If you had one day to spend near Solvang, how many activities would you try to fit in? For us, we stopped at the Channel Island Visitor Center, Nojoqui Falls (I wrote about it here), Ostrichland, Solvang shops and sights, Clairmont Lavender Farm, and Sunny Fields playground. A very full day but with so much to see and do, we really should’ve stayed in a hotel for a night or two. I wish we had more time to explore other places as well, but I’m grateful we got to see quite a lot already! 🙂
Above is a photo taken at Ostrichland. I think it may have been one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in awhile. My kids really loved feeding them, but more about that later….
We began our day driving in the early morning. It was quite a far trip for us, so by the time we got to the Channel Island’s Visitor Center (address here), we were relieved we can take a nice long rest break and turn it into an educational venture as well.
Everything was beautiful; the center and its exhibits was well organized and the kids love anything aquatic, so the tide pool (with a secret observation area) and the three story dive immersion tower was a hit. At the very top of the tower, there was an observation deck with a few telescopes to view the islands. There are a total of 5 islands (Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, San Miguel, and Anacapa Islands), but all boat trips were cancelled for the day due to bad weather. No matter, because there was so much to do at the visitor center. The kids had fun learning about the islands, wildlife, and completing their Junior Ranger Program. We even saw a huge starfish slowly eat a mussel with its tentacles.
There was also a nice garden outside with all the native plants that were found on the islands. The rangers told us there is quite a bloom going on this year on the islands, and even at this garden area, and we definitely saw quite a few wildflowers, predominantly yellow. We’ll definitely have to return another time to visit and explore the 5 islands!
Next, we enjoyed a short and scenic hike at the Nojoqui Falls in Goleta. I wrote about that hike in a previous post here.
After the hike, we headed over to Ostrichland (address here). Where else can one find ostriches and emus to feed?! It was quite the adventure! There was a small store that had a penny press, ostrich eggs for consumption (huge!), ostrich jerky, decoupaged eggs, ostrich feather dusters, stuffed animals, clothing, and souvenirs. They also had quite the shabby chic garden decor, which I particularly enjoyed. 🙂
We paid a little extra to feed the ostriches and they instructed us to hold the bowl with both hands. I understood why after I attempted to feed the first ostrich. These guys were hungry and their pecking was a bit intense. Not only that, they already figured out they could try to grab the rim of the bowl with their beaks and pull, claiming all the contents of the bowl. I held onto the feed very tightly, so we were able to feed maybe 6 different ostriches and enjoy them in action. My kids loved watching them eat…and admiring these tall, gorgeous animals up close (well I did too :)) We also observed some emus, and they were making a low rumbling noise, that reminded me of velociraptors in Jurassic World. A fellow visitor made a comment about that too and wondered if these birds were descendants of dinosaurs!
Next up, we drove into the heart of Solvang (here). It was super crowded when we arrived and I almost got run over twice just crossing the street, even using the pedestrian designated crosswalk! Luckily I stopped, because the cars were not stopping! I wasn’t going to let that ruin my adventure though. We enjoyed some fudge, ableskivers, juice, and we admired the statues around the main park, and meandered into the souvenir shops. I wanted to try their famous pea soup, but the lines were so long and the kids were getting ancy, so we had to leave.
On our way to Clairmont Lavender Farm (address here), my youngest fell asleep, so my hubby kept the other kids entertained, while I made a pit stop at the small store. I was a bit disappointed that the lavender wasn’t in bloom yet, but I was happy to buy some pillow mist, lavender soap, and facial scrub. We will have to return when the lavender is in bloom (the owner said he anticipates full bloom in May or June this year). I have fond memories of my oldest kid running through the purple haze in full bloom when she was younger. The view and smell was amazing…
Our last stop was the much anticipated Sunny Fields Park for the kids (map here). My youngest one instantly awoke when we arrived here and got up and out the car very quickly! We saved this one for the last because I knew once we stopped here, the kids would not want to leave. I was right. This was the place the kids got all of their remaining energy out… running through the towers, climbing the stairs, swinging on swings and going down slides, pretending to be the farmer at the farm, pretending to live at the shabby chic house and sail a boat…and that wasn’t even all of it!
The sun was setting by the time the kids agreed to leave. So we started the long drive home after a quick stop to get some dinner. They had a good nap in the car during the drive back, and we were all ready for a good night’s rest when we arrived home.
What a fun and full day! What other places near or in Solvang would you visit?
Thanks for reading! 🙂