In this article, we explore the sweet side of the Santa Ynez Valley by taking a look at the Solvang bakeries and other establishments selling sugary treats.
I have always loved Danish butter cookies, the ones which come in a nearly impossible to open blue tin. My siblings and I were in trouble every time my Dad bought a tin. We ended up grounded because of the fights emerging due to the difficult task of deciding how many each of our favorites we were going to eat. I have always preferred the ones with the sugar crystals on top.
The battles and indecisions continued into adulthood. I discovered my husband is obsessed with the cookies as well. We have to set a limit on how many we are allowed to eat at a given time. In our defense, I have to say the childish behavior is not our fault. Why are those cookies so addictive?
Since those sweets make week on the knees, imagine my surprise when a hotel attendant gave me a bag of fresh butter cookies. We were staying in Solvang, the Danish village located at the heart of Santa Barbara County. If the cookies coming in a tin are delicious, the freshly baked specimens are mega delectable. They are melting in your mouth goodness.
This article discusses where to get all the scrumptious, sweet stuff in Solvang!
Solvang is full of authentic Danish bakeries. The owners are third and fourth generation Danes that use centuries-old recipes and premium ingredients in their products. In the small village, full of fairy tale like buildings, it is possible to enjoy flaky pastries, butter shortbread, kringles, marzipan, almond rings, cakes, cookies, tarts, and bread. So, it is very easy to go pastry hunting (is that a thing?) in this beautiful town!
Here is a more detailed list of what you can find in town:
Butter Cookies – cookies prepared using flour, sugar, and butter. They are exported from Denmark (mostly) on tins. Even though I love the tin version, having the fresh cookies is a totally different experience.
Danish Pastries – Known as only “Danish” all over the world. Round, puffy pastries with jam or custard in the middle. Sugar icing is added on top.
Butter Ring Cake – Also known as the Seven Sisters Butter Ring. Think about it as seven coffees cake rolls tied together. Some versions use custard and/or almond paste
Kringles – big, rounded, stuffed (fruit, nuts, custard) pastry rolls. The roll is cut into pieces to create individual servings or portions. Sometimes, kringles have a pretzel shape
Danish Style Raisin Bread
Dark Limpa Bread – flavors include orange zest and caraway seeds
Solvang bakeries sell sweets from other European countries too. Get ready to find macarons, strudel, and napoleons. In addition, you will find coffee, hot chocolate, sandwiches and salads on offer.
Traditional Danish Bakeries
For authentic Danish sweets and bread visit the following bakeries:
Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery
One of the oldest and most popular bakeries in town. They specialize in kringles, Danish pastries filled with every fruit you can imagine, cream puffs, butter ring cake, Danish waffles, pumpernickel, and cardamom bread, kransekage (tower made with individual pastry rings) and much more. Don’t forget to get your tube of butter cookies (contains 5 dozen).
Location: 1529 Mission Drive
The Solvang Bakery
I call this place the fairy-tale bakery because of its pink facade and whimsy decor. They specialize in almond kringles, strudels, butter rings, owl eyes, fancy tarts, Napoleon hats and much more.
Location: 438 Alisal Road
Danish Mill Bakery
Another place to get pastries and butter cookies.
Location: 1682 Copenhagen Drive
Mortensen’s Danish Bakery
This family-owned business was founded by a baker from Copenhagen more than 40 years ago. They have a spacious dining room where pastries and the drink of your choice can be had. This is an excellent place to get breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Location: 1588 Copenhagen Drive
Birkholm’s Bakery and Cafe
Since this establishment is a cafe too, get prepared to find sandwiches, salads and other cold entrees. They have an espresso bar and, of course, tons of pastries.
Location: 460 Alisal Road
These traditional Danish pancakes in a distinctive shape of a sphere deserve to be mentioned on their own category. They are slightly toasted on the outside, soft on the inside and covered in raspberry jam and powdered sugar.
The little balls are one of the most famous things to try on Solvang. Their photos are everywhere (they even are featured in postcards). I tried them at The Solvang Restaurant and have to say they were pretty good.
The Solvang Cafe a special window in the front from where you can order aebleskivers (think of a drive-thru for humans). Therefore, you don’t have to sit down in a restaurant to enjoy the treats.
Another place to get them is the aptly named Ableskiver Café.
If you want to prepare aebleskivers at home, all the tools (special pan) and ingredients are sold around town.
Ingeborg’s, the local chocolate factory was first opened in 1961. The traditional chocolate recipes were first brought to Solvang by Ingeborg Larsen, a chocolate dipper in one of Denmark’s largest chocolate factories.
Nowadays, 70 different types of handmade chocolates are offered. You select what to try (or take home) or pick a box with an assortment of flavors.
Location: 1679 Copenhagen Drive
If you are looking to start the day on the sweet side, restaurants such as Paula’s Pancake House and The Belgian Café have Danish pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, French Toast, crepes and Belgian waffle on the menu.
These are usually served with whipped cream, fruits and/or powdered sugar.
You can find a similar menu at Ellen’s Pancake House in Buellton.
Other Sweet Options
Wait! There is more!
Like I have not discussed enough bakeries, shops, and restaurants! Well, I need to make this article comprehensive. Right?
Here are even more options to keep your sugar levels high.
Café Dolce – This store offers gelato, smoothies, vegetable juices, shaved ice, and coffee.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – Popcorn, dipped apples and strawberries
Old Danish Fudge Kitchen – This establishment specializes in fudge but sells caramel apples, peanut brittle, salt water taffy and butter cookies too.
Swedish Candy Factory – They make and sell polkagris, a special variety of stick candy
Pattibakes – Awesome bakery in Buellton selling tarts, lemon bars, cupcakes, bread, and other baked goods
More about Solvang
If you are spending some time in Solvang or visiting for a day, I recommend you take a look at my detailed article on Things to Do in Solvang.
If you need a bit more convincing to visit, here are two of my photo posts:
Solvang Pictures: The Danish Village of my Dreams
Solvang Images: A Piece of Denmark Close to Home
Solvang is located 35 miles from Santa Barbara, 70 miles from San Luis Obispo and 128 miles from Los Angeles.
By car, the town can be accessed through US-101 or CA-154. Both routes are scenic.
The closest airport and train station are located in Santa Barbara. If you arrive in the area by one of those methods, you will need to reach the Santa Inez Valley by rental car, public transportation or guided tours.
There are two big parking lots along Mission Drive. There is another lot on Oak Street. Street parking is widely available. All parking is free.
The Santa Ynez Valley is full beautiful towns. Combining a visit to Solvang with other towns in the area is a good idea.
Los Olivos – probably my favorite town in the valley. Find wine tasting rooms, gardens, and nice restaurants.
Santa Ynez – this is the cowboy town of the valley
Buellton – another small town with good restaurants and several tasting rooms
Lompoc – this town located 20 miles from Solvang is known for its flower fields, downtown murals, wine ghetto, and beaches.
More of Southern California
Find out how to spend one fun-filled day in Los Angeles
Get inspiration by reading my Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
What is your favorite pick from the different Solvang Bakeries? Have you visited this town?
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