A Complete Guide to Visiting Solvang California
Are you planning on Visiting Solvang California? This quaint Danish Village is located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. Solvang, which means “sunny field” in Danish, was founded by three Danish men in 1911 with a dream of establishing a Danish town in California. It’s most commonly referred to as the Danish Capital of California. Many people would call Solvang kitschy however to me it’s incredibly endearing. In my opinion, it is the most charming town in California, and I’ve visited Carmel By The Sea!
In a lot of ways, the Santa Ynez valley reminds me of Kauai. Aside from the tropical climate and palm trees. The miles of wineries and ranches set against the rolling green hills feel like it was plucked out of a storybook. It also gives off major Disneyland vibes. Finally, in order to witness the true charm and relaxation this town has to offer I would recommend staying 1-2 nights when visiting.
How to Get to Solvang
Santa Barbara county is the closest major city to Solvang. Solvang is located 45 minutes northwest of Santa Barbara and you take the 101 N to the 154. If you’re flying into California, Santa Barbara is the closest airport. If you’re traveling from Los Angeles it will take you roughly 2.5 hours and you’ll take the 126 W to the 101 N. Finally, driving from San Diego to Solvang will be at least a 4-hour drive.
Check out my blog post The Best Photo Spots in Santa Barbara if you are planning on visiting during your trip to Solvang.
Things to Know Before Visiting Solvang
- It’s a very small town you can walk the main streets within an hour
- Most restaurants and shops close early
- It’s surrounded by over 120 wineries, so make sure to visit at least one
- During Christmas, the streets are lit up with lights and it’s a magical time of year to visit
- Every year they have a Danish Days festival in September – such a fun way to experience Solvang
Things to Do in Solvang California
Walk Around Downtown Solvang
Downtown Solvang is known for its mom-and-pop shops, gabled roofs, danish bakeries, antique stores, and not one but four windmills! You can spend an entire afternoon exploring this quaint downtown. And eating all the pastries your heart desires. There is even a replica of The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. The main roads are Copenhagen Drive and Alisal road.
One of the more popular free things to do in Solvang is to visit the Hans Christian Anderson Museum located in the Book Loft. He is famous for writing fables such as The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale, and The Princess and The Pea. The Book Loft dedicated an area to highlighting his work. They are open every day until 5 pm and closed Wednesdays + Thursdays.
Visit the Four Windmills in Town
Solvang is known for its danish architecture. Windmills are a huge part of that and there is four located downtown. And you can find the location of the four windmills in Solvang below:
- The Solvang Windmill on Copenhagen Drive
- The Hamlet Square Windmill
- Solvang Brewing Company on Mission Drive
- Kronborg Inn
Visit the Old Mission Santa Ines
The Old Mission Santa Ines was founded in 1804 as the 19th mission in California. It’s set against a breathtaking backdrop of hills and has a small but beautiful exterior to explore. Today, they still serve the community by offering daily mass. Finally, they have a gift shop on the premises open every day until 4 pm.
Indulge in a Danish
If you visit Solvang and don’t indulge in a danish, you are doing it wrong. They are iconic in these parts and there are a plethora of danish bakeries and flavors to choose from. The most common one to try is the cream cheese danish however don’t sleep on the lemon ones. Finally, most close at 5 pm, and the freshest are always served in the mornings. Here are all the bakeries located in town:
- Olsens Danish Village bakery (opens at 7 am)
- Mortensens Danish bakery (opens at 9 am)
- Danish mill bakery (opens at 8 am)
- Solvang Bakery (opens at 8 am)
- Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe (opens at 7 am)
Take a Ride on the Solvang Trolley
Explore the streets of Solvang and learn about its over 100 years of history in a traditional Danish conveyance known as a Honen. The trolley is guided by a Solvang local and visits all the major landmarks. Finally, they operate Friday to Sunday and it costs $14 for adults and $9 for children.
The most unique experience in California goes to Ostrichland. A farm in which you can visit and feed over 100 emus and ostriches. They’re so adorable but can be aggressive while having food in your hand so make sure to hold the feeders with both hands. Regardless, this is a must-see when visiting Solvang. Tickets cost $7 for adults, $3 for children, and $1 per bucket of food. Finally, it’s located only 5 minutes outside of Downtown Solvang.
Go Wine Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley
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Santa Ynez Valley is located in the Central Valley of California and has miles of beautiful wine country. They ship out over 1 million cases of wine per year and have over 120 wineries. Planning your visit is not an easy feat but I’m here to help and share the most popular wines and tours you can take. We personally visited Sunstone vineyards and had an amazing experience – the wine was delicious and the ambiance was incredible. I felt as though I was in Tuscany.
Other popular wineries include Foxen Wines, Rusack Vineyard, Gainey Vineyard, and Stolpman Wineries. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a fun activity to do you can embark on a bike and wine tour. This half-day tour is led by a local tour guide while visiting an olive farm and a few wineries. Finally, if you prefer a private wine tour so you don’t have to worry about driving then consider this 5-star rated tour.
See a Show at the Solvang Festival Theatre
An open-air theatre that was built in the 1970s to attract visitors to visit Solvang. Which definitely worked because this theatre sees over 40,000 patrons yearly. They host shows and concerts throughout the year and you can check out their schedule for more information.
Best Restaurants in Solvang
Mad + Vin ($$$): a sophisticated restaurant serving farm-to-table cuisine. We visited during restaurant week and loved the steak, mac + cheese, and brussels sprouts. My husband and I kept saying how they were the most delicious brussels sprouts we’ve ever had!
Peasants Feast ($$): an airy restaurant with outdoor seating and a calming vibe. They serve hearty meals, craft beer, and wine. This was most recommended to us when we were planning our stay however, it was closed on the two days we were visiting.
Sear Steakhouse ($$$): an upscale American steakhouse serving prime beef, local seafood, and vegetarian options. They have indoor and outdoor seating.
Osteria Grappolo ($$): Italian restaurant located on the main street downtown.
Big Bopper Drive-In ($): casual eatery serving burgers, shakes, and tri-tip sandwiches. We have the 1/4 pounder and trip tip sandwich and both were delicious.
Breakfast Spots in Solvang California
You can choose to indulge in pastries a the many bakeries for breakfast. Or visit a breakfast restaurant…
Paula’s Pancake House ($$): family-owned pancake house serving traditional dutch pancakes as well as American breakfast. We enjoyed an omelet, biscuits and gravy, and American pancakes. All plates were delicious and it was reasonably priced.
Brekkies ($$): a kid-friendly restaurant serving classic American and Mexican breakfast dishes.
Hotels in Solvang California
Wine Valley Inn ($$): we personally stayed here for two nights and loved it! The location is perfectly set away from the main street which makes it quiet. We rented the loft-style room and loved it. Finally, they also have danish style villas that are more private. Book your stay here!
Hotel Corque ($$): located on the main road next to the most popular windmill is Hotel Corque. A 4-star hotel with median prices. Book your stay here!
The Landsby Hotel ($$$): if you are bougie like me this is the highest-rated hotel in Solvang. While we didn’t stay here we visited for dinner and I can attest to the luxury that this hotel gives off. Book your stay here!
Thank you for reading my “Ultimate Guide to Visiting Solvang California”. I hope you enjoy the most charming town in California and don’t forget to check out more of my California guides.
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