My restless ways had me jumping in the jeep and heading up the Chumash Highway. I toyed with Los Olivos, Solvang and the vistas off the highway (overlooking Bradbury Dam and Lake Cachuma) before having my fill of driving. Despite the traffic and construction, it was a nice mental reboot. While I can’t say that genius will surely follow my wanderings, it did re-inspire a desire to travel. And that can’t be bad!
Solvang was founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants, and “enchanting” does not quite cover the place. In fact, about 10 minutes after I arrived, I had already decided to move and start the “Wandering Penguin Wine Bar” (not a particularly Danish name, but I like it). I’m not kidding. If the village was closer, I’d start commuting tomorrow.
As I wandered through the streets, I quickly realized that my day trip would have to extend quite a bit in order to actually try everything that caught my eye. My little heart beat faster as I took in the book stores, wine bars, bakeries, antique shops and chocolate factories. Because I like to linger, I know I should spend at least one day for chocolate, at least one day for bakeries, and a month or so for the wine bars/tasting rooms (but then, I’m a light-weight). So, with some reluctance and acknowledgement of the drive ahead of me, I decided to focus my Epicurean tendencies to only one thing this trip: chocolate.
Solvang understands its sweet-tooth tourists. They’ve created the Sweet Treats Trail map (http://www.solvang100.com/sweet-treats-trail-map-Solvang.pdf) for people who want to systematically wrap themselves in decadent goodness. I was seduced by both Ingeborg’s World Famous Danish Chocolates (http://www.ingeborgs.com/) and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (https://rockymountainchocolatefactory.com/). Their inventory and styles are different enough that you really should check out both (also, the ice cream was pretty tempting at Ingeborg’s). I picked up a little bit of everything from mocha bars to truffles. I pondered the sugar free cases in both shops, but it just seemed like cheating.
In a move of extraordinary strength, I’m planning on saving some of my samples to share with friends when I return home… if I return home. At the moment, I’m writing this at a gazebo in the park off of Mission (think Gilmore Girls, only Danish) across from an antique shop with a bell tower. It’s amazing how a quick day trip like this can help me shake off the stress and weight of day-to-day life—no worrying about careers, relationships or missed opportunities. I just let everything go. Everyone needs an escape, and I’m definitely planning my next one. After all, there are a lot of bakeries, book stores, antique shops and wine bars yet to be conquered!
What are your favorite spots in Solvang? Send me suggestions for spots I should add to the travel list for next time!