Dusk: Arrival at The Landsby
Sometimes, a speedy jaunt out of town is exactly what your system needs. A brief absence to to recharge, to rejuvenate...One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles is the many possibilities for weekend trips reachable by car.
On a sunny summer Friday, we did just that. Threw a weekend bag into the car and hopped onto the 101. Having made several trips to Santa Ynez already, we didn't feel the need to pack the itinerary with an exhausting amount of to-dos. This particular trip was more about breathing in some fresh country air and returning to Los Angeles rested and renewed.
After some agonizingly patchy traffic up the 101, we found solace at an awesome boutique hotel, The Landsby, right around dusk. It was a relief to step into the mid-century styled lobby, retrieve our room key and flop onto the luscious king-sized bed.
Dinner at Mad & Vin Restaurant was one of the best food decisions we made during the trip. We ordered the short rib skillet, the seafood hot pot, and sampled a few local pinots with our entrees. It was the perfect balance of California-inspired cuisine - homey and delicious, bursting with an array of balanced flavors that didn't feel pretentious or "trying too hard".
The following morning, breakfast was served in the main dining room, a striking light-filled space with a side patio. Continental style juice and muffins were available for the taking, and protein options could be made to order from the menu. It was a lively scene that ranged from families to new couples on their first LA getaway.
Needless to say, we were not in a hurry to leave. After breakfast, we lingered in the lobby that felt more like a well-designed (yet cozy) living room. We admired all of the thoughtful design accents, from the knickknacks on the wall shelving, the hanging succulents, to the Scandinavian bird sculptures by the window.
10am-Noon: Stroll around downtown Solvang
Founded in 1911, Solvang means "sunny field", and while it is no longer much of a 'field', the sunny description remains. Originally established as a town for Danish immigrants, its unique history, authentic architecture, and prime location (not to mention gorgeous weather) in the fertile Santa Ynez Valley has turned it into an enticing destination for eating, wine tasting, and shopping.
Our first stop was Copenhagen House, a haven of Scandinavian-designed home goods, beauty products, and accessories. It is located on Copenhagen Drive, which was originally Solvang's Main Street back in the early 1900s when Danish settlers began establishing businesses in this little town away from home.
With all of the Danish sweets to partake in around town, it can get a bit overwhelming. The family-owned Mortensen's Danish Bakery is a must-stop for traditional pastries. Optional is the Old Danish Fudge Kitchen with heaps of fudge sold by the pound alongside of cotton candy and caramel apples. However, the Aebleskiver, translated as "pancake balls" is not to be missed. It is popular as a Christmas dessert in Denmark but eaten year round in California. Usually a line forms pretty quickly in front of this small window at Solvang Restaurant.
After sufficiently walking off the sweets and exploring the cobblestone corridors, make your way to a vineyard to lull away the rest of the afternoon away before heading back to Los Angeles.
1pm - dusk: Rusack Vineyards
It wouldn't quite be fair to say we saved the best for last, but after a restful night at The Landsby and a languid stroll through downtown Solvang, it doesn't get any better than a crisp bottle of sauvignon blanc enjoyed in the open air at Rusack Vineyards. With ample patio seating as well as space to sprawl on the lawn, the warm and friendly atmosphere is perfect for families, groups, or couples. We brought our go-to picnic blanket and spread our charcuterie out on the lawn, sipping our wine with views of the vineyard it came from right in front of us.
It was the perfect end to a brief yet relaxing trip before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.