Solvang (aka “Danish Capital of America”) has a lot more going for it than windmills and waitresses in dirndls. While the town still has plenty of kitschy charm worth checking out, there are also plenty of newer restaurants, boutique hotels, tucked-away tasting rooms and carefully curated shops to explore. Read on for all the details on where to play, eat and sleep in Solvang with kids.
Solvang Trolley & Carriage Tours
Hop aboard this old-fashioned streetcar for a 25-minute tour of the town's most popular landmarks. Along the way, your guide (dressed in traditional Danish garb) will regale you with fun facts and local lore. We don't want to give too much away, but be prepared to discover the town's one authentic thatched roof along, when the first windmill was actually built and the meaning behind those wooden storks perched atop many of the local buildings.
Cost: Adults, $12; children ages 3-11 and seniors, $9; free for children under 3
1639 Copenhagen Dr.
Sunny Fields Park
Just outside of town you'll find this Danish-inspired playground complete with a Viking ship, windmill and mini gingerbread house. Of course, there's also the requisite swings, slides and climbing structures that kids love. Added bonus? That bathrooms are actually clean just in case your little one needs a potty break.
900 Alamo Pintado Rd.
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard
After visiting Sunny Fields, drive another few minutes to this working farm and ranch, named after the Sycamore trees on the property. The family-friendly wine-tasting spot offers picnic benches in the shade for sipping on vino. If the little ones get antsy, head down the path to visit the goats and chickens.
Insider Tip: The winery is happy to have you BYO picnic, so on your way, grab provisions at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace (like a mini Whole Foods).
1500 Alamo Pintado Rd.
Dana V. Wines Tasting Room
There are loads of places to taste wine in town but this is the only one we found with outdoor games for the kids to play. While this tasting room opened in 2018, Dana Volk, the owner and winemaker behind the 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). Dana V. Wines is the direct (and delicious) result of that effort.
1588 Mission Dr.
No Solvang trip would be complete without a stop at this big bird mecca. Totally kitschy, kinda strange (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.
610 E. Hwy 246
Owned by local dads (a #popandpopshop), this adorable boutique offers unique toys, books and gifts for babies and kids, along with gently (as in barely) worn clothes on consignment. Tucked away near Wine Valley Inn & Cottages, it's an under-the-radar local favorite featuring finds that are both whimsical, well-made and socially conscious (like one of our fave discoveries the Women's March Puzzle). Just a warning: You won't be able to leave empty-handed.
1576 Copenhagen Dr.
Hanson's Clock Shop
Kids will go cuckoo for this shop featuring cuckoo clocks galore. There are traditional, hand-carved wooded clocks with elaborate scenes, along with cute, tail-wagging cat clocks. If you can't manage to time your visit on the hour (who can blame you?), not to worry. Friendly shop-workers can manually adjust the clocks to chime for kids.
467 Alisal Rd.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum & The Book Loft
The tiny museum is a hidden gem, is located upstairs in the independently-run bookstore. 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.
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.
The Copenhagen House
For anyone with a love of housewares, home decor and gifts, this store is a must-stop for the best in Danish design (so beautiful and functional). 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.
Hooray for kid-friendly fine dining! Sit outside on the patio (which is more informal than the main dining room) and enjoy food that's just as delicious as what you'd find in LA's best restaurants. Chef Crystal “Pink” DeLongpré helms the craft-food kitchen, using fresh ingredient to turn out creative dishes like a Summer Salad with golden balsamic "caviar" and Day Boat Scallops with smoked ricotta and pea tendrils. While you slurp down your Morro Bay oysters to start (sooo good), kids can stay busy with coloring books and crayons courtesy of the restaurant. And just wait 'til their meal arrives: They'll be delighted by the dino dish it comes in.
420 Alisal Rd.
Little ones will love stepping through the hidden doorway to discover the speakeasy in the back of Valley Brewers. Enjoy a pint in the kid- and dog-friendly outdoor garden where there are board games to keep everyone entertained.
515 Fourth Pl.
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.
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 8a.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 6a.m.
1531 Mission Dr.
Good Seed Coffee Boutique
A relative 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 make it hard to leave.
1607 Mission Dr.
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.
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.
For contemporary Danish-style, a stay at The Landsby is a must, with room rates starting at $169. 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.
1576 Mission Dr.
This recently renovated inn offer 8 guest rooms that have a clean and modern feel with Ikea-style furnishings. While Atterdag doesn't have quite the same charm as The Landsby, its room rates are about half the price, starting at $89 for a mid-week stay. Plus, you also get a free continental breakfast (of coffee and pastries) at a nearby Danish bakery.
Insider Tip: Request a room in the back or on the second floor to avoid ending up in one of the two rooms on the street, which can be noisy.
467 Atterdag Rd.
WHEN TO GO
With its mild weather, relatively affordable hotel rates and minimal crowds (shhh... don't let word get out), there is really never a bad time of year to visit Solvang. That said, if you're looking for something a little "extra," here are four upcoming events worth checking out:
Fri., Sept. 20 kicks off the annual 3-day celebration of all things Danish. There will be a Viking encampment (with reenactments!), live music, an artisan marketplace, a children's parade and more.
From Oct. 1-Oct. 31, more than 100 Scarecrows will populate the Santa Ynez Valley. Can you find them all?
Solvang Grape Stomp
Looking for an adults-only getaway? On Oct. 19, the town will celebrate the wine harvest in the Santa Ynez Valley with this festival for the 21+ crowd. There will be a traditional grape stomp, the chance to sip from dozens of Santa Barbara County’s best wineries, live entertainment and more.
From Dec.1-Dec. 31, Solvang turns into one of the most "Christmas-y" towns in America.
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-Andie Huber & Shannan Rouss