A morning in Solvang, CA: 4 independent and local spots to visit (that aren't wineries)
Solvang, CA is a full town dedicated to Danish heritage, and it is filled with independent and local shops. If you have time and the desire to venture beyond the wine tasting rooms, here's a few local businesses you should visit!
I've had many Southern California residents tell me about Solvang. Some say it's a bit too touristy, while others say it is a must visit. I lean more on the side of it being a must visit, as its streets are lined with independent, local, and small businesses. Yes, some of them sell tons of tourist-y gear and souvenirs, but for me it is about the spirit of a community. And this community truly embraces what it is about! Any place that commits so fully to a particular theme or identity will naturally stand out to visitors looking for an escape, making it a tourist destination. If you go at an off time to avoid crowds and visit the right spots, it makes for an enjoyable morning or afternoon. (At night, the streets are lined with twinkle lights, so if you can get an evening in, that's even better. It feels magical.)
Here's the three spots we visited and that made for a wonderful morning/early afternoon in Solvang:
This the perfect spot to grab breakfast or brunch, and they serve it all day! So if you're slow to rise on a weekend like we are, this is ideal for your schedule. We're vegetarian, so we always assess a place's menu for good options, and this one had plenty! We enjoyed a quinoa bowl with veggies, scrambled eggs with some exceptional tater tots (I'm a sucker for a good tater tot, I swear I could have a whole blog dedicated to tasting french fries and tater tots), and a chocolate waffle.
It's also worth mentioning the lovely dining space, both indoor and outdoor. We loved eating outside on the patio in the sunshine, which also offered plenty of shade for a hotter day. This is definitely a good place to start if you wake up in Solvang!
I had to stop in here because of my Swedish heritage! My Dad was Swedish, and his grandparents came here from Sweden. Since he recently passed, I wanted to honor him with a visit. I sampled some authentic, handmade Polkagris, as this is the only Polkagris bakery in the US! They have tons of different and unique flavors, and they'll let you try before you buy.
If you've followed indieland for awhile, then you know how much I love independent bookstores, and there was no way I was leaving Solvang without visiting The Book Loft. It's located around the corner from The Swedish Candy Factory. True to its location and community, it stocks plenty of Scandinavian books as well as the many genres you'd expect to find at a larger independent bookstore. They sell both used and new--if you venture upstairs, you'll find the used and rare books, as well as the Hans Christian Andersen museum.
I felt a particularly strong tie to this bookstore again because of the Swedish heritage. My dad was a coin collector and they had a whole book on Scandinavian coins! My dad also loved squirrels and used to feed them with my great grandpa, and as soon as I entered in children's section, there wasn't just or two but THREE books featuring squirrels! Of course, squirrels are a popular animal to feature in fall-themed picture books, but it made me smile nonetheless. They did a great job of making an inviting display that brings joy to the kids and conjures up warm memories for the adults. It's the magic of a well-curated display!
If you have time, definitely check out the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, as this will also take you down memory lane!
This whimsical spot just opened last summer. There's fairy-themed decor, crystals, oracle cards, and much more. If you have a fairy garden, you'll love this spot. This is a fun one to explore and check out all the intricate details on the handmade decorations. And as you can see, the entrance is quite inviting!
I'm sure we'll be headed back to Solvang during the holiday season, and I'll have more recommendations! For Southern Californians, this is worth a drive for a weekend or even a quick day trip. You'll have no shortage of indie spots to check out.
If you've been to Solvang and have a favorite spot to recommend, let us know! I'd love to add it to my list for next time.