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Wednesday 7 January 2015

Windmills & Christmas Trees in Solvang

On our recent trip away over the Christmas break we visited Solvang, a Danish inspired village in southern California.

I'd been eager to visit Solvang since I first read about it a year ago. A little slice of Scandinavian cuteness right here in California, Solvang is a popular tourist town. The town's center is filled with quaint European style architecture: wood shingled roofs, windmills and half timbered "fachwerk" (I only know the German name) abound making for postcard perfect streetscapes. The town was originally established in 1911 by a group of Danes however most of the Danish inspired architecture dates from the period following World War 2, much of it built with tourism in mind.

If the idea of a Scandinavian village right here in California wasn't enough to catch my interest (and it was), the annual Christmas festival of Julefest was another draw card. As part of Julefest one hundred Christmas trees are displayed throughout the town center during the month of December. I just knew that the girls would love the idea of visiting a town full of Christmas trees. Ava and Lola enjoyed checking out the trees' decorations as we walked around town. They were both particularly fond of the pretzel covered tree outside of the pretzel store! Who wouldn't love a pretzel tree?

Solvang is also home to the Santa Ines Mission which was founded in 1804. We had planned to stop by for a look however being Christmas Eve the mission closed early in order to prepare for the afternoon's church service. We arrived five minutes before the early close time so we were unable to go inside however we did go for a wander around the church grounds. The views over the neighbouring fields and rolling hills were lovely.

Scandinavian charm, Christmas trees, and an old mission are all well and good, but the main attraction for Ava and Lola was Sunny Fields Playground. Fun fact: Solvang means Sunny Field in Danish hence the name of the playground! This wooden fort like playground is similar to Aquatic Park here in Berkeley, although on a larger scale - and better maintained. The girls would've happily stayed at Sunny Fields all day if we let them. They had so much fun climbing, swinging, jumping, sliding, spinning... After spending much of the previous day sitting in a car it was just what they needed.

Solvang is a cute little town with a lot to see and do. We really enjoyed our stay there and I hope we make it back again some time.

Coming up next on our Southern California Vacation: Santa Barbara!

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