Planning a solo trip to Solvang and wondering what there is to do and see? Solvang, California is known as the “Danish Capital of America” and for good reason. The whole town is designed with Danish architecture and culture in mind. It’s the perfect place to travel alone, as there is a lot to do and see.
A visit here is like stepping back in time to a small Danish village. The town was established in 1911 when three Danish immigrants pooled their resources and purchased 10,000 acres of land in the Saint Ynez Valley.
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While Solvang has had Danish roots since its founding it didn’t start looking like a Danish village until 1928 when the Lutheran Church was built incorporating aspects of Danish architecture. In the 1930s and ’40s, people started building their homes and businesses in medieval Danish style. If the town looks familiar to you, the movie Sideways was filmed almost exclusively on location in Solvang and the surrounding Saint Ynez Valley area.
Now that you know a little about the history of Solvang, California you are probably wondering what there is to do here when you visit. So let’s talk about what you should see, do and taste during your solo visit.
Mission Santa Ines
Mission Santa Ines is more than two centuries old and was originally founded in 1804. The mission is still an active church today and inside is a museum with artifacts, artwork, and bells from the church’s history. In addition to the museum and church, there are also gardens and a gift shop to explore. Self-guided tours are available Monday thru Saturday from 10 to 2:30, and occasionally docent-guided tours are also available.
Jul Hus means Christmas house in Danish and here it is Christmas all year round. The Jul Hus is decorated for the Christmas season all year round. This is the place to find hand-blown glass ornaments, Scandinavian handi-crafts, nutcrackers, nativity scenes from around the world and so much more. If you are looking for a unique Christmas decoration to remember your trip to Solvang you will find it here.
Solvang Trolley and Carriage
Take a step back in time and ride through downtown Solvang on a horse-drawn Danish trolley called a Honen. The drivers are dressed in traditional Danish clothing and will tell you all about the history of the buildings that you pass by. This is certainly a unique way to explore all that Solvang has to offer.
Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum
The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum is home to a private collection of rare and vintage motorcycles and race bikes. The collection, owned by Dr. Elings, is currently located in the Solvang Designer Outlet Center. The collection is rotated every month so there is always something new to see here. The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm, and the cost is $10 for visitors 10 and over.
Hans Christian Andersen Park
A visit to Hans Christian Andersen Park should be on your itinerary for Solvang, as it is beautiful and a great place to visit.
To enter the park, you drive through a fairy tale castle and once inside there are beautiful large oak trees providing plenty of shade. There is a skate park, and three separate playgrounds, even one with three levels. There is also a music-making machine and a climbing wall to enjoy.
If you like wine, then Solvang is the place for you. There are approximately one hundred and twenty wineries in Solvang, California, and the surrounding area. You can tour the wineries on your own, or you can join up with a tour company and visit several different wineries with a group.
If you happen to be in Solvang on a Wednesday make sure to stop by the Farmer’s market and check out all of the locally grown produce and flowers. You can also find baked goods, honey, eggs, meat, and locally made olive oil.
Looking for something to do in Solvang that you might not find anywhere else? Head over to Ostrichland, USA where you can feed and pet more than 100 ostriches and emus. There is a gift shop on-site where you can purchase eggs and meat (not from the farm), and lots of ostrich and emu t-shirts, feather dusters, eggshells, and more.
There are seven different Danish bakeries in Solvang so there is no shortage of sweets available for you to try. As you are walking around town, pop by the different bakeries and see which Danish specialties are your favorites.
There are more than 150 unique shops and galleries for you to enjoy in Solvang. No matter what you are looking for, Solvang probably has a shop that will fit your needs. From antiques, leather, one of a kind dresses, to your own family’s coat of arms shopping in Solvang has got you covered.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum is located on the top floor of the Book Loft bookstore. Andersen was a Danish author who wrote The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Nightingale, and The Emperor’s New Clothes among many others. Inside the museum, you will find a model of Andersen’s boyhood home, lots of information about his works and his life, and even some intricate paper cutouts. The museum is free for everyone and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
Wildling Museum of Art
The Wildling Museum of Art is dedicated to both art and the conservation of our natural resources. The exhibits focus on wilderness art and the museum has hosted exhibits from Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Maynard Dixon, and many others. The museum is open Friday through Monday from 11 am to 4 pm, adult admission is $5 and admission for children 17 and under is free.
As you can see Solvang, California has lots of amazing things for solo travelers to see, do, taste, and experience. Whether you are staying for a few days or just passing through the area, Solvang is definitely worth visiting. Have you visited Solvang before, and if so is there something you would add to this list?