If you are planning a vacation to beautiful Solvang, California in the Santa Ynez Valley, you may need some ideas from a local to make the most of your trip. These are our top three recommendations for things to do in Solvang, CA as you’re planning your vacation itinerary.
1. Santa Ynez Valley and Solvang Area Wine Tastings
Perhaps you have heard of the movie Sideways, a film about a week-long road trip through California wine country – and that includes Solvang, California. There are many wine tours in the Santa Ynez area that you absolutely must look into, and we even have a map of the Sideways wineries.
One great place to visit in Solvang to go for wine tastings is Alamo Pintado Road, where many of the top wineries on the Santa Ynez Wine Trail can be found Also, if you are a wine connoisseur and want to enjoy some wine tastings in Solvang, consider visiting the quaint downtown Solvang area to enjoy all the small boutique wineries in the area.
There are more than 20 downtown tasting rooms in Solvang with wine products from more than 125 area vineyards. You may even find yourself meeting the winery owners and winemakers at their tasting rooms in Solvang! So whether you prefer to sip on a chardonnay or prefer a sauvignon blanc and enjoy a glass of wine on your Solvang vacation – you deserve it.
2. Bike Riding on Solvang Trails
If you are a fan of nature and the outdoors, there is no shortage of outdoor recreation in Santa Ynez Valley and the Solvang area. In fact, taking a leisurely bike ride is one of the best ways to experience Solvang when you’re visiting.
There are many simple bicycle trail loops that begin in the city of Solvang that carry bikers through the back country and many beautiful sights of the valley. Solvang is also home to the Solvang Century Cycling Festival and the Solvang Prelude Ride events every year.
There is no shortage of bike-friendly parks and other outdoor activities to do in Solvang if you just love to enjoy nature, including Solvang Park, Sunny Fields Park and Hans Christian Andersen Park.
3. Shopping, Dining, Music & Danish History in Downtown Solvang
Founded in 1911 by Danish educators who were traveling west to escape the harsh winters of the Midwest, Solvang is packed with the history and food (especially the pastries and æbleskiver!) of Denmark. Be sure to enjoy the downtown Solvang area and look for Danish icons like the Little Mermaid Fountain near Mission Dr. and Alisal Rd., the five Danish windmills, and the giant red clog outside the Solvang Shoe Store. Also be sure to check out the Round Tower of Solvang, which is a replica of the Rudetaarn in Copenhagen at 1/3 the scale. There are also a number of must-see museums, including Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, The Wildling, Hans Christian Andersen, Vintage Motorcycle, Old Mission Santa Inés, and the Amber Museum & Hall of the Danes.
There are tons of wonderful shops and boutiques in the Solvang area that are perfect for folks who need a little retail therapy on vacation. There are more than 150 one-of-a-kind shops and small businesses to visit in the Solvang area, so there is no shortage of interesting shopping to do.
Find a boutique for any of your interests – antiques, the arts, clothing, kids, wine, gourmet gifts – you name it. And after you shop till you drop, one of my favorite Solvang restaurants is Root 246 on Alisal Rd. Their dinner menu updates often and is based on what current, seasonal ingredients are available and fresh at the market. It is delicious food with an excellent wine selection, and it is a must-taste if you are in the Solvang area.
Being in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, downtown Solvang is also a hot spot for live music events. From the Solvang Summer concert series on Wednesday evenings, to Soirée Thursdays at Refugio Ranch each week, to live music on the patio of Root 246 every Friday night, to the Sunday Concert Series at Zaca Mesa Winery, there is no shortage of sounds in the area for the music-lovers in your group. Enjoy live music, great food and perhaps a glass of wine surrounded by the Danish history of Solvang.
That makes up our travel concierge list of the top three things to do on your Solvang vacation! Of course if you decide on Solvang, CA for your trip – consider one of our Solvang vacation rental homes. Make sure to visit these Solvang attractions for the most memorable Santa Ynez Valley vacation possible.
Shaped like a dolphin as it faces the Southern California shoreline, Santa Cruz Island is part of the five-island group called the California Channel Islands National Park, and it lies just 19 miles off of the coast between Santa Barbara and Ventura. With its unique species and virtually untouched ecosystem, Santa Cruz Island is a microcosm of ancient California, allowing visitors the opportunity to travel back in time to experience what the coast might have been like before the introduction of exotic species.
A Picturesque Haven in the Heart of Wine Country
Thinking about taking a vacation to California wine country? Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Valley in particular is a choice vacation destination, but you probably would like to know the best time to visit Santa Ynez to begin planning your vacation.
Spring in the Santa Ynez Valley
May is especially beautiful in the Santa Ynez Valley because the hills are still green, the weather starts to warm up, and there are tons of exciting things happening in Santa Ynez. Every March is the Taste of Solvang food and wine festival in downtown Solvang. It is a blast to walk up and down Smorgaasbord and experience what more than 40 restaurants are serving up on their menus!
Also plan to hike in the Figueroa Mountains. They are covered with wildflowers and you will have views of the valley as far as the eye can see. A springtime vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley can also be filled with inspiring horseback rides and long bike rides, as there are miles and miles of beautiful trails for both. And last but certainly not least, the springtime wine tastings at area wineries are incredible.
Summer in the Santa Ynez Valley
A summer vacation to the Santa Ynez Valley is an opportunity to experience a warm-weather haven in the heart of wine country. Even though summer is the Valley’s busiest season, it still provides a relaxing respite from the daily grind of traffic and always being on the go. The countless acres of picturesque vineyards are only minutes away from the most breathtaking beaches the Central Coast has to offer.
The Valley hosts many local events such as wine tastings, farmer’s markets and even polo tournaments. Or, one of the best parts of a Santa Ynez Valley getaway is that you don’t even have to leave the backyard to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation. You can lounge by the pool to your heart’s content and fire up the grill for some excellent al fresco dining using locally-sourced ingredients.
Your kids’ education doesn’t have to stop when school lets out for the summer — they’ll come face-to-face with nature at its beautiful peak. Take advantage of the fantastic hiking, horseback riding and bicycling in the Valley to give them knowledge they won’t find in a classroom or textbook.
Autumn in the Santa Ynez Valley
October and November are also great times to visit Santa Ynez. Fall in Santa Ynez is unparalleled, if not only for the warmer oranges and yellows the entire area gets, but also because it’s harvest season! The Celebration of Harvest Festival happens in mid October and this year it is at Rancho Sisquoc Winery! If you came to Santa Ynez to see all that beautiful California wine country has to offer, fall is the time. (Well, anytime is time for wine in Santa Ynez, but autumn especially!)
The wineries are busy crushing grapes and the farmers are busy picking them. Watching the grapevines turn red and orange as fall goes on is something you’ll never forget. There are also several autumn festivals in the Santa Ynez Valley, including the Solvang Jazz Festival in September, as well as several of the Valley’s roots festivals, including Solvang’s Danish Days and Los Olivos Old Days.
Winter in the Santa Ynez Valley
If you are a bargain-hunting vacationer, winter may be the perfect time to plan a trip to Santa Ynez, as many vacation rental properties offer discounts later in the wintertime after the holidays have passed. Some may call winter the “off-season” in Santa Ynez, but in my opinion there’s no such thing.
The scenery is beatific as you enjoy crisp mornings on the porch of your Santa Ynez vacation rental home, and choose a vacation rental home that has a big fireplace so you can cozy up with a loved one in front of the hearth and enjoy a glass or two of local wine. And consider spending Valentine’s Day weekend in Santa Ynez to create romantic, lifelong memories that you will cherish forever.
OK, OK, I know I said basically all the time is a great time to visit Santa Ynez. (And I know I mentioned wine at all those times.) But frankly, it’s true. Santa Ynez is gorgeous wine country year-round and makes a fabulous vacation spot for different reasons during different times of the year. Even the “off-season” in Santa Ynez is spot-on for travel. Santa Ynez is truly a year-round travel destination.