The second Thanksgiving was over, I immediately delved into Christmas mode. I put up the tree (my roommate had to talk me out of putting it up before Thanksgiving, which I did begrudgingly), wrapped a bunch of presents, and started thinking of ways to fill this month with all things Christmas. I’m a big fan of day and weekend road trips to new places in California that I’ve never seen before, so I thought what better way to kick off the Christmas spirit early than with a day trip to one of the most Christmassy towns in the country (that happens to be less than 3 hours away)?
Solvang is a little Danish town in the Santa Ynez Valley of California (read: WINE country). The second you arrive, you legitimately feel like you’re no longer in the US. Half-timbered cottages and shops line the streets of this tiny town, and there’s an abundance of danishes, Æbleskiver (round pancake balls), and windmill-turned-wine cellars everywhere you look.
We decided to go to Solvang in the first weekend of December. To my understanding, every year this town dishes out a Christmas parade on this weekend aimed at attracting tourists and educating them on all of the things that makes Solvang great! We got there bright and early to watch the parade (called “Julefest”), which was filled with singing children, horses, candy, music, and the most talented sheep-herding dog EVER (seriously, it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen). The rest of the day was spent eating our way through the town, sipping wine, and window shopping.
A Solvang day trip is easily doable with a little advance planning and an early start. We left LA at 7:45 am and made it back at 9 pm. But if you want to check out the surrounding area or even Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, it’d probably be better to make a weekend out of it!
Things to Do on a Solvang Day Trip
Head to Sevtap Winery Tasting Room in Solvang for delicious wine ($15 for 6 tastings), the friendliest staff ever, and unparalleled small town ambiance. The tasting room is IN a windmill!
Stop by Mortensen’s Danish Bakery for ridiculous cheese danishes. Don’t leave without trying one.
If you’re going during December, the town has cool events pretty much every weekend throughout the month! We went on the day of their parade, but they also do a tree lighting ceremony, a wine & beer walk, and more.
Have you been to Solvang yet? If not, be sure to pay it a visit over the holidays!