Things to do in Solvang.
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14 TOP Things to Do in Solvang, California

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Step into the Danish town of Solvang, and you’ll feel as though you have stepped right into the pages of a fairytale. Solvang is the perfect alternative if you don’t want to get on that long flight over to Europe.

As people who love gallivanting around Europe, visiting Solvang was a nice little “scratch” for our Europe itch!

The town is filled with cute shops, Danish-inspired bakeries, shops that sell Christmas goodies all year round, unique attractions, and so much more.

1. Get into the Christmas Spirit at the Jule Hus Inc. Gift Shop

In Solvang, it doesn’t have to be December for you to get into the Christmas spirit. In fact, thanks to the Jule Hus gift shop, it can be Christmas all year round.

Queue of people lining up outside the red dutch-style building of Jule Hus gift shop in Solvang.
There may or may not be a queue…

When you step inside, it will be like Christmas has exploded in your face, but in a classy way, with traditional decorations lining the walls, the classic wooden nutcrackers standing proudly on a shelf, and a range of other Scandinavian handicrafts. We challenge you to visit without leaving with something.

The building is also a popular photo spot for those exploring the town. With its classic signage and picturesque red and black beamed exterior, it’s easy to see why.

2. Delve into History at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Seeing as Solvang is all about Hans Christian Andersen, it makes sense to learn a little more about his life and work while in town. Pay a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, a tucked-away loft full of history that sits above a bookstore.

The red exterior of the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Solvang.
This museum is a must-do!

For those of you who don’t know, Anderson is the author of literary gems like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling, although he has about 150 tales in total. In the museum, you will find piles of books, memorabilia, and sketches dedicated to his work.

Although the most famous statue of The Little Mermaid can be found on the other side of the globe in Copenhagen, many fans don’t realize there is also one in Solvang. We’ve been to the real one, and this one is pretty cool, although it’s missing the eerie and chilly water surrounding it!

Mermaid statue sat on top of a fountain along a road in Solvang.
The Little Mermaid

A replica can be found just across from the museum above a reflecting pool—it’s certainly one of the best things to do in Solvang!

3. Have a Stroll Around the Hans Christian Andersen Park

There are not many parks out there that require you to drive through a castle arch to enter, but Hans Christian Andersen Park is one of them.

The large town park has an adventurous skate park, a couple of playgrounds, a rock climbing wall, and short winding trails. One of the best things to do in Solvang after a day of exploring is to wander through the shady oaks, have a picnic or BBQ on one of the grills, and enjoy the wide, open, grassy spaces.

Empty picnic bench surrounded by trees in Hans Christian Andersen Park in Solvang.
A great place to chill out and enjoy a picnic

Another unique feature of the park is the Bethania Lutheran Church, which has a surprising architectural theme of seafaring Scandinavians and even has a ship hanging from the ceiling.

4. Find Out More About Danish Culture at the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art

Once spending some time in Solvang, you may wish to find out more about Danish culture and a bit more about the town.

One of the best ways to do this is to pay a visit to the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art. For a start, admission is free, so even if you popped in for half an hour to have a look around, you won’t have wasted any money.

5. Sip on Delicious Wines (Popular Thing to Do in Solvang)

The town is home to over 20 wine-tasting rooms, and for such a small town, that’s good going. Due to the small nature of the town, it is easy to walk from the tasting room to the tasting room before finding your way back to your accommodation for the night.

Danish-style building framed by a tree with a sign for Sanger Winery in Solvang.
Check out Sanger Winery!

You are not going to find a bad tasting room in Solvang, but if you would like a bit of an idea of where to head, a couple of good options include Good Life and Sanger.

Good Life offers an impressive selection of local boutique wines, beers, ciders, and meads. Sanger is known for its delicious tasting flights, so take your pick!

6. Get the Goods at Solvang Farmer’s Market

If you can pull yourself away from the delicious treats in the bakeries, you could go for the slightly healthier option and pick up some fresh produce in the Solvang Farmer’s Market.

Pink and orange cauliflowers and beetroots at Solvang farmer's market.
Find some unique fruit and veg at the farmer’s market

Open on a Wednesday, it is a showcase of some of the freshest produce grown on the land surrounding the town. There are usually between 20 and 30 certified agricultural producers in attendance, selling a huge range of fruits, veggies, and beautiful flowers.

In the summer, pick up some mouthwatering, juicy peaches or sample some locally-made pasta or bread. During summer and fall, the market is often accompanied by live music in the neighboring park, creating a lovely atmosphere and making it an iconic thing to do in Solvang.

7. Try All of the Food

Food, food, glorious food, Solvang is full of it, from the cure bakeries with their fresh, sweet smells filling the streets to the brewing companies, restaurants, and bars.

Different food shops and cafes in the eatery courtyard of Solvang.
Check out the eatery court!

One thing is for sure: you won’t be going hungry.

For a sweet treat, head to one of the bakeries, like the Solvang Bakery, for fresh-out-of-the-oven Danish pastries or the classic aebleskiver, smothered in strawberry jam.

People eating in the courtyard outside of the Mortensen's Danish Bakery in Solvang.
Mortensen’s Bakery is another option!

Solvang Town Brewery is another town staple serving much more than beer. The extensive and diverse menu includes six different burgers and the more refined shrimp ceviche!

8. Step into Nature at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

The beautiful Cachuma Lake is surrounded by the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountains. With acres of space, there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy this picturesque setting.

A calm looking Cachuma Lake with boats moored on a pier and mountains in the distance.
How calm is Cachuma Lake?

Take a stroll around the shore, head out on a lake cruise, try fishing, visit the nature center, have a picnic on the shore or head out on one of the many hiking trails, there are plenty of things to do in Solvang by the lake.

There is also a marina where you can rent a boat and head out onto the water. If you prefer to stay on dry land, there are six trails to pick from, ranging from an easy quarter mile to a much more difficult 12-mile trek, all of which could also be enjoyed on horseback or bike.

Entrance and sign for Cachuma Lake Marina boat rents in California with views over the pier and restaurant.
They can provide everything you might need!

The 18-hole course disc golf course is likely one of the most picturesque in the county, and during the summer months, the park’s two swimming pools open up for visitors to cool off.

If you’re looking for a place to camp near Solvang, this is it! We love camping out here during our visits.

9. Visit One of the More Unique Things to Do in Solvang – Ostrichland USA

Yes, you read that right: Solvang has its own Ostrichland. If you are looking for a slightly different thing to do in Solvang, head down to Ostrichland and spend some time amongst these huge birds!

You can feed them during your visit, with many of the birds trained to eat directly out of a bowl.

An ostrich posing with more ostriches in the background at Ostrichland in Solvang.
Ostrichland is… unique

The park is home to over 100 ostriches and emus, and if you visit during the summer, you might be lucky and witness tiny baby ostriches running around getting up to mischief.

Leave some time to pop into the gift shop for a unique range of ostrich-themed gifts, souvenirs, and even some fresh ostrich eggs.

10. Experience Wild California at Gaviota State Park

Solvang is not known as a beach town, but if the waves are calling you, you will be pleased to know that the beaches are not far away. Head to nearby Gaviota State Park, a wild and stunning beach you must walk through a train trestle to reach.

Low tide and sunset at a pier on a beach in Gaviota State Park.
Sunset at the beach in Gaviota State Park

You can continue your walk from the beach and parking lot into acres and acres of oak woodland. If you only have time for one hike, then the Overlook Fire Road is a great option.

Yes, it is a climb, but you will be rewarded with sweeping vistas out over the Channel Islands. There are 41 campsites within the park if you want to extend your stay.

11. Have a Beach Day at Refugio State Beach

Refugio State Beach is another stunning beach, a little calmer than Gaviota. The cove is lined with palm trees, and the beach is often filled with families picnicking, playing on the sand, heading out for an adventure on a kayak, or trying their hand at fishing.

A flock of seagulls standing on Refugio State Beach on a sunny and clear day near Santa Barbara.
These seagulls are having a great time at Refugio

The waters are usually relatively calm, which makes it such a popular kayaking site, with the Santa Barbara Adventure Company and Paddle Sports Centre both offering guided tours if you want to learn a bit more about the area.

Regarding hiking, the Ansio Trail is one of the more popular trails in the area. The paved trail runs to  El Capitan State Beach, the perfect way to stretch your legs.

While many people visit for the day, it is also a popular camping spot, with 66 camping spots and plenty of amenities like BBQ pits and hot showers.

12. Enjoy Shoreside Walks at Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is your answer if you are looking for a beachy beach town. It has a stunning stretch of sand, a lovely pier and boardwalk, hiking trails, and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and drink.

The town is known for many things, including its epic surf scene, where people travel miles to ride the waves.

Surfers preparing their boards besides a pier on Pismo Beach in California.
Preparing to surf at golden hour on Pismo Beach

It is also the home of the Monarch Butterfly Grove, where thousands and thousands of bright orange butterflies stop as part of their migration, and it is an incredible spectacle to witness.

There are multiple beautiful beaches, nature preserves, and a range of trails of all abilities.

READ MORE: 16 BEST Things To Do in Pismo Beach

13. Head off to Santa Barbara

Adding Santa Barbara to your itinerary is a fantastic idea! Less than an hour’s drive away from Solvang, Santa Barbara is a gem on the California coast that you won’t want to miss.

Imagine dipping your toes in the soft, golden sands of East Beach or taking a nice stroll or bike ride on the Cabrillo Bike Path, which offers breathtaking ocean views.

A cyclist along a cycle path next to Santa Barbara beach in California.
Santa Barbara offers tons of things to do

If you’re up for a little adventure, hike the Inspiration Point trail. It’s relatively easy and offers stunning views of the city and the ocean beyond. It’s a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of the area and take some memorable photos.

Santa Barbara also boasts a vibrant downtown, where you can explore local shops, dine at delicious restaurants, and visit historic sites like the Santa Barbara Mission. This iconic landmark is not only beautiful but offers a glimpse into the area’s rich history.

14. Day Trip to San Luis Obispo

In just an hour, you can be in a whole new world. San Luis Obispo is a stunning little town just north of Solvang.

Nina at the top of a hill over looking San Luis Obispo and some peaks in the distance.
San Luis Obispo

You could easily head up for the day to enjoy some hiking and other beaches in the area (although it’s not on the coast itself), walk the town’s river, soak in some hot springs, and take in the laid-back vibes of this beautiful California town.

👉 Accommodation in Solvang

We hope this helped you find some of the best things to do in Solvang!

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