Solvang is famous for being the Golden State’s historic Danish town, with a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere that makes it a great holiday getaway.
The unique local boasts lots of places to see and stuff to do.
Not sure where to go in this charming and idyllic rustic village?
Don’t fret; we’re here to help!
Here are our picks for the best and fun things to do in Solvang, California.
1. Old Mission Santa Inés
Old Mission Santa Inés has a history spanning over two centuries and has more than earned its stripes, not just as an important Catholic Mission, but as a prime tourist hotspot in Solvang and, indeed, all of California.
It overlooks the valley of the Santa Ynez River and the beautiful mountain ranges of San Rafael and Santa Ynez.
It was the year 1804 when this mission was established, originally meant to help integrate the Santa Ynez valley’s Chuman People into Spanish life.
It is one of 21 missions in the state built by missionaries of the Franciscan faith and was founded by Father Estevan Tapis.
Old Mission Santa Inés has gone through many events in its long life.
From natural disasters to political and social unrest and from financial difficulty to an entire rebellion, the mission didn’t start out as a gem of Solvang.
In fact, years of disrepair, neglect, and decay almost ruined the building before several restorations brought it back up to its current glory.
Today, Old Mission Santa Inés is still an active church and its parish holds masses in Spanish and English.
It’s also a home for a large rare art collection that includes manuscripts, statuary, artifacts, paintings, and vestments.
It also boasts a gift shop and a beautiful garden if you’re looking for more options for what to do onsite.
Docent-led tours offer new insights into the church, museum, and garden.
Don’t forget to check out the four bells in the museum – one dates back to 1904!
Address: 1760 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
2. Hans Christian Andersen Museum
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum is one of the most fun places to visit for literature lovers in Solvang, California.
It is situated on the second floor of a famous bookshop in the city: The Book Loft, which is, in itself, a place you should visit if you’re a bibliophile anyway.
Though small, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum is nothing short of a gem.
Dedicated to its titular author, who is responsible for many writing many of the fairy tales based on folklore that we know now, it’s a testament to the Danish legend’s fine work.
In fact, in Denmark, Andersen is as famous and revered as Shakespeare!
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum isn’t just about the prolific author’s tales, which are surprisingly deep, nuanced, and elegant in prose compared to their modern retellings.
It is also dedicated to the meaningful and deep friendship he shared with Jenny Lind, a famous singer for who he wrote The Nightingale.
Although she did not reciprocate his love for her, she was his greatest muse and they remained close.
A fascinating part of the Hans Christian Andersen Museum is the paper cuttings display, which is a collection of the hand-cut folded papers that Andersen would make as he told his story.
He had a habit of beginning to cut as he started to tell a tale, then, upon finishing the story, he would unfold the paper to reveal something beautiful!
There are also models of the author’s home, some early editions of his most famous tales, and character models to peruse.
Address: 1680 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
3. Wildling Museum of Art & Nature
The Wildling Museum of Art & Nature of Solvang, California was created by Patti Jacquemain, a conservation advocate and artist, in 1997.
It was established in order to promote the enjoyment, conservation, and appreciation of nature and wildlife through the medium of art.
Over the course of its life, the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature has been the host of over 40 different events, including highly successful education programs, art exhibitions, creative workshops, tours, fun trips, and more.
Its dedication is to inspire others to care for nature and natural habitats, and most would say it has succeeded!
The museum holds a small collection of art, but that collection’s diversity makes up for its size.
Expect to see brilliant photographs taken by Richard Salas, Jeff Jones, Roger Craton, and Ines Roberts, oil paintings by John Fery, and delightful works of all kinds by Ray Strong, Lockwood de Forest, Everett Ruess, and Russell Chatham.
It’s one of the best things to do in Solvang!
Address: 1511-B Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
4. Solvang Trolley & Carriage
Want to take a trip to the past?
The Solvang Trolley & Carriage is a great way to do both that and to get a glimpse of the main Solvang attractions.
This tour company uses horse-drawn trolleys to bring you sightseeing around this little California town.
Specifically, the kind of “carriage” used is known as a Honen, which is a form of conveyance native to Denmark.
The unique trolley makes use of two teams of Belgian horses, each one affectionately named, to pull passengers along.
The Trolley & Carriage business is owned by the local Orona family, who all dress in the traditional attire of Denmark in order to bring their guests through the streets.
They offer extensive and detailed information about the town’s history and provide a unique and exciting experience.
Each Honen can seat about 20 guests.
Address: 1618 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
5. Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum
The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum is one of the many fun points of interest in this California town.
It is situated in what was once the Solvang Designer Outlet Center and took a whopping two decades to finish.
The museum is owned by Virgil Elings, who also owns every single motorcycle on display as a part of his private collection.
The Vintage Motorcycle Museum showcases all sorts of vintage motorcycles, race bikes from Europe, and other rare automobiles.
Rotating exhibits mean there’s always a diverse variety to explore, ranging from vehicles from the 1900s and more modern bikes.
Brand names like BMW, Velocette, Ducati, Gilera, and Triumph are all on display.
Address: 320 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
6. Elverhoj Museum of History and Art
The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art‘s mission is simple: preserve, collect, and showcase key features of the rich history of Solvang, California as well as the Danish culture of the town – and the arts and crafts that arose from that blend.
It is a community-based center meant to present the true heritage of Danish-American pioneers, the heritage of Denmark, and the colorful, powerful artistic devotion of the Danish.
The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art sits within an old home of one of the town’s famously artistic families.
The beautiful structure was built by hand by Viggo Brandt-Erichsen himself with ornamental ironwork, handmade and hand-painted carvings and panels, and the finest in Scandinavian architectural influence.
Though it’s modest in size and appearance, the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is one of the town’s top institutions of its kind.
It hosts many exhibitions, workshops, classes, and children’s events every year, with many things to see within!
Address: 1624 Elverhoy Way, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
7. OstrichLand USA
If you’re looking for fun tourist attractions in Solvang, California, OstrichLand USA fits the bill!
Aviary enthusiasts, animal lovers, and anyone seeking a good time can appreciate the big birds that dwell here.
This “zoo” of sorts features ostriches and emus that are waiting to be observed and, if you’re lucky, fed by your hand!
If you’re interested in ostrich-themed merchandise, head over to the gift shop and check out the offerings.
Apart from souvenirs, there are also ostrich eggs and ostrich meat for sale, though none of OstrichLand’s own birds are raised for the purpose of meat.
Address: 610 E Hwy 246, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
8. Rusack Vineyards
Located in Ballard Canyon’s hills, surrounded by okay trees, Rusack Vineyards is famous for producing world-class beverages, sold at its boutique winery.
Rusack Vineyards is managed by Steven Garbac and owned by Gregg and Alison Rusack with a motto involving the mix of family, craft, art, and earth – according to their label, at least!
The location is nothing short of beautiful and is worth checking out for sightseeing purposes alone.
A tasting room at the Rusack Vineyards features a deck made of lovely redwood that looks out over the gorgeous vineyard and beyond, with four ancient oaks forming a backdrop.
The wines here are award-winning and you can even order a homemade picnic if you’d like to prolong your stay!
They are most known for their Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, but all their wines are great!
Address: 1819 Ballard Canyon Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
9. Hans Christian Andersen Park
Hans Christian Andersen Park is yet another one of the fun things to do in Solvang, California dedicated to this Danish fairytale author.
Right near Mission Drive, the park sits on Chalk Hill Road, marked by a bust of the man himself as a centerpiece.
The entrance to Hans Christian Andersen Park is marked by a large gate that resembles a castle from a fairytale, thematically beginning the whimsical journey into its lovely greenery.
Packed with activities for kids, the park is nothing short of enchanting, themed after the stories that Andersen wrote.
In the park, you’ll find different playgrounds for kids of different ages, a skate park, large shady oak trees, a machine that makes old-fashioned music, and even a climbing wall.
Picnic tables allow for rest and recreation as you take in the relaxing Solvang air.
Address: 633 Chalk Hill Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
10. Solvang Festival Theater
Looking for more places to go in California?
The Solvang Festival Theater was opened in 1974 and is a community-based organization with the mission of supporting and promoting performance art in California.
Each production is of high quality, dating all the way back to its first ever production of Once Upon A Mattress.
Concerts, theater shows, and performances of all kinds have lit up this Festival Theater, both during the day and at night.
Fundraising festivals and concerts for all sorts of charities and causes have been held here, including some featuring known names like Jim Messina, Crosby and Nash, Tommy Castro, and Bonnie Raitt.
If you won’t be around during any notable events but still wish there were options for what to see at the Festival Theater, don’t fret!
Certain family-friendly events happen more regularly, such as Sunday Jazz in the Garden and Family Night at the Theater.
With 700 seats in its delightful outdoor amphitheater, rentable staging areas, and modern amenities aplenty, this is a great summer location for your vacation!
Address: 420 2nd St, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
11. Bethania Lutheran Church
In 1928, the Bethania Lutheran Church was finished, designed to appear just like a standard rural church in Denmark.
It was made for Solvang’s new Danish-American Lutheran settlers, which congregated here.
It was one of this California town’s first structures to bear this Danish appearance and inspired design.
The architecture of the Bethania Lutheran Church is stunning, with gorgeous woodwork made by Wisconsin‘s Jes Smith.
Today, you can witness its majesty with the glorious altar and its railings, pulpit, pastor’s chair, and baptismal font.
Statues and religious art adorn the structure with meaning and regalness.
The stained glass windows within the church are also wonderfully made.
From the ceiling of the Bethania Lutheran Church’s sanctuary, a model ship hangs, meant to represent the peace of a safe haven through the trying turbulence of life’s sea.
It’s a touching detail and makes for a unique symbol.
Regardless of your religious leanings, a trip to this church should make your list of what to do in Solvang!
Address: 603 Atterdag Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
12. Lincourt Vineyards
Another one of those wineries that California is so known for, Lincourt Vineyards is situated in Santa Barbara County, right between Lompoc and Buellton.
Owned and run by the Foley Family, it is a wine estate that makes and distributes all sorts of handcrafted wines that are famous for their quality and flavor.
It makes use of sustainable processes and mindful business practices that make for more wisely produced beverages.
Lincourt Vineyards looks out over Santa Ynez Valley’s Alamo Pintado Vineyard and is packed with perfect spots for picnics and relaxation access gardens, lawns, and, of course, vineyards.
One of its main places to visit is its tasting room, which is built in what was once a part of the old dairy farm on the estate.
The rustic charm of the room makes for quite a delightful experience, and with many flavors to opt for and plates of charcuterie or cheese upon request, it’s a great way to treat yourself.
Address: 1711 Alamo Pintado Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
13. Solvang Antiques
If you think hunting for treasures is one of the top things to do in Solvang, you’ll be pleased by the rustic, fun, and unique Solvang Antiques in California.
It is the largest and most renowned store of its kind in the Santa Ynez Valley and showcases a wide range of specialty, vintage, and antique items.
Dwight and Arlene Steffensen own the antique shop and hand-curated its selection with everything that can appeal to many, whether you’re a casual shopper, window browser, or a serious collector.
Silver, clocks, sculptures, furniture, fine art, cut glass, music boxes, jewelry, and more fill the inventory, which is organized via an inventory control system digitally.
This system allows the store to find the most reasonable prices for new items across the globe and have them delivered to their shop.
Staff at this lovely antique shop are highly knowledgeable and will be happy to help you find what you seek.
With over four decades of experience and operation, there’s no end to the treasure you’ll find.
Don’t forget to peak at the Solvang Antiques Fine Art Gallery on the premises, which spans more than one thousand feet and showcases a permanent antique art collection and rotating contemporary exhibits.
Address: 1683 Copenhagen Dr Suite B, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
14. Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch
Sitting in the middle of the Santa Ynez Valley and flanked by hills and oak trees, it’s so famous that it’s often referred to as the Kentucky of the West!
The ranch is owned by Aleck and Louise Stribling, who use the ranch to breed all sorts of miniature horses – particularly ones of show quality.
Many of them have gone on to become national champions.
The horses are all adorable in their little size and are wonderful to watch and interact with, making this one of the ideal Solvang attractions for kids.
Though they are small, these miniature horses can be pretty strong and powerful.
Still, they are friendly, good-natured, and even gentle, typically comfortable with children and happy to be fed and pet.
Amazingly, some are only as big as a dog!
If you’re here in the middle of the year, you may get to spot the newborns, all long limbs and clumsy, as they stick close to their grazing moms.
Address: 1555 Alamo Pintado Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
15. Rideau Vineyard
What can we say – there’s no end to the great vineyards in Solvang, California, and we’d be remiss to leave out Rideau Vineyard as one of those places to see!
The vineyard was founded by New Orleans native Iris Rideau in 1997 and has gone on to become an award-winning estate for only the finest wine.
Specifically, it is entirely designed to only produce Rhône grape varietals, and it does a remarkable job at making its specialty perfect!
Rideau Vineyard is situated on Alamo Pintado Road, picturesque in its oak-surrounded lush green grounds, manicured wonderfully to compliment the beautiful French Victorian architecture of the estate.
It’s even more special since it only produces wine without distributing them, so it feels extra fun to be privy to tastings at Rideau Vineyard.
You can also attend one of the vineyard’s famous dinners, which are Creole-inspired and paired with their delicious wine.
Address: 1562 Alamo Pintado Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
16. Solvang Wind Harp
The Solvang Wind Harp is one of this town’s more unique things to see, and it’s the oldest wind harp in all of California.
It was designed to look like a certain part of the St. Nikolai Church in Copenhagen, namely the tidskugle, or time ball, that sat at its paramount.
When the wind rushes through it, it lets out a series of lovely musical notes.
Also known as an Aeolian harp, the wind harp was once situated at the peak of a Danish Pavilion tower, made for the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco.
The exposition drew to a close in 1915, and the wind harp was set to be demolished with all of the other buildings, but it was saved.
The wind harp was brought to this town, which at the time was newly settled.
The wind harp was actually made of bamboo and wood originally, but today, it has been refurbished and is now entirely made from metal.
Perhaps what is most surprising about it is its current location – right behind a nursing home, gently singing its little tunes as the weather goes by.
Address: 636 Atterdag Road, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
17. Olive Oil Tasting
We all know about the many wine tasting options in California, but what about olive oil tastings?
Believe it or not, this is a common and equally luxurious way to spend your time, especially if you’re a fan of the stuff!
This weekend, check out all the tourist attractions famous for their olive oil as one of your activities!
If you’ve never been to an olive oil tasting before, it typically involves the sampling of multiple different oils, infused with different ingredients like jalapeno, rosemary, or even lemon.
If your tastebuds are a bit more daring, you might also be able to try some vinegar tastings on the same sites.
Some of the most famous olive oil tasting spots in town include Olive House, Solvang Olive, Sanger Family of Wines, and Solvang Olive Press.
Don’t be afraid to explore your options, and if you find an oil you really like, maybe you’ll purchase a bottle to bring home with you!
Address: 463 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
18. Nojoqui Falls Park
The Nojoqui Falls Park can be found very near to the village – more than worth the trip off Highway 101 this weekend.
Expansive green spaces and picnic tables add to the value of the activities you can do here, but the main attraction remains the Nojoqui waterfall itself.
With a trail that measures only about 0.65 miles there and back and a mere 175 in trail elevation, the Nojoqui Falls Park offers quick gratification for a very short journey.
Upon finishing your walk up the trail, you’ll come to a viewing platform that provides a spectacular view of the rushing Nojoqui Falls, which rise 80 feet above the ground and fall onto some moss-covered stone beneath.
The falls are fullest in the winter but are still beautiful in their thinner state in the summer and fall.
Entry to the park is free and the playground onsite gives kids something to do on the way down.
All in all, if you’re fine with leaving Solvang for just a little while, this is one of the places to visit that isn’t to be missed.
Address: 3250 Alisal Rd, Goleta, CA 93117, United States
19. Shoestring Winery
You get the picture: most of the fun things to do in Solvang, California involve alcohol!
The Shoestring Winery sits at the beginning of the Santa Ynez Valley, owned and operated by Bill and Roswitha Craig.
Hand-farmed and hand-crafted delights make for refreshing and delicious wines at Shoestring Winery.
Whether you’re after their oak-barreled Merlot, light Pinot Grigio, award-winning Sangiovese, or classic French-style Rosé, they offer something delicious for everyone.
If you’re in Solvang, you can stop by the Shoestring Winery for tastings or wine purchases.
If it’s relevant, you can even opt to host special events here as the winery caters a western-style barbecue for them!
Address: 800 E Hwy 246, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
20. Jule Hus
Are you in California before Christmas?
In this little town, you’ll find the lovely and whimsical Jule Hus, filled with all the magical Christmas items your heart could ever desire!
With a red facade and an extensive facade on a Danish building, it’s a great option for what to see for the festive season, even if all you’re doing is browsing.
Jule Hus is packed with gorgeous Old European Christmas and Scandinavian products, with ornaments, decorations, and more.
Nativity collections, wooden nutcrackers, Santa and angel figurines, and more all make for an exciting experience.
It doesn’t even have to be Christmas for you to enjoy what it has to offer!
Address: 1580 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
21. Danish Bakeries
Solvang is a Danish town, and that means it’s a wonderful place to get surprisingly authentic danishes right here in California.
Just shopping for baked goods is one of the most fun activities to partake in, especially if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for what to do to while away the time.
There are countless bakeries all over town selling fruit, cheese, and other danishes, but there are plenty more options like stroopwafel, risalamande, butter cookies, cream puffs, almond ring cakes, and kringles galore.
One of the most loved options is undoubtedly the Solvang Bakery, which offers bear claws, honey almond tarts, gingerbread houses and men, and coffee.
Other great Danish bakeries in town include Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, with strudels, kringle, butter cookies, and even souvenirs, and Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, with ring cakes, butter cookies, kringle, and Danish waffles.
You can also try the Danish Mill Bakery and Birkholm’s Bakery and Cafe if you’re looking for even more choices!
22. Eat At Restaurants
It seems like a no-brainer, but this California town is filled with amazing restaurants and eateries that should be on your list of culinary places to visit.
Here are some of the top options for all cravings, price ranges, and atmospheres.
Bit O’Denmark is situated in the oldest building in the town.
It has some great Danish entrees like flaeskesteg and frikadeller.
Copenhagen Sausage Garden is a casual hangout that serves up burgers and sausages galore, with good wine and beer on the side to wash it all down.
Leonardo’s offers delightful Italian cuisine, with the standard options of pasta and pizza as well as some more classic options, like chicken marsala.
You should also check out their wines.
Mad & Vin is a fancy restaurant located at the Landsby hotel.
It boasts quintessential wine-country fare, including seafood hot pots and seared salmon, paired with cocktails and wine.
Paula’s Pancake House is a breakfast joint with a mix of American and Danish options.
Their buttermilk pancakes and cinnamon apple-topped pancakes are both equally delicious choices.
Solvang Restaurant provides Nordic fare with Danish-style meatballs, open-faced sandwiches, and creamed hearing, though they do offer burgers for more local meals.
23. Blackjack Ranch Vineyards and Winery
Yet again, one of the best things to do in Solvang, California involves wine!
The Blackjack Ranch Vineyards and Winery is situated on Santa Ynez Valley’s Alamo Pintado Road.
It is owned by Roger Wisted and earned its name from the origins of the winery.
Supposedly, Wisted won so much in a game of blackjack once that it allowed him to pursue his goals of building a winery and planting a vineyard!
In 1997, the Blackjack Ranch Vineyards and Winery made its very first vintage, and in two years, it had a tasting room opened to the public.
The tasting room has a very local rustic charm and boasts a temperature-controlled cellar packed with wine from six decades ago!
The award-winning vineyard now produces all sorts of varietals, specifically Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, and Franc.
Address: 2205 Alamo Pintado Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
If you plan a trip to Monterey don’t forget to check out our guide on some of the best things to do in Monterey!
24. Go Shopping
Since it’s such a small town, some of the Solvang attractions that you can find involve shopping.
So if you’re hankering for some retail therapy this weekend, shopping is one of the activities that this California town has to offer!
Here are some of the most loved stores and shops you can find.
A Piece of the Past is a great mall for vintage and antique items, with furniture, keepsakes, and all sorts of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Artistic Pony Studio hosts a wide range of art created by local talents, making great additions to your home decor if you’re willing to spend some dough!
The Book Loft is an independent bookstore with an impressive range of adult and children’s books, including some rarer literature of Scandinavian origin.
Used books are sold on the second floor if you’re on a budget.
The Solvang Shoe Store is a great place to get authentic Danish clogs, hand-painted in beautiful colors and patterns.
Popular shoe brands are also sold here, so you have modern options alongside the traditional.
The Swedish Candy Factory is America’s only bakery for Polkagris, a kind of stick candy from Granna, Sweden.
Over a dozen different flavors are made here and you can watch the experts shape and create these delights.
25. Solvang Taxi and Wine Tours
Solvang Taxi and Wine Tours offer a fantastic way to travel the Santa Ynez Valley to view all sorts of wine-related tourist attractions.
It is operated and owned locally and provides only first-class services, whether you seek private wine tours, taxi services, delivery services, or even exclusive wedding transportation.
Of course, the main draw of the Taxi and Wine Tours transport concierge company has to do with, well, the wine!
With expert knowledge on all the wine estates that you should see, as well as knowledge on hotels, eateries, and tourist hotspots, staff with the company will be thrilled to help bring you to your desired locations.
Address: 430 Alisal Road #312 Solvang, CA 93463, United States
26. Carivintas Winery
Carivintas Winery is extra fun, despite being only one of many wine-themed points of interest in the town.
This is because it’s not just family-friendly, but pet-friendly too!
The winery has a simple mission: to give back to its surrounding community.
It does this by providing some of its profits to all sorts of charity organizations, such as Return to Freedom, Best Friends Animal Society, and many more animal welfare nonprofits.
Whatever you say about their whites, reds, and sweet alcoholic offerings, one thing Carivintas Winery knows how to do is to maintain an engaging brand!
All wine labels boast natural or wildlife-themed scenes, and their tasting room allows for both kids and pets to come in and have fun.
Children get games and puzzles while pets receive treats, beds, and water, and it’s all-in-all a very relaxing experience.
Address: 476 1st St, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
27. Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
Its large size means there are lots of things to see, and it’s undoubtedly a world-class joint, so it’s one of the most interesting places to visit for wine-lovers!
The Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards are responsible for the production of three major wine labels and they boast an impressive two tasting rooms just in this small town!
Whether you’re looking for port, whites, reds, or sparkling wine, you’re sure to find something you enjoy.
Royce Lewellen and Louis Lucas, who own their self-named vineyard, are always happy to entertain guests and talk about their lives, the wine they make, and even some of their trade secrets.
Address: 1645 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, United States
Want more thrill outside Solvang? Why not visit Sacramento, San Jose, and Santa Cruz? If you do plan the trip, here are some fun things to do in Sacramento, some best things to do in San Jose, and some fun things to do in Santa Cruz!
Start Planning Your Trip To Solvang
The wealth of Solvang attractions means there’s no shortage of options to explore, visit, and enjoy.
Whether you’re looking to shop, eat well, visit one of the many vineyards, be one with nature, or explore more historical spots, the quaint village of Solvang, California is guaranteed to capture your heart!
Hopefully, this list has helped you narrow down some of your options!