By Donna Polizzi
There are so many amazing things to do in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. The big question is, “What should we do today?” Recently, friends came into town and asked me “what should we do in Solvang?” Solvang is the Danish capital of America and the name means “sunny fields” in Danish. This charming town, located thirty-four miles north of Santa Barbara and thirty-six miles south of Santa Maria, is full of interesting sites and things to do for all ages and walks of life. With a population of 5,245, Solvang is the perfect city to visit if you enjoy exploring a friendly new town on foot; especially if you have a furry friend tagging along. Solvang is known for its old-world, Danish architecture and the closest thing to visiting Denmark, right here in our backyard. It was founded in 1911 by a group of Danes who purchased land from a Mexican land grant in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Hungry? Solvang offers an array of restaurants that offer Danish cuisine. How about starting the day out enjoying a delicious breakfast at a little place called, Fresco Valley Café, at 442 Atterdag Road. It’s an adorable restaurant at the very end of the street, with a big outdoor patio and a beautiful view of Atterdag Square. It’s easy to see why Fresco Valley Café is one of the most popular restaurants in Solvang.
The owner, Matt Raab, took our order and told us about some of the unique menu items. You haven’t tried avocado toast if you haven’t ordered it from Fresco. It’s delicious. Imagine toast, with a thick layer of avocado, burrata cheese and strawberries, topped with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. It’s a flavor sensation. If you’re looking for more on the sweet side, try their Danish pancakes! Pancakes prepared the traditional Danish way, are a lot more like crepes…a thin batter puffed to perfection, with caramelized apples and powdered sugar on top.
Another perk that makes Fresco Valley Cafe one of Solvang’s most popular restaurants, is its dog-friendly atmosphere! The mascot himself is on site to greet his guests, so make sure to visit Rascal, the Pomeranian, when you stop by. Check out the dog menu, with items like: Grilled Chicken Breast, Angus Beef Patty or Tri-Tip! Don’t worry, the prices are not costly.
Fresno Valley Cafe also has a kid’s menu. What’s a toad in a hole? The perfect portion for a child. A nice piece of bread, with a hole right through the center, filled with a cooked egg.
Solvang is a great city to spend the day exploring. You can cover most of this charming town on foot. Stix+Stones is a favorite stop, which is near Fresco. It’s one of the most interesting galleries I have ever seen. Numerous unique, artisan pieces made out of copper and wood, beautiful wine racks to display your favorite collection of wine, blown glass lamps and wooden kitchen items. It’s the perfect place to buy a special someone a unique gift that you can’t find anywhere else.
After some shopping in the eye-catching galleries and boutiques, consider wine tasting. Solvang has over twenty wine tasting rooms and many accommodate pets! You’ll be surprised at how many of them go above and beyond, allowing guests to bring their furry friends inside. Dascomb 2012 Vintage Port, from East Valley Vineyard, is a favorite. It has notes of cherry, white chocolate and dark fruit. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, so it’s not overly sweet. Wandering Dog, Lucas & Lewellen and Toccata are others that we tried, loving the flavors of wine and tasting room environments.
A day in Solvang will never disappoint. With numerous Danish bakeries, wine tasting rooms and delicious, unique food, you will not be disappointed. Be prepared for lots of smiles and wagging tails.