Little Denmark: 8 Things to Do in Solvang
The first time I met you, I was 12 years old. Our time together was limited, lasting just a couple of hours, as we were on a time crunch to reach San Francisco. All I remember is that you were quite cute and filled with color.
Time passed on and I forgot about you, until I came across your picture recently. I didn't mean to take 17 years to come see you again, but I do apologize for not visiting sooner. Driving in, I saw the luscious green hills and see that the rain has been treating you well. You looked so happy, full of life, and I was just as excited to explore with you as you were with me. I didn't know what to expect, but what you showed me in three short days, has made me promise you that I'll come back again - sooner than later.
Solvang, also known as Little Denmark, is a two and a half hour drive from Los Angeles, just passed Santa Barbara. Upon the surface, Solvang may not look exciting and most of the town is closed after 8PM every night. However, you should never judge a book by its cover and in just three days, I fell in love with this little Danish village.
Try an Aebleskiver at The Solvang Restaurant
First thing's first, Jenn and I arrived starving and ready to eat so we headed to The Solvang Restaurant for their famous Aebleskiver. If you have no idea what they are, it is basically a fluffy pancake ball topped with raspberry jam and powdered sugar. One order equals 3 Aebleskivers, with the option of a side of Danish sausage (highly recommended) and/or ice cream.
Of course, we needed more food to fill us up so we ordered the chicken and waffles, which was massive and perfect for sharing. Tip: order it with a side of brown gravy and dip the chicken in it (you won't regret it).
We had a great time learning about the history of the family owned restaurant with the staff and watched as people continuously came in to order their Aebleskivers. It was the perfect start to our trip.
Get Lost in The Books
Check-in for our hotel was 4PM, meaning we had a couple of hours to kill. One of the best things about Solvang is that there is plenty of parking everywhere and it's all free. Yes, free - no stupid parking tickets or having to worry about putting money into the meter. Also, everything is within walkable distance.
We took a stroll through the area and found the cutest book store, which carried new, used, and first edition of a variety of books as well as signed copies of a few books. We ended up spending over an hour in here and yes, we both bought books.
Make sure to check out the used book section upstairs, where the staff told us that plenty of people love snapping photos there as well ;)
Walk Thru The Farmer's Market
Who doesn't like organic food and pretty flowers? The Farmer's Market just happened to be going on the day we arrived and what a treat. We tried not to buy everything, but did not leave empty handed. Jenn and I are both proud parents to a few bouquet of flowers.
Enjoy Wine Pairings with Your Dinner at First & Oak
A four-course meal with wine pairings in a cozy and intimate setting. First & Oak is located inside the Mirabelle Inn and is filled with exquisite details that you notice as soon as you walk in. From the presentation to the taste, this chef knows what he's doing.
We had bite after bite of rich flavors, unique combinations, and of course amazing wine. My favorite dishes including the fresh oysters with pomegranate, deep fried soft shell crab, and truffled cauliflower. Come in starving and leave with a food coma you won't regret.
See Miniature Horses
I mean, why would you not want to visit cute mini horses? Quick Silver Ranch is just a short 7 minute drive outside of town and is open to visitors between 10AM to 3PM every day except Sunday.
Drive Outside of Town and Explore
Thanks to Volvo, we rode into town in style and was able to enjoy the outskirts of Solvang.
Just a 10-minute drive out are gorgeous landscapes made for photos. We stumbled upon several hidden gems along the road and were able to just enjoy Mother Nature at its best. It's also great to disconnect and Solvang offers peace, fresh air, and views of the hills while you clear your mind.
Wine Tasting at Coquelicot Wines
Family owned, Coquelicot Estate Vineyard is certified organic and is affiliated with several restaurants in Southern California including First & Oak and The Sky Room (in Long Beach).
We were given a private tour and tasting with owner and sommelier, Jonathan Rosenson. It was such a great time, learning about the history of the estate, and talking all things food and wine. It was also the very first wine tasting in which I finished all my glasses!
Be on the lookout for Jonathan's new brand of wines called Rose and Sons, which will start at $18 per bottle and is made to be drank immediately versus aged. Think quick pick-up on the way to a party type of wine, which is easy to drink and affordable for everyone's budget.
Thank you Jonathan for the wine, the Tokyo restaurant suggestions, and this "Jonathan blended" bottle of wine we're currently sipping on!
Relive Lucy's Famous Chocolate Factory Moment at Ingeborg's Danish Chocolate Shop
We all know the famous and favorite scene of I Love Lucy, in which she gets hired at a chocolate factory with Ethel, and fails to keep up with the conveyer belt of chocolate. Unfortunately, Lucy and Ethel were unable to make it past the first day at work and retreated home only to be surprised by their husbands with two large boxes of chocolate.
"Chocolate is like lipstick and deodorant, you need them in life." Probably the best comparison I've heard in my life because it is so true. Mr. Kim Jensen, owner of this delicious chocolate factory, is a man who knows what people like and understands that quality will always outweigh quantity.
All the chocolates are handmade, hand packed, and made with love. They ship worldwide and yes, they can even overnight it to you so you can enjoy it while you're on vacation. We spent the afternoon tasting a variety of popular favorites while resisting to stick our finger in the delicious chocolate dip. I truly felt like a happy little kid in a candy store, or in this case, chocolate shop.
We left with a box of chocolates, a happy tummy, and such an amazing vibe from Mr. Jensen and his amazing, hard working, and very caring staff. This alone makes me want to come back and visit Solvang again very soon.