“Velkommen�? to Solvang!

There are many magical places in the US that can transport you into another time and space, but only one can take you across the sea to an authentic Danish village where the windmills, shops, and horse drawn carriages treat you to a trip to Denmark without the use of your passport.

Nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley among horse farms and wineries, Solvang is a Southern California gem boasting quaint architecture, courtyards filled with rose gardens, fig, peach and cherry trees and storks nesting on thatched rooftops. The windmills are cool; I have to say… you just don’t see many of them around anymore.

I happened upon this adorable town as a side trip while exploring the hills around Santa Barbara. A Danish word meaning “sunny field�?, Solvang was founded in 1911 and has charmed its visitors ever since. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants and beer gardens that offer the assorted Danish meal. However, since I’m not a big fan of sausage and red cabbage, I ate a light lunch and saved room for the delightful bakeries and sweet shops that line the streets.

A step back in time to the days of Hans Christian Andersen, Solvang has much to offer the traveler whether you’re with your kids, single, or on your honeymoon. I had a great time just checking it all out, but it’s the extensive wine country surrounding the area — made famous by the movie “Sideways” — that will draw me back again, real soon.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: “Copenhagen at Dusk” is a new promotion on five Saturday evenings this summer, running from 5-8pm on July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19 and Sept. 2. Solvang will close Copenhagen Drive to auto traffic and transform it into a pedestrian street with Danish folk dancing, folk music, carriage rides, and more. Call 805.688.0701 or visit their Web site for more info.)

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