You might have read about our travel plans for the holidays that didn't quite work out. Since my husband had some time off from work, we really wanted to do something after Christmas before heading back home from his family's place. We had all kinds of alternatives, but they all fell apart for one reason or another.
Our drive to Southern California before Christmas was long and slow. I can't remember the last time there was so much traffic on that route as this trip. And since we were driving with a little baby, we had to do some extra stops to feed her. I was completely tired of the drive when we got to our destination, and I started looking for a place to stop on our way home, so we wouldn't have to do the whole drive at once. I remembered that there is a little town called Solvang about half way home if we would take a different route back. After my friend confirmed that the smoke from the wild fire in Santa Barbara had blown away to the ocean and the air was clear, I made a reservation with a hotel in Solvang. Yay, I was starting to get excited about this trip again!
Solvang was established by a group of Danish immigrants in 1911, and it is located about 230 kilometres from Los Angeles in the Santa Barbara Mountains. Until then, the area was inhabited by American Indians and Spanish missionaries and the mission remains close to downtown. While getting to Solvang, we drove through the Chumash Indian reservation which has about 250 residents. They also run one of the most popular casinos in the United States.
Solvang itself is lovely with it's Scandinavian style houses and windmills. The downtown is full of hotels, restaurants and bakeries, and they all are in the cutest little buildings. Many businesses and streets have Danish names, and there are even replicas of famous Danish landmarks like the Little Mermeid statue and Rundetaarn (round tower). One of the must do things in Solvang is of course to stop in a bakery to get some fresh Danishes. Even though Solvang feels almost unreal to be an actual city, there are about 6000 inhabitants. Around town we saw many horse ranches, and for those who are interested, I should say that I have visited the horse whisperer Monty Roberts' Flag is Up Farm in Solvang some years ago.
Our hotel, Hotel Copenhagen Inn was also quite lovely. The rooms were almost like small townhouses. It was located right by the main road, so it was easy to go out for dinner or just a little stroll. Every room had a door that was a different color, and the office reminded me of a church. We really liked this hotel. Our room had two beds, one downstairs and the other in a loft. Also the breakfast was great. They had a nice variety of goods, and of course, plenty of fresh danishes.
The weather in Solvang is warm, but not too hot all year round, which also brings a lot of people over there. It must have been all the wild fires close by that scared the tourists, since we felt like it wasn't crowded at all. Even the locals told us that it typically is full of visitors at this time of year. Well, we got to enjoy our stay in Solvang with no crowds. We plan to return to Solvang someday again!