Natural Wonders: Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

100_8060You and yours need to discover all the natural wonders of Cachuma Lake Recreation Area off Hwy 154, just 15 minutes from downtown Solvang; this is one of my favorite local outdoor spots for active recreation or relaxation. There’s so much to do (or not to do)—from hiking, boating, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Plus amazing guided nature cruises are offered year round aboard The Osprey, a 30-passenger pontoon boat. You can see bald eagles, herons, hawks and deer (not to mention some fascinating flora). The recent rains have really “greened” up the surrounding Santa Ynez mountains and it’s a gorgeous place for a relaxing day or a picnic on the shore (yes, the lake level is lower due to the drought, yet it’s still beautiful). Conveniently, there are boat rentals, bait & tackle shop, a general store plus the very interactive Neal Taylor Nature Center . One of my faves there is comparing your arm span to a bird’s wingspan! Year-round, there are free Nature Hikes leaving from the Center at 10am on Saturday mornings and Junior Ranger programs, too along with special events for the whole family. Park admission is only $10 per car and so worth it! For more details, access http://tinyurl.com/solvang-cachumalake

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Going to the Dogs? Velkommen Greyhounds!

logo-apparel-wear Greyhound 11Woof! If you’re a dog lover or just like four-legged friends, you don’t want to miss seeing more than 200 hounds and their humans this weekend (February 20-22) at the 11th Annual Solvang Greyhound Fest. Members of the public (like you and your family) are welcome to watch many of the free, fun activities. For example, one of my favorite happenings is on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Old Mission Santa Ines (1760 Mission Drive) when Father Gerald will bless the hounds. Or check out The Solvang Streak, held on Saturday at 10:15 a.m. at Sunny Fields Park on Alamo Pintado Road where you can watch the hounds flat out run just for fun. On Sunday morning starting at 9:00 a.m., it’s a greyound spectacular when the canines and their human families take a morning stroll throughout the village and then gather for a final “roo” at Solvang Park.  You have to hear them to believe it! Proceeds from the weekend festival benefit GREYT Legs—a charity that helps improve the quality of life for broken leg Greyhounds coming off the track. For all the details, see http://www.solvanggreyhoundfest.org/

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Valentine’s Sweet Treats for Your Sweetheart

2013 Taste of Solvang Pro Winner Dessert-Ingeborgs Dark-Light TrufflesYou already know that Valentine’s Day is this Saturday, February 14, right? Have you shopped for something special for your sweetheart yet? Sharing a sweet treat is a delicious way to show you care—and it’s so easy to do in Solvang since this is the place to satisfy sweet cravings year-round. Right now, I’ll bet you’re probably craving chocolate! Discover family-owned/operated Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates that has been using authentic recipes for handmade confections since 1961 (how can you possibly choose between truffles made with raspberry or rum or mocha or amaretto or chocolate mousse?) Also founded in 1961 (what was going on that year?) is the Old Danish Fudge Kitchen that makes the real deal using a massive copper pot heated over a gas-burning stove mixing 25-pound batches with all-natural ingredients; then poured onto marble tables for cooling (you can watch and sample, try the chocolate peanut butter.) And if you can’t make it to town in person right now, both of these shops will ship direct to your sweetheart!

Solvang, CaliforniaAnd of course, Solvang’s five authentic Danish bakeries have plenty of options too! For delicious delight details visit http://www.solvangusa.com/explore-solvang/dining/#DanishBake

Tantalizing Taste of Solvang

taste-of-solvang-ca bannerYou don’t want to miss any of savory flavors and tantalizing events from Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, March 22, 2015 during the 23rd annual Taste of Solvang! In addition to the popular Farmers Market Chef Walks & Dining Experiences on Wednesday, 3/18; Sips & Sweets (wine and dessert) party on Friday evening 3/20; Grand Tasting (previously known as the Walking Smorgaasbord) features more than 30 taste stops around the village on Saturday, 3/21; the Beer & Wine Walk on Saturday & Sunday. Plus, two new events added to the festivities: the Larner Winemaker Dinner featuring Bacon & Brine’s Chef Pink on Saturday evening, 3/21 at the Greenhouse Cafe and Bubbles & Brunch with Flying Goat Cellars Winemaker Norm Yost and Chef Louise at the Wildling Museum galleries on Sunday morning, 3/22. Get your Taste of Solvang ticket packages or ala carte tickets well in advance since events are always sell-outs. Get more delicious details here: www.SolvangUSA.com/tos