Best things to do in Solvang

Solvang, California - thumbnail Solvang is a quiet little town, with an European reputation even though it is located in the heart of California. There are many small towns scattered all over California, but Solvang is much different than all other small towns. Danish and Dutch early settlers in California were determined to maintain their heritage in everything they did and most of all in everything they built. From shops and restaurants to office building have all been built in Danish style.

My favorite things to do in Solvang

  • See my pictures from Solvang
  • Walk the streets and visit some of the stores. There are lots of souvenir shops, candle shops, bakeries and restaurants.
  • Try some of the local cuisine. Lots of choices.
  • Visit the local Santa Ines mission

Getting around Solvang

Like any small touristy towns, Solvang is best enjoyed by walking even though there are also horse driven carriages that can take you around town. Parking is usually not a problem at all. You can easily find free parking on any of the side streets that go away from the center of the town.

Once you have parked your car you can pretty much follow the crowd and you will most likely end up on one of the main streets. There are essentially two parallel streets that run the length of the town and everything to see is contained on these two streets and about ten cross streets.

Solvang is a small California town with a definite European feel.
Scandinavian looking building in Solvang, California.
See my photos from Solvang

Walking is the best way to see Solvang

You can easily walk through Solvang within two to three hours, depending how much time you spend visiting the many souvenir and antique shops. Tourism is probably the town’s largest revenue source, and the whole town is geared towards the weekend tourist.

That becomes very obvious if you visit during the weekend. On Saturdays especially, Solvang is filled with people walking the small streets and browsing the many shops. It is a relaxing place to go visit especially on a sunny day which abound in California.

Solvang is a small Danish town in the heart of California.
Solvang is a small Danish town in the heart of California.
See my photos from Solvang

The Santa Ines Mission is just up the street

If you’re not too tired after walking around you can just drive up the street a little distance and stop at the local Mission. The Santa Ines Mission is one of the oldest missions in California. The gardens are filled with flowers and trees and benches to rest after all the walking you’ve done in Solvang. The Mission also has exhibits that outline the history of this area, from the Indian tribes that inhabited these hills to the coming of the Catholic Missionaries and the establishment of the mission.

A small graveyard at the Santa Ines Mission in Solvang, California.
A small graveyard at the Santa Inex Mission in Solvang, California
See my photos from Solvang

Best ways to get to Solvang

The easiest way to get to Solvang is by car via the 101 California Freeway or the 154 Highway if you’re coming from the Los Angeles area. If you’re coming from the north, the 101 Freeway will be your best bet.

I personally prefer the 154 highway that goes over the mountains surrounding the city of Santa Barbara and it passes by Cachuma lake and reservoir and then it takes you through many beautiful rolling hills into the Santa Ynez valley where Solvang is. Signs pointing you to Solvang, abound both on the 101 Freeway and 154 Highway. The car ride lasts around two hours from the Los Angeles area and the very scenic vistas will make the drive appear short.

Is it worth visiting Solvang?

Solvang is a delightful day trip from the Santa Barbara area. The somewhat long car ride is well worth it and the dramatic landscape along the way will surely make the ride go by very fast. What is your experience in Solvang California? Please leave a comment below and share your own experience.

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