Monday, February 29, 2016

California's own Denmark: Solvang

Looking for a weekend getaway from the Bay Area? Headed to Los Angeles and want to spend a few hours somewhere in between? Want to get away from the techie South Bay to a place that is different? Have a liking for Wine tasting but done Napa several times? All your questions can lead you to this place: Solvang!

The Danish town of Solvang is about 300 miles South of San Francisco and 132 miles North of Los Angeles. When one drives towards the town from San Francisco, most of the drive is on US-101. Then, the busy highway leads to a chic town, full of windmills, eateries, wineries and colorful buildings! The Danish town, spread over just 2.2 square miles in area houses museums, wine tasting rooms, bakeries, art galleries and even a replica of Copenhagen's Round Tower or Rundetarn in the ratio 1:3 as the Town Square.

The best plan would probably be to drive there on Saturday from SF, spend the day shopping, wine tasting and discovering Danish history. Spend the night at one of the hotels there, enjoy a Danish breakfast and take a ride around town on the Hen (Honen) driven trolley and then start back to the Bay Area! An action packed weekend in a silent, beautiful town in the heart of California. If one is pressed for time and wants to explore this place while driving from the Bay to Los Angeles, one can finish most things in about 3-4 hours. Most places there shut by 5 p.m. so one has to ensure they are there by at least 1 p.m. to explore everything in time!

Here is a short itinerary that can be followed:

If one is a fan of history and culture, start with the trolley tour. With $12 per person, the henon tour starts outside the Visitor' Centre on Copenhagen Drive and heads into the lanes of the town. The guide on board explains the history of the town and there are great picture spots throughout the 25 minute tour! Else, there are bicycles to rent and see around the place.

After the trolley tour, next on the list should be the wine tasting rooms. For those who like tasting, head out to one of the twenty wine and beer tasting rooms. There are plenty to chose from, but one could experiment with one or two on Copenhagen Drive.

If the wine does not get one tipsy, exploring the town on foot would be a great option. If one starts from the Town centre, the first photo spot would be the BIG shoe outside Solvang Shoe Store. The shoe is big enough to sit in it! Next is the Elverhog Museum of History and Art and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum and the famous Old Santa Mission Ines. All these places can be enjoyed in a couple of hours, with a few photo shots along the streets. One might catch a vintage motorcycle or car while walking along the Danish buildings. The last spot is the Mermaid statue and the park that has the statue of Hans Christian. 

After exploring the Danish architecture and history, it would be time to indulge in some tasty food. Danish bakeries the line the streets are perfect for that. There is one Mortensen Bakery that is great and Solvang Restaurant. We had sandwiches and the famous Aebleskiver pancakes at Solvang Restaurant. They were awesome! Fluffy warm pancakes made from sweet dough, topped with powdered sugar and fresh raspberry jam. Super awesome!

After a quick bite, one can either check in at one of the lovely hotels in the town or head straight towards San Francisco or Los Angeles. Remember, the town has most places that shut at five! So make sure the mementos are bought, food done and photos taken. After that, one can explore the parks, the architecture or just relax!

This place boasts of a rich Danish culture in the heart of California, and is a must visit if you are around the Bay. 

For more information, check these reference sites: 

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