Located in the Santa Ynez Valley and an easy trip from Southern California, Solvang offers a quaint small town to explore with Danish roots. With traditional Old World architecture along with Danish food and festivals, paired with the best of the Central California wine region, it’s a favorite weekend getaway through the seasons. Here are the Top Things to do in Solvang with Kids.
Top Things to do in Solvang with Kids
- Take a walking tour of Solvang
- Visit one of Solvang’s Museums.
- Buy Danish-made gifts.
- Eat some Danish Food.
- Adults can savor the beer or wine of the Santa Ynez Valley
- Spend the night in Solvang.
Explore a Danish Village in California
In 1911 a group of Danes living in the Midwest wanted to escape the brutal winters. After purchasing 9,000 acres from the Old Mission Santa Inez, they established Solvang, a Danish village in Central California.
First they built traditional Danish farm-style buildings and farmed. For 40 years they quietly lived until a reporter from the Saturday Evening Post discovered the Danish hamlet in 1947. Soon Solvang, Danish for “sunny field”, enticed travelers from Los Angeles and beyond.
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Top Sites in Solvang with Kids
Solvang offers a vibrant community steeped in the Danish culture with royal ties to Denmark. With festivals celebrating its Danish roots, girls wear red pinafores while dancing merrily in their clogs to folk music throughout the year.
Little Mermaid Statue
During your visit, find lots of authentic Danish icons. On the main throughfare, find the Little Mermaid statue,located at 1693 Mission Dr. Not to be confused with the cartoon character, it’s a replica of Denmark’s national symbol. The original sits along the water in Copenhagen. This is one of the top things to do in Solvang with kids.
More of Copenhagen’s most famous landmarks are scattered throughout Solvang. Like the 1/3 replica of the famous Rundetaarn, or round tower, originally built in the 17th century for astronomy by Christian IV.
Windmills in Solvang
Most people associate windmills with Denmark. There are several windmills in Solvang as well.
- 1618 Copenhagen Dr.
- Mariposa Dr. and Alisal Rd.
- 1547 MIssion Dr.
As the Danish Capital of America, the Danish Royal Family makes official royal visits. For Solvang’s centennial in 2011, HRH The Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark celebrated the historical, cultural and business ties between his country and Solvang, California.
Danish Inspired Shopping
As I walked the tree-lined streets, I peered into the shops windows of the traditional half-timbered buildings. Under thatched roofs, I found shops stocked with traditional Danish costumes, Danish-made red clogs and authentic Danish Christmas ornaments.
Don’t think it’s all windmills and wooden clogs, Solvang keeps an eye to the future. With boutiques featuring modern Danish design, visitors can buy Danish-made products like House of Amber jewelry, modern home goods and LEGOs for the kids at the Copenhagen House, located at 1660 Copenhagen Dr.
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Traditional Danish Food in Solvang
A must for visitors is the Danish food in Solvang, starting with breakfast and sweets. It is one of the Top Things to do in Solvang with Kids.
Windmills lead the way to bakeries, tempting visitors with sugar-glazed pastries with layer-after-layer of buttery goodness. With five traditional bakeries in town, I sampled my way across Solvang.
Topping my list of faves, I loved the Danish waffle at the Solvang Bakery. With a pair of flaky cookie-like layers filled with sweet cream and raspberries. It’s located 428 Alisal Rd.
Located at 1588 Mission Dr.
Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery
Located at 1529 Mission Dr.
Another must try, the Danish aebleskiver at the Solvang Restaurant. I loved the traditional Danishpancake balls sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied with raspberry jam. It’s located at 1672 Copenhagen Dr.
Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates
Looking for more temptations, I found my go-to indulgence, chocolate. At Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates, their chocolatier makes traditional treats with marzipan along with truffles. It’s located at 1679 Copenhagen Dr.
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Santa Ynez Valley’s Wine and Beer
Enjoying a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon needs to be on your must do list. Take the time to savor the richness of the Santa Ynez Valley wine. With close to 20 tasting rooms in Solvang within walking distance, you can sample the wines from across the region, I did.
Cooled by sea breezes and nestled among the mountain ranges, wine grapes are the top crop in the area. To tour the wineries, hop in a car and head minutes out of Solvang in any direction.
Beer connoisseurs fear not, Solvang brews up craft beers, pairing them with traditional Danish sausage to transport travelers to the Old World. Imagine sitting outside on the patio sipping a pint and savoring the perfect California weather.
Enjoy Solvang’s Arts and Culture
In an effort to walk off my foodie sampling, I strolled through Solvang’s museums dedicated to Danish art, history and culture.
Old Mission Santa Inés
I took a moment to reflect in its outdoor gardens. Overlooking a valley with swaying amber grass on the edge of Solvang, the 1804 historic mission settled this area. As an original Catholic mission in California, it is part of the missions that dotted the coast from San Diego to San Francisco. It’s located at 1760 Mission Dr.
Elverhøj Museum of History and Art
A venue dedicated to the Viking’s influence on Scandinavia as well as Solvang’s forefathers. It’s located at 1624 Elverhoy Way.
Solvang Festival Theater
As the seasonal home of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, the outdoor venue is a beacon for theater lovers. In a half-timbered theatre reminiscent of London’s Globe Theatre, I snuggled under a plaid blanket and enjoyed its production. It’s located at 420 2nd St.
Wildling Museum of Art and Nature
The museum features traveling nature installations, local art and features kids craft area. It’s located at 1511 Mission Dr.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum
Located in the loft of the independent bookstore, The Book Loft. In the loft, visitors will find the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, a space dedicated to the patriarch of children’s literature.
Visitors can learn about the author while browsing his collections. It is one of the Top Things to do in Solvang with Kids.It’s located at 1680 Mission Dr.
Celebrate the Season with a Festival
With festivals sprinkled throughout the year, Solvang celebrates its rich culture along with its agricultural bounty. With mild weather year-round, the perfect time to visit is just a weekend away.
As the golden light of Autumn shines and Solvang celebrates Danish Days. As a festival dedicated to its heritage, the celebration features parades, artisans, and folk dancing.
With the year drawing to a close Solvang sprinkles tiny white lights and green garlands all over town. Transforming the hamlet into one of the most Christmassy towns in the U.S. Enjoy the season at the month-long festival, Julefest, with traditional Danish food and a tree lighting.
Where to Stay in Solvang
During my visit to Solvang I discovered a boutique hotel ripped from the pages of an exclusive travel magazine. The Landsby offers guests a traditional Danish boutique hotel on a tree-lined street stocked with locally-owned shops.
In a 51-room boutique property, the traditional Danish exterior pays homage to its Danish roots. So find divided-light windows, exposed timbers and stucco exterior. Then behind the front door, I entered a world where the Danish modern aesthetic gets cozy with a mix of rich textures and a palette of pleasing neutrals.
In my room, it showcased modern Danish design. The textiles created a cozy home base to explore Little Denmark. The modern furniture pieces make a design statement with wood grain. The wooden wingback headboard dominated the room and the white cotton linens kept it fresh. Finally the yellow accent pillow along with a knitted throw, added pops of color. And find a tiny lavender sachet printed with “good night” in the middle of the mound of pillows.
It’s located at 1576 Mission Dr.
Where to Eat in Solvang
Solvang Bakery is a ladies’ delight with a charming place to sit and enjoy a coffee with a Danish waffle. It is also what to do with kids in Solvang. Find it at 438 Alisal Rd.
Solvang Resturant features Danish favorites, like Aebleskiver and Danish sausage. Walk up to the to-go window for an afternoon snack. Find it at 1671 Copenhagen Dr.
Mad and Vin boasts a popular happy hour where locals mingle with hotel guests to sample small plates along with the Santa Ynez Valley wines. Find it at 1576 Mission Dr., inside The Landsby Hotel.
Chomp calls out to families and burger-lovers alike. It also blends up top-notch shakes and concocts coffee drinks. Find it at 1693 Mission Dr.
Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates makes its chocolates in house with a dizzying selection. Find it at 1679 Copenhagen Dr.
Where to Shop in Solvang
Jule Hus-The Christmas Shop offers Christmas ornaments year-round with a large selection of Danish-inspired ornaments and what to do with kids in Solvang. It is located at 1580 Copenhagen Dr.
The Copenhagen House sells products made in Denmark, like LEGOs, amber jewelry and clogs. It is located at 1660 Copenhagen Dr.
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