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Solvang, CA: The Danish Capital of America

Leslie and I landed in LAX late on a Sunday evening, exhausted from our long flight back from Europe. Her parents and sister Jackie, also one of my besties, picked us up from the airport and drove us to the tiny California town of Solvang, where we spent the next two nights. I was fighting some serious jet lag, so I slept right through the 2 hour drive and didn’t even catch a glimpse of Solvang until the next day.

Monday dawned bright and hot. I didn’t realize how much I had grown accustomed to the cooler weather in Europe until I melted into a puddle on the sidewalk just outside our hotel room. (I also didn’t realize how accurate the British impressions of an American accent were until I heard several normal American ladies talking to each other. We really do all sound like Southerners. Funny how American accents were the hardest thing to adjust to after living abroad for a year…)

Despite the heat, Solvang was lovely, and it did kind of feel like we hadn’t completely left Europe yet. There were very European facades, a very European windmill, and very European Christmas shops like the ones we visited in Munich. Solvang is an adorable little town, and we enjoyed wandering the streets and visiting all the shops. I especially enjoyed the air conditioning, because my word, I was dying.

Leslie: I had visited Solvang before when my dad rode in the Solvang Century, so I already knew it was adorable. The Danish culture shines through in all the details, like the windmill, the half-timber buildings, the food (especially the pastries), and my favorite little Christmas shop that has plenty of Danish inspired things. This is just a cute place to get lost and wander in all the crazy little shops. Plus, it’s in a beautiful part of CA near Santa Barbara, so the green rolling hills and the weather are great. If you drive out into the surrounding countryside, there are vineyards, wineries, farms with miniature horses, fields of wildflowers and huge oak trees…it’s really pretty!

It was mid-October when we visited (yes, I’m a bit behind…), and the Chamber of Commerce was hosting a scarecrow contest. Participating businesses made really creative scarecrows to decorate their front stoops, and we had fun finding as many as we could and voting on our favorites.

Jalama Beach

After spending the day exploring Solvang, we took a lovely drive out into the countryside and ended up at Jalama Beach, where we watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. It was absolutely stunning—the best sunset I’d seen in a year.

In the morning, Leslie and her family would drive up to Lemoore, CA, where we’d meet up with my sister and say sayonara after spending six whole weeks together roaming the halls of castles and palaces, marveling at monasteries and cathedrals, exploring museums, admiring incredible landscapes, and laughing over mishaps and misadventures. It was a little bittersweet knowing that the adventure was coming to an end, but as I watched the sun set that night with two good friends by my side, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

Jalama Beach, CA | Jest Kept Secret

Read more about my whirlwind tour of Europe with Leslie here.

And don’t forget to pin Solvang to your Pinterest bucket list!

Solvang, CA | Jest Kept Secret

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Jess Friedman
Jess is a Canadian-American who’s always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about helping families make and preserve treasured memories that strengthen bonds across generations. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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