The Memorial Day holiday weekend is all most here. First and foremost, on Monday, 5/29/17, at Noon in Solvang Park–join with officials, veterans, family and friends to commemorate all men and women who have died in military service for the USA. This ceremony is free, everyone is welcome to attend and will feature a performance by the Santa Ynez Wind Ensemble; speakers Rear Adm. Brian Brown, vice commander of the Joint Forces Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base; Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans; and members of American Legion Post 160 and the Boy Scouts of America. A flyover of vintage military aircraft is also anticipated. A heartfelt thank you to all who have served esepcially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Throughout this Memorial holiday weekend, there’s certainly plenty of places and opportunities to celebrate with a picnic! If your family is like mine, picnics in the park are a favorite. There are choices aplenty for perfect picnic settings around Solvang. First of all, did you know ALL Solvang parks are FREE and open to the public daily? Solvang Park & Gazebo right in the center of town on Mission Drive at First Street. For a more active group, check out Hans Christian Andersen Park at 775 Atterdag Road, with a skate park, play areas and tennis courts within easy walking distance of downtown. Then, there’s the super-fun, built by the community Sunny Fields Park on Alamo Pintado Road with a Danish-themed wooden play structure, swings, rope bridge, picnic area, ball field and three brand new beach volleyball courts. For more details, visit http://www.solvangusa.com/things-to-do/outdoor-activities/
So you’re driving east into Solvang on Highway 246, you glance over and see a rather surprising sight–dozens of ostriches grazing in a field! You’ll definitely want to pull over and visit OstrichLand USA, where a highlight is getting to feed the resident emus and ostriches. Did you know ostriches are the largest & fastest birds in the world and can weigh up to 350 pounds and live up to 75 years? If you think this place looks familiar, you may have seen it featured in the Oscar-winning movie Sideways as well as The Simpsons TV show and most recently, The Great Food Truck Race in 2016. Then, a bit further along Highway 246 is Flag Is Up Farms, home of Monty Roberts, the “Man Who Listens to Horses,” where you’re welcome to see the equine facilities and trainers in action. And for some FREE, total cute moments, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-3:00 p.m., you can visit Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch over on Alamo Pintado Road, a fascinating breeding facility for 34-inch-and-under horses! Guaranteed family fun for kids of all ages. For more details and ideas, check out http://www.solvangusa.com/explore-solvang/what-to-do/family-fun/
Just 15 minutes from downtown Solvang, you and yours can discover all the natural wonders of Cachuma Lake Recreation Area—with winter rains, the lake itself is over 50% full and vibrant as ever. There’s so much to do (or not to do) at Cachuma—from hiking, boating, kayaking, canoeing and fishing plus amazing guided nature cruises aboard The Osprey, a 30-passenger pontoon boat. You can see deer, herons, hawks, and the resident bald eagle pair if you’re lucky (not to mention some amazing flora, especially this year). Cachuma is a gorgeous place for a relaxing day or a picnic on the shore, a hike or a stroll.There is a general store, marina plus the very interactive Neal Taylor Nature Center. Year-round, there’s free Nature Hikes leaving from the Center at 10am on Saturday mornings plus the Junior Ranger Program. Park admission is only $10 per car and so worth it! For more details and directions, visit www.solvangusa.com/directory/cachuma-lake-recreation-area/
It’s official, Spring has sprung here! Of course, year-round, there’s plenty of room to run, jump, play and experience family fun in Solvang, yet especially this time since it’s “spring break,” vacations are in full bloom. Do be sure to enjoy the wildflowers practically everywhere you look! One of my favorite places for viewing nature’s colorful flora is off Figueroa Mountain Road in the nearby Los Padres National Forest. Remember, all Solvang public parks around town have free admission and are open daily sunrise to sunset. Solvang’s Hans Christian Andersen Park is a woodsy green space with picnic areas, tennis courts, a playground and free Skate Park for boarders.
The whimsical wooden playground and ball field at Sunny Fields Park is one of our personal family favorites—and just dedicated this week, you can play volleyball on brand new courts called “Sunny Beach.” Did you know that 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Todd Rogers hails from Solvang? (see photo at left)
For some two-horse powered fun that kids of all ages can enjoy, hop aboard the Solvang Trolley–a historic wooden streetcar pulled by a pair of impressive draft horses. If you’re feeling really adventurous, how about the two-wheel Segway of Solvang tour? Visit nearby OstrichLand USA to see & feed the largest & fastest birds in the world. Discover Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch offering free viewing of 34-inch-and-under equines from 10am-3pm Monday-Saturday. For more ideas, visit http://www.solvangusa.com/explore-solvang/what-to-do/family-fun/
If you and your family want to experience a “hot” celebration, then be sure to attend the FREE annual Solvang Christmas Tree Burn in the fields at Old Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Drive in downtown Solvang from 5:00-7:00 p.m. this Friday, 1/6/17. The lyrics of the classic tune “Hot Hot Hot” really capture the action “It’s in the air – Celebration time — Keep up this spirit — Come on let’s do it — Feeling hot hot hot!”
This popular annual event is supervised by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department as one of the largest fire safety demonstrations and community gatherings on California’s Central Coast; and coordinated by the Solvang Parks & Recreation Department. There will be free, live entertainment as well as refreshments for purchase. All area residents are invited to bring their tree (stands & ornaments must be removed) to the burn pile between now and Noon on 1/6/17. Join together to see this powerful spectacle ignite the New Year and herald the end of Solvang’s annual Julefest Celebration. For more details, call Solvang Parks & Recreation at 805-688-PLAY.
Can you believe it’s almost here? It’s the start of 2016 Solvang Julefest! Say Yule-fest and you’ll sound like a native! This Friday (12/2/16) at 5:00 p.m. you and your family are invited to join the festivities as we light-up the “new” drought-resistant LED Community Tree in Solvang Park during a free ceremony featuring caroling, live entertainment and dancing ballerinas.
You & yours definitely need to experience the Julefest Parade this Saturday (12/3/16) at 11:00 a.m. with 300+ participants marching, rolling, trotting and strolling thru downtown Solvang. It starts at the Vets Hall heading west along festively decorated Mission Drive; to Fourth Place then east on Copenhagen Drive back to Alisal Road and the Old Mission. I’m really looking forward to announcing the Julefest parade again, too!
Plus, there will be free visits with Santa in Solvang Park (Mission Drive & First Street). When you arrive, it’s first come, first seated with the jolly old elf. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the moments! Click here for Santa’s schedule per message from the North Pole!
Other Julefest festivities include the Holiday Wine & Beer Walk (December 10 & 11) as well as the traditional Nativity Pageant (December 11) and Shop, Mingle & Jingle retail specials all around town. Julefest concludes with the Annual Christmas Tree Burn on Friday, January 6, 2017. All Solvang Julefest events are open to the public with free admission (except Julefest Wine & Beer Walk). For more info, please call 805-688-6144; stop by the Solvang Visitors Center at 1639 Copenhagen Drive (open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) or visit www.SolvangUSA.com/julefest
Here’s a fun way for you and your family to get into the Thanksgiving holiday spirit with some old-fashioned fun! This Saturday (11/19/16) is the 103rd edition of Turkey Bingo in Solvang. The tradition began here in 1914 when competitors played regular bingo for 10 cents per card, per game, with the hope of winning a live turkey. Yes, that’s right, if you got B-I-N-G-O on your card, you won a live bird! You can imagine the mayhem that ensued with squawking turkeys in burlap bags in the room! Well, some things have changed in the last century—the prizes for B-I-N-G-O are now frozen turkeys (60 of them from El Rancho Market)—yet the price per card, per game is still 10 cents! The event was started by Danish-American families and now is coordinated by members of the Alpha Pi charitable organization, whose mission is to assist locals in need of help with everything from groceries to medical bills All ages are invited to join in the friendly fun at the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall, 1745 Mission Drive. Refreshments will also be available for purchase. Doors open at 5 p.m. and bingo games start at 6 p.m. and will continue until the last (frozen) turkey is won. Gobble gobble!