As the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are polished off and the calendar flips over to December, the Christmas season is about to be in full swing.
If you’re looking for a winter getaway (minus the snow) and hoping to stay in a quaint town out of a Hallmark made-for-TV movie, you won’t have to drive too far.
Tripstodiscover.com, a website that provides trip planning suggestions and resources, released a list of the 21 best small towns to visit for Christmas, and only one California town made the list.
Solvang was listed as California’s best town to visit for Christmas, according to the website.
The tiny village, located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County wine country, is a sleepy town with European architecture and sensibilities, and the town definitely goes all out for Christmas.
The town has dozens of boutiques that sell traditional Danish items, including clogs and other knickknacks, and that’s not even mentioning the world famous aebleskivers. During the winter, much of the town is decked out with holiday lights and wreaths, and there’s a palpable holiday spirit as you walk along the streets of the quiet town.
Each year, Solvang celebrates Julefest, a month-long celebration that “harkens back to a simpler time and holiday memories of days gone by,” according to the festival’s website.
Julefest features holiday parades, musical performances and a nightly light show that features holiday music synced to flashing lights. There’s also an annual “Nativity Spectacular” production that has been held for nearly 40 years and brings performers together to tell the story of Christmas.
The festival comes to an official end after the new year when residents of the Santa Ynez Valley gather for a massive Christmas tree burn which acts as both a bookend to the holiday season and an important demonstration about fire danger.
With lodging options that range between cheap overnight motel stays or luxurious resorts, Solvang has a lot of options for each budget — but seeing as it’s only a 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles, it works as a daytime destination as well. Just keep in mind, much of the town goes to sleep with the sun, so you’ll want to be there early to maximize your time.
So if you want to see why Solvang is called “A Very Charming Christmas Town,” head for the Danish Capital of America and see what the hype is all about.