Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

“California’s Little Denmark” in California Wine Country (Part I)

Well you knew there had to be more than one post about drinking wine in California, didn’t you?  Come on this is a big state and there are lots of grape varietals that need sampling.  Besides, we like to support the local economy where ever we are.

The town of Solvang caught our eye because of its unique charm and quaint character that is all things Danish.  In fact it is called the “Little Denmark.”  So what does that really mean…danishes…those sweet, flaky, guilt-ridden tasty pleasures that we were going to indulge in.  We woke up early in the morning and headed out for sweets and we found some.  There is no need to sleep in when there is good food to be eaten.


Even Spirit wanted danishes.
The town is lively with its European flair and symbolism.  Windmills of all sizes catch your eye and the smell of sweet baked goods tugs at your taste buds.  But don’t forget to look up because on top of many buildings are storks which according to Danish tradition brings good luck and wards off lightning.  The town was founded by Danish-Americans in 1911 and continues to offer warm hospitality in a beautiful setting.

Note the stork and nest on
top of the building.

Solvang and its sister towns of Buellton, Los Olivos, and Santa Ynez sit in what is known as the Santa Ynez valley.  Next time you are drinking an American Chardonnay, Viogner, Pinot Noir, or Syrah, check the label to see if it came from this region as they are known for these grapes.  The grapes are a result of the regions unique terroir (which is a fancy French term for describing the unique combination of how geography, geology and climate affect plant characteristics).  The Santa Rita Hills that flank this area run east to west instead of the typical north-south orientation and create distinctive micro-climates that some grape varietals thrive in.  Remember the movie “Sideways” and the pinot noir loving character Miles?  That was filmed in this area and highlighted some of over 80 wineries that dot the hills. 

Yea, a wine tasting.  Some women we met at the campground steered us to Bridlewood Winery and it was a great recommendation.  
Bridlewood Winery
Downtown Los Olivos
We quickly discovered that this town is mostly wine tasting rooms.  
The town of Los Olivos blends Old California with modern-day charm.
I don’t want you to think that we just ate fattening danishes the whole time.  At one point we went for a bowl of pea soup (I guess that is healthy) at the famed Pea Soup Anderson’s.  The restaurant has been in business since 1924 and its quirky mascots “Hap-pea” and “Pea-wee” have been promoting split pea soup for years.  One look at the place and you will know how successful it is with a restaurant, banquet hall, hotel, gift shop, and much more.

A bowl of pea soup served in a toasted sourdough bowl with sides of cheese, ham, onions, bacon bits, and croutons.
The restaurants mascots "Hap-pea" (left) and "Pea-wee"
I would recommend to anyone that they should stop in this area - and if you don't have an RV you can stay at one of the many inns and hotels.  Solvang  is located about 30 miles from Santa Barbara and offers a slow-paced atmosphere with wonderful charm.  We stayed for 3 days but easily could have stayed longer.  


  1. Speaking of "Sideways" many of the scenes were shot right down the street from you at "The Hitching Post" known for it steaks but Monday-Thursday in the bar area and backroom they serve one of the most delectable hamburgers ever, made from the steak trimmings, enjoy.

    1. Now I am really sorry we did not stop in for a bite. Should have skipped the pea soup and got a burger.

  2. The wine expert in the big HEB Plus over in Corpus Christi recommended a Bridlewood Cabernet which I purchased and it is really good!

  3. An artist friend lives in Solvang - we were going to visit this spring - but alas - GROUNDED!!! Now i saw through your eyes - thanks!!!

  4. One of our favourite little towns in California. We visited Solvang a few years ago so thanks for posting all the great photos - especially the ones of the pastries in the bakeries.

    We'll be stopping in Solvang on our way home for sure!

  5. Hi Nancy, just thought I'd mention this re comments. Are you aware that you have the dreaded "two word verification puzzle" turned on for your comments? I find it really restricts the number of comments you will get because of the difficulty in deciphering the words.

    It's easy to turn off if you would like to. Just go to Dashboard > Settings > Posts and Comments and then set "Show Word Verification" to 'No'.

    1. Rick, I hate the word verification as well but every time I turn it off I get nailed with spam comments. Any advise on how to prevent that other than the word verification?


We love hearing from you, so please drop us a comment