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A Weekend in Solvang
This Kitschy California Town Was Featured in the Movie "Sideways", and It's Much More Than Windmills and Wine
If you’ve seen the movie Sideways, you probably remember Miles and Jack staying at a hotel with a windmill in front, just down the road from Miles’ favorite restaurant, the Hitching Post. Well, the unlikely friends actually stayed in the town of Buellton.
Ten minutes down the road, Solvang is the real gem.
This tiny town, located in southern California's Santa Ynez Valley is about as charming as it gets: windmills, bakeries, tasting rooms, a brewery, and even a tiki bar are all within walking distance of each other.
If you think the windmills and the replica of the famed Little Mermaid statue are merely tourist trappings, think again. Solvang was founded in 1911 by three Danish immigrants who purchased almost 10,000 acres of land. Considered "The Danish Capital of America", Solvang has been visited by Danish royalty on three occasions and the city is proud of its heritage.
In fact, there are five authentic Danish bakeries where you can get your fill of decadent pastries, cookies, and bread, as well as three restaurants serving traditional Danish food.
You also won’t find large hotels or chains in Solvang. Instead, stay at a quaint inn or bed and breakfast with down-home hospitality.
The drive from Los Angeles is two-and-a-half hours of coastal bliss, leading to winding mountain roads as you enter wine country. It’s the perfect weekend, overnighter, or even day trip from the City of Angels.
Where to Stay
Solvang’s newest hotel, Hotel Corque offers 122 rooms, including 16 specialty suites and the Chairman’s Suite. The hotel also boasts over 7,500 square feet of flexible meeting space, both indoor and outdoor. From its elegant yet rustic design to its warm and professional hotel staff, the natural and relaxed beauty of the wine country can be seen throughout this luxury boutique hotel. The hotel is owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.
Where to Eat
Last time I was in Solvang, I made it my mission to try something from all five of its famed Danish bakeries. The feat was daunting, mostly because each one usually has a long line — especially around breakfast time. Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery is one of the larger establishments, and the breakfast is absolutely wonderful. A solid continental breakfast of Danish pastry, juice, coffee, and roll cost under $10 and is a satisfying way to start the day.
Here, you’ll find Frikadeller (Danish meatballs made of ground pork, served with red cabbage, mashed potatoes, and gravy), Medisterpølse (Danish pork sausage, served with red cabbage, mashed potatoes, and gravy), and more traditional delights.
Note: Solvang literally rolls up its sidewalks by 9 p.m., with most restaurants open until 8 p.m. so plan your evening accordingly. The Copehagen Sausage Garden is open until 10 p.m. on weekends and serves giant pretzels, sausage, and vegan sausage.
Fans of Sideways absolutely must visit the Hitching Post. Located just up the road in Buellton, the Hitching Post offers steaks, duck, quail, lamb, and more — all fire-grilled in a Texas roadhouse setting.
Where to Drink
With over 250 wines from Paso Robles, Napa, Sonoma, Solvang, and other California regions, you’ll always find something at Los Olivos. This wine merchant also offers tastings. If Los Olivos looks familiar, it’s because Sideways was filmed on-site.
This Danish-themed brewery is located in the heart of Solvang and offers several core beers on tap. Try the hazy mango IPA for a truly refreshing pint.
This kitschy tiki bar features a Midcentury Rockabilly vibe for a complete change of pace to your weekend. Sip on tiki cocktails that are wine-based, so they don’t pack the potent punch of overproof rum drinks. That just means you can try several of the cocktails with names like the Suffering Scandanavian and the Zombie Viking. High Roller also offers live music and event nights like burlesque bingo.
Because You’re There and Why the Heck Not
Ostrichland USA is a roadside attraction that offers nothing more or less than the chance to feed ostriches cups of food. It’s also the most fun I’ve had in a long time. If you like ostriches, don’t miss this place. If you don’t like giant birds that look at you like they want you dead, then take a pass.