Just outside of Santa Barbara, California, sits the quaint and incredibly picturesque town of Solvang, California. This is a Danish town founded in 1911. The buildings are modeled after traditional architecture in Denmark. Danish food, Danish history and Danish souvenirs abound. This destination is just a five hour drive north from San Diego, California, but with a feeling as though you are worlds away. Solvang has a unique old world charm full of history that must be experienced. Come eat, explore, and enjoy!
Road Trip to Solvang with the Whole Family – Dogs Too!
My family loves road trips and we love our family time, but we also love our four-legged family! We recently added a dog to our brood. While the town of Solvang, California, provides endless amounts of fun and entertainment for kids and adults, it is also a doggie paradise. I chose to visit Solvang for many reasons, one of them being their dog friendly reputation. They absolutely lived up to that reputation for our stay. Our fur babies want adventure too, so instead of hiring a dog sitter or boarding your dog for your vacation, bring them with you!
There are five hotels in Solvang that are “pet friendly,” including the one I selected, the Royal Copenhagen Inn. I needed kid friendly and comfortable too of course, and our hotel delivered!
Royal Copenhagen Inn
This hotel is right in the heart of town but had a secluded and private feel. For an extra $20 per night, you can bring your pooch along. This hotel offered a pool and a game area. I don’t mean video games either. What a breath of fresh air it was to see ping pong, miniature golf and life size Checkers available for the kids…and adults…ahem. I was so nice to come back after a full day of exploring and unwind with these amenities right outside our door. A comfy bed and a hot shower didn’t hurt either. The Royal Copenhagen offered a free continental breakfast…including various danish pastries. Every morning was a treat. If that wasn’t enough, they also provide what they call the “Secret Garden” on the grounds so your pampered pet can do their business in private. It is completely fenced in and tucked away with well manicured greenery and patio furniture. They supply the bags and trash facilities for picking up after your pet.
Things to Know
- Dogs are welcome all throughout town. A handful of restaurants welcome dogs on their patio areas. The waiters will bring out water for your thirsty pooch and a few even have a dog menu available.
- Solvang is BUSY!! I don’t mean over crowded and loud, I mean a lot going on in a small space. Don’t rush yourself.
- If you decide to bring your dog along, make sure that the dog is good with people and children. The kids love to stop and pet the dogs and the sidewalks can be busy. If your pooch is anti social in any way, it will be dangerous for other tourists, not to mention putting a damper on your experience.
- When exploring town, WALK. Traffic is slow and pedestrians rule. People are constantly crossing the streets which makes for more traffic. Leave your car at the hotel if you can and enjoy the exercise.
- If you do choose to drive and not walk, all public parking is free.
What to Do?
- Explore the city center: The history, the buildings, the park. Blink and you miss one. Take your time and bring your dog! Some stores allowed us to bring our pup inside while we explored which was super convenient.
- Eat! Solvang is known for their sweets, especially the pastries. Good gracious the pastries! Did I mention the pastries: Chocolate, apple, lemon, raspberry, cinnamon…but I digress. If you take a trip to Solvang, it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to eat your weight in tasty treats.
- Shop and drink: Hand crafted jewelry, art galleries, wineries, bakeries and coffee shops, oh my!
Find Adventure Just Outside of Solvang
Solvang is surrounded by mountains, hiking trails and gorgeous parks! Take in the scenery with the whole family.
Ostrichland- A quick 5 minute drive down the road brings you here. An ostrich and emu farm where you can check out these ginormous birds AND feed them. The fee for feeding is $6 for adults and $3 for kids. It’s worth every penny. This gets you up close and personal with the birds, and their mannerisms and their noises. We were laughing the entire time! I highly recommend this place.
Nojoqui Falls Park- Being a mother of 3 kids, I’ve seen some parks in my day. This may very well be the most beautiful park I’ve ever been to. The playground itself was just average, but the actual park was spectacular. Tucked away on a remote road lined with trees, this park was lush and green with shade, picnic tables, a hiking trail and a waterfall. We enjoyed a picnic lunch, played a little soccer and made the trip to the falls. A rock slide has closed the area right before the falls but it was still gorgeous.
Figueroa Mountains- These mountains are 20 minutes outside of town and are spectacular in the spring. Bring a lunch, bring the dog and take a hiking trail or just take a leisurely drive up the winding mountain and enjoy spectacular views and blooming wildflowers.
Where to eat- No matter what you are craving or how picky a family member may be, there is something for everyone in Solvang.
Fresco Valley Cafe- Dog friendly patio dining with gourmet salads, hearty sandwiches, wine and bottled craft beers. A special dog menu is also available.
Mortensen’s Danish Bakery- This place was packed! So many pastry choices, plus chocolates and cookies. Yes please!
Solvang Trolley Ice Cream Parlor- Hand made unique ice cream flavors in an adorable little shop tucked away from the street. They even had a whiskey and caramel flavored ice cream that I had to try of course. 3 free samples per customer…just saying.
Solvang Brewing Company- Warm and welcoming with a fireplace in the center, this place has everything from pasta to pastrami. Add in the hand crafted microbrews and it’s a win win. They also offer a dog friendly patio.
Solvang is warm and welcoming, charming and clean.If you are trying to plan a family adventure with a true “get away” feel, this is the place! Tucked in between the mountains, you are surrounded by culture and wilderness. Eat, unplug and reconnect with your kids. Your family will thank you and you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t make the trip sooner.