So yesterday I took a day trip to Banff National Park. Just an hour and a half’s drive from Calgary. We picked the perfect day for it – glorious sunshine and blue skies!
For those of you who don’t know too much about Banff, it’s located in Alberta’s rocky mountains (also known as the ‘Canadian Rockies’) and is the oldest national park in Canada. The rocky mountain peaks surround the picture-perfect mountain town of Banff, which is filled with quaint boutiques, gift shops and eateries.
We arrived in Banff around 11am and decided to take the gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. At the top, we got to enjoy 360° views of the national park. Truly stunning! There was comfy seating and we packed a small picnic to enjoy whilst admiring the views, a good way to avoid paying touristy prices in the restaurant there!
We then spent some time wandering around the tourist shops in the town of Banff, stopping halfway for a beer at a lovely rooftop bar!
After that, we grabbed an early supper at a ‘cheap and cheerful’ diner and then headed over to a cute bakery/candy store for bear claws! What a fabulous day!
Solvang is a small village/town in Southern California’s Santa Ynez Valley and is part of California’s wine country. Many locals told us that a lot of people (including Californians) have never even heard of it!
As someone who is passionate about travel, I often read online travel blogs as well as travel and lifestyle magazines. I happened to read about Solvang in a travel magazine about a year ago and became obsessed with wanting to visit. I also wondered if Solvang would meet my high expectations. It did not disappoint. If possible, it was even more spectacular than I imagined!
Those who have heard of Solvang or are fortunate enough to have visited, will know that it’s known for its Danish-style architecture and many wineries. It’s listed as the Danish capital of America! There is also a copy of the famous Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen.
We stayed in a lovely hotel right in the centre of this quaint Danish village. After checking in, we took a short walk to ‘Paula’s Pancake House’. A top suggestion on Google, based on the positive reviews. Paula’s was tastefully decorated. It was an interesting mix between a Danish café/tea room and a vintage American diner. I ordered the Danish-style pancakes with sweet cinnamon apples. A delicious meal. If you’re ever in Solvang, I would recommend stopping by Paula’s!
After our brunch, we took a leisurely stroll around the village, stopping in a few interesting looking boutiques etc. There were also lots of bakeries selling traditional Danish cakes, pastries, biscuits and more!
We stopped at a local brewery to try out their craft beer. They had comfortable outdoor chairs with brightly coloured cushions. A relaxing afternoon break from the sun!
As I mentioned before, Solvang is known for its many wineries. So of course, we decided to do a wine tasting. We found a winery called ‘CrossHatch’ that happened to have a tasting room inside a windmill! We tasted 5 wines and learned that they only made just over a 100 cases of each type of wine that we tasted!
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by our hotel pool. In the evening, we headed out to a traditional Danish beer garden. Not to mention that it was far more pleasant than the real Denmark, as you’ve got the Californian heat! We ordered a bottle of local wine and a charcuterie board.
I’ll also mention that we regretted not staying longer than one night, it’s such a great little village that to properly explore everywhere, I would recommend staying for at least two nights.
I would also suggest a visit to ‘Quicksilver Ranch’ – a miniature horse ranch. One word: adorable! It’s no more than a ten minute drive from Solvang.
On our way to Malibu (driving there from Santa Monica), we stopped by a quaint looking sandwich shop and ordered some freshly made sarnies. Malibu has many stunning beaches. White sand and very clear water.
We relaxed (and ate our delicious sandwiches) on Zuma Beach for a while. Zuma Beach is about 2 miles long with lots of lifeguard stations. It’s quite a lively beach, with people jogging, windsurfing…playing volleyball etc. We enjoyed watching all the surfers! We also walked along Malibu pier. Much smaller than the Santa Monica pier but still worth seeing. It’s an historic pier with a few restaurants/cafés, built in the early 1900s. Known more as a fishing pier.