Solvang and Los Olivos are two of my favorite new places! I have been to California many times. My cousin Tony lived in Los Angeles, and I often visited him. My friend lived in San Diego for several years, and work has taken me to San Francisco. Somehow for all these years, I never knew Solvang existed. It pains me to admit this. Solvang and Los Olivos are about 2 ½ hours northwest of Los Angeles.
Without question, Los Angeles has a lot to offer. It’s a massive city with dozens of iconic areas. I suggest next time you are planning a trip to LA, consider adding 3 to 4 days to explore this incredible region.
Here are five reasons to visit, plus where we stayed and what you should pack:
1. The Drive
Getting to Solvang and Los Olivos involves a beautiful drive on the 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway; the picturesque highway can take you up the entire coast of California and into Washington State. There will likely be traffic getting out of the greater LA area, but the ride is incredible once you do. On the way, make sure to stop at the Santa Barbara pier. The views are beautiful, there are great restaurants, and several places offer wine! How lovely is this place? I love their ocean theme, wine, and friendly staff. Santa Barbara pier also has spotless public bathrooms if you need to go.
If you love wine, you will love this area. This region comprises dozens of vineyards. There are cute wine shops everywhere, and they all offer tastings. There is nothing like drinking small batch wines among the vines they were harvested from previously. The prices are also great, especially compared to LA, and there is something for every palette.
The stores in Solvang are as unique as their wines. No mainstream shops here. Tiny independently owned boutiques are the name of the game here. Thank goodness! It was refreshing to wander into these stores and see things I never see anywhere else. In addition to clothing retailers, numerous gift shops sell fun, quirky, beautiful, and unique gifts specific to the area. There are also antique and thrift shops, which made me so happy! I spent a lot of time in one particular boutique. Head over to my YouTube channel here to see why I was so obsessed with this place.
The food in this region is as good as its wine. Solvang is home to the Pea Soup Anderson restaurant and hotel. People come from all over for a bowl of this soup. Other fantastic restaurants to try:
- Solvang Restaurant
- Solvang Brewing Company
- Belgian Cafe
- Paula’s Pancake House
- Mad & Vin
- Succulent Café
- Fitzpatrick’s Tavern
- Mortensen’s Bakery
5. The history and culture
Solvang was founded over 100 years ago and is known as “The Danish Capital of America.” Solvang’s rich legacy traces back to 1911, when brave Danish-Americans navigated the fields from Iowa to lay out a settlement in California. They bought 9,000 sun-doused sections of land of the previous Rancho San Carlos de Jonata and arranged their new local area nearby the memorable Old Mission Santa Inés. To protect and advance Danish culture, the organizers developed a Danish society school and a church. Then they constructed Atterdag College, which opened in 1914 and taught through 1970. Solvang welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year to immerse themselves in northern European culture, food, and one-of-a-kind store shopping.
Where we stayed
Pea Soup Andersons Hotel—I loved this place! The staff is friendly, the hotel is super charming, the pool is heated, and there is a jacuzzi. I don’t know what the other hotels might be like, but this one is worth booking if they have vacancies. We stayed for two nights.
Packing for a trip to Solvang
We were there in the Spring, over Memorial Day weekend, and the weather was 75 and sunny during the day, dropping into the 50s at night. It was also very windy. Keeping that in mind, I recommend bringing your favorite spring outfits; whatever your style, Solvang is very instagrammamble. Think floral dresses, wide-leg pants, fedora hats, linen anything, and comfy shoes. Flats are highly advised. Pack a warm coat and maybe even a scarf for when temperatures drop in the evening. Solvang is a walking place, so high heels would be incredibly out of place. There were also a lot of people in athleisure, especially the locals. Dressing there is like Duval Street in Key West.
Best time to travel to Solvang
We highly recommend going during the week, if possible. We arrived there on Thursday, and things were busy, but nothing like we saw during the weekend. Perhaps because it was Memorial Day Weekend, but by Saturday, there were four times more people in town. There was a lot of traffic and lines for restaurants.