eats at Mad & Vin (the hotel restaurant) to more than make up for not having a pool. The location is ideally central and in the morning a convenient walking distance away from one of the many bakeries so you can enjoy a fresh pastry to start your day. If you’d like to know more about The Landsby or even peep some more photos from our stay there I invite you to read our dedicated post to this beautiful property.
When you are fully aquainted with The Landsby and it’s time to venture out, The Good Seed is just a few blocks down the street. This adorably hipster coffee hang out is a great place to get some of that famous California brew and spend some time catching up on emails or even engaging in a conversation with the locals. The tiled back wall will also make for a perfect IG backdrop if that’s your jam.
And just like I mentioned earlier you won’t want to miss the many Danish bakeries awaiting you when you are ready to explore the town. I highly recommend doing a walking tour and trying to hit them all if you can, it’s a great way to get the lay of the land and have a little contest as to which spot makes the best short bread cookies *hot tip* many of the bakeries offer customized tubs of cookies to bring with you as gifts, if you are lucky you will be able to snag a two for one deal and make a lot of people back home very happy. Just walking around we counted at least 8 different spots but here are the ones you won’t want to miss: Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, Danish Mill Bakery, Birkholm’s Bakery & Sølvang Bakery.
FUN FACT: In Denmark danishes are actually called Vienna breads (Wienerbrød) as they were brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers. Go figure!
No trip to Sølvang could be complete without visiting a museum dedicated to one of Denmark’s most prominent authors, Hans Christian Andersen. The museum is located just above the bookshop, which is a treasure in it’s own right. You will want to bring your kids here to see the first editions of many of Andersen’s stories or even just to take a walk down memory lane for nostalgic purposes. You will find you can spend hours in the bookshop alone looking for your next summer read.
The one thing you will not want to miss is the Sølvang Trolley. It is about a 20 minute ride in a horse drawn trolley around downtown Sølvang filled with tidbits of information about the history of the town, it’s people and the architecture, that you may not learn otherwise. The guide is far from an authentic Dane but we’ll let it slide!
For more information about visiting Sølvang, the San Ynez Valley and to plan your trip make sure to visit www.visitsyv.com. xo