A Definitive Guide to Visiting Solvang With Kids

A Definitive Guide to Visiting Solvang With Kids

Family-Friendly Activities To Do In The Danish Village

 

Just three hours north of Los Angeles is a quaint little village called Solvang. In our pre-kids days, my husband and I used to make a quarterly trek to Solvang to go wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. We once went with several friends and visited the scenes from the movie “Sideways,” complete with meals at the restaurants featured in the moving and a stay at the Days Inn from the film.

 

While we don’t go wine tasting on a quarterly basis anymore, we have discovered that there are many family-friendly activities in Solvang. It is also perfect for a short getaway since you can get around most of the town on foot.

 

Since we have been many times, I’ll share a few of our favorite places so that you have some options for your visit to Solvang.

 

Solvang - a Danish Village on the West Coast
Solvang – a Danish Village on the West Coast

 

 

 

Kid-Friendly Solvang Activities

 

OstrichLandUSA

I have been to Solvang at least 20 times and had never been to OstrichLand USA. Have you ever seen these funny looking animals up close? You can in Solvang! You can even feed them!

 

Feeding an Ostrich in Solvang.
Feeding an Ostrich in Solvang.

 

 

My 7 year old loved feeding the ostriches and while my 3 year old wasn’t comfortable getting up close, he really enjoyed watching them. There are a lot of ostriches to feed, so save your food for the animals in the back. People tend to feed the first ones they see and run out of food by the time they get to the animals out back.

 

Details:

OstrichLand USA

610 East Highway 246

Solvang, CA 93463

PH: (805) 686-9696

 

Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. until Dusk

 

Cost:

General Admission $6

Kids 12 and under: $3

Kids 2 and under are free

 

 

 

Solvang Trolley

Take a horse drawn trolley ride through the Danish Village with your family. I don’t know about your kids, but mine love any type of moving vehicle, so this little ride through town is a winner with them.

 

Details:

1618 Copenhagen Drive

Solvang

PH: (805) 794-8958

 

 

 

Solvang Park

This cute little grassy park is right in the middle of town. Pick up some cheese, bread and olives and have a little picnic with the kids in the park. If you are visiting in the summer, you can enjoy Free Friday Night Movies or visit in September for Danish Days or Winterfest in December.

 

Details:

Corner of Mission Drive and First Street

 

 

Old Mission Santa Ines

I haven’t been to this mission yet, but I have taken my boys to other missions and they have really enjoyed the visit. If you want to share some California history with your kids, definitely add this to your itinerary.

 

Details:

1760 Mission Drive

Solvang

PH: (805) 688-4815

 

Hours: 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. daily

 

Museum Tours: Adults $5, children under 12 are free

 

 

 

Kid-Friendly Dining in Solvang

There are tons of restaurants in Solvang and most are walking distance from the various hotels. These are our favorites – adult and kid friendly.

 

The Hitching Post II

OK, this restaurant isn’t technically in Solvang, but it is literally just outside the city in Buelton. If you saw the movie “Sideways,” they dined at this restaurant. Because it was in the movie, this restaurant gets really busy. I highly recommend not only making reservations in advance, but making reservations for an early meal. We’ve been here with friends and even with reservations, we’ve had to wait a while.

 

The Hitching Post II is an upscale barbecue restaurant. If you like beef, this is for you. It is a bit on the pricier side, but the food and wine are great.
Details:

The Hitching Post II

406 East Highway 246

Buelton, CA

PH: (805) 688-0676

 

 

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café

This restaurant is probably geared more towards couples or families with older, well-behaved kids, but I still wanted to include it since we had a wonderful meal there. The menu features pasta, pizza and everything in between. This was also featured in Sideways, so again, plan ahead and make reservations.

 

Details:

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café

2879 Grand Ave

Los Olivos

PH: (805) 688-7265

 

 

AJ Spurs

This is truly a family-friendly restaurant. The décor is a Western saloon style and food is barbecue and American style. They even have rootbeer floats on the menu!

 

Details:

AJ Spurs

350 E. Hwy 246

Buelton

PH: (805) 686-1655

 

 

Succulent Café

If you have adventurous eaters, you definitely need to eat at this upscale comfort food restaurant that centers around pork. I have been there for brunch with a group and every one of us was completely satisfied with the delicious food. I haven’t been there with my kids since my 3 year old is currently an extremely picky eater.

 

Details:
Succulent Cafe

1555-1557 Mission Drive

Solvang

 

 

Solvang Restaurant

We had lunch here with the kids and while they have a very kid-friendly menu and their famous Danish Aebleskiver was delicious, the service was a bit slow and it took a really long time to get our food, which was annoying because we didn’t order anything crazy – chicken tenders for the kids, cold sandwiches for the adults. The food was fine and there wasn’t a long wait to get a table, so it is a good option if you have patient kids and need a reliable meal.

 

Details:
Solvang Restaurant
1672 Copenhagen

Solvang

 

Hours:

Monday – Friday:  6 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Weekends: 6 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

 

Paula’s Pancake House

A Danish Pancake from Paula's Pancakes in Solvang
A Danish Pancake from Paula’s Pancakes in Solvang

 

You’ll know this restaurant by the huge crowds waiting outside. I normally don’t like waiting a long time for food, especially breakfast, but this place is worth the wait. The pancakes – both American and Danish – are delicious. If you get there early, the wait time is much shorter. You can also try calling ahead to put your name on the list.

 

Details:

Paula’s Pancake House

1531 Mission Dr

Solvang

PH: (805) 688-2867

 

 

Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery

While you wait for you name to be called at Paula’s Pancakes, head next door to Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery to pick up an amazing pastry to eat at home, or in your hotel room later. We always get an apple strudel for ourselves and another one for my parents. You can also skip the pancakes and have a continental breakfast here.

 

Details:

Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery

1529 Mission Dr.

Solvang

PH: (805) 688-6314

 

 

 

Big Bopper Drive In

We arrived in Solvang at 5:30 and didn’t feel like sitting through a restaurant meal with the kids so we went the Big Bopper for a quick meal to take to the hotel. This restaurant has your basic fast food menu, but it is definitely better than hitting a drive through.

 

Details:

Big Bopper Drive In

1510 Mission Dr.

Solvang

PH: (805) 688-6018

 

 

Where To Stay In Solvang

I will preface this by stating that my personal preference is always a hotel. I know a lot of families prefer to do a house or condo rental so that they have more room and a full kitchen, but to me, going on a trip is a treat. I don’t want to have to cook, clean up after anyone or even make beds. I did a weekend getaway to Solvang with girlfriends where we did rent a house since there were seven of us and the house was great, but when I travel with my kids, I want a bit of pampering.

 

We have been to Solvang several times, so here are some of our favorite hotels. We tend to prefer hotels that offer complimentary breakfast to save money on at least one meal, however, when we stay in Solvang, we always have at least one breakfast out since the food is so good.

 

 

Hadsten House Solvang

I loved staying in this hotel, however, it definitely falls on the pricier side. The rooms are well-appointed and the hotel boasts the only indoor heated pool in Solvang, which was great for our son, who was 3 at the time. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast, is non smoking and each room is equipped with a mini fridge, which is great for storing milk for the younger kids. There is a mini mart next door to the hotel, which is helpful when travelling with young children and you can walk into town from the hotel.

 

Details:

Hadsten House Hotel

1450 Mission Dr.

Solvang

PH: (805) 688-3210

 

 

Holiday Inn Express

We have stayed here several times. It is in a perfect location, is reasonably priced and completely kid-friendly.  This hotel offers complimentary breakfast and free high-speed internet (a win when travelling with kids and iPads). You can also request an in-room refrigerator to store some kid friendly snacks or milk.

 

Details:
Holiday Inn Express

1455 Mission Dr.

Solvang

PH: (805) 688-2018

 

 

 

Days Inn Windmill

This is the hotel from the movie “Sideways.” We stayed at this hotel when travelling child free a few times. One reason we liked it is because it has an on-site dive bar that was open late. The website says it is recently renovated, so things may have changed since the last time we stayed there. I really wouldn’t recommend staying here if you are picky about hotels. The last time we stayed here, about 7 years ago, there were ants in the bathroom. It didn’t feel particularly clean any of the other times we’ve stayed there either. Like I said, the website states it has been renovated, so things may have changed.

 

Details:

Days Inn Windmill

114 E. Highway 246

Buelton, CA

PH: (805) 688-8448

 

My family loves Solvang. My husband and I have enjoyed many wine adventures there as well. I’ll post some of our favorite wineries in the near future, in case you want to make it a longer stay. We have taken the kids to a few wineries that are a bit more “kid-friendly” because they have nice outside areas for the kids to play.

 

Solvang is also just north of Santa Barbara so you could take a drive into the city to do some exploring. I could probably spend a week there and not run out of things to do.

 

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