Solvang with Kids: A Santa Barbara Day Trip

Just an hour north of Santa Barbara sits the quiet town of Solvang.

At first glance, it might not look like much more than a blip on the map. But anyone who’s made a stop in Solvang knows it’s something special.

That’s because this charming California town at the center of Santa Barabara wine country also has the unique history of being one of the first Danish settlements on the west coast.

If you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara wine country with kids, Solvang will surely be on the itinerary.

Here’s how to spend the perfect Solvang, California day trip with kids:

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Where to Stay in Solvang with Kids

While Solvang is a great day trip from Santa Barbara, there’s plenty to do in the area to warrant an overnight stay. If you want to turn your day trip into a weekend, the best family-friendly accommodations include:

Sideways Inn (Buellton, $$) | Named after the cult-classic movie set in the Santa Ynez Valley wine region, the Sideways Inn offers a modern feel just outside of Solvang in neighboring Buellton. The outdoor pool, free breakfast, and hotel lounge all score points with us.

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Hamlet Inn (Solvang, $$$) | If you want to stay in Solvang proper, the Hamlet Inn is one of your best choices. This boutique hotel sits right on Highway 246, making it an easy walk to all of downtown Solvang. Rooms are bright and colorful with modern touches, and guests and can make use of the free bicycles to ride around town.

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Hotel Corque (Solvang, $$$) | The 4-star Hotel Corque combines classic hotel amenities with a bit more upscale feel. Right on Alisal Road (Solvang’s “Main Street”), guests will enjoy the modern decor, outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant.

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Things to Do in Solvang with Kids

Solvang is a super kid-friendly city with lots to see and do on a day (or weekend) trip from Santa Barbara.

Here’s a few of our favorite things to do in Solvang with kids:

Ostrichland USA

First up on our Solvang day trip was a visit to Ostrichland USA. This ostrich and emu farm located just outside of Buellton, California (Solvang’s neighbor) is home to over 100 of “Buellton’s favorite pets”.

For a few dollars admission, plus $1 per bowl, you can feed to ostriches and emus yourself. Just be careful; they do get pretty aggressive once the food comes out!

All in all, it’s a small price to pay to get up and close with these interesting creatures and is well worth the trip as you’re passing through!

Solvang Danish Town

As you make your way east from Buellton, you can’t miss entering the Danish town of Solvang. Park the car and spend some time exporing this quaint village, which feels like a cross between Disneyland and Europe.

There are lots of ways to pass the time in Solvang with kids. Shopping abounds at Solvang’s many boutiques, many selling traditional Danish goods, toys, and antiques.

Take a ride on the Solvang Trolley or play at the whimsical Sunny Fields Park. And of course, we would never turn down the chance to eat an authentic Danish pastry. Find the best at The Solvang Bakery.

Buttonwood Farm Winery

You could literally spend days exploring all of the wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. But Buttonwood Farm Winery, just outside of downtown Solvang, is especially kid-friendly and holds a special place in our hearts.

It was the very first winery Matt and I ever visited together, barely 21 and hardly knowing anything about wine. Still, we enjoyed tasting the variety of wines produced at the farm (and clearly it sparked the love of wine in me)!

Coming back all these years later with two kids in tow was quite a trip!

Before leaving Solvang for the winery, we grabbed a picnic lunch from Panino, a grab and go deli with locations throughout the Santa Ynez Valley. With artisan sandwiches in hand, we found our perfect picnic spot behind the tasting room, just on the edge of the farm grounds.

It’s because of this casual, unfussy atmosphere that we love Buttonwood and have come back again and again. We settled in for a relaxing afternoon sipping wine and walking among the vineyards.

Visit a Local Farm

The Santa Ynez Valley is very different from Santa Barbara, and is an agricultural community at heart. With that, there are many different types of local farms open to the public.

Quicksilver Ranch is home to minature horses and open 6 days a week, while Seein’ Spots Farm, a small family farm raising miniature donkeys and other rescue animals, is open by appointment.

Morrell Nut and Berry Farm is a quant little farm where you can pick your own walnuts, and Clairmont Farms is a working lavender farm worth a stop when the lavender are in bloom. Along Alamo Pintado Road, you’ll find plenty of U-Pick apple and fruit stands too.

As for us? Since we visited in October, we had to include a stop at Solvang Farmer Pumpkin Patch. This adorable little spot right next to Buttonwood Farm has pumpkins and gourds galore!

Have you been to Solvang? What are you favorite spots?

xo laura

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