Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Feb 5, 2016

January 2016: Solvang & Huntington Beach, California

My wife, Kundan, and I were in Orange County, California January 13 through January 26, 2016.

Orange County Insignia

Most of the time, we enjoyed the gracious hospitality of our daughter, Shilpa, and her husband, Ravi. 

Also we spent some quality time with most of our relatives in the area.

During our stay there, we had the good fortune to visit Solvang & Huntington Beach.

On January 18, Kundan’s brother Rohit, and his wife Rita took us out for a two-night sojourn at Solvang, CA.

Just north of Santa Barbara, we encountered stop-and-go traffic on US 101 North.  Apparently,

Santa Barbara area Map showing US 101 & California Highway 1

because of an accident, traffic was limited to only one lane. Therefor we switched to Highway I, which in that area runs parallel to US 101. However, many others had arrived at the same decision, thus making Highway I also very crowded. Hence, instead of being stuck in the traffic, we decided to make a U-turn and go back to Santa Barbara, where we had lunch at a Subway restaurant.

The City of Santa Barbara is situated between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Because of its Mediterranean-like climate, some people call the city as the “American Riviera.”

Santa Barbara Aerial View
Santa Barbara City Seal

Traffic was a little better when we resumed our journey north. A little farther north, we switched to Highway 154.

California State Highway 154

We stopped for tea at Cold Spring Tavern. The Tavern is named after the Cold Spring Canyon, in which it is situated.

Cold Spring Tavern

Originally established in 1865, as a stagecoach stop, the Tavern is located about a mile off Highway 154, just 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara. From outside the Tavern looks like a shack, and inside it appeared to be a dark and dingy place.

After tea, we resumed our trip to Solvang. We reached there in the afternoon.

Solvang means “Sunny Field” in Danish. It is a small town of approximately 5,000 in the Santa Ynez Valley. It is located close to the 35th Parallel North, about 50 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, California.

Founded in 1911, by a group of Danes, it has many striking visual reminders of Denmark,  especially

Solvang Symbol
A Windmill Structure on a Solvang Street

in the façade of its buildings and its windmill structures.

For several years around the beginning of the 20th century, Solvang was a vibrant center of Danish culture. Also it had a school where Danish-speaking teenagers learnt “singing, gymnastics, folk dancing, and fellowship.”

Even Denmark's Prince Frederik and Princess Ingrid visited Solvang in 1939. Danish Princess Margrethe visited in 1960. She returned to Solvang with her husband, Prince Henrik, in 1976 after she had become the Queen of Denmark.

Solvang has a museum of Danish culture. Also there is a Danish church.

Bethania Lutheran Church

Most of the Danish-style buildings were built in the 1940’s. Around the same time, a local architect added Danish facades to older buildings.

Tivoli Square, Solvang

In September, every year, Solvang celebrates its Danish folk traditions with "Danish Days."

Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is just ten miles from Solvang.

Entrance to Neverland

Solvang has become a major California tourist attraction. Currently more than one million people visit Solvang, every year.

After unloading our car, and settling in our two-bedroom unit, we were ready for a few hands of Rummikub, a tile-game we had learned from Rohit and Rita in a previous trip with them. It is a nice way to pass time. During our stay at Solvang, we returned to Rummikub a few more times.


It was now time for a walk. Everything outside was wet. Apparently, it had rained. Still we had a pleasant walk.

Next day it drizzled all the time. Still, we went out for drive around the scenic Santa Ynez Valley. It is located between the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south and San Rafael Mountains to the north. And the Santa Ynez River flows through it. 

Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Ynez Valley is home to quite a few vineyards and wineries. Their number increased after the 2004 film, Sideways.

We visited Epiphany in San Olivos, and had an opportunity to taste some of is wines and dark chocolates.

Los Olivos, CA
Epiphany Wine Tasting, Los Olivos, CA

We ended the day with dinner at a downtown Solvang restaurant. 

Next day, it was time to head back to Orange County.

On January 24, Shilpa and Ravi took us to Huntington Beach, CA. Named after American businessman Henry E. Huntington, it is the most populous beach city in Orange County.

Map of Huntington Beach Area

Also known as “Surf City,” its 9.5-mile-long, sandy beach, and mild climate attracts many visitors all year long.

Beach at Huntington Beach, CA
A surfer at Huntington Beach

After an eye-pleasing and soul-nourishing walk on the beach for a while, we went for an ice-cream treat at Baskin Robbins nearby.

On the way home, we stopped for falafel dinner, at a Middle Eastern restaurant, in Costa Mesa. It was a busy, noisy place. Anyway, it was a nice way to end our afternoon-outing.

NOTE: I forgot to take my camera on this trip. Therefore, all pictures in this segment are "borrowed" from Open Stock.