A natural outlier to the SLO County Travel Guide, for me, is a Solvang Travel Guide. Although located in Santa Barbara County, a journey to Solvang is an easy addition to your San Luis Obispo area trip, or as a jaunt all its own. Like the towns in SLO County, I was introduced to Solvang as a child by my parents who loved the city’s picturesque architecture and charm. It’s a fun weekend away, and from Las Vegas, Solvang is about six hours and 17 minutes by car.
In the first story of the SLO Travel Series I mentioned two road trip options when traveling to the Central Coast. The first, which I suggested when visiting Cambria, takes you through Bakersfield and is the shorter route to the coast. The second is the one I’m going to suggest now – it will take you from Vegas through Los Angeles County and into Santa Barbara County, giving you plenty of options to add on to your adventure along the way if you want to get a little crazy.
If I have time and am just driving from Vegas to Solvang, my winding road trip might look something like this: Vegas to Downtown Disney for a stop to get beignets at Ralph Brennan’s Express and peruse World of Disney in the late morning hours. Then maybe a stop for lunch in LA somewhere, or even a visit with a friend for lunch if our schedules match up. After that, it’s on to the more coastal part of the adventure, with a stop in Carpenteria, a beach town that I’ve grown to have affection for during my California road trips. Stop here if you need a break from driving for small shops and food. From here, it’s usually straight to Solvang. Now let’s get into the Solvang Travel Guide’s must-do tips.
Where to Stay in Solvang
Wine Valley Inn and Cottages – The beautiful grounds here feature Solvang’s iconic Danish look that draws travelers from all over the world. The property is centrally located (Solvang’s not huge, so most properties are) and you won’t have any trouble hitting the town’s hotspots when staying here. This is my top choice for where to stay in Solvang. There’s also an onsite spa, which adds to the appeal for me.
Where to Eat in Solvang
Andersen’s Pea Soup – If pea soup is your jam, this is your place. Although technically in Buellton, Andersen’s has been a mainstay in the Santa Ynez Valley for years. The family-friendly restaurant also serves up a huge array of dishes, from burgers to Danish-style sausages. There’s also an on-site gift shop where you can purchase pea soup for the road or other trinkets as a reminder of your visit.
Paula’s Pancake House – Just thinking about this eatery makes my mouth water. Paula’s is the place to go for breakfast in Solvang. You’ll want to try their Danish pancakes, but if for some reason that’s not your thing (WTF) then there are many other options like benedicts, waffles, buttermilk pancakes, and a full lunch menu too.
The Hitching Post II – While you’re here, pick up a few bottles of wine for the road. The Hitching Post’s namesake wines are good and I highly recommend. Now, for the food – they serve Santa Maria-style BBQ with delicacies like BBQ sauteed mushrooms, steaks, and seafood.
Bakeries – Solvang is famous for its Danish bakeries. Whenever I go, I always pick up a bucket of their Danish butter cookies to take home, and treat myself to a cup of coffee and something sweet. A few bakeries to try are Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, or Solvang Bakery.
What to see and do in Solvang
Shop – Walking the idyllic streets of Solvang is kind of the point of going to the town in my humble opinion. Browsing the shops there can fill your day, amid wine tasting and trying the delicacies offered at the many eateries and bakeries. The best source for Solvang shopping is the directory found here from the Solvang Visitors Bureau. There are a lot of great boutiques in the Danish village, and many have fun Danish-themed gifts you’d be hard pressed to find in a lot of other places.
Go wine tasting – There are tons of wine tasting rooms and cellars in Solvang. As you’re walking around exploring, you’ll see them interspersed among all the shops and restaurants. There are plenty in town if you want to stay local, or if you’re staying for a few days and want to have a wine country adventure, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to great wineries. There’s a lot of fun to be had on a Solvang-area wine adventure. This website lists hundreds of wineries from which to choose in Santa Barbara County.
Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum – I used to visit car collections with my dad, and this motorcycle collection in Solvang is a fun activity if you’re into bikes.
Solvang Festival Theater – An outdoor venue that hosts a variety of shows including plays, concerts, and festivals. Check out their events schedule when you visit.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum – If you’re a huge fan or just looking for a diversion, this small museum could be it. The space is temporarily closed because of the pandemic, but makes for a nice stop once it’s reopen.
Solvang is a fun, relaxing stop just north of Santa Barbara in California. I love the town, and I think it makes for a great getaway.