After my last staycation, I realized that I had found a way to curb my travel cravings and alleviate my cabin fever, at least a little bit. This time, I wanted to spend some much needed down time time with my mom.
Friday, August 28
On a sunny Friday afternoon, we took off up the 101 freeway and started our adventure. Since we left around 1PM, LA traffic was minimal, and we felt our stress fade as Los Angeles drifted away.
After an easy drive full of scenic coastal views and sweeping hills, we arrived in Solvang 3 hours later and we were ready to start our relaxing weekend. Solvang, meaning "sunny field" in Danish, is a quaint city tucked away in the hills of Santa Barbara County. Solvang is full of Danish treats, local wineries and is the perfect staycation spot for Angelenos looking to escape the infamous fast-paced LA busyness, traffic and all.
I booked a room at the Kronborg Inn, complete with two comfy queen beds, a cute balcony and spa tub. We got settled in a bit before heading into town for dinner.
Despite having eaten there before, we found our way back to Bit-O-Denmark, an adorable restaurant that offers some Danish classics like herring and open-faced sandwiches.
The inside of the restaurant had been newly renovated, providing a more modern and updated feel. However, we did not eat inside - Bit-O-Denmark had also added a lovely covered, outdoor patio, and this is where we were seated.
A couple drinks and delicious entrees later, we were already in full vacation mode. While my mom chose a prune-stuffed pork dish, I went a little more traditional with a Danish open-faced sandwich, similar to what I had when I was in Copenhagen.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and once we were finished, we took a leisurely stroll through Solvang and grabbed dessert. My mom got a beautiful eclair from a nearby bakery, while I chose something else that required a little more of a walk.
I loved walking through town, seeing all of the adorable timber-framed buildings housing local businesses, restaurants and wineries.
We passed by windmills while the sun began to descend, taking with it the less than desirable heat of the day. Temperatures were pleasant and the soft beginnings of golden hour fell over every traditional Fachwerkhäuser and windmill.
Ten minutes later and we were outside of the Solvang Trolley Ice Cream Parlor, a spot I was eager to try. Tucked away in a hidden corner is a gem of an ice cream spot, serving Santa Barbara favorite, McConnell's ice cream.
I looked at the long list of flavors and ultimately decided on Earl Grey with shortbread. We found a bench nearby and enjoyed our sweet treats. My mom enjoyed her rich eclair, and my ice cream was absolutely delightful! The Earl Grey ice cream was fragrant and creamy, and to my surprise, the shortbread pieces were salted and provided a punch of flavor that complimented the Earl Grey very well.
Golden hour began and we went back to our hotel to take advantage of the spa tub, do a little reading on the balcony, and call it an early night.
Saturday, August 29
We woke up fairly early, to walk over to have breakfast at Paula's Pancake House, a local favorite breakfast joint. As we approached around 9AM, there was already a small crowd forming, socially-distanced of course.
Because we arrived at an earlier time, our wait was only about 15 minutes. We were then seated in the newly set up outdoor seating in the front of the restaurant. All of the servers were incredibly friendly, attentive and made our morning that much more pleasant.
I'd previously glanced at a menu, so I already knew I wanted to try the Danish pancakes. My mom went a little fancier and ordered the Danish pancakes stuffed and topped with Danish sausage. And let me tell you, there was no shortage of sausage on her breakfast!
Breakfast was absolutely scrumptious and filling. A friend was picking us up around 10:30, so we had some time to kill. We decided to peek into some shops and soak up a little more Solvang before we spent the day elsewhere.
At 10:30AM, my friend Todd picked us up for our next adventure. Todd was actually my boss for 5 years, but then he moved up to Lompoc for another job opportunity. I couldn't come up to Solvang and not see him, and to my surprised, he offered to take us wine tasting at some wineries where he is a member.
Todd drove us out of Solvang and into the sprawling vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley. Our first stop was Sunstone Winery. We drove down the long driveway and were transported to a secluded wine connoisseur's haven with picnic tables, a food truck, and wonderful ambience.
It was a real treat to learn about different wines and discuss what we were trying. We may not have been experts, but I learned the Todd Tasting Technique and will be adopting that for all of my future tastings!
The overcast morning had fully faded away, and all we had left were blue skies, rolling hills and warm sunshine. We rolled the windows down, caught up on life, discussed some work-related memories and enjoyed every carefree moment of letting the wind blow through our hair.
Before I knew it, we had arrived at our second winery, Cambria Winery. This winery was definitely more modern and less rustic than the last, but the service was more personal, since it was smaller than Sunstone Winery.
We were greeted by friendly staff and personalized tasting details. We got to try some interesting wines, wines that I never would have considered otherwise. To me, this is the best part of wine tasting - learning about wine and stepping outside of your comfort zone. I also always thoroughly enjoy discussing what I am eating or drinking with fellow foodies. It was so incredibly refreshing to pick our favorite wines and talk about what we thought.
When we were done, Todd took us to one more stop before bringing us back to Solvang. It was still quite early in the day, so we stopped by The Lucky Hen Larder.
They had stopped serving sandwiches BUT they still had really yummy charcuterie plates to go! We grabbed one to enjoy back in our hotel room.
After some much-needed pool time, we curled up in our hotel room once again with charcuterie and Harry Potter.
Sunday, August 30
As the sun rose and peeked through our hotel room curtains, we realized that we had reached the last relaxing moments of our weekend getaway. We packed up, checked out of the hotel, and headed back into town for one last epic meal. It was wonderful to have a leisurely walk through town, in rush, with no particular plans. It gave me time to admire the scenery once again, before being whisked away back to reality.
Before we ate, however, we stopped by the shops again. I really wanted to visit a particular chocolate shop but it had been closed both times we visited over the weekend. To our pleasant surprise, it was open on this beautiful Sunday morning!
We filled our hands with chocolate goodies, speculaas cookies and our favorite, fløderboller!
Because we had parked in town, we only had to walk a few more blocks from Ingeborg's to reach our breakfast destination.
Brekkies is a place that encompasses everything I love - cute decor, playful ambience, unique menu items, and good coffee. When we arrived, there was a line, and we were informed that we had to order at the counter before we could be seated. I believe this is due to Covid-19 restraints, but the system worked seamlessly and we were seated in no time.
We were escorted to the back patio, where we took a seat in the warm sunshine and enjoyed our coffee.
Soon after, our food arrived in all of its glory. The portions were by no means small, and I was very happy I decided to order the seafood omelette!
Brunch at Brekkies was the perfect fuel to begin our trek home. On our way to the car, I took one last moment to admire my surroundings, thatched roofs and all. I was sad to be leaving this little Danish town, but I had gotten some much-needed rest during our staycation, and I was ready to return back to normal life.
We began our journey through the winding roads of Santa Barbara County, watching rolling hills and patches of trees whiz by us in a blur of warm tones and sparse greens. Whenever I am on these types of drives, I hardly ever pass up a vista point or turnout with a view. This drive was no exception! I saw a sign for a Vista Point not too long after we began our drive, and I decided to check it out.
Once I parked I was able to get a better grasp on what exactly we had stumbled upon. I was in for a treat, as there was a beautiful view of Lake Cachuma! There was also a well-worn trail that took us a little closer to the lake.
Whether it was because of its isolated location or because of the lack of crowds due to Covid-19, we had a wonderfully empty area to ourselves. As we continued down the trail, we were greeted with an even more beautiful view of the lake.
Once we had stretched our legs a bit and gotten our fix of fresh air, we headed back to the car and continued our way home. Not too long after, my mom requested we stop at the beach in Santa Barbara. While I am not generally a beach person, being house-bound during the pandemic gave me a craving for vitamin sea!
The beach wasn't too crowded, and the weather was perfect. We took our shoes off, felt the sand against our feet and listened to the gentle sounds of the waves. The water was ice cold, but a welcome crispness in the warm sunshine.
Of course we were back in the car once again, and before we knew it, we were back home in Long Beach. Our staycation weekend was much-needed, and also a welcome reminder that you can have an adventure just a few hours away.
Have you ever been to Solvang?
Until next time,