Looking for a get-away vacation? Perhaps a place to rest your weary head when traveling along the coastal highways of California? Look no further than the quaint, culturally rich, proud Danish town of Solvang.
The first time I visited Solvang, a hamlet about 40 miles north of Santa Barbara nestled in the San Inez area of California, was before my college years. The second time I was pushing a baby buggy. So, obviously, it has been a long while and I was overdue. The Solvang I remembered has grown, but still kept the charm I recalled. Ready to be enticed to visit with a Top 5 list of things to do when visiting Solvang? I hope so!
Here are my TOP 5 things to do while visiting Solvang.
Located on a side street, but close to town, is the charming Elverhoj Museum. Partly a historical homage to the city of Solvang and part art gallery, this museum was once was the home of Viggo Brandt-Erichsen and his wife, Martha Mott. Both Viggo and Martha were renowned artisans. Together they built a sensational home/art gallery packed full of photos and art but nailing together boards the “old fashioned way” – one peg at a time. The building is a testimony to the heritage of Danish culture and the history of Solvang. Well worth your time and guess what – it is FREE (but donations are welcome!)
Discovering and Creating Solvang …
When you enter the Elverhoj museum take time to chat with the uber knowledgeable docents, Linda and Kirsten. They relay and weave many that may you feel as if you are being transported in time. After you have completed touring the rooms – be sure to stop in the art gallery. Currently, they have an exhibit titled Fables, Foibles, and Fairy Tales by Susan Read Cronin. These whimsical sculptures just add to the charm of this lovely experience!
The Old Mission of Santa Ynes is a lovely place to go and visit a true California relic. However, due to Covid 19, it would seem that the mission has restricted tour hours. But, the grounds are open and they welcome guests walking about.
The Solvang Visitor Center offers a variety of tours throughout the year. The walking tours are under two hours and stop at a variety of “hot” spots (Most stops are yummy bakeries and candy shops – my kind of tour!).
Along the way, you can spot the Hans Christian Anderson bookstore, see the horse-drawn trolleys, and visit the Water Tower. (Langauge aficionados will want to try to read the various inscriptions on the side of the tower – representing a variety of cultures). Oh, guess what?! Kirsten (from the Elverhoj) and her dad, Dean, were our tour guides!
Wineries and taverns with tastings are throughout this area. From small bistros downtown to the large vineyards that adorn the perimeter of the towns – you will find a wine for nearly every palate. Many establishments serve small bites – while others are minimalistic. Prices vary. Ask around. The local folks have their favorites!
Solvang is known for being a town with top-notch restaurants- including the First and Oak – a restaurant with a Michelin star. And you can’t miss the smell of sweet delights that waft the streets from morning through the day due to the local bakeshops. Yes, the bakeries are filled with creamy this and bready that… all delicious. (Rumor has it that the Danish elves remove all the calories!?!)
Despite the Danish bakeries and great local fare restaurants, our favorite place to eat was Ramen Kotori a noodle shop nestled on a side street. This place knows how to “heat things up” – so be sure to order the Thai Tea, too!
In closing, Solvang is a great place to relax, eat delicious food, and learn about Danish culture. But, most of all – it is about the people. And for that reason alone- we will be back!
Solvang Tourism Link: SolvangUSA.org
Chumash Casino Link (nearby attraction): http://chumashcasino.com