Looking for the best things to do in Solvang, CA? Where is Solvang? Why is it such a beloved spot in Southern California?
Old world charm.
This charming and touristy Danish city in Southern California stole our hearts the first time we visited over ten years ago. It remains one of our favorite day trips from Los Angeles as it’s only a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. When visiting Santa Barbara, we always try to make a pit stop as it’s just a 45-minute drive.
What makes Solvang special? The city is unique, unlike any other city we’ve ever visited in the United States, and it is considered the Danish Capital of America.
It’s Danish architecture and windmills, fun, delicious eats like, aebelskivers, and many wine-tasting rooms. Making a delightful destination to spend a day or a few in.
It can be a bit touristy—a tad like a themed village inside a Disney park. To me, that is half the fun. Everyone we’ve brought to Solvang has been charmed by this delightful town.
Solvang is located in Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. It was founded by founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants.
The city has changed through the years; you’ll find some of its history as you explore it. You can also visit the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art to learn more about Solvang’s history.
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In this article, we list the best things to do in Solvang, where to eat in Solvang, where to stay if you plan to say overnight, and whether it is worth the trip to this touristy city or not.
What to Do in Solvang, CA?
See the traditional windmills, hop from bakery to bakery to try all the Danish treats, imbibe in some local wine tasting, visit the shops and explore Solvang on foot or take a trolley ride around town.
Driving from the town, you can visit Ostrichland and feed the ostriches and emus at Ostrichland. Plan to take a hike to Solvang’s hidden waterfall – small but pretty.
These are just some of the activities in Solvang that you can do during your visit.
My favorite thing to do in Solvang is EAT.
If you’re also a foodie, you’ll want to start with a pastry or aebelskivers for breakfast. Although, during a recent trip, we started with Danish pancakes and later had aebelskivers.
When is the Best Time to Visit Solvang?
Any time of year!
Spring and Summer is the busiest time of year. On the weekends, arrive early in the day because it can get crowded by the afternoon.
We love visiting during the holidays for Julefest. Julefest is Solvang’s month-long holiday celebration. Solvang at Christmas is even more magical and fun.
How to get to Solvang, CA?
Solvang by Car
The easiest way to get to Solvang is by driving, as it is located in the Santa Ynez Valley in California and is easily accessible by car. From Los Angeles, it is about a two-hour and 45-minute drive north on the US-101, and from Santa Barbara, it is about a 45-minute drive north on the CA-154. Along the way, you can enjoy scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Solvang by Train
You can also take public transportation to Solvang. We recommend taking this journey if you plan an overnight rather than a day trip.
Tip: If you're on a Pacific Coast road trip or spending time in Santa Barbara, add Solvang as one of your stopovers.
Book a Hotel in or around Solvang, CA – Booking.com
Best Things to Do in Solvang
1. Eat Aebelskivers (Danish Pancakes)
One of the best things to do in Solvang if you’re on a tasty itinerary is to try aebelskivers.
What are aebelskivers? They are Danish round pancakes topped with powdered sugar and raspberry jam.
We admit the #1 reason we typically visit Solvang is to eat through the village. Solvang has many great bakeries, but you must head to Solvang Restaurant and order some aebelskivers.
You won’t regret it. We promise. They are so good!
Now, they do sell aebelskivers in other spots around Solvang. Just note they do not taste the same everywhere. We recently tried to check different places to see which ones had the best and were disappointed.
We were back at Solvang Restaurant, where we’ve had them many times throughout the years. So far, they continue to win us over because they are hot, fluffy, and delicious.
You don’t need to sit down at the restaurant. They have an order and pickup window right outside.
2. Spot a Windmill
What to do in Solvang? Spot the famous windmills!
There are four wooden windmills in Solvang—all in a four-block radius. You won’t be able to miss them as you’re exploring Denmark Square. They are non-working, but they are aesthetically pleasing and fun.
- 1622 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
- 436 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463
- 1440 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
- 1547 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
3. The Little Mermaid Fountain
Like the Mermaid fountain in Denmark, you will find a smaller-scale of the Mermaid statue in Solvang. The statue was installed in 1976 in Denmark Square.
This is one of those quick stops as you explore another spot in Solvang. You’ll see it, take your shot (if you want one) and move on. So that you know, it is there.
Little Mermaid Fountain | 1693 Mission Dr, Solvang | Google Map It
4. Hans Christian Anderson Museum at The Book Loft
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author that wrote some of the most famous fairytales… The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, Ugly Duckling, and many more.
This small museum is at the top of a bookstore at The Book Loft.
It is worth a look as it has a model of Hans Christian Andersen’s home with some photos and original letters from this famous author. It is also one of the free things to do in Solvang.
5. Elverhoj Museum of History and Art
First-timer in Solvang? One of the things to do in Solvang is to take a deeper dive into the history of Solvang and the Danish culture by visiting the Elverhoj Museum.
This is not your typical big museum with its cold, harsh edges. This small museum is inside an old Danish house converted into a museum. While small, there is a ton of interesting information you wouldn’t have learned of unless visiting. The staff here is also super friendly, informative, and helpful.
- The museum is open Thursdays thru Mondays from 11 am to 5 pm.
- Free admission, but a $5 donation is suggested.
6. Round Tower of Solvang | Copenhagen’s Famous Rundetårn Replica
Check out the replica of Copenhagen’s The Round Tower. The one in Solvang is one-third of the size of the tower in Copenhagen. It is located behind the windmill on Alisal Rd.
The Round Tower in Copenhagen is a 17th-century tower and observatory. While we can climb the one in Copenhagen, unfortunately, we can’t climb the one in Solvang.
It is the home of Tower Pizza.
Solvang’s Round Tower | 436 Alisal Road, Solvang | Google Map It
7. The Clogs at the Solvang Shoe Store
For some window shopping fun in Solvang, head to the Solvang Shoe store. You can’t miss it with their big red clog outside the front of the store.
While they do sell a nice collection of shoes of all types, the thing to see is their fun collection of colorful wooden clogs. You also purchase a mini pair of Solvang clogs as a souvenir here.
8. Go Wine Tasting
There are several wine-tasting rooms throughout Solvang. If you are a wine drinker, I suggest stopping at a few as you’re walking around Solvang and getting a taste of the local wines.
Tasting fees start at $5.
Santa Ynez Valley Biking and Wine Tasting Tour [book here]
9. Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum
You’ll find a Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Solvang Village Square, just a short walk from the main town. This is an excellent stop for anyone who loves vintage transportation modes, specifically motorcycles.
Hubby loved it.
This motorcycle museum features a collection of antique motorcycles and some one-of-kind motorcycles on display.
The staff is friendly and informative.
- Cost: $10. Cash Only.
- Open only on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.
10. Go Bakery Hopping
There are a few Danish Bakeries, and we love to go to each one to see what they have. Even if it’s just to smell the delicious butter in the air and gawk at all the baked goods, while they are beautiful to look at, they are also scrumptious to eat. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Solvang.
You can go bakery hopping, buy pastries to eat there, take on the road, or bring home for breakfast the next day. That’s if they make it to the next day.
When I’m in Solvang, I like bringing some butter cookies and a kringle home.
- Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe
- Solvang Bakery
- Mortensen’s Bakery
- Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery
- Danish Mill Bakery
- Brød & Kage Bakery
11. See a Production at the Solvang Festival Theater
Do you enjoy production plays and other musical events? Check out what’s playing at the Solvang Theater; it is one of the fun things to do in Solvang.
This 700-seat amphitheater is an open-air venue with some productions and events in Solvang. Watch one of their well-produced events under the stars.
Bring a blanket and a sweater as the nights get cold.
Solvang Festival Theater | 420 2nd St, Solvang | Google Map It
12. Old Mission Santa Inés
Old Mission Santa Inés was founded in 1804 and is part of the history of California. The mission is well-preserved with beautiful Spanish architecture. You’ll want to visit the museum on site before heading to the chapel and the lovely grounds of the Mission.
There are also beautiful views from the parking lot.
- Self-guided tours are $6.
- Monday thru Saturday, 10 am to 3:30 pm. Sundays, 1 pm to 4:30 pm.
13. Watch a Traditional Danish Dance
If you plan to visit Solvang on the 3rd Saturday of the month, plan to see the traditional Danish dancing. The Solvang Village Folk Dancers perform at the intersection of Copenhagen Drive and Alisal Road.
- 3rd Saturday of the Month
- 1 pm to 3 pm
14. Book a Food Tour
You’ll learn about the history of the Danish Village while trying out some great bites from within the city. They’ll also teach smartphone photography tips as a plus to this tour.
You can book a Solvang food tour with Eat This, Shoot That. Their food tours take place every Saturday, upon availability. Just expect this tour to be lunch.
Solvang Food and Photo Tour [book here]
Did you know there is an Ostrich farm in Solvang?
Visiting and feeding the Ostriches and Emus at Ostrchland is one of those fun activities in Solvang you’ll want to check out before arriving or after exploring the town area.
It’s a short stop on your Solvang itinerary but a fun one.
If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids in Solvang, add Ostrichland to your itinerary. My friends recently took their children after visiting the town, and they loved it.
- Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
- Admission costs $7 for adults and $3 for children. You can book your tickets online in advance.
- Don’t forget to buy Ostrich food for $1.
16. Nojoqui Falls Trail
There is a waterfall right near Solvang called Nojoqui Falls. You can drive to the trail and do the easy hike that is less than a mile round-trip. It will take about 10-15 minutes to hike there. The trail is family-friendly, pretty, and full of shade. It is worth a short adventure.
Note the waterfall may be dry during the drought seasons. So don’t be surprised if you hike it and there is only a trickle of water. Probably best to go days after it has rained.
Places to Eat in Solvang
- Brekkies: Delish Danish pancakes, the thin flat ones. As well as a fantastic all-around breakfast and coffee. Note, you order at the register and then they will seat you.
- Peasants Feast: We love that it’s first come, first serve, and no reservations are needed. Try their fried chicken sandwich.
- Copenhagen Sausage Garden: This tucked-away Bier Garden on Copenhagen Drive is casual and serves delicious pretzels and sausages. Pair it with one of their Danish beers.
- Mad & Vin: This chic farm-to-table spot at the Landsby serves seasonal dishes and cheese & meat boards that are perfect with a glass of local wine.
- Fitzpatrick’s Tavern: For some pub grub and beer.
Where to Stay in Solvang?
Whether you plan to stay overnight or on a long weekend, we suggest staying in town so you can enjoy this city to its fullest. Walking to restaurants and other nearby things to do in Solvang is easier when you have everything within walking distance.
The best accommodations get booked up fast. Make sure to make reservations.
- The Landsby: A chic boutique hotel and our top pick.
- Vinland Hotel and Lounge: Modern, clean, and close to the town center.
- Solvang Alisal Vacation Cottages: These idyllic cottages are on Alisal Road in the heart of Solvang. Ideal if you need accommodations with a small kitchen.
Looking for something different? Check out Alisal Ranch, a luxury Dude Ranch in Solvang.
What To Do in Solvang: FAQs
Is going to Solvang worth it?
Solvang is a fun and charming option worth spending a day or two in at least once to enjoy what this Danish city offers. Especially if you’ve never been, you should at least visit once. While there is plenty of wine tasting and delicious treats, other nearby attractions make Solvang a great home base in Santa Ynez Valley.
How many days do you need in Solvang?
A day trip to Solvang is enough to walk around town, eat some Danish pastries, visit some of the spots we listed above, and have lunch or dinner. However, if you want to do some wine tasting and enjoy Solvang at a slower pace, we’d recommend 2-3 days.
Is Solvang, CA tourist trap?
Solvang has become more touristy throughout the years, but it is certainly not a typical tourist trap. It’s a lovely destination with authentic Danish culture and a welcoming community. Visitors can still enjoy traditional Danish cuisine, admire the Danish-style architecture, and learn about the town’s history.
Visiting Solvang is definitely like stepping into another part of the world. All you need is a short day trip to Solvang or a quick stop from your road trip to enjoy what it offers. You’ll love it. And if you have kids, they’ll love it too.
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Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.