Looking for a quick weekend trip from Los Angeles that includes great food, great wine and great activities for the kids? Then look no further than Solvang, Ca. Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, 128 miles northwest of DTLA, this Danish-settled town has a lot more going for it than the ubiquitous Aebleskiver—although truth be told, we can’t get enough of those delectable treats.

WHAT TO DO

Sunny Fields Park & Playground
Located on the way into town (and the perfect first stop to work off some restless energy from sitting in the car) is a wooden playground paradise that is part castle, part Viking ship part Danish-inspired wonderland. There are so many nooks and crannies, the kids will delight in exploring while parents can delight in the contained set-up and relax for a few moments in the shade. There’s even a special area for toddlers.

Insider Tip: The restrooms are nice and clean in case you need a pitstop before you head into town. 

900 Alamo Pintado Rd.
SolvangCA
Online: cityofsolvang.com

photo: Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard

Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard
Just down the road from the playground is working farm and ranch, Buttonwood Winery, named after the Sycamore trees on the property. This is a family-friendly wine-tasting spot and it’s obvious the locals are in-the-know since there were loads of families setting up blankets and picnic baskets, getting ready to relax the afternoon away on the property.

Grab a bottle or do a tasting and then head to the grassy outdoor area or one of the outdoor tables or chairs. The adults can enjoy the wine and the kids can devour the peach-based goods—all produced by the peach trees on the farm. If the little ones get antsy, head down the path to visit the goats and chickens.

Insider Tip: Stop at Nielson’s Market or the New Frontiers Natural Marketplace on the corner of Mission Dr. and Alamo Pintado Rd. for your own picnic supplies (or pack some before you leave) so you’ll have snacks for the kids and be able to enjoy your time here a little bit longer. 

1500 Alamo Pintado Rd.
Solvang, CA
Online: buttonwoodwinery.com

photo: Andie Huber

D. Volk Wines
There are loads of places to taste wine in town but one of our favorites? The spot that has outdoor games for the kids while you sip and watch them play. #winning

While this tasting room opened in 2018, Dana Volk, the owner and winemaker of this label, has been in the industry since 1996. Part of the growing movement of women winemakers (the number of women winemakers is particularly high in the Santa Barbara county region), Dana proves that you can marry your passion with your lifestyle (aka kids and family). D. Volk Wines is the direct (and delicious) result of that effort.

1588 Mission Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: dvolkwines.com

photo: Andie Huber

Ostrichland
No stop would be complete in Solvang without a stop at Ostrichland USA. Totally kitschy, kinda creepy (birds are the descendants of dinosaurs after all), this roadside staple is everything you need, and expect it to be. Little kids will probably need help holding the food and heed the warnings that the birds can bite.

Be prepared to spend more time driving to the attraction than actually feeding the ostriches and emus but hey, when do you ever get to hold a dish full of food just inches away from a herd of oversized birds?

610 E. Hwy 246
Solvang, CA
Online: ostrichlandusa.com

photo: Andie Huber

SHOPPING

The Book Loft / Hans Christian Andersen Museum
The Hans Christian Museum, a hidden gem, is located upstairs in the independently-run bookstore, The Book Loft. It’s an intimate space that details the life and the legacy of Denmark’s most famous author (The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea and The Little Mermaid to name a few) with knick-knacks and childhood home replicas—even your littlest ones will be delighted by all the exhibition pieces.

Once you’re finished with the museum portion, spend some time exploring all the wonderful used and antique books on the same floor.

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Insider Tip: Keep an eye out for the “real” pea from The Princess in the Pea, displayed in a glass case within the museum. 

1680 Mission Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: thebookloftsolvang.com

The Copenhagen House
For anyone in love with housewares, home decor, gifts and great design, this brick and mortar store is must-stop. Showcasing the best of Danish design (so beautiful AND functional) that you’ll want to redecorate your entire home stat.

Kids can get in on the retail action by checking out the clever toys. Not only do they claim the largest selection of Hoptimist in the US, but there are some LEGOS here and the cutest stuffed animals that might have you lifting any purchase bans of soft loveys. And don’t miss the adorable wall of clogs made in teeny-tiny kid’s sizes.

1660 Copenhagen Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: thecopenhagenhouse.com

Solvang Toyland
Even if the kids aren’t feeling restless, pop into this amazing toy store, stuffed to the rafters with fun modern toys, retro toys and everything in between. We spotted the largest offering of PlusPlus blocks we’ve ever seen plus some stuff we’ve never seen before like 3D puzzles you can build out of sheet metal.

Pro Tip: Set a cash limit and grab some entertaining toys to take to dinner. 

1644 Copenhagen Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: solvangtoylandusa.com

photo: Andie Huber

WHERE TO EAT

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie
For lunch (or breakfast), stop at this downtown cafe that focuses on seasonal and local ingredients. Not only is the kid’s menu a great value ($8 for the main, side and drink), it delivers on taste (making the kids happy) while you can explore some of the more interesting options like their signature “The Succulent Biscuit” (pictured above).

The cinnamon and cumin pulled-pork with bacon gravy topped with pineapple chutney is a perfect balance of sweet and salty and a belly-satisfying steal at $13.

1555-1557 Mission Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: succulentcafe.com

photo: Andie Huber

Cecco Ristorante
From the wood-burning oven pizza to the fresh and tangy Puttanesca, the food here is everything you want rustic-Italian cuisine to be—comforting, satisfying and delivering on all taste levels at the end of a long day. And while the restaurant is “casually elegant,” the staff and the atmosphere is warm, welcoming and accommodating—including delivering an order of plain spaghetti with no butter, no oil and no decorative “greens.”

475 1st St.
Solvang, CA
Online: ceccoristorante.com

Paula’s Pancake House
Almost as famous as the windmills within the town’s limits, this breakfast hotspot fills up fast. If you don’t get there by 8:00 a.m., expect to wait for your Danish pancake fix—thin pancakes served with whip cream and fresh fruit.

The kids will like the chocolate chip pancakes (what’s not to love about that) and you’ll love that the coffee is strong and refilled regularly.

Insider Tip: Good news for early risers—they open as early as 6:00 a.m.

1531 Mission Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: paulaspancakehouse.com

photo: Andie Huber

Good Seed Coffee Boutique
A newcomer to the Solvang-scene, this coffee shop is the place to go for your morning joe, your afternoon pick-me-up or honestly, everything in-between. The coffee is roasted locally by Brad while Leyla takes care of the customers and provides the organic baked goods with both vegan and lots of gluten-free options.

The latest additions to the menu are the superfood lattes. The turmeric (pictured above) was a cup of cozy with a snappy finish thanks to the ginger and cinnamon. Definitely worth the stop and be prepared to linger—the cool Nordic vibes coupled with the warmth of Leyla will have you hanging much longer than you anticipated—in the best possible way.

Insider Tip: Leyla bakes challah on Fri. Pre-order and pick-up a loaf Fri. afternoon if you are in town.

1607 Mission Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: goodseedcoffeeboutique.com

photo: Andie Huber

Hill Haven Provisions
Another relatively new cafe to hit the town, this lunch and dinner spot offers fresh global-fare with a California twist. From fresh poke bowls to Korean BBQ, flatbreads and fresh salads, this indoor/outdoor dining spot’s menu complements the craft beer, wine and cocktail creations.

Insider Tip: Check out the different flavored waters (orange, cucumber and lemon) and don’t be afraid to ask for something special (like no sauce on the pizza). The friendly staff was more than helpful and accommodating. 

448 Atterdag Rd.
Solvang, CA
Online: hillhavenprovisions.com

High Roller Tiki Lounge
For those in-the-know, head to the Sort This Out Cellars tasting room and walk straight through the wine-tasting portion of the shop to the back where a secret tiki bar has been hiding since 2016. Tiki cocktails with a wine base are a welcome reprieve from all those pinots and merlots and there’s possibly nothing better on the menu than the “Painkiller.” A sophisticated pina colada, these cockatils and the groovy decor will transport you, at least temporarily, to a more tropical locale, all while landing you safely back in the Nordic groove when you are ready to leave.

Insider Tip: Tiki Tuesday is half-off all tiki drinks, all day. And lest you think the kids will be left out, the bartender can whip up booze-less tiki drinks for those under 21. 

1636 Copenhagen Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: highrollertiki.com

photo: Andie Huber

WHERE TO STAY

The Landsby
For quintessential Danish-style, a stay at The Landsby is a must. Wood accents, muted colors and tactile fabrics all layered together in that enviably effortless, hygge way that transports you directly to Denmark without ever leaving the country. The lobby sets the tone for an entirely welcoming atmosphere while the outdoor seating area, complete with fire pits, make sitting outside a comfortable treat day or night.

The 50-room hotel is in the middle of downtown Solvang. Plan to leave the car in the parking lot and easily walk everywhere from its central location.

Insider Tip: Save room for dessert! You can order the “Spoon Service” from the front desk and two pints of McConnell’s Ice Cream (and all the bowls and spoons you need) will be delivered to your room. 

Cost: Rooms start at $159 and go up depending on the size of the room and the season.

1576 Mission Dr.
Solvang, CA
Online: thelandsby.com

photo: via Solvang 3rd Wednesday

WHEN TO GO

There is literally, no bad time of year to visit Solvang. There is always something happening in and around town, including pop-up dinners, wine tasting tours (of course) and concert series but every month there also seems to be an event worth traveling back for. Upcoming events include:

Scarecrow Fest: From Oct. 1-Oct. 31; More than 100 Scarecrows will populate the Santa Ynez Valley. Can you find them all?

Solvang Stomp: Oct. 13; This street festival celebrates all things grape.

Solvang Julefest: Dec.1-Dec. 31; Solvang turns into one of the most “Christmas-y” towns in America.

And don’t forget to check out next year’s Danish Days—a three-day festival celebrating of all things Danish of course.

To see what Red Tricycle editors are up to on their vacations, follow us oInstagram!

—Andie Huber

Meals and accommodations were arranged by Stiletto Marketing, but all opinions here belong to the writer. 

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