17 Fun Things to Do in Solvang to Uncover the Charm of Little Denmark

Pinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden Image

What are the fun things to do in Solvang, CA? Where is Solvang? This quaint Danish city in Southern California stole our hearts the first time we visited over ten years ago and remains a favorite day trip destination from Los Angeles, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. It’s also a perfect pit stop when visiting Santa Barbara, only 45 minutes away.

What makes Solvang so special? Known as the Danish Capital of America, Little Denmark, offers traditional windmills, old-world charm, and delightful Danish treats like aebelskivers. Solvang’s unique Danish architecture and wine-tasting rooms make it a delightful destination to spend a day or even a few.

While it can be a bit touristy—somewhat like a themed village in a Disney park—that’s part of the fun for us. Everyone we’ve brought to Solvang has been charmed by this delightful town.

Founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants, Solvang is located in the Santa Ynez Valley, part of Santa Barbara County. The city has evolved over the years, but visiting places like the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art allows you to explore some of its history.

featured blog image of the main street in Solvang, California, with Danish-style architecture and a prominent windmill, under a clear sky. The image is overlaid with large text that reads "Things to do in SOLVANG, CALIFORNIA."Pin

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission at no extra cost. Please refer to our full disclosure for details.

In this article, we list the best things to do in Solvang, where to eat in Solvang, where to stay if you plan to stay overnight, and whether it is worth the trip to this touristy city.

Fun Fact: Did you know Solvan means “Sunny Fields” in English?

1. Treat Yourself to Aebelskivers at Solvang Restaurant

kathy holding a small container of fresh Aebelskivers, Danish round pancakes, dusted with powdered sugar and glazed with raspberry jam, with a blurred street scene in the background.Pin

Here I am holding aebelskivers from Solvang Restaurant before taking a bite.

A trip to Solvang isn’t complete without tasting aebelskivers, the delightful Danish round pancakes dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam. Our top recommendation for these treats is Solvang Restaurant. Over the years, their aebelskivers have consistently impressed us with their hot, fluffy texture and delicious taste.

While aebelskivers are available at various local spots, not all are created equal. We’ve ventured around to compare, only to find ourselves returning to Solvang Restaurant—none other matches their quality.

Moreover, you don’t need to sit down to enjoy them. Just swing by their convenient pickup window and grab your treat to go.

2. Explore Solvang’s Iconic Windmills

As you wander through Denmark Square, check out Solvang’s famous windmills. Four picturesque wooden windmills are within just a four-block radius, making them impossible to miss and a highlight of any visit. Although these windmills are non-operational, their charming and aesthetic appeal makes them a perfect backdrop for photos.

Here’s where you can find them:

  • 1622 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463 (Hamlet Square)
  • 436 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463
  • 1440 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
  • 1547 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
  • Atterdag Square

Take a moment to admire these architectural beauties that add a touch of old-world charm to Solvang’s streets.

3. Visit The Little Mermaid Fountain

A colorful fountain with a Little Mermaid statue in front of a quaint shopping area in Solvang.Pin

In the heart of Denmark Square, you’ll find a charming nod to Danish heritage with Solvang’s own version of the famous Mermaid statue. Installed in 1976, this smaller-scale replica pays homage to the iconic Mermaid fountain in Denmark. It’s a quick but memorable stop as you wander through Solvang. Snap a photo with this quaint piece of art before continuing your exploration.

4. Explore the Hans Christian Andersen Museum at The Book Loft

Delve into the magical world of fairy tales at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, located above The Book Loft bookstore. As a tribute to the legendary Danish author known for classics like The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, and The Ugly Duckling, this quaint museum offers a fascinating glimpse into his life.

The museum features a model of Andersen’s home, along with original letters and photos that capture the essence of his contributions to literature. It is an enriching experience and one of the free activities available in Solvang, making it a must-visit for literary fans and families alike.

5. Discover the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art

For an in-depth look into the history of Solvang and Danish culture, a visit to the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is essential. Housed in a charming converted Danish home, this museum offers a warm and inviting atmosphere, far from the sterile environments often found in larger institutions.

Despite its modest size, the museum has fascinating insights into the local heritage you might not find elsewhere. The staff are exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable, enhancing the experience with their insights and assistance.

The museum is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, though a $5 donation is suggested to support its efforts.

6. Round Tower of Solvang: A Replica of Copenhagen’s Rundetår

A pedestrian pathway leads to a tall, brick-built tower with decorative elements in Solvang, flanked by outdoor café seating and traditional Danish-style buildings.Pin

Don’t miss the Round Tower of Solvang, a scaled-down replica of Copenhagen’s famous Rundetårn. This version, one-third the size of the original, can be found nestled behind the windmill on Alisal Road.

The original Round Tower in Copenhagen, built in the 17th century as an observatory, allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view. While the Solvang replica does not offer a climb, it still makes for an interesting pit stop.

The replica is home to Tower Pizza.

7. The Clogs at the Solvang Shoe Store

A visit to the Solvang Shoe Store is a must for a bit of fun window shopping and to check out their iconic big red clog displayed out front. Inside, you’ll find a vibrant collection of wooden clogs showcasing a variety of colors and styles. These aren’t just for show; you can also purchase your own pair, including miniature Solvang clogs perfect for a souvenir. While the store offers a range of other footwear, the colorful wooden clogs are the highlight, reflecting the town’s unique Danish flair.

8. Go Wine Tasting in Solvang

For wine enthusiasts, exploring Solvang’s wine-tasting rooms is a delightful experience. As you stroll through this charming town, visit several tasting rooms to savor the local wines. With tasting fees starting at just $5, it’s an affordable way to sample a variety of flavors and discover your new favorite.

Tour Ideas:
Santa Ynez Valley Biking and Wine Tasting Tour [book here]

9. Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum

Motorcycle enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, just a short walk from the main town in Solvang Village Square. The museum is a gem, featuring an impressive collection of antique and one-of-a-kind motorcycles.

It’s a favorite spot for anyone fascinated by vintage modes of transportation. My husband loved it! The friendly and knowledgeable staff enhance the experience, making it informative and welcoming for all visitors.

Admission is $10, payable in cash only. The museum is open exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

10. Go Bakery Hopping

Exploring the Danish bakeries in Solvang is an absolute treat and one of my favorite activities. Each bakery has unique and similar offerings, but they all share the irresistible aroma of butter and a display of gorgeous, tempting pastries.

The one Turkish bakery in the heart of the town, Cafe Dolce, with its amazing treats, can’t be left out. It has some of the best buttery cookies we’ve had the pleasure of eating. IMO, it is a hidden gem of Solvang.

You can enjoy your pastries on the spot, take them on the road, or save some for breakfast the next day—assuming they last that long! I never miss bringing home some butter cookies and a kringle during my visits.

Here are some must-visit bakeries in Solvang:

11. Enjoy a Night at the Solvang Festival Theater

If you love theatrical plays and musical performances, make sure to check out what’s on at the Solvang Festival Theater. This 700-seat open-air amphitheater hosts a variety of productions and events, offering a perfect opportunity to enjoy quality entertainment under the stars.

It’s a fun and cultural experience in Solvang that shouldn’t be missed. Remember to bring a blanket and a sweater, as evenings can get chilly. This is a great way to spend an evening immersed under the stars and in the arts.

12. Visit Old Mission Santa Inés

Old Mission Santa Ines in SolvangPin

Founded in 1804, Old Mission Santa Inés is a significant part of California’s history, showcasing stunning Spanish architecture. Explore the on-site museum to deepen your understanding of its heritage before you visit the chapel and stroll through the serene grounds. Don’t miss the picturesque views of Santa Ynez River Valley, which you can see from the parking lot.

Self-guided tours are available for $6. The mission is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

13. Experience Traditional Danish Dancing

If your visit to Solvang aligns with the third Saturday of the month, don’t miss the opportunity to see traditional Danish dancing. The Solvang Village Folk Dancers perform live where Copenhagen Drive and Alisal Road intersect. This vibrant display of culture and tradition is a treat for visitors of all ages.

When: 3rd Saturday of the Month
Time: 1 pm to 3 pm

This is a wonderful way to experience a unique aspect of Solvang’s Danish heritage firsthand.

14. Take a Trolley Tour of Historical Downtown Solvang


Experience Solvang’s history on a trolley tour through the heart of downtown. It’s a delightful way to learn about this Danish city, ideal for families or first-time visitors. The 25-minute tours are available as motorized or horse-drawn carriages, with the latter offered only on weekends and select holidays, weather permitting. Book online or get tickets from guides near Copenhagen and 2nd St, in front of the visitor center.

15. Book a Food Tour

Embark on a food tour to check out Solvang’s culinary scene and Danish heritage. Food tours are a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with any new location, and Solvang is no exception. Not only will you savor delicious bites throughout the Danish Village, but you’ll also gain insights into its history.

As an added bonus, the tour includes smartphone photography tips, perfect for capturing your tasty adventures. Tours are offered by Eat This, Shoot That every Saturday, subject to availability, and are designed to coincide with lunchtime.

Tour Idea:
Solvang Food and Photo Tour [book here]

16. Visit OstrichLand USA

Ostriches gather behind a wooden fence at a farm, with a few peering curiously at the camera, set against a sandy, open-air enclosure.

Set some time to visit OstrichLand USA, a unique ostrich farm right in Solvang. It’s a fantastic spot to visit before diving into the town or as a delightful conclusion to your day. Here, you can get up close and personal, feeding the resident ostriches and emus—an especially popular activity with families.

A visit to OstrichLand is a quick but memorable addition to your Solvang itinerary. This is a must-see if you’re searching for fun activities suitable for children. Our friends recently brought their kids here, and it was a hit!

Hours: Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm
Admission: $7 for adults, $3 for children. Tickets can be purchased online in advance.
Tip: Don’t forget to purchase ostrich food for $1 to enhance your experience.

17. Hike to Nojoqui Falls

A stone stairway meanders through a tranquil, shaded with trees, leading hikers toward the destination of their nature walk.

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 that 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. It is probably best to go days after it has rained.

Places to Eat in Solvang

thin pancakes lovely covered in powered sugar, plated with a black mug on the side with Brekkies on itPin
Brekkies pancakes.
  • 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?

To make the most of your visit to Solvang, consider staying in the heart of the town. This will place you within easy walking distance of local restaurants and attractions, allowing you to immerse yourself in the city’s charm for an overnight stay or a long weekend.

Book your accommodations early for a comfortable stay in Solvang, as the best spots fill up quickly. Consider these options.

  • The Landsby: A chic boutique hotel that tops our list for style and comfort.
  • Vinland Hotel and Lounge: Offers a modern and pristine setting, conveniently situated near the town center.
  • Solvang Alisal Vacation Cottages: Nestled on Alisal Road, these picturesque cottages have handy kitchenettes for a homey feel.
  • Alisal Ranch: For a dose of adventure with your luxury, this Dude Ranch offers an authentic Solvang experience with a twist outside town.

Getting to Solvang, California

Solvang by Car

Solvang is nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley and is best reached by car. From Los Angeles, expect a drive of approximately two hours and 45 minutes heading north on the US-101. If you’re coming from Santa Barbara, it’s a shorter 45-minute drive via CA-154. The route offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains.

Solvang by Train

Consider public transport for a relaxing journey. Take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner to Santa Barbara, then board the Amtrak Thruway Bus directly to Solvang Park. This option is ideal for an overnight stay rather than a day trip.

Travel Tip: If you’re on a Pacific Coast road trip or exploring Santa Barbara, Solvang is an excellent stopover to experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Do in Solvang, CA?

In Solvang, CA, enjoy the windmills, treat yourself to Danish pastries, sample wines, browse local shops, visit the museums in town, and take a stroll or trolley tour.

Where to find public restrooms in Solvang?

Restrooms are not easy to find in Solvang unless you dine in somewhere. However, there are public restrooms in the heart of town, right in Solvang Park, and they are, from our experience, kept pretty clean. You can also find a public restroom in the public parking lots.

When is the Best Time to Visit Solvang?

The best time to visit Solvang is year-round, with each season offering its unique charm. Spring and summer are peak tourist seasons, so for a less crowded experience, arrive early in the day, especially on weekends. For a special treat, visit during the holiday season to enjoy Julefest, Solvang’s enchanting month-long Christmas celebration.

Is going to Solvang worth it?

Solvang is worth a visit. It’s a cute town with a unique history, wine tasting, and delicious pastries. It’s a great starting point or pit-stop while exploring the Santa Ynez Valley.

How many days do you need in Solvang?

A day trip to Solvang allows you to explore the town, indulge in Danish pastries, and hit key spots for lunch or dinner. For wine tasting and a more leisurely pace to explore outside of town, consider staying 2-3 days.

Is Solvang, CA tourist trap?

Solvang is often bustling with visitors drawn to its Danish-themed architecture and attractions. Some might call Solvang a tourist trap because of its themed attractions and popularity, but others enjoy its cultural charm, local wines, and tasty Danish treats. It depends on your tastes and how you feel about crowds.



Kathy Ava

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *