The California Town Danish Food Fans Won't Want To Miss

Many people dream of taking a prolonged trip to Europe. They want to experience the history, architecture, culture, and (of course) the food. Travel is a magnificent way to get out of your comfort zone and see what life is like outside of your norm, but international travel can be expensive and, thus, limiting for a lot of people. If shelling out thousands of dollars for a plane ticket, accommodations, plus everything else is out of the question for you, you'll be pleased to know there are many cities in the United States that will transcend you to Europe through their style, appearance, and feel.

House Beautiful suggests both Ouray and Vail, Colorado mimic small towns in the Swiss Alps. Poulsbo, Washington is nicknamed "Little Norway on the Fjord" because of its heavy Norwegian influence found in the architecture and festivals. Walking around Boston, Massachusetts, you might think you've stepped into old England. New Ulm, Minnesota is German through and through, and the canals and bridges in Venice, California, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida may ever-so-slightly be a substitute for Venice, Italy — okay, those last two might be a bit of a stretch. But, if it's Denmark that your heart desires, look no further than this quaint spot in Southern California.

Solvang, otherwise known as Little Denmark

Located roughly 30 miles north of beautiful Santa Barbara, or 125 miles north of Los Angeles, Solvang is the self-professed "Danish Capital of America." The town's architecture, food, and appearance are so saturated in Danish influence that Solvang has become a major tourist destination for those familiar with Denmark and those who are not. Insider explains that the city was founded in 1911 by three Danish immigrants who gave the town its name, which is Dutch for "sunny field." Solvang boasts some original buildings from its early founding days, plus windmills, a horse-drawn trolley and the charm of an authentic European village. There are nods to its mother country in the form of hotels and inns named after famous Danish places and literary characters, and statues paying homage to Danish darling Hans Christian Andersen.

Lest anyone forget that they are in California (which is easy to do here), Solvang is home to numerous wineries and tasting rooms which feature plenty of wine varietals including the area's famed Pinot Noirs. You may recognize the town and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley area from the 2004 sleeper hit "Sideways." According to the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, the town is also home to an annual Danish Heritage Festival, popular holiday season events, outdoor activities to take advantage of California's eternal summertime temperatures, museums, and scenic tours. Solvang certainly looks like Denmark, but don't forget that it tastes like it as well.

Eat like a Dane

In Solvang, it's not unusual to pass numerous people in the town snacking on big, flaky sweets because the town is home to numerous bakeries specializing in authentic Danish pastries. Wienerbrod, butter cookies, kanelsnegl, Danish waffles, aebleskivers, and much more can all be found around town, per Visit Denmark and Solvang's Danish Bakeries. The restaurant Bit O' Denmark is located in one of the town's original 1911 buildings, which was once used as a schoolhouse. Today, the eatery dishes out traditional pickled herring, Danish open-faced sandwiches also known as smorrebrod, flaekesteg which is a prune-stuffed roast pork, and frikadeller, or Danish meatballs with gravy.

The Red Viking Restaurant offers several different varieties of smorrebrod plus sausages, seafood, and plenty of American options as well. According to Visit Denmark, the country produces the most beer per capita than anywhere else in the world, and Solvang pays tribute to their love of hops by having numerous locations where thirsty visitors can imbibe, including The Solvang Brewing Company which is located in one of the town's windmills, per Solvang USA. A great time to experience the best of Solvang's Danish cuisine is during the Taste of Solvang which happens on the third weekend in March when local chefs and bakers showcase their specialties to the throngs of people who visit, per You will positively marvel at this colorful, quaint, exceptionally Danish town and you certainly won't leave hungry.