Top Activities to Do in Solvang | A Hidden Europe in America

We often think that let’s travel to Europe. But we don’t have the time or budget to visit Europe very often. But too often we miss that Europe is in our backyard and forget to go there.

Yes, I am talking about Solvang which is a small town located in southern California and is also called the “Danish Capital of America“.

Danish Capital of America Solvang windmill

Solvang is Famous for

Known for its Danish-style architecture and culture and numerous wineries, the city of Solvang is located in the Santa Ynez Valley in the southern part of California. The buildings here are built-in Danish style.

In addition, California is the fourth-largest wine-producing state in the USA, with many of these wineries located in Solvang. State Route 246 passes through here. The city is about 35 miles from Santa Barbara.

Top activities to do in Solvang

You can spend your weekend and enjoy many activities in this city full of natural beauty.

1. Art and cultural heritage in Solvang

In Solvang, you will see the image of the culture and art of Denmark, a country in Europe. That’s why Solvang is also called Little Denmark.

In 1911, Danish Americans bought 9000 acres of land around Rancho San Carlos de Jonata to form the Denis community. Since then Danish architecture and culture have flourished here and now this place has also become a tourist attraction.

Here you can enjoy Dennis Building, Windmill, Danish food, drink, etc.

denmark culture and buildings in Solvang california

2. Visit Solvang village square

The Solvang village square is the most visited and worth-visiting place in Solvang. An iconic windmill is here. You can taste wine in more than 20 wine-tasting rooms and taste food in Danish bakeries. Boutique shopping is popular here. It is an old center for Danish architecture and culture.

3. Solvang Festival Theatre

It is more than a 50-year-old theatre that has hosted many popular performances, concerts, and many other events. For current events and to buy tickets visit their official website.

4. Elverhoj Museum visit

Elverhoj Museum represents Danish culture, the era of their immigration, their clothes, army dresses, old vessels, agricultural instruments, and many other things to explore.

They also reconstructed a typical Danish parlor also called “The Best Room” used for special moments like Christmas celebrations, funerals, weddings, and special guests. You will definitely enjoy the museum and it’s worth keeping on the list while visiting Solvang.

5. Sunny Fields Park

If you are visiting Solvang with kids Sunny Field Spark is the most visited place where kids enjoy the most and best for fun activities for them. It has an open playground and most of the structures are wooden, with bathrooms, picnic tables, sand volleyball courts, Viking ships, miniature horses, and many fun playing equipment for kids.

6. Ostrichland USA

It is the best place to watch and do fun feeding activities with the ostrich. Here you will find more than 100 birds on the property spread over 33 acres located on 610 East Highway 246.

You can also shop for ostrich eggs, meat, eggshell painting, and other products.

Entry to the park for adults is $5, children $2, military personnel $4, and you can purchase the feed bowl for ostriches at $1. It is worth visiting for a pleasant wild experience for feeding the ostriches in your life.

7. Solvang trolley and carriage tour

Exploring Solvang downtown in a horse-drawn trolley or bus will be a very fun and relaxing experience during your trip to the city. Yes, it is old-fashioned but when cars or bikes were not in use, it was the best way of traveling.

Many tour operators manage these services and can customize the ride according to your needs. You can book the trolley tour here.

8. Solvang Julefest

Too much enjoyable Solvang Julefest (Yele-Fest) is a series of holiday events celebrations such as tree lighting, Christmas parade, candlelight tour, nativity pageant, and many more events for all age groups and families.

You can enjoy shopping, dining, and fun activities during this festival series.

Solvang Julefest 2022 will usually continue during the November and December months. Solvang downtown is one of the most famous Christmas destinations.

9. Wine tasting in Solvang

California is the 4th largest wine-producing state in the US and there are more than 20 wine-tasting rooms in Solvang and more in nearby areas like Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills, and Santa Maria Valley.

Alisal Cellars, Casa Cassara Winery, Carivintas Winery, Cecchetti Wine Bar, Cali Love Wine, Lucky Dogg Winery, Sunstone Winery, and Lions Peak Vineyards are some of the popular wine-tasting places.

You can easily do a self-guided tour in Solvang for wine tasting or there are many tour operators who organize such wine-tasting tours with other activities.

10. Visit Old Mission Santa Inés

National Historic Landmark designated Mission Santa Inés is the 19th of 21 missions constructed in California and it was founded in 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis. Now it serves as a Museum.

Regular religious events such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and confirmations are held here. It is the best calming and spiritual place to visit offering a charming view of the Santa Ynez River valley and mountain ranges.

11. Cachuma Lake in Solvang

Cachuma Lake is actually a reservoir and the best place to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, and many more activities in the midst of charming and beautiful views of nature and hills.

12. Shopping in Solvang

There are many options for shopping lovers like boutique shopping, Christmas stores, jewelry shopping, cloth shopping, and many fun shopping. The Copenhagen House and Solvang Amber Museum store are some of the popular shopping destinations in Solvang.

13. Cycling

You can enjoy and refresh yourself by cycling during your Solvang trip in and around Santa Ynez Valley. Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours is one of the famous cycling tour operators offering guided cycling tours, bike rentals, 15 person van with a bike rack, wine tasting, vineyards tours, and many more tour customization.

14. Farmer’s market in Solvang

You can purchase fresh foods and flowers at Solvang farmer’s market located on First Street, between Mission Drive and Copenhagen Drive every Wednesday between 2:30 to 6 PM.

15. Museum visit

There are many museums in Solvang such as Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, Wildling Museum of Art and Nature, Mendenhall Museum, Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum, Hans Christian Anderson Museum, Old Mission Santa Inés Museum, and Elverhoj Museum of Art and History. You can visit these museums according to your time and convenience.

Hotels in Solvang

You can stay in Solvang motels, hotels, or resorts with basic to luxurious amenities and can also choose from many bed and breakfasts, Inns, RV, and camping sites, and vacation rentals in and around Solvang. Here are some suggestions.

  • Kings Frederik Inn
  • Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Hotels basic to Luxurious amang
  • Delfin Huset Premier Vacation Rental
  • Atterdag Inn
  • Kronborg Inn at Wine Country Manor
  • Hotel Corque
  • Hadsten House Inn
  • Hamlet Inn
  • New Haven Inn
  • Mirabelle Inn
  • Royal Copenhagen Inn
  • Solvang Alisal Vacation Cottages
  • Svendsgaard’s Danish Lodge

Restaurants in Solvang

You can enjoy varieties of local, Danish, or fast foods and drinks at different restaurants in Solvang. Some of the popular dining destinations are here.

  • Good Seed Coffee
  • Mad and Vin at the Landsby
  • Copenhagen Sausage Garden
  • Chomp Burgers, fries, and shakes
  • Cecco Ristorante
  • Cailloux Cheese Shop
  • Big Bopper Drive-In
  • Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe
  • Cafe Dolce
  • Belgian Café
  • Brekkies
  • Bit O’Denmark

How to reach Solvang

The nearest cities are Santa Barbara 32 miles north, Los Angeles 125 miles south, and San Francisco 300 miles north of Solvang. There are many ways to visit Solvang.

By Car:

If you have a private car, it is the best option to visit Solvang.

By Train and Bus:

The Amtrak bus stop is in the center of Solvang. Amtrak Thruway Bus services connect with Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. You need to purchase a combo of both train and bus tickets. The train will drop you at Santa Barbara train station and from there a bus will take you to Solvang.

By Air:

The nearest airport is Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) 30 miles away, Santa Ynez Airport (IZA) for private aircraft, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is 126 miles away from Solvang.

Solvang FAQs

  1. What is the meaning of Solvang?

    Solvang literally means Sunny Fields.

  2. What is the nickname of Solvang?

    Solvang is also famous as the Danish Capital of America and Little Denmark.

  3. Where is the popular Windmill located in Solvang?

    It is located in Solvang village square.

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