Motorcycle Travel: Solvang, California

the Danish destination with great grub, pea soup and a memorable motorcycle museum. ** By Jamie Elvidge.**

For our February 2001 examination of the relevance of motorcycle size to eternal happiness (see Size Matters, we spent a few days in and around Solvang and Buellton, California. Just a couple of hours' ride from Los Angeles and minutes from Santa Barbara. Set in the hilly, beautiful Santa Ynez valley, the area is dotted with wineries and laced with plenty of roads designed to seduce motorcyclists. Solvang was settled by Danes and retains a Danish theme -- and Danish flavors. So we set off on a ride-to-eat, eat-to-ride adventure.

There's an old touring trick we sometimes use to sniff out the best breakfast place in a small town. We check parking lots for an unusually high volume of construction trucks and service vans. Man, those guys know how to eat.

Such was the case with Ellen's Danish Pancake House (805/688-5312) in Buellton, California. "Famous for fine food since 1947," the restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside (or inside), but the food is tremendous. After the sun went down, we stuffed our faces at A.J. Spurs Steakhouse (805/686-1655), also in Buellton. If there is ever a good reason to unbutton your pants at the dinner table, you'll find it here.

Another sweet spot we highly recommend when touring in the area (and it doesn't have a thing to do with grub) is the Motorcycle Museum in downtown Solvang (805/686-9522). For a mere $2 admission you'll find a remarkable collection of vintage motorbikes from Ducati, Excelsior, Manz, Matchless, Moto Guzzi, Norton Manx, Triumph and even a supercharged Vincent that held the 1953 World Speed record for the mile. You know how hard is to find a decent motorcycle museum in the middle of don't strudel on by. For a virtual visit, check out

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Great Danish pancakes served anytime.
Click on this photo and ponder how wonderful a fresh Danish putting green would be.
Solvang's little out-of-the-way motorcycle museum has some world-class motorcycles.