Solvang, California, a Danish-American community in the Santa Ynez Valley less than an hour's drive from Santa Barbara, has windmills—which are lit at night with strings of white lights—and shops built in the Danish style that sell imported Danish china and traditional Danish foods. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to try Danish waffles—pastries that look like hot-dog buns, filled with buttercream and raspberry jam.
The town, made famous by the 2004 film Sideways, is touristy and overly commercialized but still charming with rows of little houses with crooked chimneys, small-paned windows and roofs made of thatch or copper. You'll also find horse-drawn carriages, golf courses, horse ranches, wineries and racing museums. http://www.solvangusa.com.
The tiny Hans Christian Andersen Museum exhibits memorabilia of the Danish author (phone 805-688-2052; http://www.solvangca.com/museum/h1.htm). The town even has a Little Mermaid statue. You can also get a bird's-eye view of the landscape via a hot-air-balloon ride.
If the busloads of tourists that descend on the town overwhelm you, escape the short distance to nearby Santa Ynez and Los Olivos, a charming Victorian-era town, that together lie at the heart of Central California's wine region.
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