My husband and I have been itching for a little adventure. We have missed traveling so much and just wanted to get in the car and be transported to another place. Luckily for us there is “A little slice of Denmark in Southern California” less than a tank of gas from us. Solvang is nestled between some rolling hills, vineyards and the coast, which makes it a go-to spot from southern and northern California. Good food, wine, and some worldly vibes is what we were after, and we got a taste of it all.
The first stop was at a family owned winery called Babcock. Brian, the winemaker and owner, was gracious enough to give a private tour of his French oak barrels to see a peak into the creation process. As well as, walk us through a tasting of his unforgettable wines and explain the story behind each bottle. We even got to taste straight from the barrel, which a was a first for both me and my husband. I was a little kid in a wine candy store. The passion that exudes from him talking about the wine process, his grape, and his facility is quite inspiring.
The decor and aesthetics were taken out straight out of a movie set. Lisa, Brian’s wife and co-owner, designed the tasting room and outdoor area with her own, unique flair. Her past life in fashion shines through the entire property.
When you enter the tasting room, you can see the eclectic style that fills up their space. One can sit on Hollywood royalty couches from Palm Springs, gazing at art from the Central Coast, and shop for vintage jewelry, all while sipping their wine. Her collectibles are carefully placed around the tasting room, and they are all great talking pieces and everything is for sale. Babcock truly strives to put in an exceptional experience to all wine lovers. It’s a can’t miss.
After a heavenly wine tasting, it was time to experience Solvang and what it has to offer. Solvang is so unique. As you walk the streets of this Danish town you really forget that you are still standing on American soil. This is something we all need and want right now, to have a safe escape. To be transported to another place without getting out our passports. From the windmills, beer halls, pastries, museums. Solvang did not disappoints in bringing in the wordly energy we were missing. This is a great town for people of all ages.
Located in the middle of the town is High Roller Tiki Lounge. This bar takes on a different vibe. Inspired by tiki drinks they have wine cocktails that bring flavors and combinations that is truly an experience. The music and the chill energy is a great way to relax in the afternoon. We grabbed some cheese and meat from one of the local cheese shops to enjoy with our tiki drinks. This is a great budget tip. Get local snacks and bring them with you. I always call the bar first to make sure this is ok. If the bar doesn’t serve food they are usually good with the idea!
The first night we got to stay at the The Landsby hotel. The design of the boutique hotel is a mix of contemporary design, and influenced by the Scandinavian roots of the town but with a modern take on the upgraded rooms. It is centrally located making it a great place to be walking distance from everything in town, and a comfortable spot to bring back a bottle of wine to finish off the day.
We just wanted to just have some lite bites after the full day. Mad and Vin at the Landsby had top-notch selection. The shared bites menu gives the best style; shared plates and the opportunity to have a go at the chef’s specialties. Sharing small plates is a great way to try new things and also more affordable. The menu is based on seasonal ingredients from the central coast, and they have a wine list that is sourced from local wineries.
One or our favorite meals during our time in Solvang was at Peasant Feast. They opened up during the pandemic, which is a unique way to start, but a challenge they accepted. Their focus is soups, salads, sandwiches, and sides. The restaurant is offering a menu that represents a “a new American comfort food.” The focus is on great ingredients, have the food sourced locally and have the food served fresh daily. We went for lunch on our last day and had the carnitas tacos and burger. The tacos shells were made seconds before they made it onto my plate. As well as the burger meat was cooked fresh perfect cooked individually for us. They is what makes this restaurant stand out. You can tell the love behind each dish. Chef Michael and his wife Sarah are the perfect team behind this small but mighty restaurant. Chef Michael’s impressive resume speaks for it’s self, but trust me when I say you will keep coming back once you eat here.
After a great breakfast at the Landsby, it was time to head to Los Olivos, which is a stone’s throw away from Solvang and has more than 30 tasting rooms to choose from. Nella Kitchen is a great spot for lunch before you hit those tasting rooms. The restaurant is breath of fresh air. It’s felt like we were in a beach town having a long leisurely lunch with no where to go. They locally-source their ingredients, wine, and have a very European style of cooking. We were told their Pinsas were not to be missed. A pinsa is called pizza’s roman relative. The argument is that it is more of a flatbread. But the truth is all in the dough. Pizza is made up of 100% wheat flour. Pinsa dough is made up of wheat flour, a grain like spelt, and often rice flour. Making it so light its like a cloud of dough. We got their special of the day which also had fresh truffles. Pinsa and Nella Kitchen should both be on your list. They also have a very impressive cocktail list that is a great way to stir up your appetite.
The whole town can be traversed in minutes, which is great to bounce around for wine tasting. Around the corner is Liquid Farm’s tasting room. Their tasting room is one of my favorites that I have experiences in California. From a wall of Rose bottles, to locally sources general store style gifts, to a beach Boho vibe. It set the stage for a relaxed and enjoyable tasting. They specialize in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They are very personable, attentive, and source their own grapes. They created Liquid Farms because they wanted the taste of old European style wines but supporting local California viticulture. They had some of the best Pinot Noir’s I have ever tasted, and they also have another line of wine called Dandi which is at a lower price point and great to grab when you are headed to that dinner party. Los Olivos is a road paved for all wine lovers and can’t be missed on your next adventure.
After some great wine tasting, it was time to get some rest and recharge. Zaca Creek is set in Buelton and has an old-style, ranch feel to the property. Zaca Creek is a boutique hotel and tavern that supports local farmers, ranchers, and features all locally-sourced products. The hotel only has 6 rooms and is set up to host the perfect wedding or event. It truly feels like you have escaped to Italy. The stone walls and flower awnings set a perfect backdrop. Zaca Creek tavern food blew us away. The staff at the tavern new every details behind each dish. As did the sommelier about the wine. We felt so well taken care of we knew this would be a memorable meal. We started with the grilled celery Caesar salad which was unbelievable. I loved a grilled salad but this just took it up a notch. Next we had the grilled cheese tartar. My husband says he still dreams of this dish. It is everything you would put on a cheeseburger but its in a tartar. Anne then finally the grilled beef belly. Everything was cooked perfectly and the drinks made to perfection truly felt like artistry in every sip. Great budget tip is they also do happy hour Thursday-Saturday which is something you must take advantage of! High quality for low prices, yes please!
For the museum lovers, there are two museums that showcase the best of the region. Get out and support local museums whenever you can!
Elverhoj museum covers the story about how Solvang became the town it is. Their history is intertwined with Danish-American transplants that founded the town in the early 1900’s. It is quite fascinating to see the progression of Solvang being a California town to the architecture changing into traditional, Danish architecture all over the town. Definitely stop in to see the evolution of why Solvang has become a thriving tourist destination.
The next museum that is truly an experience is the Mendenhall museum. They have a private collection of antique gasoline pumps, road signs, race cars, and miscellaneous antiques. The collection started over fifty years ago and is on the original site of the wrecking yard. The family would collect memorabilia around the country and now display these American collectibles all around their property. Such a great sliver of Americana.