On a coastal California road trip that doubled as a multi-generational birthday celebration for my mother-in-law, Alan headed the car inland to the wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara and the Danish-inspired town of Solvang. Our accommodations at the Wine Valley Inn & Cottages proved to be the perfect setting for this road trip to Solvang. Situated on Copenhagen Drive, and tucked away from the traffic of Mission Drive, the boutique hotel provides quiet and convenience wrapped in a storybook setting.
During our stay at the Wine Valley Inn, Alan and I appreciated the moderate prices. Rooms were located in an ivy-covered building but there were also cottages scattered around a private garden. The stucco and brick buildings with sloped roofs look as if they came straight from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale. My mother-in-law especially enjoyed the garden path that meandered beside a gurgling stream, then crossed a bridge, leading to more cottages and a koi pond. On this early spring visit, the gardens were just beginning their display of brightly-colored flowers, accented by thick grasses and water plants.
We enjoyed the complementary continental breakfast served in a dining room furnished with antique cupboards and wooden tables set with cloth napkins and real silverware. The relaxed setting, complimented with classical background music, made the typical breakfast buffet of cereals, boiled eggs and frozen waffles seem better than average. And if we had wanted a heartier breakfast, Paula’s Pancakes was a quick walk down the street.
From the Wine Valley Inn, we explored Solvang’s shops and restaurants without ever moving our car from its parking spot. On a self-guided walking tour, we explored streets lined with boutiques selling leather, jewelry and apparel. Of course there were also Dutch-themed stores offering Royal Copenhagen China and Christmas ornaments. Danish bakeries, coffee shops and candy stores provided plenty of places to taste and rest when my mother-in-law needed a break.
For lunch, we went Danish at A Bit O Denmark on Alisal Street. Sitting by a lace-curtained window in a wooden booth topped with a copper tabletop, Alan and I enjoyed people watching while sampling open-faced Danish style sandwiches accompanied by potato salad. My mother-in-law honored her Scandinavian heritage with a dish of herring. After lunch, more walking introduced us to a myriad of shopping choices accompanied by stops for wine at tasting rooms operated by local wineries.
On our second day in the area, we toured the winding roads of the Santa Ynez Valley where vineyards and ranches populate the sweeping hillsides. Small villages such as artsy, Los Olivos, or western-themed SantaYnez, provided a chance for more shopping and eating when it was time to get out of the car.
Each afternoon saw us lounging under the trellis-covered patio of Wine Valley Inn for a relaxing end to the day. Sitting at one of the wrought iron tables clustered around the outdoor fireplace, we shared a local bottle of Santa Ynez wine to toast this hidden gem of an inn with its garden view.
On our next visit, Alan and I plan to book a cozy cottage at Wine Valley Inn for a romantic getaway with a touch of adventure. Perhaps a cycling or jeep tour that pairs tastings at area wineries will be just the active travel experience we need to go along with the romance.
Check out our Coastal California road trip page for more travel ideas.