Solvang, California: What to do ...
The popularity of the film "Sideways," filmed in Solvang, shined a spotlight on the region's burgeoning wine industry. There are over a dozen tasting rooms and wine bars in Solvang itself, all within walking distance of each other, and over sixty wineries in the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley. Free Wine Map available at www.solvangusa.com.
A shopper's paradise, Solvang boasts more than 12 quaint squares offering 150 retail shops selling Old World antiques, Danish imports, collectibles, arts and crafts, Native American treasures, books, porcelain figures, shoes, clothing, jewelry, regional wines, homemade candy, souvenirs and art.
Hans Christian Andersen Park: A 15-acre park with a greenbelt of lush foliage and shady oak trees. An ideal spot for walking, jogging, picnicking and bicycling, the park is located on the outskirts of Solvang on Atterdag Road. It is a popular recreation spot for tennis, children's activities and horseshoes.
Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) Theaterfest: PCPA's alfresco theater seats 700. This stellar performing arts venue presents seasonal first-rate musicals, dramas and comedies from June to October. (805-922-8313, www.pcpa.org)
Museums and California Mission: Devoted to Danish culture, the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art showcases period rooms including a charming kitchen adorned with typical Danish farmhouse folk paintings. The Art Gallery, features rotating exhibits of regional paintings and displays of Denmark's traditional folk art including weaving, needlework, lace making, wood carving and paper cutting.
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum highlights the beloved storyteller's life with hundreds of first editions, fairy tales and literary works.
Solvang's Motorcycle Museum spotlights changing exhibits of classic bikes from a permanent collection of one hundred including a 1955 Matchless G64 to Vincent Black Lighting, one of only thirty ever built.
Established in 1804 as the 19th California mission, Old Mission Santa Inés, a national historical landmark, showcases an impressive collection of Spanish Indian artifacts including a collection of 16th century vestments – with one actually worn by Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions. The chapel, enhanced with interior murals by Indian artists, has been used continuously since 1817. A self-guided Audio Tour is available. Beautiful gardens surround the mission and its cemetery.
Apple Harvest: Many orchards, including Solvang's Apple Lane Orchards and Ballard Apple Farm, welcome day pickers. Visitors can sample over a dozen delicious varieties of Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Winesap from roadside stands. August through October.
Chumash Indian Casino: A 24-hour seven-days-a-week casino offering poker, "21," high-stakes Indian bingo and Las Vegas-style video gaming. Four diamond rated hotel offers spa treatments and live entertainment. (800-Chumash or www.chumashcasino.com)
Miniature Horses: Famous for its thoroughbred and pure bred horse ranches, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to Quicksilver Ranch, a 20-acre state-of-the-art miniature horse farm and breeding facility with an astonishing array of toy horses. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Lamas: Tina and Bob Westin's Flying V Ranch features the mystical wonders of llamas, unique creatures native to the Andes.
The Man Who Listens to Horses: Flag Is Up Farms is a 110-acre breeding and training facility for thoroughbred stallions and quarter horses. It is home of Monty Roberts, internationally renowned horse gentler and author of the New York Times Bestseller "The Man Who Listens to Horses." The farm welcomes visitors year round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ostrich Land: Fifty of the tallest birds in the world dot the 33-acre breeding farm off Highway 246 in nearby Buellton. Travelers can feed the Australian emu, and ostrich eggs, eggshell paintings, feathers and unique leather items.