Planning one day in Solvang, California is a wonderful addition to any road trip or weekend getaway. With streets lined in rural Danish architecture and the occasional windmill, you will feel like you’ve stepped into a quaint little Danish village. The town is perfect for dining, shopping, wine tasting, or even simply strolling and window shopping. Solvang moves at a slow, easy pace, making it perfect for a relaxing day out.
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Planning Your Morning: One Day in Solvang
On the Way to Solvang: Stop at Ostrichland
There are many fun spots near Solvang, California, but the one I always love to recommend is Ostrichland, USA. Located just about 5 minutes away, this charming farm lets you feed their ostriches and emus. It’s unexpected, the birds will make you laugh, and it’s the perfect wacky stop to add to any road trip. Expect to spend about 30 minutes to an hour there. The main entrance to the place is a bit plain looking, but, once inside, it is a beautifully-kept farm, perfectly set up for viewing and feeding the birds, who will be more than happy to see you. For more details and pictures, see my post Road Trip Stop: Ostrichland, USA.
Solvang Breakfast Spots
Once you arrive into Solvang, head straight to breakfast. This town is a perfect breakfast spot. With crisp, clear SoCal mornings, outside dining is extremely popular. Several spots can be found with consistent lines and crowds out front on weekends, so if you’re planning a Saturday or Sunday as your one day in Solvang, be sure to get there early or plan a couple back ups just in case.
Paula’s Pancake House
Paula’s Pancake House is one of the most popular breakfast spots in Solvang. Serving authentic Belgian waffles and French crepes, this spot is bound to have the classics. The atmosphere is very warm and welcoming, and they cook everything fresh daily with local ingredients.
Brekkie’s is a modern style restaurant that serves all day breakfast and brunch. They opened in 2019 as part of the CHOMP restaurant group. They have a nice outdoor patio with exceptional mimosa flights.
Succulent is a modern style restaurant with a Southern twist. All of their Southern classic breakfast items are prepared with fresh ingredients from scratch. They are popular for their biscuits and gravy, and make a fantastic bourbon vanilla French toast. Their spacious outdoor patio is filled with beautiful succulents.
For all the Foodies:
If you’re a big foodie looking to hit all the local spots and get awesome food photo content, I recommend a Solvang Food and Photo Tour. This particular walking tour includes 6 food tastings at various stops, a wine tasting, and a beer tasting at a local speakeasy. The tour is 3 hours long, and guarantees a small group with a maximum of 10 people.
Morning makes great light for photos, and since there are so many iconic photo spots in Solvang, I recommend getting your photos in before noon. The windmills make perfect photo ops, as well any of the Danish style storefronts. There are also tons of lovely walkways and cute benches. So be sure to take a morning stroll and get your photo memories of your one day in Solvang. For more on Solvang photo spots, check out my related article: Instagrammable Photo Spots in Solvang.
Planning Your Afternoon: One Day in Solvang
Take a Stroll
Walking and window shopping is one of the main features Solvang has to offer. When planning only one day in Solvang, California, be sure to include some time for wandering. The shops range from local art stores and coffee shops to souvenir shops and much more. Many of the shops have been given a facade store front in the Danish provincial style to make it feel like you’re shopping in a quaint little Danish town.
Stop at a Bakery
One of the best things Solvang has to offer are the bakeries! The smell of fresh pastries and coffee will lure you in from the outside. Prepare to be overwhelmed with Danish baked goods and delicacies. A good idea is to buy more than one so you can try a couple different things. I recently spent one day in Solvang and I stopped at Mortensen’s Bakery. My dessert of choice was the raspberry danish and it was heavenly.
Do Some Wine Tasting
Solvang has many tasting rooms available where you can sample all the local wines of Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez valley. They all offer tasting flights and sell wine by the bottle. You could easily hit a couple of these wine tasting rooms in a single afternoon. For a full list of available wine tasting rooms, check out this List and Map of all Wine Tasting Rooms in Solvang.
Find Solvang’s Little Mermaid Statue
Solvang’s Danish pride is displayed all throughout the town, but it even shows in an unassuming corner statue. In a big round fountain sits The Little Mermaid herself, on the corner of Alisal Road and Mission Drive. This small mermaid is actually a replica of a larger version that has been sitting on a rock near shore in Copenhagen, Denmark since 1913.
Visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum is located on the 2nd floor of The Book Loft. It is dedicated to the life and works of Andersen, who wrote many famous children’s books and fairytales including The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperors New Clothes. Browse his works and learn some of history behind the man in this quaint museum in the middle of town.
Visit a Nearby Vineyard
Sometimes wine tasting is best done right at the source. If the wine tasting rooms in Solvang aren’t really your thing, there several beautiful vineyards close by within 10 minutes driving distance. Some require a reservation, so be sure to plan this visit ahead if there is a particular vineyard that you’re looking to visit.
Rideau Vineyard is a family owned property in a beautiful and lush, green setting. Their sustainable farm makes small-lot, handcrafted wines that you can enjoy and purchase on site. They have several wine flights available and very nice outside seating. On my recent visit they let me take my wine on a stroll as I explored the grounds and took some photos.
Rusack Vineyard is located close by as well, and is also situated on a gorgeous, spacious property. They are a smaller boutique winery, but they offer a ton of different wines. Enjoy sitting outside and sample some of their wine flights.
Buttonwood Farm Winery and Vineyard
Buttonwood Vineyard is a short drive from Solvang, and is a perfect escape for an afternoon. Their lovely estate sits on top of a hill where you can oversee their orchards and gardens. Sip some of their amazing wines and enjoy the beautiful view.
Planning Your Evening: One day in Solvang
Take a Horse Ride Tour
Sometimes embracing the really touristy stuff can end up being a highlight of the trip. Whether you’re looking to learn some history, have a few a laughs, or just have an excuse to get off your feet for a while, be sure to catch a ride on Solvang’s Horse Trolley. A narrated horse ride that operates from morning until evening, it is an experience that can be enjoyed throughout the day. I recommend it at night while the city is settling into evening and the town begins to light up.
Enjoy a Traditional Danish Dinner in Solvang
If you’re planning your one day in Solvang, California on a weekend, I recommend making a reservation for dinner. There are plenty of dining options which you can browse on Solvang’s Dining Page. There are also bars to hop as you walk through the streets. Be sure to save room for a Danish dessert and make the most of your one day in Solvang.