By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
Back in December, my husband and I took a weekend vacation to the cheerful Danish-style hamlet of Solvang, California. The trip, a near three-hour journey north to California’s central coast, would be one of the last before our first baby is expected to arrive next month.
For our journey, we were given the opportunity to test drive Chevrolet’s new year’s update on their super sized crossover, the Traverse, a vehicle that far outweighs my tiny Toyota.
We were excited to try out the all-new Traverse: With three pets and a little human on the way, we had just begun serious talks about our need for a bigger vehicle, but still found ourselves cringing at the idea of becoming minivan soccer parents.
For us, the Traverse is a solid choice.
I won’t lie to you: At first, the 2018 Traverse was difficult for me to maneuver, especially on smaller residential streets with curbed parking. But once we got moving on the open freeway, I soon settled in and began to enjoy the vehicle’s smooth and steady ride.
I should also mention that there’s customizable lumbar support built into the leather seats, a feature that has left me bitter after coming to terms with the fact that not every seat has this option, couches and barstools included.
My husband, our usual trip navigator, was outsourced by the vehicle’s built-in GPS system, so he took on the role of moving DJ, a transition made nearly effortless by the Traverse’s seamless Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay system.
Chevy’s redesigned Traverse also comes with the latest in safety, a selling-point for me, which includes a surround-view camera, lane keeping and departure warnings, front pedestrian braking and forward collision alert with low- and high-speed braking.
Our trip moved on without a hitch and as we ascended north toward the Santa Ynez Valley, we grew eager to see what the little village had in store for us.
We arrived half-past noon to find that Solvang’s strollable streets were especially quiet for a Sunday in late December due, in large part, to the Thomas Fire, whose embers were still smoldering nearby after weeks of destruction.
A popular tourist destination, the town, as well as other parts of Santa Barbara County, has felt an economic slump in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire, but those wishing to visit should not be deterred from doing so.
Made famous by the 2004 film “Sideways,” Solvang is the perfect getaway for every oenophile. With over 20 boutique wine tasting rooms, a glass of vino can be found on nearly every corner.
Local eateries offer visitors a wide selection of foods from both near and far away with delicacies like extravagant Danish bakeries, German sausage houses and fine fusion restaurants. Those in need of a quick and easy bite before heading out should make a pit stop at the Big Bopper, a 1950’s style hamburger carhop that won’t break the bank.
The Solvang Trolley & Carriage Tour is a fun way to explore the storybook town and hearing the sounds of horseshoes clopping down cobblestone streets only adds to Solvang’s magical atmosphere.
Once back on foot, Solvang’s very walkable downtown area plays home to dozens of specialty shops offering Dane-made artwork, dolls and Christmas-themed trinkets.
Families looking to find a little fun off the beaten path should check out OstrichLand, a nearby bird farm where visitors can feed towering ostriches and emus. (Just be sure to hold the feeding bowl with both hands because these bird-brained beauties are enthusiastic eaters.)
Most of the town closes up shop just after sunset and, after making the long and difficult decision to not smuggle home an emu, my husband and I jumped back into the Traverse for the easy ride back to reality.
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