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Mad & Vin

I bet you’ve heard of Santa Barbara, but odds are you haven’t heard of Solvang, an adorable town located a 45 minute drive away, through the stunning Santa Ynez Mountains. Located in Southern California’s Santa Ynez valley, the village of Solvang was settled some 150 odd years ago by the Danish, and the result is a little slice of Danish heritage in California. The city is known for it’s Danish-style architecture, complete with windmills and pancake houses, perfect for a meander while you taste pastries and explore the various boutique shops, art galleries and cafes.

While you can easily base yourself in Santa Barbara and venture here on a day trip, we recommend visiting Solvang for 2 nights, as the area is teeming with things to do.

Located on the doorstep of prime wine country, you can fill your days sampling some of California’s best wines. About 20 minutes away is the family run Fess Parker Winery where you can tour the farm, sample their wine and cap off the day with a great meal at their restaurant just down the street in Los Olivios – The Bear and Star, a true farm to table experience.

As you’re surrounded by mountains and the Los Padres National Forest, it would be remiss not mention that there is also excellent horseback riding in the area. Circle B Ranch is where you can find authentic cowboys – it’s the real deal here. Most of their cowboys have grown up on ranches and have been riding all their lives. They are full of interesting stories, and ready to take you on trails throughout the mountains to stunning views over the Pacific.

If you’re still not convinced, then a stay at the lovely Landsby will do it. The 50 room boutique hotel in the heart of Solvang has stuck to its traditional Scandinavian aesthetic. This half-timbered inn features modernist furniture and clean contemporary design. There is a great little courtyard to sip wine in, and the restaurant puts a Californian spin on traditional Danish fare.

The Danish heritage makes the city a sight to be seen but it is the proximity to some of the best Californian wine, microbreweries and farm to table experiences that make it all add up.

Victoria Marsh rode off into the sunset shortly after writing this article – at least, for a few months’ maternity leave. We wish her all the best and are looking forward to having her back on the ranch.


Most of their cowboys have grown up on ranches and have been riding all their lives.

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