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What to do in Solvang, California’s Danish delight

Windmills, thatched roofs, Danish bakeries, and wooden clogs—Solvang still delights with its old-world charm. But it’s not just the same old fare from family road trips of yore. An infusion of new cuisine, tasting rooms, boutique shops, and nightlife has given Solvang a burst of energy, solidifying this walkable haven as a destination in itself.

Start the day with coffee and baked goods

Pastries and a mug of coffee from Good Seed Coffee Boutique

Step into the handsomely decorated Good Seed Coffee Boutique for your morning espresso, cold brew, or Israeli tea and a savory bite. Its organic bakery offers 8 types of sourdough bread loaves (preorders highly recommended), along with cinnamon rolls, seasonal biscuits, cookies, and more (with vegan and gluten-free options).

Find something to read

A bust of writer Hans Christian Anderson in his namesake museum in Solvang

Learn about the Danish fairy-tale scribe at the tiny and intriguing Hans Christian Andersen Museum, where you can find original tomes, some of his silhouette work, and a model of his childhood home. Afterward, shop downstairs at The Book Loft for all manner of reading material.

Sip and snack

Woman pouring a glass of red at Alma Rosa Winery

Across the street from the Hans Christian Andersen Museum is Parc Place. The newly renovated retail space of tasting rooms and boutique shops surrounds a courtyard with ample seating and firepits. Alma Rosa Winery is a standout, with an airy, modern tasting room and a friendly staff pouring wines from Bosnian American winemaker Samra Morris. Tasting fee, $25.

A chicken sandwich from Peasants Feast

The seasonal, made-from-scratch food at Peasants Feast highlights the relationships that chef Michael Cherney and his wife, Sarah, have with local farmers. Try the couple’s Instagram-famous sandwiches, addictive tacos, impressive wine and craft beer list, and killer frozen lime pie. Across the street, the Cherneys’ Peasants Deli & Market has sandwiches and gourmet provisions to go.

An employee behind the counter at Cailloux Cheese Shop

Choose from stacks of fromage in the display case at the European-style Cailloux Cheese Shop (named for owner and cheesemonger Janelle Norman’s late family dog). Also try some of the goodies that line the shelves (including crackers, olives, pasta, wine, beer, and cider), or order a custom “care package” to take with you to a nearby winery.

Sit down for lunch (try the artisanal grilled cheese or a cured-meats plate) on the spacious patio that overlooks the Parc Place courtyard.

A truck loaded with barrels at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard

While away a few hours in the lush garden at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, sipping wine (or frosé when it’s warm) and noshing on a cheese plate or exploring the peach orchard. Known for its sustainability practices, Buttonwood is also a working farm with almond and olive trees, a beekeeping area, and 10 acres for growing seasonal produce. Musical and culinary events attract weekend crowds.

Buttonwood is currently expanding to include a full food menu and a general store featuring produce grown on-site. Wine tasting, $25.

You may also like: Spend a perfect fall weekend in California’s Santa Ynez Valley

Discover new dining options

Woman sitting in a booth at Coast Range Vaquero Bar

Coast Range & Vaquero Bar serves seafood, steaks, and pasta; try the hamachi crudo and the miso-glazed black cod, and the brioche doughnuts for dessert. After dinner, listen to records in the adjacent bar while sipping drinks with imaginative twists, such as the Ramblin’ Man margarita that includes pineapple and champagne. 

Fried snapper served along citrus slices at Sear Steakhouse

Sear Steakhouse pays as much attention to its vegetarian and seafood dishes as it does to its steak. Owner and Executive Chef Nathan Peitso keeps things local by relying on his close network of farmers, fishers, and ranchers while highlighting Santa Barbara County wines. Try the steak frites and the local whole snapper, fried and smothered in fermented chile garlic honey, with strawberry butter cake for dessert.

You may also like: Coast Range & Vaquero Bar brings big-city sophistication to Solvang

Imbibe at a tiki lounge

A pair of colorful drinks on the bar at High Roller Tiki Lounge

Before opening High Roller Tiki Lounge, which recently moved to an expanded location, owner Michael Cobb worked in Disney hospitality for 17 years. You’ll find a bit of that influence in this colorful tiki bar that serves wine-based and liquor-alternative cocktails in intricate mugs and glowing glassware. Listen to live music on weekends while you sip a Suffering Scandinavian and try to find the hidden Mickey.

You may also like: The top 10 things to do on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip along Route 1 in California

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