If you're ever driving through the Santa Ynez Valley in Central California, don't be surprised if suddenly, even just for a moment, you're transported back in time to a Danish village right out of the old world. It's not your imagination. It's only Solvang, California, and yes, those windmills are real. Oh yeah, and if you notice something smelling really good, it may be coming from one of the many Danish bakeries as the scents from the delicacies waft from their shop windows.
It's hard to pick out one street in the area as the town's Main Street since there are several streets in Solvang could qualify for that title. California Highway 246 is the main highway leading into town and becomes Mission Drive, which has many shops, restaurants and inns. But if you hop off the main drag, you'll also find that Alisal Road and Copenhagen Drive feature a large number of boutiques and cafes as well and would be strong contenders for the title of Solvang's Main Street. Solvang is about 130 miles from Los Angeles and 35 miles from Santa Barbara, another Main Street community in Santa Barbara County. Other nearby Main Street communities worth checking out include Carpinteria and Montecito.
It's hard to miss the Danish-Style architecture in Solvang, California, including these examples along Alisal Road.
Numerous shops and restaurants line Alisal Road in Solvang, California.
A windmill helps to give Solvang that Danish feel despite being in California's Santa Ynez Valley.
We start our tour along Mission Drive, otherwise known as California Highway 246, which is how most people are introduced to Solvang.
Despite being a busy highway, many shops, restaurants, and other businesses line Mission Drive in Solvang.
More Danish-Style, half-timbered architecture at the corner of Mission Drive and Fourth Place.
Another windmill, this one on Mission Drive. Solvang is not subtle about its Danish architecture.
Many inns and motels welcome tourists who want to get away in Solvang, California.
Although Mission Drive is a busy highway, the sidewalks still provide plenty of room along with shade and beautiful landscaping.
Various spas and salons provide a relaxing alternative to vacationers in Solvang.
Solvang Park provides a quiet place to relax or have a picnic. Notice the Hans Christian Andersen bust on the right. Behind the trees, you can see a public parking lot that also has public restrooms.
More shops and restaurants along Mission Drive. The vines growing along the arbors reflect the large number of wineries in the area.
Sidewalk cafes and distinct architecture can all be found in Solvang.
The Little Mermaid Statue looks out at heavy traffic along busy Mission Drive.
Frederik's Court is a large complex made up of boutiques and cafes and even has a courtyard in the center (along with parking).
Another view of Frederik's Court, this one from Alisal Road, showing the entrance to the courtyard.
Shops and restaurants along Alisal Road in Solvang, California.
Half-Timbered Danish Provincial style architecture and even another windmill to give you that old world feel.
A contrast in styles. You have the thatched-roof along with a funky phone booth that looks like it came out of a toy chest.
A replica of the Rundetaarn (Round Tower) located in Copenhagen, Denmark. The one in Solvang houses a pizza joint!
A water fountain and even an ornate bench decorated with dolphins can be found at the Scandia Court along Alisal Road.
Shops and plenty of on-street parking along Copenhagen Drive in Solvang.
Shops, boutiques and even a covered sidewalk along Copenhagen Drive.
Restaurants and cafes along Copenhagen Drive are proud of their Danish themes.
Benches shaded by trees provide a nice place to relax on Copenhagen Drive.
A giant clog on display in front of a shoe store at the intersection of Copenhagen Drive and First Street. Because why not?
A quiet courtyard along First Street in Solvang, California.
More shops along Copenhagen Drive, including one of the many Wine Rooms you will find in the area.
This cute little building on Copenhagen Drive is the Solvang Visitor Center. There's also plenty of parking here as well.
Shops, on-street parking, benches and plenty of shade can all be found along Copenhagen Drive in Solvang.
Shops and cafes and even cobblestone sidewalks along Second Street in Solvang.
Another boutique on the far eastern side of downtown Solvang on Copenhagen Drive.
Boutiques and cafes in Atterdag Square on Molle Way in the foreground along with a view of the Santa Ynez mountains in the background.
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Check out these other nearby Main Streets!