California really does have a little bit of everything. In the same state that has the tallest mountain in the US (Mt Whitney), Hollywood, and some of the oldest living trees in the world, also sits the strange and remarkable Danish town known as Solvang. Only a short distance off Highway 101, Solvang is a fantastic place to visit and an excellent spot for a weekend getaway, here is my list of things to explore, restaurants to eat at and places to stay at while there.
When I come to Solvang, it is usually for sweets and pastries. One of my favorites are the aebleskivers that you can find around town. These Danish desserts are almost like a donut hole mixed with a pancake. They are light and airy, and when you put some powdered sugar and raspberry sauce on top, they are pretty spectacular. Don’t leave the city without trying them.
Mortenson’s Danish Bakery
Pretty much everything at Mortensen’s is good, and it is my go-to spot for pastries. They make them in house, and people come from miles around to sample the delicacies. My personal favorite is the Danish Waffle, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the Danishes or puff pastries.
Bit O’ Denmark
Bit O’ Denmark is one of Solvang’s most popular restaurants, and it packs a lot of Danish charm. The meal is a traditional smorgasbord of all you can eat Danish fare. It can be pricey, but it is an excellent way to try traditional dishes.
The Shoe Shop
One of the most well-known stores in Solvang is the shoe shop with the giant wooden shoe sitting outside. I have seen people put their kids in the shoe for pictures and do pretty much every other type of pose you could imagine. If you are looking to buy shoes, they have a wide assortment as well with all of the brands you would expect.
Hans Christian Anderson Museum
This small museum located on the second floor of a fantastic bookstore in Solvang. It is a great place to come and see the history of one of the most famous Danish authors.
There is a bronze statue of the author near the museum as well.
There are four windmills in the city, and they are the most photographed spots. The windmills are what gives the town that classic Danish charm, and you want to make sure you see a few. The main one is on Alisal Road.
The Mini Horse Farm
Who doesn’t like mini horses? Only 5 minutes out of town, this farm has lots of mini horses just doing their thing in the field. They are fun animals, and I loved my stop here.
Sunny Fields Park
Sunny Fields Park is one of the best public playgrounds I have ever seen. Located right outside of the city, this playground has loads of stuff for the little ones to play on and enjoy. I imagine it would be a fantastic find for the traveling family to explore.
Ever since I stumbled upon this five years ago, I make it a point to stop whenever I am in the area; this farm has loads of ostriches, and you can feed them for $5. You should do this at least once as the ostriches are a total blast to feed and see in their habitat. Read more about it here.
Mission Santa Ines
Another great spot in Solvang is one of the historic California Missions. While not as large as many of the others like Santa Barbara and San Juan Capistrano, this is still a beautiful place with lots of history and stunning gardens. Read more about it here.
Anderson’s Pea Soup
Anderson’s Pea Soup is also off the exit for Solvang and is worth a stop if you like pea soup or like trying new things. It is touted as a “world famous pea soup,” so it is worth a stop on your drive if you want to sample it.
Christmas in Solvang
Lastly, if you are looking for a time to visit, I would consider Christmas time. During Christmas, all of the shops are usually decorated and set up with Christmas trees out front, and the town square sometimes transforms into an ice rink. I love just walking the streets at night. Read more about Christmas in Solvang here.
My favorite is the quaint little Wine Valley Inn. This spot has the charm you would expect in Solvang, it’s walking distance from the downtown area, and it has a great continental breakfast. You can see more hotels here.
So there is my list of places to visit in Solvang, one thing is for sure, though, it is worth a stop at least once. Let me know your favorite spots in the comments.