Known as California Danish Town, Solvang is a beautiful destinations to spend a day, immersed in old European traditions and customs.
Last updated: September 22, 2023
Welcome to Solvang
My introduction to Solvang, California Danish Town, had started way before I first visited it. For years an unbelievable amount of praise in its address had been bombarding me from different directions. Some people admired Solvang for reviving long-forgotten memories of their European vacations. Others enjoyed all the sweet goodies and wine that the city had in abundance.
Any conversation about this little California Denmark further ignited my curiosity. I had to see the city myself…
How to Spend One Day in Solvang
Solvang, which means “sunny field” in Danish, was founded a little bit over 100 years ago by a group of Danes. These adventurers traveled west in order to escape Midwestern winters.
Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, California Danish Town is just two hours north of Los Angeles. The village is notable for carrying on the finest Danish traditions. Wandering the streets of Solvang, you will admire traditional Scandinavian farm-style architecture and windmills of all sizes.
TIP: If you plan to visit this little paradise in September, make sure to check town’s event schedule beforehand. During the first month of the fall season, the town celebrated Scandinavian culture and traditions during the Danish Days annual festival.
But let’s get back to a day visit and see which places you can’t miss while exploring the city.
How to Spend One Morning in Solvang
Start your day with a traditional Danish breakfast. You won’t have any problems finding a place that offers a taste of Denmark. Solvang has five authentic bakeries and more than thirty restaurants and cafes serving not only Danish but also international and traditional American cuisines. Make sure to try famous aebleskiver, powdered sugar-dusted Danish pancake balls served with raspberry jam.
After you are done with your breakfast, take a stroll around the city and enjoy the stunning Danish architecture and the famous windmills. Other places to see in Solvang this morning include a Clock Tower, statues of Hans Christian Andersen, and the Little Mermaid Fountain, a half-size bronze replica of the popular statue in Copenhagen.
How to Spend the Afternoon
On the afternoon agenda is a continuous indulgence in Danish cuisine. Be sure to take advantage of smorgasbord, a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple hot and cold dishes, and taste frikadeller (meatballs), medisterpolse (sausages) and rodkaal (red cabbage). Most of town’s restaurants serve all of these Danish delicacies.
After you’ve had your taste of hearty Scandinavian cuisine, learn more about the town and its history. You can start your exploration with a visit to the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, or the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum that holds an impressive collection of some of the most rare vintage and classic motorcycles. Slowly move to the Old Mission Sant Ines from where panoramic view of the surrounding area open up.
Later if you are for a real Scandinavian experience, go on a horse-drawn trolley ride or shopping spree for traditional souvenirs. Solvang has more than 150 stores offering Danish arts and crafts, jewelry, clocks and handmade lace. Almost every small shop guarantees locally-made Danish chocolate.
My favorite store in Solvang is Jule Hus. No matter what date is on the calendar, inside Jule Hus is Christmas all year round.
Evening in Solvang
It was a busy day. Now it’s time to kick back and relax. Try different cuisines if you feel like you’ve had enough of the Danish flavor. For all wine and beer drinkers, Solvang has more than a dozen of wine and beer tasting rooms. Show support to local communities and try some of the local drinks as the sun goes down.
If you visit Solvang in summer, you have more chances to enjoy free concerts and performances. Again, check the town’s event schedule beforehand.