The Best Christmas Photo Spots in Solvang, California
Are you looking for a unique Christmas holiday season that will be memorable? If so, you should consider visiting Solvang. Solvang is a quintessentially Danish town located in the Santa Ynez Valley, 30-miles northwest of Santa Barbara. Visiting Solvang is like visiting Europe with rolling hills, vineyards, classic Danish style architecture, and Danish pastries.
Solvang is known as one of the ten best winter holiday towns in the United States and Readers Digest confirmed this reputation by calling Solvang the “Best Christmas Town in California.” The Danish village comes alive during holiday season with sparkling Christmas lights, musical performances, an enchanting parade, seasonal treats at the local bakeries and unique shopping opportunities. Here are some of our favorite Christmas photo spots in this wonderful Danish village.
1. Copenhagen Drive and Alisal Road at night
Christmas in Solvang is roughly a month-long celebration of all the wonders of Christmas. The whole town is lavishly decorated. Each business tries to outdo the others in terms of their Christmas window displays and Christmas trees placed at the entrances.
Daytime in Solvang is beautiful but don’t forget to visit Solvang during Christmas in the evening as well. You will see thousands of sparkling Christmas lights which is a sight to behold.
The main roads, Copenhagen Drive and Alisal Road, are where all of the shops are. One of our favorite photo spots is in front of this store – Edelweiss Fine Gifts and Jewelry Store (1692 Copenhagen Dr. Solvang). Their Christmassy decorated windows, red brick wall, green lush vine, and cottage style make a whimsical backdrop for your Christmas photos.
The spirit of Christmas exists here all year long. From the charming, fairy-like toy stores to the dozens of boutique shops, the atmosphere is always enchanting.
2. The Windmills
Solvang’s authentic Danish architecture is a big part of what gives the town, which Danish immigrants founded in 1911, its unique charm. One of Solvang’s most iconic pieces of Danish charm are the infamous windmills. They are giant and colorful, and will stand out as an amazing background in any photo.
Settled by Danish immigrants in 1911, the streets of downtown Solvang are lined with colorful, Scandinavian-inspired buildings while wooden windmills tower over charming shops, bakeries, and restaurants. There are several wooden windmills in Solvang, with the most popular, called Solvang Windmill, on Alisal Road.
And there’s a windmill at the Hamet Square, corner of Copenhagen and 2nd Street.
3. A Danish Bakery
There are five major bakeries in Solvang: Olsen’s Danish Village, Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, Solvang Bakery, Danish Mill Bakery, and Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe. Most of these bakeries are owned and operated by multiple-generations-old Danes, so you’ll find classic Danish takes on everything from pastries to decor.
The Danish Mill Bakery is a classic bakery in Solvang. Their beautiful displays of animatronic chefs making baked goods are hard-to-miss.
Another photogenic Danish bakery is the Solvang bakery located next to the Solvang windmill. It’s a cute, unabashedly pink, Barbie dreamhouse-esque shop. Known for its cinnamon crisps, Danish waffles, tubs of butter cookies, cream puffs, and butter rings, Solvang Bakery is also renowned across the country for its famous custom gingerbread houses.
4. The Trolley
The Trolley is a replica of a 1900’s Danish Street Car. Touring the town in a classic trolley is a great way to discover Solvang with timeless elegance and fun.
You can take a 25-min guided tour on the historical Solvang Trolley, which has been taking visitors and locals alike for rides since 1964. pulled by Belgian Draft Horses. The tour is guided by multi-lingual, costumed Tour Guides that are constantly educated on local special events and history of the town.
5. Wander the Village of Solvang and explore little squares throughout the town
Tucked away from the main downtown are many charming squares and plazas decked out with holiday lights and wreaths, and there’s a palpable holiday spirit as you walk along the streets of the quiet town.
The decorative facades, real trees lining the sidewalks and random drive by’s of Santa and a horse drawn trolley really make you feel like you’re walking around in a Lifetime movie. Every time you turn a corner, you’ll feel as if the magic of a Northern European Christmas has been brought to you in Southern California.
Plan to spend an evening photographing Solvang’s colorful facades from every angle, admire the windmills, and enjoy all the Christmas decor. Any time of the year Solvang looks festive, but the city and merchants add loads of decorations and lights during the holidays to make it extra special.
Just strolling the streets — especially after dark — is a reason to visit Solvang during the holidays.
Solvang is a magical place to visit during the holiday season because it has the wonderful small-town feel, a cheerful energy, and countless holiday decorations. Solvang brings European holiday charm to California’s Central Coast. No wonder it’s called the best Christmas town in America. Solvang is fun to visit any time of year, but during the holidays Solvang looks like a scene from a Hallmark movie. People come here to forget about the rest of the world and just enjoy a winter wonderland.
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