Top 17 Things to do in Solvang California with Kids

What to do in Solvang with kids.
Escape to a Danish hamlet in Central California, a train ride from LA. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

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.

Table of Contents

Top 17 Things to Do in Solvang with Kids

  • Learn About the Danish Community
  • Take a walking tour of Solvang
  • See the Little Mermaid Statue
  • Walk by the Rundetarrn
  • Spot a Windmill in Solvang
  • Do Danish Inspired Shopping
  • Sample Danish Pastries
  • Eat at the Solvang Restaurant
  • Stop by Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates
  • Sip Santa Ynez Valley’s Wine or Beer
  • Tour the Old Mission Santa Inés
  • Visit the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art
  • Get a Seat at the Solvang Festival Theater
  • Visit the California Nature Art Museum
  • Stop by the Hans Christian Andersen Museum
  • Celebrate the Season with a Festival
  • 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 the land. 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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See the Rundetaarn in Solvang. What to do in Solvang with kids.
A replica of the Rundetaarn in Copenhagen anchors Solvang. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Top Sites in Solvang with Kids

Solvang offers a vibrant community steeped in Danish culture and with royal ties to Denmark. Throughout the year, festivals celebrate their Danish roots, and girls wear red pinafores while dancing merrily in their clogs to folk music.

See the Little Mermaid Statue

During your visit, you will find many authentic Danish icons. On the main thoroughfare, at 1693 Mission Dr, a replica of Denmark’s national symbol, the Little Mermaid statue, has been erected.

The original sits along the water in Copenhagen. This is one of the top things to do in Solvang with kids.

Walk by the Rundetaarn

More of Copenhagen’s most famous landmarks are scattered throughout Solvang. Originally built in the 17th  century, the famous Rundetaarn is a 1/3 replica of the round tower,  used for astronomy by Christian IV.

Spot a Windmill 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.

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Do Danish Inspired Shopping

As I walked the tree-lined streets, I peered into the shop 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.

Eat Danishes in Solvang. What to do in Solvang with kids.
A traditional pastry, the Danish Waffle combines flakey, buttery pastry with sweet cream sandwiched it between. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Traditional Danish Food in Solvang

Danish food is a must for visitors in Solvang, starting with breakfast and sweets. It is one of the Top Things to do in Solvang with Kids.

Sample Danish Bakeries

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.

Solvang Bakery

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 at 428 Alisal Rd.

Mortensen Bakery 

Located at 1588 Mission Dr.

Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery

Located at 1529 Mission Dr.

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Try an aebleskiver. What to do in Solvang with kids.
Another tasty treat, the aebleskiver is a traditional Danish pancake. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Eat at the Solvang Restaurant

Another must-try is the Danish aebleskiver at the Solvang Restaurant. I loved the traditional Danish pancake balls sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied by raspberry jam. It’s located at 1672 Copenhagen Dr.

Stop by Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates

Looking for more temptations, I found my go-to indulgence: chocolate. At Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates, the chocolatier makes traditional treats with marzipan and truffles. It’s located at 1679 Copenhagen Dr.

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Sip Santa Ynez Valley’s Wine or 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, the area’s top crop is wine grapes. To tour the wineries, hop in a car and head minutes out of Solvang in any direction.

Beer connoisseurs fear not. Solvang brews craft beers and pairs 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.

Visit Old Mission Santa Ines. What to do in Solvang with kids.
Visit Old Mission Santa Ines on the edge of Solvang to tour one of the original California missions. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Enjoy Solvang’s Arts and Culture

To walk off my foodie sampling, I strolled through Solvang’s museums dedicated to Danish art, history, and culture.

Tour the Old Mission Santa Inés

The 1804 historic mission, which settled this area, is overlooking a valley with swaying amber grass on the edge of Solvang. As an original Catholic mission in California, it is part of the missions that dotted the coast from San Diego to San Francisco.

I took a moment to reflect in its outdoor gardens. The Old Mission Santa Ines offers a gift shop. Self-guided tours are available from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Adult (13+)admission is $8, kids (6 to 12) are $5, and kids 5 and younger enter for free.

It is located at 1760 Mission Dr. and open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Visit the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art

The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art is dedicated to the history of Solvang. It also shares the culture of Danish culture, including costumes.

It’s located at 1624 Elverhoy Way and open from Thursday through Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is free to enter.

Get a Seat at the 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. For the rest of the season, it is a music venue hosting a range of acts.

It’s located at 420 2nd St. Advance tickets are required.

Visit the California Nature Art Museum

The California Nature Art Museum (the former Wildling Museum) features permanent and traveling nature art installations dedicated to telling the story of California’s landscapes. It also features a kids’ craft area.

It’s located at 1511 Mission Dr. and open from Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $5 and  those 17 and younger enter for free.

Stop by the Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Located above the independent bookstore, The Book 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. and open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free to enter.

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, which features 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.

The traditional Danish exterior of this 51-room boutique property pays homage to its Danish roots. So I found 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.

My room showcased a 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 and 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

Eat local food. What to do in Solvang with kids.
A locals favorite, the happy hour at The Landsby offers small places plus signature craft cocktails. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

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.


Consideration for brands and destinations.

Stroll down the charming streets of Solvang, California, and find traditional bakeries and monuments from the old country--Denmark. Browse for clogs or taste the richness of the region at local tasting rooms and bakeries on your next getaway to the Central California Coast. Weekend getaways from Southern California | What to do in Solvang | The little Denmark of California #California #Solvang

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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