3 California Hygge Destinations You Should Visit

Good morning and happy Thanksgiving, dear escapists. You have probably heard of “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”), a Danish word for “well-being” and “cozy togetherness” that became widely known in the mid-2010s.

At home, hygge often involves lighting candles, wrapping them in blankets, and talking calmly, contentedly with loved ones.

But what does hygge mean when traveling? For me it means enjoying cold weather activities like ice skating and snowshoeing and then warming up with a cup of mulled wine or tea afterwards.

In this edition of Escapes you will find some ways to experience California Hygge, a sun-kissed twist on the Scandinavian concept.

Where do you feel most at home in the west? As always, my inbox is open for referrals.


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🚗 Spend a weekend in Solvang

A visit to Solvang, known as the “Danish Capital of America”, is a breeze for any traveler looking for a bit of hygge this holiday season.

Although Solvang is more than 5,000 miles from the streets of Copenhagen, its connections with Denmark are deep. According to the Elverhøj Museum, an institution dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the city’s history and culture, three Danish immigrants founded Solvang in 1911 with the intention of creating a place for their fellow immigrants.

The city’s Danish roots are strong and deep 110 years later.

Located between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Solvang is a convenient waypoint on a coastal road. Those looking to spend the night can book a stay at Landsby, a hygge-forward boutique hotel. In a town known for its kitschy charm, the Landsby stands out for its modern Scandinavian design – think of lots of clean lines, light wood, light knit fabrics, and so on. Rooms start at $ 179 a night, though prices are higher during the holidays.

For a more unconventional stay, the Hygge Tower Apartment is hard to beat. According to the Vrbo list, the accommodation is located in a replica of the famous Rundetårn in Copenhagen. The quirky stay for up to four guests can be booked for $ 695 per night.

Carol Collins, right, manager of Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe, helps a customer.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

♨️ Enjoy the cozy atmosphere in hot springs

Fortunately, Southern California doesn’t get as cold as Denmark, but stopping at hot springs for a relaxing day is still a worthwhile winter activity.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs created the LA Times 2021 Christmas Gift Guide (below its Experience List), and it’s easy to see why. Travelers to the Temescal Valley Resort will delight in applying California red clay to their skin in the resort’s spring water mud pool and soaking in the sauna and steam rooms.

Those who need additional relaxation can book massages and facials; Although the author of The Wild newsletter, Mary Forgione, writes that “the terrain alone is reason enough to go there”.

A tip: bring an old swimsuit for the mud bath. The red clay can leave stains. Basic entry, which includes the “Club Mud” experience and entry to the resort’s various pools, starts at USD 85 (Monday through Thursday). Make your reservation in advance.

At dusk, people swim in a pool behind a low building.  Large open parasols line one side of the pool.

The cabana deck at the Temescal Valley Resort.

(Glen Ivy Hot Springs)

⛸️ Practice your Triple Axel at Dodger Stadium

“In 2021 there will be another ice rink at Dodger Stadium,” writes LA Times sports reporter Bill Shaikin. “This time around, you don’t have to be an NHL player to skate there.”

The Kings mostly played the Ducks on an ice rink installed at Dodger Stadium in 2014. Now turned into a winter festival, the stadium welcomes Angelenos and visitors alike for a piece of vacation magic in the same place where Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and other players hit home runs and stole bases.

The festival includes ice skating on an outdoor ice rink, the opportunity to visit Santa Claus in a bullpen, light and music shows and much more.

Tickets start at $ 16 and must be purchased online in advance.

A rendering of an ice rink in a ballpark.

A representation of the Holiday Festival at Dodger Stadium, an event that involves ice skating in the outfield.

(Los Angeles Dodgers)

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☕ Hike the “Hot Chocolate Trail”

A meandering “Hot Chocolate Trail” with over 20 types of the popular winter drink? It’s an idea so hygge there has to be a catch.

Well there is.

Unfortunately for Californians planning to stay during the season, this delightful vacation event takes place across the US-Canadian border in Banff, a resort best known for its proximity to the breathtaking waters of Lake Louise.

However, I couldn’t write a hygge-themed edition of Escapes without mentioning the opportunity to try Chilli Chai Hot Chocolate, Peppermint and Lavender Hot Chocolate, and Espresso Banana Hot Chocolate in one day. (Below, I offer ways to explore hot chocolate drinks from the comfort of your home.)

Fully vaccinated US travelers are allowed to enter Canada. (However, a government official at a visitor’s port of entry has the final say, so plan ahead and bring necessary travel documents.) So if you are planning a ski vacation to Alberta this year, I recommend budgeting some extra time for the hot Chocolate Trail which runs through January 1st.

If you stay here this December, you can repeat the experience by trying some of our hot chocolate recipes from around the world:

An illustration of giant hot chocolate spilled through a snowy mountain.

(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I read

  • Two young men set out to hike the three longest trails in America in less than a year. What could go wrong Times employees Faith E. Pinho and Gina Ferazzi report on their trip.
  • Vincent Valencia has lived alone on top of Mammoth Mountain for 18 years. Why? He is one of the few people with the skills required to oversee the operation of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s gondola, reports LA Times reporter Louis Sahagún.
  • 100,000 tundra swans fly to Northern California every winter. In the Reno Gazette Journal, Amy Alonzo collapses where they can be seen.
  • Lots of people want tattoos – a souvenir that’s hard to lose – when visiting Joshua Tree National Park. Ashley Harrell reports in SFGate about the booming tattoo business in the southern California desert.
  • Do you dream of seeing the northern lights one day? Stephanie Vermillion explains where to see her in the adjacent US on Condé Nast Traveler.
  • Is Black Friday still important to travelers? Elaine Glusac reports in the New York Times on the deals – or lack thereof – to expect this year.

Two men hike along a mountain road in the fog.

Jackson Parell (left) and Sammy Potter of Mount Etna Summit in Etna, California are the youngest people to ever hike the Pacific Crest, the Continental Divide, and the Appalachian Trail in a year.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

📸 Photo of the week

A small brown building with a fieldstone fireplace has a sign that says

At the Mount Baldy Lodge, rustic and cozy huts start from US $ 125. It’s in the village just as you enter town.

(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

🎸 street song

Song: “Run Rudolph Run” by Norah Jones (I find it difficult to imagine a more hyggeic artist.)

Favorite song: “Santa, hurry him up, tell him he can take the freeway.”

Where to Hear: Every LA freeway – en route to ice skating.

An illustration resembles a Polaroid photo of LA skyscrapers, little traffic on 110, and the words

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

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