Visited: May, 2016

As part of our Trip down the California Highway 1, we needed one last unique stop before heading home.

You can’t beat Solvang, the Danish capital of the US! Solvang is a small town near Los Angeles that embodies a little jewel of a town precisely made for tourists.

First of all, when you arrive- find parking! On busy days, particularly the weekend, parking can be rather a hassle and people are hovering around in their cars waiting for spots to open. We parked mid-way down the main street for free. About 5000 people live in Solvang, but each year more than a million people visit there!

This was our first trip to this quaint town and didn’t know what to expect. Largely we wandered and peacefully looked at all the sights, enjoying getting lost.

There are lots of pastries and wineries available here, as well as many Danish tales being told in the architecture and gift shops.

What We Saw


Gift shops marking the usual wooden shoes and touristy figurines. Dutch handmade lace and kitchenware, including the unique Dutch pans (for Dutch babies). A year round Christmas shop with wooden candle statues (really popular in Europe), ornaments, and most of all: pastries, restaurants, and every street consisted of a sweet shop for ice cream or chocolates. 


Hans Christian Andersen is an important figure in Denmark. In the US, all children grew up knowing his stories he wrote for children. There is a museum dedicated to him in Solvang but we didn’t visit. There are also: street names, a park, a statue, commemorative plates, cups, collectors spoons, ornaments, and even murals dedicated to him. Quite a cult following, but the man did give us “The Little Mermaid”, “The Snow Queen” aka Frozen, “Princess and the Pea” and many more.

There are horse carriage rides available as well, we didn’t take one; but they were something like $12 a person to go through the town telling the history of it’s growth. I just loved the horses.

What We Ate

Solvang Trolley

Our sweet shop stop was at the Solvang Trolley, all the ice cream is made in house and the smell of fresh waffle cones baking greets you when you walk in. It’s a bit tucked away from the main street but you can easily find their sign directing you to the stop.

Overall time spent: 3 hours. Wandering, shopping, and just enjoying the scenery. There are 4 windmills in Solvang, little elf houses scattered around town, and lots of carved details that should take a moment to be admired.

Directions: On Highway 101, exit at Buellton and continue on Highway 246.

View our Route 1 Road Trip Plan


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