The Ultimate Guide To Solvang
Experience Denmark in California!
Solvang is a quaint little town located in Santa Barbara County, California. Solvang’s main attraction is the town’s European architecture and heritage, as it gives you the taste of Denmark in everything you see and eat.
Solvang got its Danish-style architecture and culture from the Danish settlers who arrived in California from Denmark, a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe.
Solvang was founded in 1911 by three Danish immigrants, with a vision to build a colony for Danish immigrants and preserve and promote Danish culture. The Danish settlers were determined to maintain their heritage in everything they constructed in Solvang, including streets, shops, churches, restaurants, and office buildings.
Solvang, “Sunny Field” in Danish, is a gorgeous and unique town, the ultimate way to experience Denmark in the heart of California!
Here is my ultimate guide to Solvang, featuring major attractions and things to do in Solvang, along with a suggested itinerary and recommendations on Solvang hotels and Solvang restaurants.
Getting to Solvang
The best way to get to Solvang is by flying into California and then driving to Solvang.
However, if driving is not an option, you could still get to Solvang using train and bus services. Below I have outlined different commute options, best driving routes, train, and bus services to get to Solvang.
You could fly into one of the following International or Domestic airports in California and then rent a car and drive to Solvang.
International Airports Near Solvang: Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, CA (LAX), 130 miles from Solvang, 2 hours 30 minutes drive to Solvang. John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, CA (SNA) & LA/Ontario International Airport, Ontario (ONT), both about 160 miles from Solvang and 2 hours 50 minutes drive to Solvang.
Domestic Airports Near Solvang: Santa Maria Public Airport, Santa Maria, CA (SMX) and Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, Santa Barbara, CA (SBA), both within 35 miles from Solang and just 40 minutes drive to Solvang.
There’s also an option to hire a charter flight or take a private aircraft to Solvang’s local airport, Santa Ynez Airport, Santa Ynez, CA (ZXQ), located 5 miles from Solvang.
Driving to Solvang from Los Angeles: Solvang is 130 miles from Los Angeles and takes around 2 hours 30 minutes if you go without making any stops. But I recommend making it more fun by making brief stops at Malibu, Ventura, and Santa Barbara on the way to Solvang.
Driving to Solvang from San Francisco/Northern California: Solvang is 250 miles from SFO and takes around 4 hours 30 minutes by car. When coming from SFO or anywhere from the northern part of California, you could stop at Monterey and Pismo beach on the way to Solvang.
If driving is not an option, you could use Amtrak’s train and bus services to get to Solvang.
Los Angeles to Solvang by Train & Bus: Amtrak offers two daily services to Solvang, via Santa Barbara. Train service, Pacific Surfliner, connecting Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, followed by a connecting bus service from Santa Barbara to Solvang.
San Francisco to Solvang by Train & Bus: Amtrak offers a daily train service, Capitol Corridor, connecting Oakland and San Jose, followed by a bus service from San Jose to Solvang.
Things To Do In Solvang
Solvang is a real charmer!
Solvang has something to impress everyone; whether you love nature, architecture, wine, food, pastries, shopping, you will find it in Solvang! Whether it’s a day trip or you plan to spend a couple of days in Solvang, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained during your visit!
To help you plan your trip to Solvang, below, I have categorized and listed different recreational activities, tours, events and top sights in Solvang.
The horse-drawn narrated trolley tours offered by the Solvang Trolley Co. is a great way to explore Solvang downtown and learn about Solvang’s history, Danish architecture, and culture.
The horse-drawn carriage tours start and end at the Solvang visitor center located on Copenhagen street. The tour lasts for 30 minutes and is really a fun way to explore Solvang downtown!
I highly recommend doing the horse-drawn carriage tour, as it’s the quickest way to get acquainted with the town and learn about Solvang’s Danish heritage!
Solvang Top Sights & Attractions
While the horse-drawn carriage tour is a great and quick way to learn about Solvang, there are many places that you should visit, spend more time and explore in more depth.
Solvang Windmills: There are four wooden windmills in Solvang; though they are primarily decorative and not functional, they are gorgeous and a must-see!
You should be able to easily locate them, however, here are the addresses of the windmills in Solvang:
(1) Solvang Windmill: Right next to the Solvang Bakery is this gorgeous wooden windmill, located at 436 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, and is my favorite windmill in Solvang.
(2) Hamlet Square Windmill: This beautiful windmill sits right behind the Solvang Trolley Icecream parlor at 1622 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463.
(3) Solvang Brewing Company Windmill: This windmill houses the Solvan Brewing Company and is located at 1547 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463.
(4) Windmill at Kronborg Inn: Is yet another small but beautiful piece of Danish architecture located at 1440 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463.
Round Tower: Right behind the Solvang Windmill is the replica of Copenhagen’s famous Rundetarn. Rundetarn literally means a round tower, that was built for astronomical observation in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Solvang Clock Tower: You will also find a replica of Denmark’s Copenhagen City Hall Clock Tower in Solvang. The clock tower rings at the hour and plays seasonal Danish melodies.
Little Mermaid Fountain: This is another replica of Denmark’s popular Little Mermaid sculptor! The Little Mermaid sculpture in Denmark was inspired by a fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid,” written by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Statue: You will also find the statue of Hans Christian Andersen in downtown Solvang, honoring Denmark’s most famous fairy tale writer! There’s also a park and museum in Solvag dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen that I will cover in the following sections.
The Giant Red Clog: Clogs are shoes wholly made of wood, another Dutch heritage you will find in Solvang! There’s a huge Red Clog/Dutch wooden shoe in front of the Solvang Shoe store, another popular Solvang attraction.
Mission Santa Ines: This is one of the twenty-one Spanish missions built in California and the first European settlement built in Santa Ynez Valley. The mission existed even before Solvang was built. There are self-guided tours in which you will see the church, museum, gardens, and gorgeous views of the Santa Ynez River Valley.
Solvang’s windmills, buildings’ architecture, and the replicas of some of Denmark’s finest sculptures and structures will give you an authentic experience of Denmark in California!
Solvang is home to some great museums, documenting and preserving Dutch heritage, nature, art, and even antique motorcycles!
Here is the list of all museums in Solvang, along with a brief overview to help you pick the best for your Solvang trip.
Elverhoj Museum Of History & Art: This is the best place to learn about Danish culture and Solvang’s history. The museum also houses several pieces of Danish paintings, handicrafts, artifacts, and several historic photographs. The museum is located at 1624 Elverhoy Way, Solvang, CA 93463.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum: This museum showcases the life and work of the famous fairy tale writer of Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen. The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Nightingale are some renowned fairy tales written by him. The museum is located at 1680 Mission Dr., Solvang, CA 93463.
Wildling Museum of Art and Nature: It’s a small museum but has a great collection of artwork related to nature and wildlife. The museum’s vision is to encourage people to care and love nature through the collection of their artwork. The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature is located at 1511-B Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463.
Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum: If you love motorcycles, you will love it here! The museum houses vintage and classic motorcycles from all over the world, including German, Japanese, Italian, and American made motorcycles. The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum is located at 320 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463.
Solvang Amber Museum: Like me, if you have always been amused by amber and wanted to learn more about it, Solvang Amber Museum is for you! Often mistaken as crystal or stone, amber is actually fossilized tree sap. The museum houses some very antique pieces of ambers, few with entombed insects in them. If this already sounds interesting, you must-visit the Solvang Amber Museum located inside The Copenhagen House at 1660 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463.
While at the Copenhagen House, you could also visit the Great Hall of the Danes, an exhibit featuring the history Danish Vikings and the Copenhagen House store. The Copenhagen House store has a great collection of contemporary designs form Denmark, including beautiful jewelry, watches, drinkware, art, and more. There are more details about the Copenhagen House shopping experience in the following section – Solvang places to shop.
Fun Things To Do In Solvang
No trip to Solvang is complete without visiting one of many authentic Danish bakeries in Solvang and trying some delicious Danish pastries & Aebleskiver!
You will find several Danish bakeries in Solvang downtown, and they all are equally good and authentic! I don’t prefer one over the other, so I don’t want to compare them, instead suggest you try and visit as many bakeries you can.
Here is the list of bakeries in Solvang that I have visited: Solvang Bakery, Aebleskiver Café, Danish Mill Bakery, Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, and Birkholm’s Bakery & Café.
There are so many varieties of Danish pastries and delicacies that it becomes difficult to decide which ones to try! The best way to try and relish most of them is by tasting all kinds in small portions and the ones you like, you buy and take it home!
These are my favorite Danish pastries, and you must try them while you’re in Solvang: Aebleskivers – light and fluffy Danish dough balls, Risalamande – creamy rice pudding with almonds and cherry sauce, Stroopwafel – double-layered waffle filled with a special syrup, Kringle – layered and flaky Danish pretzels, Danish Rolls – sweet multilayered Danish bread, and Flodeboller – chocolate-covered cream puffs.
If you love shopping, Solvang is a paradise for you, and even if you don’t, it’s great fun to visit some of the boutiques in Solvang!
Several boutiques, antique shops, book stores, art galleries, European imports, and spas, along with Danish-inspired storefront designs, make Solvang a unique shopping destination!
There are more than a hundred shops in Solvang besides the several bakeries and tasting rooms. Here are my favorite shops in Solvang:
The Copenhagen House: They have an excellent collection of contemporary jewelry, watches, drinkware, and art all designed in Denmark.
Iron Art Gift Shop: It’s the perfect place to shop for your Solvang souvenirs. Everything you will find here, including artwork, drapes, tablecloths, home decor items, will have a touch of Denmark.
The Book Loft: If you love books and history, you must visit the Book Loft in Solvang! Along with some rare collection of books, the Book Loft is also home to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, a museum featuring the life and work of Denmark’s celebrated fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Hats Unlimited: The store carries a vast collection of hats, including classical and contemporary styles. This is a great place to try various styles and types of hats until you find the perfect one for yourself.
Solvang Shoe Store: This is where you will find Solvang’s iconic giant red clog and also get to see and try some actual clogs/Dutch wooden shoes.
The Sock Loft: Yet another unique store! Here you will find socks with some beautiful designs, both for men and women. They also carry a good collection of scarves, shoelaces, jewelry, purses, and other accessories.
A Piece of the Past: It’s an antique & vintage mall with a vast collection of antique furniture, beautiful pieces of artwork, and other collectibles from all around the globe.
These are the stores that I have visited in Solvang, and absolutely loved all of them, but there are many other great shops in Solvang. You can use the Solvang Store Directory to browse other stores in Solvang.
Solvang Wine Tasting: Snuggled in the Wine Country and with its proximity to several vineyards and wineries, Solvag is a great place to taste some of the best wines produced in the US. There are many tasting rooms in Solvang serving several kinds of wine, including Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, and many more.
The tasting rooms mainly differ with respect to the ambiance; some have only bar seating, and some offer more formal seating along with food service. Here are some popular wine tasting rooms in Solvang: Cali Love Wine, Carivintas Winery, Casa Cassara Winery & Tasting Room, Lucas & Lewellen, and Sevtap Winery Tasting Room.
Solvang Beer Tasting: If you’re more of a beer person, Solvang has you covered as well! There are some great breweries and beer tasting rooms in Solvang, including The Good Life, Solvang Brewing Company, and The Backroom.
Solvang Olive Oil Tasting: This is yet another fun thing to try in Solvang! There are shops in Solvang that carry different varieties and flavored olive oils and offer olive oil tasting, including Solvang Olive, The Olive House, and Solvang Olive Press.
I highly recommend leaving your car in your hotel when you go for wine or beer tasting in Solvang. This way, you can enjoy to the fullest and be safe, without having to drive after consuming alcohol.
Nearby Attractions In Solvang
There are a few other great places to see near Solvang. If you are done exploring Solvang downtown and still have time, I highly recommend visiting these places on your trip to Solvang.
OstrichLand USA: This is a fun place where you can see ostriches and emus up close and even feed them! It’s about 3 miles from Solvang, located at 610 E Hwy 246, Solvang, CA 93463.
Chumash Casino Resort: The casino resort has some great dining and entertainment options, including live music and comedy shows. It’s about 3.5 miles from Solvang, located at 3400 CA-246, Santa Ynez, CA 93460.
Nojoqui Falls Park: This is a county park equipped with picnic tables, playgrounds, and a short hike that leads to a beautiful eighty-foot waterfall. It’s about 6.5 miles from Solvang, located at 3250 Alisal Rd, Goleta, CA 93117.
Solvang Vineyards: There are several vineyards and wineries near Solvang, and it’s a fun experience to stroll these vineyards and see the wineries up close. There are companies that offer vineyards tours and wine tasting packages, Grapeline Wine Tours, Artisan Excursion, and Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours Inc. to name a few.
Solvang hosts four grand annual events that are really fun, but you need to plan ahead and make your reservations in advance due to the popularity.
Taste of Solvang (March): Unique culinary experience in Solvang, farmers, chefs, confectioners, and brewers come together to present a medley of locally-inspired food, wine, craft beer, and other beverages.
Danish Days (September): Celebration of the Danish heritage in Solvang includes Danish folk dances, several parades, live music, and a lot of Danish pastries and food.
Solvang (Grape) Stomp (October): Celebration of the wine harvest in Solvang, includes actual grape stomping opportunity, dance performances, and a ton of food and wine tasting events.
Julefest (December): Julefest is Solvang’s month-long celebration of the holiday season in Danish style! The entire town is decorated with lights along with several fun events, including light shows, parades, candlelight tours, and a ton of food and beverages.
Solvang Lodging & Dining
If you’re planning to stay in Solvang, I highly recommend staying in one of the Danish-inspired boutique hotels in Solvang.
Mirabelle Inn: Gorgeous Danish architecture with elegant interiors, spacious guestrooms, and an on-site restaurant make Mirabelle Inn an excellent choice in Solvang.
Hotel Corque: Luxurious guestroom, excellent amenities, beautiful decor, and several packages offered by Hotel Corque make it a great place to stay in Solvang.
Kronborg Inn: Danish architecture, along with a windmill and a pool and hot tub, makes Kronborg Inn, another great boutique hotel in Solvang.
There are several excellent restaurants in Solvang, catering to the different palates, including Danish-inspired cuisines to American favorites.
Breakfast & Quick Bites:
Paula’s Pancake House: This is my favorite place to get breakfast in Solvang. I love the European decor and the Danish pancakes!
Solvang Restaurant: It’s a great family-friendly restaurant serving some Danish delicacies, including the famous Aebleskiver!
Danish Bakeries: The authentic Danish bakeries are a great choice if you’re looking to grab a quick bite. Solvang Bakery, Aebleskiver Café, Danish Mill Bakery, Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, and Birkholm’s Bakery & Café are my favorite Danish bakeries in Solvang!
Lunch & Dinner:
Copenhagen Sausage Garden: This place has some excellent sausages and burgers, along with a great assortment of beer and wine. They have garden seating and are open till late.
Leonardo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria: If you’re craving Italian food, this place is for you. They serve all Italian classics, along with an excellent wine selection.
Chomp Burger: Kids and family-friendly environment, serving all-American cuisine, including some great burgers, fries, and shakes.
Solvang Trip Itinerary
With an array of things to do in Solvang, it becomes quite challenging to decide what to do and what not to do on your trip to Solvang.
To help you plan your perfect trip to Solvang, I have compiled a sample two day Solvang trip itinerary!
To begin with, I highly recommend spending at least a couple of days in Solvang. Even though your hotel check-in time may be of late afternoon, I recommend that you get an early start and reach Solvang in the morning.
11:00 AM – Reach Solvang, have breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House
12:00 Noon – Park your car in one of the three free parking garages in Solvang. Head to the Solvang Visitor Center, grab vouchers and coupons, if available, and then board the Horse-drawn Trolley Tour from here
1:00 PM – Do a self-guided walking tour of Solvang downtown, stop by the bakeries, shops, and see the iconic landmarks of Solvang, including several Solvang windmills, Round Tower, Clock Tower, Little Mermaid Fountain, Giant Red Clog, and Mission Santa Ines
4:00 PM – Check in to your hotel room and freshen up
5:00 PM – Go wine or beer tasting and have your dinner
10:00 AM -Have breakfast in Solvang Restaurant
11:00 AM – Visit one of the nearby attractions – OstrichLand USA / Chumash Casino Resort / Nojoqui Falls Park
2:00 PM – Grab lunch at Chomp Burger
3:00 PM – Go shopping and visit one or more museum in Solvang – Elverhoj Museum Of History & Art / Hans Christian Andersen Museum / Wildling Museum of Art and Nature
7:00 PM – Have dinner and drinks at Copenhagen Sausage Garden, sit in their garden, and admire the beautifully lit Solvang town at night
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I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Solvang, and I hope this will help you plan your perfect trip to the Solvang.
Happy feeding your soul!
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