The beautiful city of Solvang—known as the Danish capital of America—is the ideal place for a family getaway. As one of the communities that make up the Santa Ynez Valley in California, there are vineyards and delicious wine tastings on almost every block. You won’t go thirsty as you plan an abundance of activities and excitement for your kids while traveling in Solvang.
Unlike any other city in the area, Solvang has a large Danish influence. It started as a colony founded by a group of Danes trying to escape midwestern winters. Everything from architecture and street names to bakeries and shops offers a small taste of Denmark in sunny California. Even Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue and Round Tower, or Rundetarn, were replicated in the city center.
You can easily spend a day walking around the city with your active children, admiring the windmills, the unique and colorful architecture and the cute souvenir shops. Better yet, hop on the Solvang Trolley, a replica of a Daniel street car from the 19th century. Pulled by a pair of gorgeous draft horses, the trolley will lead your family on a 25-minute tour of downtown Solvang. Another fun way for the kids to expend their energy is to explore via the surrey cycles that are available to rent throughout the city. These cycles consist of a light, four-wheeled carriage that can seat up to six people—perfect for families.
Admiring the animals
There are two phenomenal adventures that will have your kids jumping up and down with excitement. One is the 33-acre breeding farm that is home to more than 100 ostriches and emus. Ostrich Land, as it is called, will allow your brave little one to see these creatures up close, and even feed them! Did you know that ostriches grow a foot every month until they are 8 or 9 feet tall? Be sure to record your child’s reaction as they approach these big birds with Ostrich Land tour guides. Admission costs one dollar for children ages 12 and under; it is four dollars for ages 13 and up.
You should also be sure to stop by the Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch. The owners of Quicksilver Ranch, Aleck and Louise Stribling, have been breeding these adorable miniature horses since 1983. Though there are a variety of horses in different shapes, sizes and colors, they are incredibly gentle and very easy to fall in love with. After getting up close and personal to these mini horses, your kid may start asking for one as a pet instead of typical pleas for a puppy!
After a full day of animal fun, trying new treats at the Danish bakeries and shopping at various souvenir shops, head over to Trattoria Grappolo for the best Italian food in the Solvang area. The decorations, the staff and the charm will give you the cozy feeling of being at home. This intimate restaurant is tucked away in a little plaza just outside Solvang—the unique location keeps the restaurant from being overrun by tourists.
Solvang is a hidden gem that lies just inland from the central coast of California. Get ready to be wowed by this quaint city; with plenty to offer as an active weekend getaway, your trip will be unforgettable. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up bringing a miniature horse home as a souvenir!
Joanne Lam was born and raised in Hong Kong and has been traveling with her family for as long as she can remember. She worked as a teacher assistant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a year before completing her undergraduate degree at Emerson College with a focus on communication and business studies. You can follow Jo on Twitter at @jo_lam