The names Solvang, CA does not usually come off as fun kid city. But this American Danish city is a quaint slice of Europe in the San Ynez Valley with many kid friendly activities. The best part is many of these are very picturesque spots with natural surroundings.
10 Things to Do with Kids in Solvang, CA
1. Sunny Field Play Ground – Oh the kids have got to see this play ground. It is such a whimsical and magical place for the kids. It is not your run of the mill park with slides and swings. While they have those there, there is much more. They have plenty of play houses with inbuilt, painted accessories for pretend play. Many castles to tunnel through or chase your friends. The barn they have is fantastic. There is a market front for a fun role play time.They have those tire swings. On hot summer days you even have misters. Very cool! There is a small shaded area with benches for the parents. Although the park structure itself is not shaded and on hot the kids might get uncomfortable. Honestly with all the fun things around most kids will not even feel the heat.
2. Ostrich Land – Everyone should stop by the Ostrich Farm when they are in Solvang. Where else can you get to feed these ginormous birds? Yes feed them! For a fee you get a bowl of bird food and you very rigidly hold your hand and the birds voraciously eat the food right off your bowl. Older kids thoroughly enjoy this experience or totally get freaked out. Know your child. They also have emus. Even if you are not feeding, it is a pretty sight to watch these birds up close. It is just as great to watch the farm while driving on the near by E 246. The attached gift shops have humongous ostrich eggs which are always fun to look at for the kids.
3. Quick Silver Ranch – This activity is great for an hour, more if your child is really into horses.What you have there is a beautiful ranch full of miniature horses. If you are lucky you can even see the foals trying to stand up and follow the mom around. While it is not a petting zoo per se, the curious miniature horses quite often come close to the fence and the kids pet them to their hearts content. It is fun to watch these tiny beauties and generally kids get to enjoy nature and run around on the grounds. They have good parking on the ranch. No restrooms.
4. Lavender Farms – Around April or May is the best time to go this farm since the lavender will be full bloom. However even the flowers are no in bloom, since it a great place to take your nature loving little explorers. The entrance to the farms has a bunch of tree lining the mud road. Perfect open spot for the kids to play pretend. The attached store has a wonderful homemade lavender soaps, lotions and other products. They don’t have restrooms.
5. Nojoqui Falls/ Park – To get to the falls you need to take a very short 1/2-3/4 mile hike from the park itself. The hike is very easy for adults and even the younger kids will enjoy the hike. It is more of a nature walk than a hike. The last few steps towards the fall would need some assistance for the kids since that part tends to be a little slippery or steep. Other than that it will be amazing walk among nature. The kids have tons of opportunities for nature inspired play along the way ( think sticks, rocks and hollow logs.) It doesn’t get better. The falls is a hit or miss. Best time to come is during the spring or winter. The summer tends to get dry and the falls is almost non-existent. If you inclined to see the water, come during the cooler months. If you want to enjoy the process with the gets, anytime is a good time. The park downhill has a great playground and vast open space for running around.
6. Seeing Spots Farm – This again is a fun farm/ranch type setting for little kids to enjoy. They have miniature donkeys and the kids get to ride them for a small fee. Apart from the cute donkeys, they have turkeys ( so hard to pet of course), hens,goats and ducks. The attached parking has a cool horse statue for pretend play and photo opp.
7. Solvang Mission – Visiting the mission at Solvang is a great family activity. Yes even younger kids can enjoy the tour. While the parents try to absorb the history behind the old Mission, the kids will find joy in exploring the rooms, especially the kitchen and dining area of the mission. Pretend food, utensils and the dining area is set up in a very realistic manner. The kids can also explore the paintings adorning the walls. Once you are out of self-guided tour, you can come upon an expansive beautiful garden. Great spot for relaxing, playing catch and watching and petting the puppies.
8. Go Apple Picking in the fall – There are only a very few places in California for apple picking. Apple Lane Farm is one of them. It is a little on the smaller size, perfect for younger kids. Go later in the season to have a wide variety of apples. Fun family time for California kids to enjoy apple picking like the rest of the states!
9. Eat at Paula’s Pancakes – If your family visits Solvang, you should at least once at Paula’s. Their breakfast menu is amazing and everything tastes fresh. But the only drawback is service is ok and the wait time is atrocious. It is a small establishment so you’d be better off getting there as early as possible to secure a proper seat. Even with all the difficulties, you have got to try the food at Paula’s.
10. Lake Cachuma Recreation Area – Lake Cachuma is just outside of Solvang in Santa Barbara county. The drive is not that bad and is worth it. The recreations area has numerous water activities although swimming is prohibited. Body contact with water is not possible since the lake provides drinking water to the surrounding areas. Nature programs galore inside recreations area- ranger programs, nature walks, nature shows. The kids will be plenty entertained. There is a play ground inside as well.
Don’t be tricked into thinking Solvang is for couples only. Solvang is a very beautiful, picturesque place, surrounded by nature. With these activities, you kids will be happily entertained during your stay at Solvang. Don’t forget the world famous wineries for mom and dad.