I'm Christina Lyon, a coffee sipping, piano playing, beach loving, word-obsessed freelance writer and musician. I'm on fire for helping freelance writers get paid and small biz owners succeed online. When I'm not reading or writing, I play music and explore the beaches and wild trails along the California coast.

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Day Trip To Solvang, CA – A Danish Treasure Near Los Angeles

Christina Lyon

Want to take a day trip to Solvang, CA? Learn about this Danish treasure nestled beneath the foothills of the sprawling Santa Ynez Valley!

There’s a lot of fun things to do in California, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you crave a getaway to somewhere completely different. Still, not all of us who are riddled with wanderlust have the luxury of taking off on a moment’s notice to sip Piña Coladas on the sandy shores of Puerto Rico or wisp away to Paris for a weekend of couture shopping and extravagance. One of my favorite getaways is a day trip to Solvang, CA!

Jobs, responsibilities, school, and life get in the way. An anecdote to my constant travel-sick blues lies in exploring nearby cities. I have found that plenty of interesting towns filled with character and quirk are just a stone’s throw away. 

I was craving that European flavor though, and the satiety to my yearning came in the form of an adorable little Danish town 150 miles north of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County, tucked cozily within the Santa Ynez Valley.

History of Solvang, CA

Solvang, or “Sunny Field,” aptly named after its acres of rolling hillside, vineyards and fields, was founded by Danes who migrated West, and has come to be known as “The Danish Capital of America.”

In 1911 Danish colonists settled here and brought with them their age-old Scandinavian traditions, customs, and windmills. Although the town attracts hordes of tourists daily, with a population of around 5,000 people, there is a resonant small-town vibe accentuated by the friendly locals and jovial atmosphere.

A day trip to Solvang, CA is a great way to take in the town’s Danish bakeries, souvenir shops, restaurants, and wine-tasting bars lining the main streets — which are appropriately named after Danish cities like Copenhagen and Atterdag.

Day Trip to Solvang, CA

How authentic is the Nordic heritage in Solvang? It’s hard to say without being a Dane, but the town succeeds in serving a slice of European lifestyle.

We spent a full day exploring Solvang and in the afternoon drove to the hot springs, which was really more like a lukewarm bath, and I found that the most enjoyable part was the hike into the springs.

Best Things To Do In Solvang, CA

  1. Walk around the charming town. Pop into local antique shops, chat with the friendly locals and take in the beautiful charisma of this small, but memorable, town.
  2. Track Down Danish Landmarks. Danish figures like the Five windmills, round tower, and Little Mermaid fountain are unmistakable homages to Danish heritage.
  3. Munch on Danish Pasteries. You can’t visit Solvang without enticing in some mouth-watering treats. There are five bakeries in town, each serving up the famous delicacy, the æbleskiver. 
  4. Enjoy a cold beer over lunch. There are plenty of delicious restaurants downtown, including the authentic Bit O’ Denmark, and First & Oak.
  5. Visit the gorgeous Old Mission Santa Inéz to drink in historic architecture and a panoramic view of the Santa Ynez Valley and foothills.

There you have it! California isn’t an old state, but when you stumble on treasures like Solvang, you get to revel in centuries-old traditions. A day trip to Solvang is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the European side of California. 

Have you been to Solvang? What was your favorite part? Fill me in down below in the comments!

Aerial shot of Solvang showin in this Day Trip To Solvang, CA guide

August 3, 2019


*This post may contain affiliate links, and I may receive a commission on purchases made through provided links (at no extra cost to you).

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