The Boy outdid himself for my birthday this year, and amongst his gifts (remind me to tell you about the CHEESE subscription) was a mystery trip to which I was given two clues:
- Clue #1: Less than two and a half hours drive away.
- Clue #2: Starts with S.
Beautiful wine country, adorable little towns (Solvang itself with a Dutch twist), lots of eating and drinking…a wonderful birthday/Valentine’s day excursion (we happened to go over Valentine’s Day weekend).
The area is absolutely chock-full of wineries, all of which are lovely. We hit up Foley (I’d been to their sister property Lincourt before) and Melville, which both have great wines (And bonus: Melville was doing a chocolate dessert wine pairing for Valentine’s Day weekend! Yum.).
We also stopped in nearby Buellton for a tasting at Ascendant Spirits (while I do not enjoy them on their own, it did provide inspiration for a birthday gift for my brother), some beer flights at Figueroa Mountain (YUM), and lunch at Industrial Eats where we had a ham-and-butter sandwich (it was very fresh and tasty if a bit fatty for the Boy’s taste).
One of the more unusual attractions of the weekend was Ostrichland USA (sadly we missed a miniature horse farm that is also in the area), where one can pay admission to visit and feed large herds of ostriches and emus. This involves dog bowls nailed to dustpans, and is only mildly terrifying.
Of course (as I constantly reminded the Boy) no visit to Solvang would be complete without aebleskivers! All I knew about them was that they were a specialty and they were donut-like, and that was enough. We eventually located them at Solvang Restaurant – more on them later.
We topped off our indulgence with malteds on the way home (I TOLD him we could have shared one, but no…). A wonderful weekend in sunny Solvang!
- Meadowlark Inn (from $120/night) – We stayed at this cute little B&B a few minutes from Solvang – nothing too fancy, but very nice and they had (as expected) breakfast in the morning and little wine & appetizer hour in the evening. A solid home base.
- Industrial Eats ($15 for lunch) – Everything here looked super fresh, and while the verdict was that our sandwich was a little overloaded on the meat front, it was undeniable that the ingredients were high quality. So go here, but don’t order the “Wilby.” We heard tales of the Brussels sprouts.
- Succulent Cafe ($35 for dinner) – So, we were actually incredibly full when we came for dinner and ended up sharing a charcuterie plate and some bacon-wrapped scallops and calling it a night. The scallops were a little heavy, but the charcuterie was yummy – and came with a housemade jam that the Boy declared “made everything better.”
- Solvang Restaurant ($4 for three aebleskivers) – This was where we finally got aebleskivers, primarily because they have an aebleskiver take-out window so it’s super convenient. But also tasty, and let’s be honest, you kind of have to do it.
- Little Cow Creamery ($6.25 for a malt) – Not technically in Solvang, but if you’re heading to or from L.A. it’s a good sugar stop on the way – yummy ice cream, pretty interesting flavors, and everything can be made into a tremendous milkshake or malt, which really is enough for two people.
- Explore Solvang (free) – I mean, it’s an adorable little Danish town with shop and live music in the wine bars at night. Have a wander.
- Wine Tasting ($10-15 per tasting) – There are a TON of wineries in the area. Foley and Melville are two strong options in terms of wine quality, and I’ve also been to Foley’s sister winery Lincourt, which is also good. But explore! Ask at your B&B! Much beauty and wine to be had!
- Ascendant Spirits ($3 for three tastes) – Yes, I hated this tasting, but if you’re more of a spirits person (e.g. The Boy) you’ll probably enjoy it (he was particularly intrigued by a corn whiskey), and it’s near Figueroa Mountain and Industrial Eats, so…
- Figueroa Mountain Brewery ($8 for tasting of four beers) – These beers are really, really, tasty. Like, we liked beers we don’t usually like tasty. Plus they have an adorable back patio with umbrellas and cornhole, so you could probably waste a whole afternoon here. The Boy has a tasting breakdown on his blog.
- Ostrichland USA ($6 admission) – This is pretty much what it sounds like – a big park of ostriches and emus. Your child will LOVE this (and we found it quite bizarrely entertaining as well). The $6 includes a bowl of food per group, and if you want to go down this path, you want to go all way down (i.e. feed them). Also emus make real weird noises.