Things to Do in Rustic (Yet Magical) Los Alamos, CA

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Margrit Jacobsen

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  • Domestic Travel

  • USA

  • Food & Wine

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Solo Travel

  • Foodie

  • Wineries

  • Shopping

field and hills with clouds in the sky during sunset
Curator’s statement

Los Alamos is situated in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country - perfect for a full day of exploration, or a long and leisurely weekender. Still somewhat of a hidden gem, Los Alamos is a food & wine lover's dream, equipped with multiple tasting rooms, nearby vineyards, fine cuisine, and of course Bob's Well Bread (which supplies what some might consider the best fresh-baked bread and pastries in all of Southern California). Should art & antiques be more your cup of tea, notable Bell Street offers plenty of quirky shops and galleries for perusing, all easily accessible by foot or bike! A quaint and charming pioneer town with history to boot, Los Alamos forces you to slow down and enjoy the simple (and locally produced) pleasures.

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Where to stay in Los Alamos, CA

Skyview Los Alamos

Iconic roadside motel-turned-boutique luxury with a pool and working vineyard.

Alamo Motel

Stylish ranch-style motel with a rustic-chic vibe and a cozy wine tasting room.

Victorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast

Set in a 1864 Victorian mansion, this B&B boasts quirky individually themed suites.

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Things to do in Los Alamos, CA

hillside with yellow leaves during daytime

There are a few delightful antique stores to browse on Bell Street, Sister's Gift and Home checks off all the boxes. Beautifully curated and with condensed treasures in each room, you will be sure to leave with something fun and unique for your home.

Day Trips from Los Alamos

Solvang - Don't miss out on traditional Danish kringle and strudel at Mortensens, and stock up on the best ornaments at their year-round Christmas store, Jule Hus :-)

Los Olivos - An abundance of more wine, food and gift shops to delight and feed the soul.

Jalama - Camp at picturesque Jalama Beach, and be sure to try the "World Famous Jalama Burger" at the grill.

Places to eat & drink in Los Alamos, CA

bread and cup of coffee on wood table

Bob's Well Bread - A must in Los Alamos, there is no better place to start your day. I always go for the breakfast sandwich with house-made turkey sausage (and a side pastry), but really you can't go wrong here. Sit outside under the overgrown shady tree in their peaceful courtyard, surrounded by growing veg and flowers. If you're lucky you'll catch some live local music- always a treat. Most important though, be sure to grab a fresh loaf of bread or baguette on your way out :-)

Plenty On Bell - A creature of habit and my usuals, I have yet to try this spot, but the patio is always bustling, especially for breakfast and lunch. Or perhaps stake out a spot around the fire pit under the twinkling lights for a cozy dinner.

Norman at the Skyview Los Alamos - The motel's very own restaurant, Norman is a great alternative if you are a guest and don't want to leave the premises. For brunch, lunch, bites by the pool, or a romantic dinner for two, Norman serves all purposes (including happy hour starting at 3pm, need we say more?)

Pico Los Alamos - Always closed on Mondays & Tuesdays (be sure to always check closures as many establishments start their week on Wednesday) I've missed out on this organic and sustainable hotspot. Described as "eclectic California cuisine" be sure to pair your meal with a small, handcrafted wine. The open and airy dining space- both indoor and outdoor- always looks incredibly appealing, particularly on a balmy summer evening. They also have an equally inviting cottage out back, open for booking.

Lo-Fi Wines - A personal favorite (which also has a tasting room in Los Olivos) shop for natural wine, try the Malbec and the Cab Franc..or any red for that matter. You can't go wrong here-- records and vino, always a win. You will definitely want a bottle (or two) to-go.

Bell's - I don't know if it was the food or the wine (likely both), but I left in a euphoric state after dining here my first time. Helmed by husband and wife team- Daisy & Greg Ryan, the experience will leave you in haute anticipation for your next meal. With the ever-evolving french-inspired menu based on locally sourced ingredients, just go with it, and try everything - each dish feels (and tastes) better than the last. And don't forget dessert. Sit inside - the intimate dining space leaves you chatting with your neighboring diners, all while enjoying the meals being prepared in the open kitchen environment and surrounding greenery.

Casa Dumetz - Step into this unique tasting room – with its checkerboard floor and Rhône-focused wines across the wall, Sonja will take care of all your needs, starting with a special tasting flight of six wines. And don't miss the opportunity to try delicious tacos, craft beer and cider next door at their sister business, Babi's Beer Emporium. A one-stop shop for the perfect lunch.

Full of Life Flatbread - Another place I must still try, the wood-fired flatbreads blazing are not to be missed. A staple of Los Alamos since 2003, there are a dozen different flatbreads and craft beers on rotation to choose from, and the space is perfect for larger groups. Casual and easy, this seems a good choice for a chill pizza night.

Bodega Los Alamos - A treasure through and through, this wine & beer garden is perhaps my favorite place on Bell. Lounge outside around the fire pit on a cool night or sprawl on the grass with a glass of chilled rosé. The communal tables are also perfect for a long and lazy afternoon sipping on cool beverages and playing board games. Take a peek in the greenhouse on the grounds (sometimes there are fun events being hosted inside) and the gift shop, with all sorts of fun goodies to indulge in. It's easy to pass the time here... and they have a chic guesthouse (although often unavailable due to its popularity) open for bookings if you want to stay a bit longer.

Advisor - Margrit Jacobsen

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Margrit Jacobsen

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