In Central California’s beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, you’ll find rolling vineyards, scenic farmland, and a small Danish town called Solvang. Between its traditional Danish architecture and food and its abundance of windmills, visiting Solvang feels like a tiny trip to Europe!
If you’re looking for a unique weekend getaway in Santa Barbara County, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Solvang. As a SoCal local, I love spending time in Solvang and am here to help you plan your visit, from artwork to aebleskivers (more on that later!).
Whether you’re looking for a weekend of wine tastings and antique shopping or museum and bakery hopping, there’s something for everyone on this list of what to do in Solvang.
Let’s dive in!
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17 Best Things to Do in Solvang
Old Mission Santa Inés
Experience history in a centuries-old Spanish mission
Old Mission Santa Inés is a Spanish mission founded in 1804 that stands out from the Danish architecture of the town. It features artifacts from throughout the mission’s history, as well as an artfully designed and well-maintained chapel.
If you’re looking to experience a slice of history, consider a visit to the mission. Stroll through the peaceful gardens behind the chapel before you leave, which feature lemon trees, herbs, and religious statues.
Taste a traditional Danish treat
You can’t visit Solvang without trying this hard to pronounce but easy to eat Danish pastry! This treat is made with a special pan used only for making aebleskiver. It’s best described as a round, fluffy, doughnut-like confection, served hot with fresh jam and topped with powdered sugar.
Take it from me – you don’t need to wait until after dinner to try aebleskiver. Enjoy them for breakfast to get into the Danish spirit before a day of exploring the town!
👉 Pro Tip: Some places, like Solvang restaurant, sell aebleskiver pans – so you can try your hand at making this tasty treat at home.
Party it up at Solvang’s funkiest tasting room
From its guitar pick-studded walls to its refreshing sangria slushies, Cali Love is much more than just a wine tasting room. If you’re looking for wine tasting in a funky, upbeat atmosphere, Cali Love has got you covered.
Cali Love is open later than many other spots in the area, so it’s the perfect place for late night drinks after a day on the town. The bartending staff is friendly and fun, and will more than likely encourage you to get on stage on karaoke night.
👉 Pro Tip: Add your own guitar pick to the wall! Just ask the bartender – they’ll give you a pick and a marker so you can personalize and add yours to the wall.
Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery
Treat yourself to Danish pastries and baked goods
Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery is a popular spot people hit when they visit Solvang. And it’s no wonder why – they have a vast selection of pastries, bread, cakes, and anything else you’d imagine a bakery to carry. This bakery is the perfect place to try a variety of traditional Danish pastries.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? When you book at Solvang Inn & Cottages, you get a voucher for free breakfast at Olsen’s!
Browse local gifts and goodies
Solvang is a walking tourist’s dream – on every block, you’ll find a variety of boutique shops to pop into. You’ll find more than 150 boutique shops in Solvang, including a selection of art galleries, clothing stores, jewelers, and stores offering European imports.
Solvang also has plenty of stores peddling local products – famously wine and infused olive oils. Pop into one of these shops for an olive oil tasting, and leave with a memento you can cook with at home!
👉 Headed to LA? Don’t miss Jericha’s epic guide to what to do in Los Angeles!
Cruise through town in a horse-drawn streetcar
Horse-drawn carriages and trolleys are both fun ways to ride around town – how about both at the same time? The Solvang Trolley combines the best of both worlds, offering delightful rides in a horse-drawn trolley.
On your trolley ride through town, you’ll enjoy a narrated tour from the conductor. You can also stop by the Solvang Trolley Ice Cream Parlor for some classic frozen treats – perfect for a summer day with the kids.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum
Learn more about this legendary fairy tale author
Hans Christian Andersen is a beloved Danish writer whose original works include “The Little Mermaid,” “Thumbelina,” “The Princess and the Pea,” and more. His fairy tales are well known throughout the world, and the Hans Christian Andersen museum pays tribute to that.
At the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, you can learn about the writer’s life and stories. Plus, the museum is inside a bookstore, so you can bring stories home with you after your visit.
👉 Pro Tip: Hans Christian Andersen Park is nearby, filled with oak trees, picnic tables, and a playground for kids to enjoy.
Wine Tasting Rooms
Sample Solvang’s most famous beverage at a wine tasting
Many local wineries have wine tasting rooms in downtown Solvang, where wine lovers can sip on all kinds of varieties. Wine tasting is one of the most popular things to do in Solvang, and is a great way to sample handcrafted wines from the Santa Ynez Valley without having to drive out to a vineyard.
There are more than 15 tasting rooms for you to choose from, all within a few blocks of each other. So put on your walking shoes, and hit the tasting rooms! Lucas & Lewellen, Royal Oaks Winery, and Dascomb Cellars are a few great places to start.
Copenhagen Sausage Garden
Hang out & enjoy hearty fare at this outdoor biergarten
When it comes to savory, filling comfort food, Copenhagen Sausage Garden has got the market cornered. Here, you can order from an extensive menu filled with sausages, schnitzel, burgers, and a variety of sides. Don’t miss the cheese curds!
Copenhagen Sausage Garden offers beer and wine options that pair perfectly with their menu items. There are also vegan options available, and the outdoor dining area is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy the California weather, including families.
Explore the sights in this traditional Danish town
Often, finding things to do in Solvang is as easy as walking around town. Since the whole downtown is walkable and there are so many restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and shops, you can check out whatever catches your eye without having to go far.
There are plenty of hidden gems to find on your walk through town. Keep an eye out for tiny antique shops, or follow your nose into a bakery or ice cream shop. And while you wander, enjoy the Danish architecture that has become Solvang’s signature look.
Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum
Explore a collection of rare and vintage motorcycles
Motorcycles might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you picture a quaint Danish town. But just up the block from Old Mission Santa Ines, you’ll find the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The museum mainly focuses on racing motorcycles, but still covers a pretty broad spectrum.
The museum’s motorcycles date back to the early 1900s, and includes bikes from around the world. Motorcycles are rotated monthly, so you can check out different displays each time you go. If you’re a motorcycle, history, or vintage enthusiast, motor on over to this museum.
Hunt for treasures in shops offering vintage goods
Solvang is an antique shopper’s paradise, with more than 30 antique dealers throughout town. Many of these dealers are set up inside “A Piece of the Past,” which is a mall specializing in antiques and vintage items. Here, you can find everything antique, from gorgeous vintage furniture to collectibles from years past.
Wildling Museum of Art & Nature
Admire art focused on the natural world
The Wildling Museum of Art & Nature sits on the edge of town near Hans Christian Andersen Park, inviting nature and fine art lovers to enter. The museum is home to a permanent collection, as well as rotating exhibits. It recently displayed an exhibit with work by famed American nature photographers Ansel Adams and Alan Ross.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Solvang indoors, don’t miss this peaceful museum. Much of the art is nature-centric and specific to Santa Barbara County, so it’s a good way to get a taste of the local environment and aesthetic.
👉 Read Next: 47 Best Things to Do in San Diego, CA
Sample Danish cuisine in a historical setting
When it comes to things to do in Solvang, heading to Solvang Restaurant for a hearty meal definitely makes the list. This family-friendly Danish restaurant has classic wooden booths featuring fun facts about movies that were filmed inside.
For lunch, try a sandwich with Danish style meatballs, or Danish waffles. And of course, Solvang Restaurant serves fresh aebleskiver – get ‘em while they’re hot!
Solvang Grape Stomp
Celebrate the harvest season with a traditional grape stomp
Solvang is known for its delicious wine, so it’s only right that the town celebrates with a wine-focused harvest street festival! The Solvang Grape stomp allows visitors and locals alike to try their hand at stomping grapes, as well as to sample local wines and foods.
Many local wineries participate in this event, and it’s a great way to experience the best Solvang has to offer, all at one festival. The event is only open to those 21 and over, so this festival makes a wonderful girls’ trip or couple’s weekend.
👉 Pro Tip: For a more kid-friendly festival, check out Solvang Danish Days! This festival offers parades, music, food, and family-friendly activities.
Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe
Feast on European treats at this old world bakery
Birkhom’s Bakery & Cafe offers a wide selection of Danish cookies, pastries, bread, as well as coffee to wash it all down with. It’s a family-owned business that has been a staple in Solvang since the 1950s.
You can tell the Birkholms take pride in their bakery – the service is top-notch, and so are their butter cookies! Don’t miss this local gem when you visit Solvang, and pick up a tub of butter cookies to enjoy on your trip home.
Solvang Festival Theater
Enjoy live music and shows in the great outdoors
Calling all theater lovers – the Solvang Festival Theater is here to dazzle you with live performances! The Solvang Festival Theater is an open air venue where you can catch plays, musicals, and concerts. During the summer, the theater is home to the Jazz & Beyond concert series on Sundays.
If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Solvang, check out one of the theater’s engaging performances that people of all ages can enjoy.
👉 Pro Tip: Solvang Festival Theater also doubles as a venue for events – you can host weddings, parties, fundraisers, or any other event your heart desires here.
It’s hard to run out of things to do in Solvang and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley. I hope this guide helps you get started as you plan your trip to Central California’s wine country! To explore more things to do in California, check all our California travel guides here.
And if you’re looking to explore the California coast after spending time inland, take a look at my guide to the best beaches in Southern California.
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