Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara County, Solvang is a beautiful weekend destination and a perfect place for a romantic getaway in California. Although it is a quiet little town, you will find plenty of things to do in Solvang.
Not only there are so many attractions in Solvang, but it also gives you a taste of the European vibe in the heart of California. You can see Danish architecture and culture at every corner of the city. Apart from these, this little California city boasts picturesque farms and vineyards, a rugged coast, a couple of beaches, cute restaurants, and bakeries.
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How to Get to Solvang
Solvang is located 35 miles from the south-facing beaches of Santa Barbara, and 125 miles from Los Angeles. The best and easiest way to reach Solvang is by driving via CA-154 Highway or US-101 Freeway from Santa Barbara. If you come from Los Angeles, it can take around two and a half hours to reach Solvang.
CA-154 Highway route affords incredible views of the San Marcos Pass and the Santa Ynez Mountains, whereas, you can see the scenic coastal areas of California while driving through the freeway.
Best Time to Visit Solvang
The weather in Solvang is nearly perfect as the average temperature varies very little. Travelers visit this Southern California city all year round. However, the best time to visit Solvang is between mid-June to late September for charming weather and clear blue sky.
The average temperature in winter falls around 55℉. Carrying a good quality jacket is highly recommended. Keep in mind, summer temperature can get up to 84℉.
Summer weekends are the busiest time in Solvang. If you want to save some money, we’ll recommend visiting in the spring or fall season(wine harvest season) when the crowd is less and you can find some great deals on flights and accommodations.
Best Things to do in Solvang
Walk Around Downtown Solvang
The best way to explore Solvang is to walk around downtown. It is a small and compact place, so you can easily discover the city’s Danish-inspired buildings, gift shops, bakeries, and restaurants. Solvang is also known as the ‘Danish Capital of America’.
After getting familiar with the city, explore the Danish icons and landmarks all over Solvang. There is a replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower located on Alisal Road. Near the Round Tower, you will find four giant windmills. These windmills are one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Solvang.
Some other replica statues that you will notice here: Hans Christian Andersen statue and the Little Mermaid statue. Undoubtedly, strolling around downtown Solvang is one of the best free things to do in Solvang with family.
Santa Ines Mission
Next on my list of things to do in Solvang is to visit Santa Ines Mission. This mission was established in 1804 on Mission Ave and offers spectacular views of the Santa Ynez River Valley and the surrounding mountains.
There is a beautiful garden filled with flowers and trees. You can also rest on the benches after all the walking you’ve done in downtown Solvang.
If you are a history buff, don’t miss the exhibits that say the history of this area, the native Indian tribes, and the Catholic Missionaries. You can read this book to know more history of this mission.
Go Shopping: Things to do in Solvang, CA
I won’t say that Solvang is the ultimate shopping destination, but this small town has many cute boutique shops that have a large variety of collections from children’s clothing shops to traditional Danish clogs and antiques.
- Jule Hus: They have a large collection of Scandinavian and European items including Christmas gifts, holiday decor, and ornaments.
- The Book Loft: Bookworm people would definitely like this bookstore that has a great collection of Scandinavian books, European books, and more.
- The Solvang Shoe Store: Admire the traditional hand-painted Danish clogs. You can choose your favorite shoe brands from here.
- Atterdag Kids Children’s & Baby Boutique: Shop for kids here.
- A Piece of the Past: Shop for antique and vintage keepsakes and furniture.
Try Danish Bakeries
Any list of things to do in Solvang would be incomplete without a visit to a Danish Bakery. The city is rich in bakeries, so finding a place to grab some delicious treats isn’t a difficult task. You shouldn’t miss these mouthwatering baked items during a trip to Solvang.
I will highly recommend to visit Mortenson’s Danish Bakery and enjoy the Danish Waffle. Some other popular pastries to try include cream puffs, stroopwafels, butter cookies, kringle((flaky dough filled with fruits and topped with almonds), and almond ring cake.
Popular Danish Bakeries:
- Mortenson’s Danish Bakery: Danish Waffle, Cinnamon Rolls, Raspberry Danish
- Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery: Kringle, ring cake, and butter cookies.
- The Solvang Bakery: Try the bear claws, danishes, and honey almond tarts.
If you are searching for Solvang things to do, there is a couple of wine-tasting rooms in this small town. The Santa Ynez Valley is famous for its wineries and vineyards, and Solvang is located at the heart of it. There are 300 wineries and 20 wine tasting rooms that offer sample wines from across the Santa Ynez Valley.
You can go for a wine tasting tour or simply walk from shop to shop and taste their wines grown in this region. Some of the best wine tasting rooms in Solvang are Lucas & Lewellen Wineries(traditional Italian wines), Casa Cassara Winery, Lyons Peak Vineyards, and Carivintas Winery.
Solvang has a good number of museums and exploring those interesting museums can be one of the best things to do in Solvang for kids. In fact, Solvang museums have something for everyone to enjoy. Here is a list of popular museums in Solvang:
- Hans Christian Andersen Museum: Features the life of a great Danish author(who wrote The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperor’s New Clothes) and his work.
- Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum: An ideal museum for motorcycle enthusiasts. An amazing collection of rare and vintage racing bikes.
- Elverhoj Museum of History and Art: Free museum where you can learn about Solvang’s rich history through photos, artifacts, and video displays.
- Wildling Museum of Art and Nature: A beautiful museum for art and nature lovers. Celebrate nature and the wilderness.
- Mendenhall Museum: It has a large collection including gasoline pumps, porcelain gas, oil, road sign, and miscellaneous antiques.
- Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum & Parks Janeway Carriage House: Learn the historical significance of the valley. It features more than 35 horse-drawn carriages and buggies.
Horseback Riding & Santa Ynez Valley
Still, looking for what to do in Solvang? If you’re done with the town, go horseback riding and discover the Santa Ynez Valley while exploring the things to do near Solvang. Horseback riding is a very romantic activity in Solvang and popular for couples. You might also like to read cheap romantic getaways in the US.
Enjoy the beauty and calmness of the Santa Ynez Valley on a private, guided horseback ride with Vino Vaqueros. The ride goes through the hills of Estelle Vineyards. On a bright sunny day, it can be a rewarding experience with the breathtaking views of ranches and vineyards.
You can choose their popular ‘Ride and Wine’ package($150 pp) that includes a 90 minute guided ride with a glass of local wine when you’re done. ‘Ride Only’ package(less price) is also available for the people who don’t want wine.
Popular Events in Solvang
Solvang hosts several events throughout the year. From Classic car Shows to Christmas Parade, if you want to know more about Solvang, attend any of the below local events and plan well in advance for Solvang’s itinerary.
- Taste of Solvang: March
- Danish Days: September
- Solvang Stop: October
- Julefest: Popular Christmas Festival held in December
Nearby Solvang Attractions
There is more to explore if you’re looking for tourist attractions around Solvang, California. Check out the below spots near Solvang:
Nojoqui Falls Park(6.5 miles): Enjoy the view of 160 feet tall Nojoqui Falls after a scenic hiking trail.
Ostrichland USA (2.5 miles): Feed ostriches and emus. This is really a fun thing to do in Solvang with your kids
Quicksilver Ranch (2.8 miles): Ranch breeding miniature horses. It is a kid-friendly place where kids can feed the tiny horses.
Numerous Vineyards and Wineries: It is not possible to see all the vineyards and wineries of Solvang at a single visit. Here are some popular vineyards near Solvang: Rusack Vineyards, Lincourt Vineyards, Shoestring Winery, Blackjack Ranch Vineyards and Winery, Caravintas Winery, Buttonwood Farm Winery, and Vineyard.
What to Eat in Solvang? Solvang Retaurants
Solvang is a great place for foodie traveler and it has a good number of restaurants that serves traditional Danish food as well as international cuisine. Check out any of the below Solvang restaurants, but don’t miss popular Danish desert aebleskivers. These are like a donut hole mixed with pancake and cooked in a cast-iron pan.
Solvang Restaurant: They serve delicious Danish items, like Aebleskiver, flodebollers, and stroopwafels, and Danish sausage. A perfect place for an afternoon snack.
Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery: Come here to taste a wide variety of Danish pastries, cookies, and cakes.
Fresco Valley Café: Serves American dishes, hot-dip sandwiches, and cheeseburgers with outdoor dining option
Solvang Bakery: A charming place to relax and enjoy a coffee with classic Danish pastries and waffles.
Mad and Vin: They specialize in serving modern dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. They also serve craft cocktails, beer, and locally produced wines.
Budget travelers and backpackers can check out how to eat cheap while traveling to save some bucks on food.
Where to Stay in Solvang? Solvang Accommodation
Solvang is not a cheap place in California. The hotels in Solvang are a bit pricey, especially during weekends and holidays. If you are on a budget, try to book your accommodation several weeks before your journey. You can also check in nearby cities like Buellton and Lompoc to find cheap hotels.
Lotus of Lompoc: It is situated in Lompoc which is just 21 miles from Solvang. This motel offers furnished rooms with a fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and other basic amenities at a reasonable price.
Wine Valley Inn: It’s just walking distance from downtown Solvang. It is a Danish styled hotel where you would love to stay.
Royal Copenhagen Inn: Located in the heart of downtown Solvang, the hotel features free WiFi and an outdoor pool. The rooms are spacious and decorated in Danish tradition.