Solvang is in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County in Southern California. The city is Danish-themed as if it were the Danishland section of Disneyland, since it was founded by Danish immigrants and quite a few Danish descendants live here. While the tourism industry does try to import genuine Danish culture and architecture, it can be just skin deep. If you have a last name that is common in Denmark, still expect the desk clerk at the hotel to be unable to spell it.
If you are vaguely interested in shops selling Danish wares, or interested in seeing Americans pretending to be Danish, by all means visit.
By carCalifornia Route 246 is the main artery running through Solvang, where it is locally known as Mission Drive.
The fastest way to town is through California Route 154, which connects Santa Barbara and U.S. Route 101 to Los Olivos through the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area. A roundabout connects Route 154 to Route 246, passing through Santa Ynez.
An alternate route is to take Highway 101 to Buellton, where there is a direct connection to Route 246. This route is less winding compared to taking Route 154, but takes around 20-30 minutes longer.
By planeSanta Barbara and Santa Maria are the nearest airports. Both are small; the nearest large airports are in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
By trainAlthough Amtrak doesn't serve Solvang directly, Amtrak Thruway coaches connect the town to the train station in Santa Barbara three times daily, where the Pacific Surfliner service stops. Buses leave Santa Barbara for Solvang at 6:55AM, 2:25PM and 10:00PM, and depart Solvang for Santa Barbara at 5:15AM, 11:25AM and 2:50PM.
All buses stop in downtown Solvang at Solvang Park on Mission Drive.
By busThe Clean Air Express connects Solvang to Goleta but is of little practical use to tourists. The bus is primarily used by residents commuting for work, with a single bus leaving Solvang for Goleta at 6:15AM, and that bus returning to Solvang from Goleta at 4:34PM.
Downtown Solvang is very compact and walkable; however, it is advisable to have a car to explore the surrounding area, and because the most convenient way to get into town is by car, you are likely to have one during your visit.
Parking throughout town is free, and even the off-the-beaten-path spaces are not too far from the action. You can also rent a surrey bike and pedal through town.
phone: +1 805 688-4815address: 1760 Mission DrThe 19th of the 21 California Spanish missions, founded in 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis, who succeeded Fermin Lasuen as head of the mission system. It was built between Missions Santa Barbara and La Purisima at the site of the Chumash settlement Calahuasa. It served as a seminary during secularization, and restoration efforts began in 1904 by Alexander Buckler and later the Capuchin friars. Some of the original adobe building material is visible in places. Catholic Masses take place regularly.
Elverhoj Museum of History & ArtDelve into a bit of Danish culture and history.
Hans Christian Andersen MuseumLive out your own fairy tale.
Danish DaysThis festival has been held nearly every year since 1936 and typically lasts from Friday-Sunday during the third weekend in September. The festival features eating contests, Danish maids, raffles, parades, Viking demonstrations, Danish musicians and dancers, and family entertainment.
Alisal Resort Golf CourseGet in a round of golf at the lovely riverside course.
Wine tastingAt your choice of over 100 wineries in the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley is offered daily, typically from 10AM to 5PM (learn about wine country from the Vintner's Association). Don't drive, instead, take advantage of one of many reliable wine tour companies. Most will pick you up right at your hotel lobby and take you out or a full day of tasting with a knowledgeable guide. The typical tour includes tasting at four wineries and a picnic lunch set up for you in wine country.
Grapeline Wine Country ShuttleOffers daily tasting tours and focuses on hospitality, comfort, and flexibility. Guides are accommodating, the shuttles are roomy, and unlike most other services, the Grapeline does not limit the winery choices to a handful of "preferred partner" wineries, so winery requests are encouraged and every trip can bring new discoveries.
Cloud Climbers Jeep ToursFor the more rugged types who like the sun on their shoulders and the wind in their faces. Open air jeeps are more fun, if the weather is right, which is often the case in the mild coastal climate. Beyond winery knowledge, Cloud Climber guides pride themselves in knowing the area history, plant and wild life.
Toy stores also abound in the town. Many specialize in hand-crafted or Danish-style toys.
Farmers marketaddress: 1st St
address: 440 Alisal RdSells a selection of European imported groceries. A hearty selection of international wines, cheeses, and condiments are complemented by tea service items. Stop here to gather ingredients for a picnic. Make sure to chill your bottle in the wine bath before you leave.
Watch local menus for ostrich burgers, which taste much like hamburgers but are much leaner and lower in cholesterol.
The Red Vikingaddress: 1684 Copenhagen DrOffers Danish and American classics.
address: 1672 Copenhagen DrBoasts the best aebleskievers in town.
Paula's Pancake Houseaddress: 1531 Mission DrA local breakfast institution.
The Hitching Post IIA bit out of the way in Buellton but is now too famous to be passed up. Huge portions of unique and delicious BBQ as well as a fabulous selection of local wines will satisfy any palate.
Mattei's TavernIn nearby Los Olivos started out as a stagecoach stop and now serves fresh California cuisine and local wines.
phone: +1 805 688-8508address: 487 Atterdag RdSolvang's largest patio dining restaurant. Housed in an actual greenhouse structure and family run. A local and tourist favorite.
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyardphone: +1 805-688-3032address: 1500 Alamo Pintado RdPerhaps best known among Santa Barbara wineries for their excellent dessert wines. They have a picnic area for your Santa Barbara wine tasting experience.
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards Tasting Roomphone: +1 805-686-9336address: 1645 Copenhagen DrA beautifully appointed and fun tasting room located in the heart of the charming village of Solvang, featuring some of the finest of Santa Barbara County wines. They grow 25 grape varietals on their 400 estate acres which winemaker Megan McGrath crafts into award-winning wines. Open from 11-5:30 daily and later on Friday evenings throughout the summer.
phone: +1 805 688-5515address: 1617 Copenhagen Dr
phone: +1 805 688-2383address: 1440 Mission Dr
phone: +1 805 688-2018address: 1455 Mission Dr
phone: +1 805 688-4404address: 293 Alisal RdA family-run inn. The owners live on-site and see to the upkeep of the hotel's amazing gardens. Breakfast is served in the main building.
Hotel CorqueOffers the ultimate in relaxation and comfort with spacious and beautifully designed lodging accommodations with décor that honors Santa Barbara's wine country.
phone: +1 805 688-2383address: 1440 Misson DrForty designer guest rooms and suites, heated pool and spa and each room has a private balcony or patio.
There are several beaches following Highway 101 South. Other California missions near Solvang include Mission La Purisima Concepcion (101 South at Lompoc), and Mission Santa Barbara (101 South to Santa Barbara).
- Santa Barbara, approximately one hour south of Solvang, represents the quitessential California beach town.
- Nojoqui Falls (read NAW-ho-ee) is a pleasant state park with parking and picnic facilities. A lovely fifteen-minute walk inclines steeply at the end but rewards the effort with a beautiful pond and waterfall.
- Santa Ynez - Solvang's neighbor four miles to the east, Santa Ynez sits at the heart of the rural Santa Ynez valley, an area that attracts travelers to its many wineries. The valley was the setting for the 2004 film Sideways, and fans of the film are known to make pilgrimages to the inns and restaurants from the movie.
- Buellton - Located four miles to the west, Buellton is home to several Santa Ynez Valley wineries. Visitors will also find the ostrich & emu farm interesting, with the opportunity to get up close and personal with the giant birds.