This post is full of Solvang pictures! Enjoy!
When people in a town located more than 100 miles from your house start to recognize and call you by your name, I believe you have been to that town way too many times.
My husband likes to say we are already locals in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. The area is not that far from home and while it can technically be visited as a day trip, we prefer to go for the weekend (or when we have three days free).
We like to use Solvang as a base. If you haven’t heard about this town, think about it as the “Danish Capital of the United States.”
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On 1911, a group of Danes (some of them educators) escaping the harsh Midwestern winters, founded the town on a land grant. They wanted to maintain their heritage and spread Danish culture. And, you know what? They have accomplished their goal. In 2011, Solvang celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The city is home to a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark. Museums showcase history, art, and culture. Folk traditions are celebrated during annual festivals. World famous plays are presented at the open air theater. Even the Queen of Denmark has visited!!!
Lately, the town has received an influx of new restaurants. And, let’s not forget about the many sweets enjoy in town (Danes are some of the biggest candy eaters in the world), from butter cookies to chocolates or from fruit tarts to aebleskivers.
A lot of people we know despise Solvang. They refer to the “cheesy” architecture, the hoards of people and the traffic in a place where traffic should not exist.
To be honest, this is a popular place. Go during the holidays and the mass of human souls resemble something you would see in Las Vegas.
On the contrary, visit during the week or on a slow weekend and you would have the place to yourself. You would be able to eat a good meal, talk to residents (some of them now friends) and check a recommendation in the valley.
Even when the crowds invade the town, we know where to find a respite.
But, I do not have to convince you about the virtues of Solvang. Well, maybe I want to convince you. That is why I have put together this photo post. I’ll let you be the judge!
Solvang has an excellent visitor center located at 1639 Copenhagen Drive. The staff will be more than happy to answer your questions and/or offer recommendations. I like to stop to pick up flyers offering dining, wine tasting and accommodation discounts.
Where to Eat
If you visit the Danish Capital of the United States, it is obligatory to try one of the many Danish delicacies found in town.
And, I am not ashamed to start the food section with dessert recommendations!
Solvang’s bakeries are one of the town main pulls. They sell butter cookies, butter ring coffee cake, cinnamon swirl bread, kringles, strudel, Danish waffles and a large selection of pastries. Olsen’s and Mortesen’s are good places to get your sugar fix. Other bakeries are located along Alisal Road and Copenhagen Drive.
The aebleskivers (think about them as a round pancakes) deserve a special mention. They are served in bakeries and restaurants. Also, a tube of butter cookies (3 pounds) is the perfect souvenir.
For breakfast, go to Paula’s Pancake House. They serve scrumptious Danish pancakes, Belgian waffles, Danish sausages and classic American favorites. This is a place I adore!
Other restaurants serve pickled herring, Swedish meatballs, Havarti cheese, open sandwiches, cured salmon, liver paste and sausages.
If you are not feeling the Danish vibe, you can stop by places such as Fresco Valley Cafe, Root 246 and Succulent Cafe. In my opinion, the best food in the area can be had at Industrial Eats in nearby Buellton. I recommend visiting this restaurant if you are a food lover.
Solvang is located 35 miles from Santa Barbara, 70 miles from San Luis Obispo and 128 miles from Los Angeles.
From Santa Barbara, it is faster to reach Solvang using CA-154. This scenic route will take you through the San Marcos Pass and the Santa Ynez Mountains. You can also reach Solvang using US-101 (the freeway). This route affords incredible views of the Gaviota Coast, one of the largest undeveloped coastal areas in California.
A good idea is to take CA-154 to go to the town and return through US-101. If you are driving at night, I recommend taking the freeway.
Weather and Seasonality
As in other parts of California, the weather in Solvang is nearly perfect. During winter, high temperatures are around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers can get quite hot with maximum temperatures rounding the 90 degrees.
Keep in mind the minimum temperatures can be between 40-50 degrees. It is a good idea to dress in layers or carry a good jacket on your luggage.
Solvang is open for business all year round. Summers, the weekend after Thanksgiving and the period between Christmas and New Years are the busiest. In addition, local festivities can bring hundreds of visitors to the area. I prefer to visit during spring or fall (which is wine harvest season).
There are two big parking lots along Mission Drive. There is another lot on Oak Street. Street parking is widely available. All parking is free.
Prices in Solvang and nearby towns like Buellton and Los Olivos have increased in the last 10 years. During the week, you should have no problem finding affordable accommodation. Now, everything goes up during weekends. If you want to get the best price possible, you need to book several weeks before you arrive in town.
I save money by staying at Lompoc, a city located 20 miles from Solvang, on the opposite side of the Santa Ynez Valley. Hotels are way cheaper in there. Once again, lock in a good rate by booking at least a week before your stay.
More of Solvang
Find more about Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley in my other posts
More of Southern California
Find out how to spend one fun-filled day in Los Angeles
Get inspiration by reading my Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
What is your favorite Solvang picture? Have you visited?
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