Located 140 miles north of Los Angeles in the rolling hills of Santa Ynez Valley’s central coast wine region, Los Alamos’ offerings are effervescent and robust. Vineyards blend with Old West vibes in this relaxed town perfect for getting away from it all.
Founded in 1876, Los Alamos was originally a stagecoach stop, and later a station on the Pacific Coast Railway. (Fun fact: Los Alamos is home to the only surviving Pacific Coast Railway station, find it just off Bell Street).
Located in the middle of the central coast’s burgeoning wine scene, no visit is complete without a wine tasting (or two, or three….). Luckily, the small town oozes charm and offers friendly hospitality and a community committed to local producers and businesses.
Getting situated is easy as the 7 block town centers around a main strip of Bell Street. Completely walkable, the quaint shops, drinking, and dining establishments are plentiful enough to keep you entertained. While you can see what the town has to offer in a day trip, spend a few days to really capture the essence of the community and to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Where to Stay: the Best Los Alamos, CA Hotels
The Alamo Motel is conveniently located right on Los Alamos’ Main Street, walkable to most everything in town.
Located right in the middle of town, the Alamo Motel is a reimagined motel spruced up by Californian hotelier group Shelter Social Club. If you want to park your car for the entirety of your stay, the motel is walkable to most things that Los Alamos has to offer.
Book a room with a clawfoot tub to wind down properly after a day of exploration, or one with a kitchenette to save some dough on meals. During the evening, if you’re feeling social, slip out to the communal fire pit to enjoy the crisp night air and chat with fellow travelers. Before departure, don’t miss the beautifully curated selection of goods available for purchase at the reception desk.
Check in and check out at Skyview, perched above Los Alamos’ Main Street on a hill with spectacular views.
If you want to check-in and “check out,” Skyview is the perfect place to do so. Perched just above the main strip in Los Alamos, enjoy what the property has to offer with an onsite heated pool, comfy beds, picturesque views, and the ultimate “getting away from it all” feels. Splurge for a room with a fireplace or private patio complete with your own fire pit for ultimate coziness. All-day dining is available at the onsite restaurant Norman, which also offers room service for guests. If you dine out elsewhere, Norman’s bar is the perfect spot for a nightcap before turning in.
Design and decor details shine throughout Skyview, complimented by views of the rolling hills — all of which are best enjoyed with an expertly crafted cocktail from the patio or pool.
Where to Dine: Our Favorite Restaurants in Los Alamos, CA
Grab a meal at Pico, whose food is just as beautiful as it’s back patio.
While Los Alamos is small in size, the food offerings are quality and aplenty.
For breakfast or lunch, get in line, and believe us that the wait is worth it — for Bob’s Well Bread. Housed in a former gas station, the bakery is dedicated to using local and sustainable growers for their ingredients. Grab a pastry or loaf for later and try one of their sandwiches as an excellent on-the-go option for exploring the town.
For quick eats, Charlie’s is a local staple (since 1978) offering BBQ and Mexican dishes at affordable prices. Pick up an order to go from the window or grab a seat and enjoy the friendly service.
For dinner, the most “buzz”-y restaurant in town is Bell’s, offering bistro inspired dishes in a convivial atmosphere. The wine list features local and European picks and staff are happy to assist in pairings; be sure to reserve well in advance of your trip. Next, housed in the former general store, Pico is a delightful spot (currently serving dinner only) that showcases all that the region has to offer. If available, the backyard patio is a hidden gem in town perfect for a romantic outing.
Step off the main drag (Bell Street) and head to Norman’s at the Skyview for a cozy meal with a view. When the weather is nice snag a spot on the patio, perfect for sunset drinks or dining! Back in town, Full of Life Flatbread will satisfy your pizza craving (crafted from locally sourced ingredients of course) and you can post up on the patio or at the bar to enjoy it with a brew or an expertly paired glass of vino.
Where to Drink: the Best Wine Tastings (and more) in Los Alamos, CA
Natural wine bar and wine shop, Bodega, offers some of the vibes in town – offering an elevated, yet totally laid back experience.
Delight your palate at one of the many local wine establishments to sample your way through the region. Wine bar meets curated shop Bodega has a great selection of natural wine, craft beers and ciders. Enjoy the peaceful yard, complete with a fire pit and greenhouse, while you chat it up with the friendly staff about all things local. Down the street, ask for your favorite vinyl record to be played while you sip along at Lo-Fi Wines who feature a small but mighty selection of easy drinking (and affordably priced) lower alcohol wines.
Another favorite is Casa Dumetz Wines. Founded by journalist-turned-wine-proprietress Sonja Magdevski, both the backstory and the wine are truly inspired. High on our bucket list is a tasting tour of Casa Dumetz’s vineyard and winery; if you can’t swing that, sample a glass their signature multi-varietal red blend, Feminist Party – and others – on the sunny patio of their Bell Street tasting room.
If you’re feeling wined-out in this vineyard paradise (gasp) then check out Casa Dumetz’s sister business, Babi’s Beer Emporium, for a fantastic selection of international craft beers and ciders. On weekends at Babi, you can also get your snack on with Dim Sama’s locals favorite Sama Sama Signature Wings.
Last, a fun place to end the night or revel in a Wild West saloon is 1880 Union, where you can wet your whistle and revisit the town’s former stagecoach days at a bar stool or over a game of pool.
What to Do In & Around Los Alamos, CA: Hiking, Shopping, and Day Trips
There’s quite a few wind caves to explore at Gaviota Wind Caves. Use caution while exploring, especially beyond the “end” of the trail.
If you stay awhile, head out on a daytrip to neighboring wine town Solvang, a quick 20 minute drive away. Best known for being the backdrop to the hit wine movie Sideways, you can admire the old European inspired architecture and enjoy one of the many eating or drinking establishments in the “Danish Capital of America.” (Highly recommend a Danish pastry from one of the many bakeries in town!)
Feeling adventurous? Head out to explore the coast on the Gaviota Wind Caves Trail, a 30 minute picturesque drive away. This 2 mile out-and-back trail offers exceptional coastal vistas and wind sculpted caves. The moderate trail is well maintained and blooms with wildflowers in the spring. Do be prepared for short inclines and scrambles — which are well worth the effort — to explore the wind caves and for the stunning views. After the hike, make sure you’ve packed a blanket and picnic basket, then slip down to the coast to savor the sunset from Gaviota Beach, where you can stroll under the train trestle and claim your stretch of sand.
Back in Los Alamos, several unique shops offer ample browsing opportunities in town. For a deluge of antiques, one of a kind home decor, and gardening goods head to Sisters Gifts and Home. Antiquing enthusiasts can spend some time at the Los Alamos Depot Mall, complete with an onsite bar if you need a refreshment mid-shop. Finally, browse over 60 local makers and fine artists for a souvenir at T&T Local Artisans Enterprise who feature artisans from Santa Barbara County through to San Luis Obispo County.
For the (Very) Wine Inclined: Other Wineries Near Los Alamos Worth a Visit
Vineyards dot the landscape outside of Los Alamos, CA.
Further afoot near Santa Maria, Presqu’ile winery and tasting room sits high atop a hill with breathtaking ocean and vineyard views. Enjoy wine and food pairings in one of its many spaces: on a terrace or outdoor lounge, or within its inviting Tasting Room. Reservations are required; you’ll need to book well in advance.
A short drive to Los Olivos is worth it for a visit to Solminer’s tasting room, where you can sample your way through whites, oranges, rosés, and reds (and sparkling!). Further explore the surrounding region’s varietals at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, the largest cluster of small-production tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County.
Last, for a sip-worthy pit stop in Santa Barbara’s historic Presido neighborhood on your drive back to LA, Au Bon Climat has exceptional pinot noirs and chardonnays. Cheers, and safe travels!