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.
A decade ago, the Alexander Payne film Sideways was filmed in the Santa Ynez Valley. The film chronicles the adventures of two middle aged pals, Miles and Jack, as they embark on a wine-tasting vacation before one of them gets married.
The film became a major success, earning countless rave reviews (it boasts a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and numerous awards, as well as commercial success at the box office. It helped turn Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, the actors who play the two leads, into household names. Both performers have had successful careers since appearing in the film. Sideways used authentic Santa Ynez Valley locations for all of the wineries and restaurants that the characters visit. This has made it easy for fans to visit the same places as the characters. Along with being a critically acclaimed film, Sideways also works effectively as a travelogue for the region in which it is set.
The Santa Ynez Valley region was already a popular vacation spot because of its pleasant climate, delicious wine, and high quality restaurants, but it experienced a significant uptick in tourism after the film was released. The success of Sideways has led to increased interest in the beautiful wine valleys of California. Other local attractions include horseback riding, great art museums, and plenty of outdoor places to hike and explore.
One of the most popular regions in the area is the charming Danish community of Solvang. Anyone who is interested in Danish culture should visit the bakeries and museums featured there. It allows visitors to experience a slice of Copenhagen without having to leave the United States. Like the rest of the Valley, Solvang is currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of Sideways, which was released in 2004.
To celebrate this anniversary, Grapeline Wine Tours is holding a Commemorative Wine Tour of the wineries that are featured in the film. The tour will visit Kalrya Winery, Ostrich Land, Blackjack Ranch, and Foxen Vineyard. Frass Canyon, which was the setting of a memorable scene late in the film, is not included but can be visited separately. Grapeline can be reached to book reservations at 1-888-8-WINERY.
A Sideways wine tasting map can also be downloaded here. Visitors to the Santa Ynez Valley can use it to experience all of the restaurants and other locations that the characters visit in the film. Twitter followers can stay up to date by following the hashtag #Sideways10 on social media. Solvang and the rest of the Valley look forward to celebrating the anniversary of this seminal classic.
When you come to the Santa Ynez Valley this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the hit movie Sideways, be sure to make the trip unforgettable by staying in one of these remarkable vacation rental homes.
A unique summer vacation awaits travelers in California’s Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Summertime weather in Santa Barbara County features perfect daytime temperatures and cool, comfortable nights. Mere minutes from some of the best beaches and surfing along the Central California Coast and nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley is a one-of-a-kind summer vacation destination. Plan to revel in sunshine, outdoor activities, wine, and world-class dining.
For starters, visit the annual Santa Ynez Valley Polo Classic mid-July to indulge in a champagne reception and three-course luncheon. Dress for the occasion, including creative hats for the ladies. Celebrities judge the Hat Contest, and the polo tournament begins. The Polo Classic isn’t an isolated event, either – plenty of estates and wineries throughout the area host dinners and wine pairings on beatific summer evenings.
Outdoor lovers who visit the Santa Ynez Valley can stay busy basking in the perfect summer climate. Horseback tours wind through the countryside as water lovers fish and kayak on Cachuma Lake. Hikers can visit the vineyards, explore the more than 1,257 miles of trails in the Los Padres National Forest, and climb in the nearby mountains. Cycling companies offer a variety of tours such as half-day winery rides, mountain biking excursions, or multi day trips from the vineyards to the sea!
Golfers visiting the Santa Ynez Valley enjoy courses for all skill levels. The Alisal Guest Ranch near Solvang has two 18-hole championship courses. The legendary Billy Bell Jr. designed the Ranch Course, situated among huge oaks, sycamores, and eucalyptus trees. The River Course enjoys a secluded and serene riverside setting with an uninterrupted panorama of the Santa Ynez Mountains. The Rancho San Marcos Golf Course near the town of Santa Ynez is considered the premier golf experience in the region. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Rancho San Marcos wanders along the San Marcos Stagecoach trail under ancient oaks. One of America’s best-designed courses, the La Purisma Gold Course designed by Robert Muir Graves, sits at the heart of wine country in Lompoc
Oenophiles will find Heaven on Earth in the Santa Ynez Valley each summer. Between the wine trail events and tours, and meet-the-vintner events occurring outside in the peaceful summer air, there’s something for every wine enthusiast here. Take a stagecoach or horseback tour along one of several wine trails in the idyllic summer sun. The Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance welcomes visitors mid-August to the historic La Purisma Mission courtyard when two dozen wineries pair outstanding Santa Rita Hills wines with local culinary specialties.
Over 42 vineyards, wine-tasting rooms, wine bars, and winery operations lie among the stunning summer landscape. Wine enthusiasts, outdoor adventure lovers, and people simply seeking time away from day-to-day life can find bliss in the offerings of the Santa Ynez Valley with an unforgettable summer vacation. Don’t forget to check out the Wine Country Summer Pass offered in the Valley to get tastings at 13 wineries.
Need a place to stay for your summer vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley? Consider one of our beautifully appointed luxury vacation rental homes that will take your summer getaway to the next level. Many are appointed with swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking trails on the property and many other outdoor activities to take full advantage of the gorgeous Valley weather.
“Take a look at my family crest, and you will find a boar’s head, an ancient symbol of hospitality,” says the iconic pop superstar Fergie (Stacy Ferguson), of Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas fame. As the co-founder of Ferguson Crest Winery in Solvang, California alongside her father Pat, Fergie expressed her desire to bring a different flavor to the wine industry, and that is precisely what Ferguson Crest offers. The winery’s varietals are just as unique as they are attractive, and the winery’s surroundings make the experience that much sweeter and more memorable.
Based in the California wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley, nested in the hills of Solvang, the winery offers an exquisite wine collection, including two Viogniers, one Cabernet and one Syrah. In addition, it has the ambiance that any wine lover would approve of, and it epitomizes what Fergie is all about: character, individuality and surprise, which, of course, heightens the winery’s appeal.
Indeed, the success of Ferguson Crest can be attributed to Fergie’s high-profile status, but the wine “Fergalicious” is one of the many reasons that Ferguson Crest is already so deeply respected and popular in the area. It has even captivated Oprah’s attention! Oprah wasted no time letting the world know how fond she was of the winery after a recent visit to Solvang to sample some of Ferguson Crest’s delectable wines in their place of origin. Fergalicious is just one of the many wines that Ferguson Crest has to offer.
Unlike a lot of other wineries, Ferguson Crest was built from the ground up right here in Solvang. Fergie and her family planted their first basket of grapes on one acre in 2007. It took only five years for that first basket of grapes, on one acre, to turn into the now 6-acre Ferguson Crest vineyard, which is entirely dedicated to harvesting grapes and producing delightful wines. With a family’s bond and pure determination Fergie’s aspiration to produce a line of wines that anyone could appreciate is one of the top reasons to enjoy winemaker Joey Tinsley’s creations from Ferguson Crest. This winery is all about delivering a unique product of excellent quality, and that is precisely what it does with all of its wines.
If you’re visiting the Santa Ynez Valley, consider adding some of Solvang’s own Ferguson Crest wines to your tasting list for a well-rounded and full-bodied experience. To make your visit even more memorable, consider staying at one of our Solvang vacation rentals!
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.