Best Things to Do in Solvang, CA: 12 Must-See Locations

by Emil Backup
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Are you planning to visit Solvang this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Solvang. These charming sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

If you are looking for things to do in Solvang, the “Danish Capital of America,” you will be spoiled for choice! The charming Village of Solvang is worth visiting for its striking Danish architecture, numerous wine tasting rooms, and bakeries offering authentic Danish treats.

Solvang was established in 1911, when a group of Danish-Americans traveled here from the Midwest to set up a colony in sunny California. It was only in the 1940s, however, that the idea of making Solvang look like a Danish village took shape.

If you are planning a weekend in Santa Barbara, consider adding a day trip to Solvang! Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, one of Central California’s most renowned wine regions, Solvang is easily one of the most popular day trips from Santa Barbara. It is also an easy visit from other major cities on the California coast.

Solvang has a charming downtown perfect for wandering, several little museums to tour, and a small-town ambience that’s difficult to resist. From looking for danish-inspired landmarks to shopping for unique souvenirs, there’s a lot to see and do in Solvang.

Today its beautiful location, pretty facades, and unique ambience draw thousands of visitors. Considering a visit to Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley? Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Solvang, California.

The best things to do in Solvang right now.
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Best Places to Visit in Solvang

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Solvang? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this idyllic vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Solvang places to visit.

Are you looking forward to indulging wine tasting at local wineries and savory Danish pastries? Or would you prefer exploring charming streets lined with boutique shops? Whatever you’re planning, these must sees in Solvang can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Solvang that you should know about.

1. Hans Christian Andersen Museum

If you’re wondering about the best places to go in Solvang, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum should be at the top of your list. This quaint museum is dedicated to the life and works of the famous Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. As you step inside, you’ll be transported into the magical world of fairy tales. The museum showcases a collection of Andersen’s original manuscripts, first editions, and personal belongings.

The museum is located on the second floor of The Book Loft, an independent bookstore that’s a treat in itself. After exploring the museum, take some time to browse the bookstore’s vast collection of books, including many of Andersen’s tales. The combination of the museum and bookstore offers a delightful experience for literature enthusiasts and families alike.

Solvang attractions like the Hans Christian Andersen Museum are a testament to the town’s rich Danish heritage. It’s a perfect spot for both history buffs and those looking to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of fairy tales. Additionally, explore the array of things to do in Solvang. This includes everything from wine tasting and boutique shopping to outdoor adventures, ensuring a well-rounded experience.

Discover Hans Christian Andersen's world at his museum, where stories come alive through enchanting exhibits.
Discover Hans Christian Andersen’s world at his museum, where stories come alive through enchanting exhibits.

2. Old Mission Santa Inés

When pondering where to go in Solvang, the Old Mission Santa Inés should undoubtedly be on your itinerary. Established in 1804, this historic Spanish mission stands as a beacon of Solvang’s diverse cultural heritage. While the town is renowned for its Danish influences, the mission offers a captivating glimpse into its Spanish roots.

The mission’s architecture is a marvel in itself, with its whitewashed walls and terracotta roof tiles exuding an old-world charm. Inside, visitors are treated to a treasure trove of artifacts that narrate tales from the mission’s illustrious past. The intricately designed chapel, with its ornate altar and timeless artworks, is a testament to the craftsmanship of the era.

But the allure of the Old Mission Santa Inés isn’t confined to its interiors. Step outside, and you’re greeted by serene gardens that seem to transport you to a bygone era. Amidst these tranquil surroundings, discover the best things to do in Solvang. This covers everything from exploring Danish architecture to enjoying wine tastings and cultural experiences. Lemon trees sway gently in the breeze, while religious statues stand guard, offering a space for contemplation and reflection.

For those seeking a blend of history, architecture, and spirituality, the Old Mission Santa Inés is undeniably one of the unique places to visit in Solvang.

A serene sanctuary echoing with centuries of faith and tradition. Among the best things to do in Solvang.
A serene sanctuary echoing with centuries of faith and tradition. Among the best things to do in Solvang.

3. Lincourt Vineyards

Imagine sipping a glass of exquisite wine while overlooking the rolling vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley. If this sounds like your kind of day, then Lincourt Vineyards is one of the best places in Solvang to make that dream come true. Originally a dairy farm, Lincourt Vineyards has transformed into a wine lover’s paradise. It has retained its rustic charm and blending it with modern winemaking techniques.

The vineyard’s tasting room, set in a 1926 Sears Craftsman Kit Home, offers a cozy ambiance that’s perfect for wine tasting. Here, you can sample a range of wines. This includes everything from the crisp Chardonnay to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon, each telling a story of the region’s rich terroir.

But it’s not just about the wine. The picturesque views, the gentle breeze carrying the aroma of ripening grapes, and the serene ambiance make it a perfect spot for relaxation. For those pondering what to do in Solvang, a visit to Lincourt Vineyards offers an experience like no other.

Raise a glass to rustic elegance at Lincourt Vineyards, where fine wines and charming surroundings blend for a memorable tasting experience.
Raise a glass to rustic elegance at Lincourt Vineyards, where fine wines and charming surroundings blend for a memorable tasting experience.

4. Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard

When you think of places in Solvang that offer a blend of nature, wine, and relaxation, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard surely stands out. This 106-acre vineyard isn’t just about wines; it’s an experience. As you enter, rows upon rows of grapevines greet you, hinting at the vineyard’s dedication to producing top-tier wines.

The farm’s history is as rich as its wines. Originally a horse farm, it transitioned into a vineyard in the 1960s. Today, it’s a place where wine enthusiasts can sample a diverse range of wines, from the zesty Sauvignon Blanc to the deep and flavorful Merlot. Each sip tells a story of the land, the climate, and the passion that goes into winemaking.

But there’s more to Buttonwood than just wines. The farm is also home to beautiful gardens, orchards, and even a few friendly farm animals. It’s a place where you can connect with nature, learn about winemaking, and of course, enjoy some fantastic wines. If you’re wondering about the coolest activities in Solvang for a comprehensive wine experience, a visit to Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard is a top contender.

Savor the essence of wine country living at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard.
Savor the essence of wine country living at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard.

5. Solvang Restaurant

If you’re on the hunt for authentic things to do in Solvang, diving into its culinary scene is a must. And where better to start than Solvang Restaurant? This iconic spot is a beacon for those craving traditional Danish delights. From the moment you step in, the aroma of freshly baked pastries and hearty meals fills the air, promising a gastronomic adventure.

The star of the show here is the aebleskiver. These round pancake balls, lightly crisped on the outside and fluffy on the inside, are served with raspberry jam and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. It’s a treat that has locals and tourists alike coming back for more. But that’s not all; their menu boasts a range of Danish classics, from smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) to savory stews.

The restaurant’s interiors, adorned with Danish decor, further elevate the dining experience. It’s not just about the food; it’s about relishing a slice of Denmark in the heart of California. For those pondering where to visit in Solvang for a memorable meal, Solvang Restaurant should be high on your list.

Indulge in culinary delights at the heart of Solvang.
Indulge in culinary delights at the heart of Solvang.

6. The Good Life

In the heart of Solvang, there’s a spot where wine and craft beer enthusiasts unite, and it’s called The Good Life. As you wander through the town, considering the cool destinations in Solvang, this craft beer and wine cellar beckons with its curated selection of local brews and wines. It’s a place where you can unwind, sip on your favorite drink, and immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant nightlife.

The Good Life isn’t just about the drinks, though they are exceptional. It’s about the ambiance, the friendly staff, and the stories shared over a glass of wine or beer. Live music events often grace the cellar, adding a touch of vibrancy and rhythm to the atmosphere. Beyond the cellar’s delights, there are numerous Solvang things to do, from exploring Danish architecture to immersing yourself in cultural experiences and indulging in delectable treats.

For those wondering what to do in Solvang after the sun sets, The Good Life offers a taste of the town’s lively night scene. This makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the town’s culture to the fullest. 

Embrace 'The Good Life' in Solvang, where charm, culture, and relaxation come together to create a perfect getaway.
Embrace ‘The Good Life’ in Solvang, where charm, culture, and relaxation come together to create a perfect getaway.

7. Danish Days Annual Festival

Every September, Solvang bursts into a vibrant celebration of its rich Danish heritage with the Danish Days Annual Festival. If you’re searching for unique things to do in Solvang, this festival is a cultural extravaganza you shouldn’t miss. The town’s streets come alive with parades, folk dancers, and musicians, all donning traditional costumes and filling the air with infectious energy.

From the moment you step into the festival, you’re transported to Denmark. Vendors set up stalls offering a plethora of Danish delicacies, crafts, and souvenirs. The aroma of freshly baked pastries wafts through the air, tempting you at every corner. But the highlight? The traditional “Torchlight Parade,” a spectacle that lights up the night and leaves everyone in awe.

For those who love immersing themselves in different cultures, this festival offers a deep dive into Danish traditions right in the heart of California. It’s not just a festival; it’s an experience, a journey, and a testament to Solvang’s commitment to preserving its roots. So, if you’re wondering about the best places to go in Solvang during September, make sure the Danish Days Annual Festival is at the top of your list.

Experience the lively spirit of Danish heritage at the annual Danish Days Festival, one of the best things to do in Solvang.
Experience the lively spirit of Danish heritage at the annual Danish Days Festival, one of the best things to do in Solvang.

8. Sunny Fields Park

For families and outdoor enthusiasts, Sunny Fields Park stands out as one of the unique places to go in Solvang. This vibrant park, with its expansive green spaces, offers a refreshing break from the town’s hustle and bustle. As you step into the park, the whimsical Viking ship structure immediately catches the eye, becoming a favorite playground for children and a picturesque backdrop for family photos.

But it’s not just about play. The park’s well-maintained grounds are perfect for picnics, leisurely strolls, or simply lying on the grass and soaking up the Californian sun. The playgrounds are equipped with safe and fun structures, ensuring kids have a blast while parents can relax.

Located at 900 Alamo Pintado Rd, Sunny Fields Park is more than just a park; it’s a community hub. On weekends, you’ll find locals playing soccer, families hosting birthday parties, and visitors enjoying the serene ambiance. If you’re wondering what to do in Solvang that offers both relaxation and recreation, a day at Sunny Fields Park is a delightful choice.

Where laughter echoes through lush landscapes and sunny skies, making every moment a cherished memory.
Where laughter echoes through lush landscapes and sunny skies, making every moment a cherished memory.

9. Elverhøj Museum of History & Art

Dive deep into Solvang’s rich Danish heritage at the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art. For those compiling a list of things to do in Solvang, this museum is an essential addition. Housed in a traditional Danish-style building, the museum offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and art, all under one roof.

As you wander through its halls, you’ll be transported back in time. The museum showcases the town’s transformation from a modest Danish-American colony to the thriving tourist destination it is today. Intricate dioramas, historical photographs, and artifacts tell tales of the pioneers who shaped Solvang’s identity.

But it’s not just about history. The museum also celebrates the vibrant arts scene of the Santa Ynez Valley. Rotating exhibitions feature local artists, ensuring there’s always something new to discover. And if you’re keen on taking a piece of Solvang home, the museum shop offers handcrafted goods and unique souvenirs.

The Elverhøj Museum stands as a testament to Solvang’s commitment to preserving its roots while embracing the future. It’s a unique place in Solvang where history and art intertwine, offering visitors a comprehensive understanding of the town’s essence.

Unveiling the past and celebrating artistry at Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, among the best things to do in Solvang.
Unveiling the past and celebrating artistry at Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, among the best things to do in Solvang.

10. OstrichLand USA

Imagine standing face-to-face with the world’s largest birds, feeling the rush of excitement as they curiously approach. Welcome to OstrichLand USA, one of the coolest things to do in Solvang. This unique farm offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with both ostriches and emus, making it a hit among families and animal lovers.

Spread across a vast area, OstrichLand is home to dozens of these magnificent birds. For a small fee, you can feed them, watch their quirky behaviors, and learn fascinating facts about their biology and habits. Their large, expressive eyes and playful nature are sure to leave an impression.

But it’s not just about the birds. The on-site gift shop is a treasure trove of ostrich-themed souvenirs, from decorative items to ostrich eggshells. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try an ostrich egg omelette?

OstrichLand USA offers a break from the usual tourist spots. It’s a place where nature, fun, and learning come together. For those pondering where to visit in Solvang for a unique experience, OstrichLand USA is a must-see.

A unique sanctuary where giant birds and curious visitors create unforgettable moments.
A unique sanctuary where giant birds and curious visitors create unforgettable moments.

11. Nojoqui Falls Park

A short drive from the heart of Solvang, Nojoqui Falls Park beckons nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape. If you’re wondering where to go in Solvang for a refreshing outdoor experience, this park is a top contender. The main attraction? A stunning 80-foot waterfall that cascades gracefully, creating a serene backdrop for visitors.

The trail leading to the falls is relatively short, making it accessible for all ages. As you walk, the path is surrounded by lush greenery, the sound of chirping birds, and the gentle rustling of leaves. It’s a sensory delight, a place where you can truly connect with nature.

Beyond the waterfall, the park offers picnic areas, playgrounds, and tennis courts. It’s a fantastic spot for a family day out or a romantic picnic. And if you’re into photography, the scenic beauty provides ample opportunities to capture the essence of Solvang’s natural wonders.

Nojoqui Falls Park is a testament to the diverse Solvang attractions available to visitors. It’s not just about Danish bakeries and wine tasting; it’s also about embracing the natural beauty that surrounds this charming town.

Nature's tranquility unfolds at Nojoqui Falls Park, where the gentle cascade of water creates a serene oasis for peaceful reflection.
Nature’s tranquility unfolds at Nojoqui Falls Park, where the gentle cascade of water creates a serene oasis for peaceful reflection.

12. Solvang Trolley & Carriage Co.

All aboard the iconic horse-drawn trolley of Solvang! The Solvang Trolley & Carriage Co. offers one of the best things to do in Solvang. As the trolley clops through the streets, you’ll be treated to a guided tour of the town’s most notable landmarks and hidden gems.

This isn’t just any tour; it’s a journey back in time. The trolley itself is a replica of the streetcars that once graced the streets of Copenhagen. As you ride, knowledgeable guides share tales of Solvang’s history, its Danish roots, and the stories behind the buildings and statues you pass.

For those who’ve ever wondered what to do in Solvang to get a comprehensive overview, this trolley ride is the answer. It’s a blend of education, entertainment, and pure charm. The gentle pace allows for ample photo opportunities, and the open sides of the trolley let you soak in the sights and sounds of the town.

The Solvang Trolley & Carriage Co. is a must-visit for first-time visitors and those looking to see Solvang from a unique perspective.

Discover the best things to do in Solvang with Solvang Trolley & Carriage Co., offering charming rides that take you through the town's enchanting streets in style.
Discover the best things to do in Solvang with Solvang Trolley & Carriage Co., offering charming rides that take you through the town’s enchanting streets in style.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Solvang

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Solvang? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Solvang:

When is the best time to visit Solvang?

Solvang boasts a pleasant climate year-round. However, if you’re keen on experiencing the town’s festivals and events, consider visiting during the Danish Days in September or the Julefest in December.

How do I get around Solvang?

Navigating Solvang is a breeze with various transportation options. Stroll through the charming streets on foot or rent a bike to explore at your own pace. Local shuttles and tour services also offer convenient ways to discover the town’s attractions, ensuring a delightful and accessible experience.

Are there any traditional Danish foods I should try in Solvang?

Absolutely! Don’t leave without trying an aebleskiver, a round pancake puff, usually served with raspberry jam and powdered sugar. The Danish bakeries also offer a variety of pastries and bread.

What is Solvang California known for?

Solvang, California, is known for several distinctive features and attractions:

  1. Danish Heritage: Often dubbed the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang is renowned for its strong Danish heritage, which is reflected in its architecture, festivals, and cultural attractions.
  2. Unique Architecture: The town is characterized by its half-timbered buildings, windmills, and other structures reminiscent of traditional Danish villages.
  3. Bakeries and Danish Cuisine: Solvang boasts authentic Danish bakeries offering traditional treats like aebleskivers (Danish pancake balls) and kringles. Numerous restaurants in the town serve Danish and Scandinavian dishes.
  4. Wine Tasting: Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, a prominent wine-producing region, Solvang has numerous tasting rooms where visitors can sample and purchase local wines.
  5. Museums: Solvang is home to several museums, including the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, which celebrates Danish culture and the town’s history, and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, dedicated to the famous Danish fairy tale writer.
  6. Festivals: The town hosts various annual events that celebrate its Danish roots, such as Solvang Danish Days, which features traditional music, dance, food, and parades.

Is Solvang family-friendly?

Absolutely, Solvang is a family-friendly destination. With its enchanting Danish architecture, delightful bakeries, and a range of activities from parks to museums, there’s something for all ages. Enjoy a memorable and inclusive getaway with your loved ones in this picturesque and welcoming town.

A unique and enchanting California village experience.
A unique and enchanting California village experience.

How many days should I spend in Solvang?

While you can get a good feel for the town in a day, spending 1-2 days allows you to explore at a leisurely pace and visit nearby attractions.

  • One Day: This allows you to stroll through the town, visit a few of its main attractions, enjoy some Danish pastries, and perhaps do a wine tasting. You can explore the main streets, visit a museum or two, and get a feel for the town’s unique Danish ambiance.
  • Two Days: With an extra day, you can delve deeper into the local culture, perhaps attending a festival (if your visit coincides with one). You’d also have more time to explore the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley, visit more wineries, or take scenic drives. Additionally, you can venture to nearby attractions, such as the Old Mission Santa Ines or the charming town of Los Olivos.

For those deeply interested in wine tasting or wanting a more leisurely exploration of the region’s offerings, extending the stay to 3 days might be beneficial. However, for a general visit, 1-2 days in Solvang provides a good balance of sightseeing and relaxation.

Is it worth visiting Solvang?

Absolutely! Solvang offers a unique blend of Danish culture and California charm. This makes it a delightful destination for travelers seeking a European experience without leaving the U.S. Here are some reasons why many find Solvang to be a delightful destination:

  1. Unique Danish Architecture: Solvang is known for its half-timbered buildings, windmills, and other architectural features reminiscent of a traditional Danish village. Walking through the town feels like stepping into a European enclave.
  2. Bakeries and Restaurants: Solvang boasts authentic Danish bakeries where you can indulge in treats like aebleskivers (Danish pancake balls) and kringles. There are also numerous restaurants offering Danish cuisine.
  3. Wine Tasting: The Santa Ynez Valley, where Solvang is located, is a renowned wine-producing region. There are numerous tasting rooms in and around Solvang where you can sample local wines.
  4. Museums: The town has several museums, including the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, dedicated to the famous Danish fairy tale writer.
  5. Festivals: Solvang hosts various events throughout the year. This includes the Solvang Danish Days festival and the Taste of Solvang food and wine festival.
  6. Proximity to Other Attractions: Solvang is close to other attractions in the Santa Ynez Valley, including the historic Old Mission Santa Ines and the scenic Lake Cachuma.
  7. Shopping: The town is dotted with unique boutiques, antique shops, and specialty stores selling Danish crafts, imported goods, and souvenirs.

What is the main tourist street in Solvang?

The main tourist street in Solvang is Copenhagen Drive, bustling with quaint shops, Danish bakeries, and charming restaurants. It’s the heart of the town where visitors can experience the best of Solvang’s European ambiance.

Closing Thoughts on Visiting Solvang

Solvang is more than a picturesque town; it’s a slice of Denmark in the heart of California. With its charming streets, rich history, and delightful experiences, it promises a visit filled with memories. Whether you’re indulging in Danish pastries, exploring the town’s unique attractions, or simply soaking in the European ambiance, Solvang is a destination that beckons time and time again. So pack your bags, and let the allure of this Danish village sweep you off your feet.

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