I love the movie “Sideways”, so I was delighted to have a drink at the Hitching Post bar when I visited Solvang, CA recently. I ordered up an enormous burger and washed it down with an exquisitely crafted Pinot Noir (what else?), and I enjoyed them both immensely. What better way to experience the town than to relive moments of the movie that was made there?
Nor does the real life Solvang disappoint. The downtown core is a small triangle that you can easily navigate in about two hours, but it has a unique architecture courtesy of the Danes that moved there in the early 1900’s. You’ll find plenty of windmills, diamond window panes, and Tudor-style exposed beams as you saunter down the streets that are filled with shops designed around impulse purchases.
If this sounds touristy to you, it is. It’s a bit like a more authentic version of Helen, GA, and if you like that city (which I do), you’ll probably love Solvang.
I spent three nights/2days there, which is probably more than necessary, but then I took in a side trip to nearby Santa Barbara as well. SB is called the American Riviera with good reason, as it sports beautiful Mediterranean architecture, tony shops and restaurants, palm trees, and views of the glistening Pacific from its famous Stearns Wharf.
I would highly recommend a trip to Solvang while in SoCal. It has great wine, great food, and, importantly, the descendants of actual Danes who once lived there. There’s nothing worse than visiting a city and finding all of the tourist jobs taken over by foreigners. Not so here. It’s an easy-going, laid back destination that just oozes charm and cuteness. Do it if you can.