Solvang is in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County in Southern California. The city is Danish-themed as if it were the Danishland section of Disneyland, since it was founded by Danish immigrants and quite a few Danish descendants live here. While the tourism industry does try to import genuine Danish culture and architecture, it can be just skin deep. If you have a last name that is common in Denmark, still expect the desk clerk at the hotel to be unable to spell it.
If you are vaguely interested in shops selling Danish wares, or interested in seeing Americans pretending to be Danish, by all means visit.
Downtown Solvang is very compact and walkable; however, it is advisable to have a car to explore the surrounding area, and because the most convenient way to get into town is by car, you are likely to have one during your visit.
Parking throughout town is free, and even the off-the-beaten-path spaces are not too far from the action.
Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Dr, . One of 21 missions founded along the California coast by Spanish priests in the late 18th century. Some of the original adobe building material is visible in places. Catholic Masses take place regularly.
Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, . Delve into a bit of Danish culture and history.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum, . Live out your own fairy tale.
Keep an eye out for windmills all along the main streets. Many are shops and restaurants in thin disguise.
An ostrich farm marks the rough halfway point between the village of Solvang and the highwayside town of Buellton. Ostrich burgers are featured on many local menus; the meat, while red, is very lean and a great favorite among the health-conscious.
Stock up on fruits and veggies at the farmers market, 1st St. at Copenhagen Drive, We 2:30-6pm. Take your purchases to the adjacent park for a picnic.
Get in a round of golf at the lovely riverside Alisal Resort .
Visit the Chumash casino, which offers slots, table games, dining, entertainment, and spa services.
Wine tasting at your choice of over 100 wineries in the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley is offered daily, typically from 10am to 5pm (learn about wine country from the Vintner's Association). Don't drive, instead, take advantage of one of many reliable wine tour companies. Most will pick you up right at your hotel lobby and take you out or a full day of tasting with a knowledgeable guide. The typical tour includes tasting at four wineries and a picnic lunch set up for you in wine country.
The Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle, . Offers daily tasting tours and focuses on hospitality, comfort, and flexibility. Guides are accommodating, the shuttles are roomy, and unlike most other services, the Grapeline does not limit the winery choices to a handful of "preferred partner" wineries, so winery requests are encouraged and every trip can bring new discoveries.
Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours is for the more rugged types who like the sun on their shoulders and the wind in their faces. Open air jeeps are more fun, if the weather is right, which is often the case in the mild coastal climate. Beyond winery knowledge, Cloud Climber guides pride themselves in knowing the area history, plant and wild life.
Downtown is full of bakeries offering pastries of all types. Be sure to splurge on a plastic tub of assorted Danish butter cookies. There are also a number of tempting candy shops offering assorted chocolates, candies, and European specialty sweets.
Toy stores also abound in the town. Many specialize in hand-crafted or Danish-style toys.
Vinhus of Solvang, 440 Alisal Road,  sells a selection of European imported groceries. A hearty selection of international wines, cheeses, and condiments are complemented by tea service items. Stop here to gather ingredients for a picnic. Make sure to chill your bottle in the wine bath before you leave.
Two notable area specialties include aebleskievers (a sort of spherical pancake, often served with a raspberry jam sauce) and the smorgasbord (a Nordic-themed all-you-can-eat buffet). Both are Danish-inspired and shouldn't be missed! Most local restaurants have a version of one or the other, if not both.
Watch local menus for ostrich burgers, which taste much like hamburgers but are much leaner and lower in cholesterol.
The Red Viking, 1684 Copenhagen Drive, offers Danish and American classics.
The Solvang Restaurant, 1672 Copenhagen Drive,  boasts the best aebleskievers in town.
Paula's Pancake House, 1531 Mission Drive, is a local breakfast institution.
The Hitching Post II is a bit out of the way in Buellton but is now too famous to be passed up. Huge portions of unique and delicious BBQ as well as a fabulous selection of local wines will satisfy any palate.
Mattei's Tavern in nearby Los Olivos started out as a stagecoach stop and now serves fresh California cuisine and local wines.
Greenhouse Café, 487 Atterdag Rd (corner of Copenhagen and Atterdag), (805) 688-8508, . Solvang's largest patio dining restaurant. Housed in an actual greenhouse structure and family run. A local and tourist favorite.
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard - 805-688-3032, 1500 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang. Perhaps best known among Santa Barbara wineries for their excellent dessert wines. They have a picnic area for your Santa Barbara wine tasting experience, and are open 11-5 daily.
Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery - 805-688-8554, moving west of Hwy. 101 but currently at 1711 Alamo Pintado Rd., Solvang. This winery offers modestly priced wines that are often bargains among Santa Barbara wineries. 10am-5pm daily.
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards Tasting Room - 805-686-9336, 1645 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang. A beautifully appointed and fun tasting room located in the heart of the charming village of Solvang, featuring some of the finest of Santa Barbara County wines. They grow 25 grape varietals on their 400 estate acres which winemaker Megan McGrath crafts into award-winning wines. Open from 11-5:30 daily and later on Friday evenings throughout the summer.
Solvang Gardens Lodge, 293 Alisal Road, (805) 688-4404,  is a family-run inn. The owners live on-site and see to the upkeep of the hotel's amazing gardens. Breakfast is served in the main building.
Hotel Corque, . Offers the ultimate in relaxation and comfort with spacious and beautifully designed lodging accommodations with décor that honors Santa Barbara's wine country.edit
Wine Country Manor, 1440 Misson Drive, ☎ (805) 688 2383, . Forty designer guest rooms and suites, heated pool and spa and each room has a private balcony or patio.edit
Nojoqui Falls (read NAW-ho-ee) is a pleasant state park with parking and picnic facilities. A lovely fifteen-minute walk inclines steeply at the end but rewards the effort with a beautiful pond and waterfall.
There are several beaches following Highway 101 South.
Other California missions near Solvang include Mission La Purisima Concepcion (101 South at Lompoc), and Mission Santa Barbara (101 South to Santa Barbara).
Buellton is just to the west and Santa Ynez just to the east. Santa Barbara, approximately one hour south of Solvang, represents the quitessential California beach town.
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