In Solvang, vacation rentals start at $131 per night.
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Known by some as the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang is located in the Santa Ynez Valley, less than an hour’s drive from Santa Barbara and two hours North of Los Angeles. Meaning “sunny field” in Danish, Solvang was founded in 1911 by Danish-American educators, and with its windmills, authentic Danish architecture, and cultural offerings, to this day it remains a one-of-a-kind demonstration of Denmark’s culture and traditions. For travellers looking for a taste of Europe without leaving the United States, Solvang is the perfect place.
Things to do in Solvang
Sure, Napa Valley gets all the hype, but there are over 120 wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley! The popular 2004 film “Sideways” was even shot here. Visit some of the 20 family-owned tasting rooms and wine bars in Downtown Solvang, or if wine’s not your thing, check out Solvang’s own craft brewery, Solvang Brewing Company, owned and operated by a fourth-generation Solvang family. Shop! With more than 100 family-owned shops and boutiques, Solvang has everything from traditional Danish items such as clocks and clogs, to antiques and art. Check out stores such as Pebble People for authentic cuckoo clocks, beer steins, and other one-of-a-kind collectibles, or The Book Loft for a wide selection of new and used books. When shopping leaves you hungry, sample some traditional Danish treats at one of the many bakeries in town, such as the award-winning Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery. For a taste of Danish heritage and culture, visitors are immediately struck by the city’s unique old-world architecture, complete with windmills, replicas of Danish landmarks such as the Round Tower, and even a statue of Hans Christian Andersen. Even if you can’t catch the city’s Danish Days celebration in September, Solvang offers a number of museums and historical sites open year-round, such as the Amber Museum, which houses Danish amber jewelry from the Stone Age, and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, an homage to the author. There’s even a Vintage Motorcycle Museum—definitely worth a visit. Solvang is home to the only resident professional theatre company on California’s Central Coast, Pacific Conservatory Theatre. See one of their productions at the Solvang Festival Theatre, or catch an outdoor concert there instead. Recent shows include Shrek the Musical and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The Theatre is open June through September.
Day Trips from Solvang
Try your luck at the Chumash Casino Resort five miles east in the Santa Ynez Indian Reservation. Enjoy slots and table games, lounge by the resort pool, or even check out a show from acts such as Jerry Seinfeld. Even if you can’t see much beyond the front gate, fans of the late Michael Jackson flock to his former Neverland Ranch home in Los Olivos, 25 minutes from Solvang. Tributes from fans line the rock walls of the entryway. If not for anything else, the picturesque countryside drive to Neverland on its own is worth the trip. For the outdoor types, Cachuma Lake Recreation Area offers a relaxing getaway only 15 minutes from Solvang. Visitors may camp in cabins, yurts, or tents, buy a day pass, or even reserve private party spaces. Take a 2-hour Lake Nature Cruise on a pontoon boat, hike the lake’s trails and access nearby Los Padres National Forest trailheads, or fish for trout, bass, and catfish. Nearby Buellton has much to offer. A mere 25 minutes from Solvang, Buellton is home to wineries such as Jonata and The Hitching Post Winery and Restaurant, featured in the 2004 film Sideways. Most notably, visitors flock to Buellton for Ostrichland USA, a large bird farm where patrons can feed emus and ostriches, as well as purchase emu and ostrich related products. Ostrichland USA was even featured in an episode of The Simpsons!
Tripping.com features a number of options in downtown Solvang, which offers undeniable charm in its various accommodations. For those looking for a more pastoral stay, check out places closer to nearby Buellton, Santa Ynez, or Ballard.
Transportation in Solvang
Solvang is accessible by car via US 101. Saturday morning Clean Air Express offers bus transportation throughout Santa Barbara County, and visitors can also take the Amtrak Thruway Motor Coach to Solvang from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. The closest commercial airport is Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, 30 miles away, and the Santa Ynez Airport, available for private aircraft, is 5 miles from Solvang. While in Solvang, visitors are encouraged to try less conventional modes of transportation, such as horse-drawn carriage or segway. Biking is also popular in this area, with Solvang hosting a number of races throughout the year, as well as participating in the Amgen Tour of California bike race annually.