Take a weekend trip to Los Alamos, the tiny “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” town located in Central California. Instead of just a stop along the highway, it’s become a little destination town. With multiple motels to chose from, several fancy-ish restaurants, and almost too many places to have a drink in the middle of the day, it’s perfect for a girls’ getaway or a romantic weekend away!
A Weekend Trip to Los Alamos, CA
A few weeks ago, I took a little vacation and drove up to the tiny town of Los Alamos, California for a quick weekend trip all by myself. It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” stop off Highway 101 between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, but it has really, really changed in the last few years! It’s now such a cute little town for a weekend girls’ getaway or even a romantic weekend away from the kids!
Or, in my case, for a mini mom vacation with just me, myself, and I! There are multiple motels to chose from, several fancy restaurants, and almost too many places to have a drink in the middle of the day. Below, I’m sharing all the details of my little weekend trip to Los Alamos and I can’t wait to go back and explore more!
As a kid on family camping trips along the California coast, we would stop in Los Alamos to refuel the gas tank and stop at the ginormous antique store next to the gas station. I was always told to not touch anything, as I got older I often asked if I could stay in the car and read my book, and then at some point, I told my parents I would never own anything old in my house because I was so sick of old stuff at antique stores.
Cut to when my husband and I were on our very first weekend vacation together back in 2010 (to the Madonna Inn of course), and I asked him if he wanted to stop at a HUGE antique store if it was still there. We pulled off the highway and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I realized … I had become my parents. But Los Alamos is not the same little town it was 30 years ago, 9 years ago, or even 3 years ago. A lot has changed! Instead of just a stop along the highway, I truly feel that it’s become a little destination town!
Where to Stay in Los Alamos, California
There are several places to choose to stay in Los Alamos, and I decided on a stay at the newly renovated Skyview Motel. I remember passing it so many times during my drives back and forth between Los Angeles and Santa Cruz (where I went to college) and I was excited to see it’s newly completed renovation into a modern, hip motel!
I didn’t see the place before it was renovated, but they did a great job! The rooms are nicely decorated with comfortable beds and linens. I had plenty of space to put my things in the room closet. And the bathroom was nicely decorated with a spacious shower!
My only complaints were that some of the towels looked dirty because they don’t offer makeup wipes and previous ladies have used the white towels to scrub off mascara. I knew my towel had been washed, but it still looked dirty because of this. Also, they have one of those little cards “Green & Clean” cards that says if you hang your towel, they won’t change it, but if you put it on the floor, it’s a sign that you want a new one. Well, I hung up my towels and they were all changed out. There was also no “Do Not Disturb” hangtag, so if you don’t want housekeeping, you probably need to alert the front desk.
Each bed is decorated with a tiny little stuffed animal (which is for sale), the minibar was well stocked with delicious snacks and drinks, and the Fable Soap Co. soap and lotion in the bathroom leaves your hands silky soft and smells so good!
The pool area was very relaxing and offered several lounge chairs with umbrellas and a couple of lounge sofas as well. The pool bar staff was very attentive and made sure all the guests’ drinks were promptly refilled!
Other hotel options in the area include:
And any of the below places can be booked through Airbnb. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, be sure to sign up via my link to get $40 off your Airbnb booking as well as $15 to use toward an Airbnb experience worth $50 or more.
- Bodega House Airbnb – I might stay here next time!
- Pico Cottage
- Cottages at Bob’s Well Bread, Unit 1
- Cottages at Bob’s Well Bread, Unit 2
- The Oakley at the Los Alamos Mercantile
- Billy the Kid at the Los Alamos Mercantile
- Wyatt Earp at the Los Alamos Mercantile
- Butch Cassidy at the Los Alamos Mercantile
Unfortunately, the 1880 Union Hotel is no longer available as a place to stay for the individual traveler as the landmark hotel is now only rented out to groups for events such as weddings.
Where to Eat in Los Alamos, California
The other reason I decided to stay at the Skyview Motel was because of Norman Restaurant. It’s a super chic little restaurant with delicious food located at the motel. So if I didn’t want to venture into town? That’s fine, I could just have dinner a few steps away at Norman!
I mean, look at that door!
I actually got into town a bit late in the afternoon and missed lunch (most of the restaurants in town close between 2-5 pm between lunch and dinner), but luckily Norman was doing happy hour and I was able to grab a late lunch/early dinner before driving up to Paso Robles to check out the Sensorio: Field of Lights art exhibit.
I had an amazing cheeseburger! White cheddar cheese, amazing meat, farmer’s market quality tomatoes, on a delicious brioche bun! And the fries were yummy, too! The next night, I wasn’t super hungry for dinner so I just ordered some a half baguette and butter (from Bob’s Well Bread, he supplies all the restaurants in town) along with the Mac & Cheese appetizer and it was amazing! But my pro tip is to skip dessert because it just wasn’t as good as the main meals.
The next morning, I had breakfast at Bob’s Well Bread.
So here’s the deal. While doing some research on the town before I went on my trip and I had read that the owner, Bob, used to be the president of marketing for Sony Television before he was laid off and the name rang a bell from my early stint at a television marketing and advertising agency back in the early 2000s. His marketing background totally explains why I heard two different tourists ask where Bob’s Well Bread was located while I was shopping in other spots in town (I mean, c’mon people, the town has one main street. One! Just walk around a bit more and you’ll find it!). He’s still in marketing, but instead of syndicated television, he’s marketing delicious, buttery, layered pastries.
I didn’t eat at Pico, but I did walk in to check it out and the interior blew me away! It was huge, filled with wine, and had a lovely back patio! When I venture back to Los Alamos sometime with my husband, we will definitely be stopping at Pico for a meal, and if I’m honest, probably for their Sunday Burger Night!
Other options include:
Where to Drink in Los Alamos, California
Alright, there are too many places to drink in Los Alamos. It’s currently probably one of the best places to go wine tasting in California as it still has some small-town charm and isn’t overcrowded like the tasting rooms in Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, or Santa Ynez. You can choose from open-air beer and wine gardens, an old saloon, the Norman pool bar at the Skyview Motel, several wine tasting rooms in town, or visit the actual wineries a short drive away!
I highly recommend a stop at Bodega which is an adorable open-air beer and wine garden! I stopped in on a Friday afternoon and had the place all to myself. It has a super chic little outdoor area with tons of seating choices (fire pit, hammock, picnic tables, etc.) as well as bocce ball and an adorable little greenhouse.
I had a glass of the En Cavale Sauvignon Blanc and listened to their music playlist while people watching the tourists stopping at the market and Saloon across the street. It was a relaxing moment, but it would have been better with a friend.
I didn’t stop for a wine tasting at Casa Dumetz Wines or Babi’s Beer Emporium, but I did step inside for a minute and purchased a bottle of their Clementine Carter Grenache Blanc and Sonja, the owner/winemaker, was super friendly. I don’t normally enjoy in-town wine tasting rooms (I much prefer family-owned tasting rooms located within the grounds of the actual winery), but I will make an exception for Casa Dumetz Wines and stop in next time for a proper tasting.
I also stopped for a wine tasting at Martian Ranch & Vineyard. It was about a 10-minute drive from Los Alamos. Martian Ranch is a biodynamic winery meaning it’s a self-sustaining system with no chemical pesticides and keeping animals to fertilize the land. They also follow the biodynamic calendar. When I was there, a sign out front mentioned it was a “Root Day!” If you visit, be sure to check what type of day it is and ask for an explanation. It’s a little hippie-dippy, but interesting.
Other options include:
Oh! And even the Los Alamos Antique Depot also has a pub bar where you can grab a beer or wine while you wait for your friends/family as they browse the antiques!
Where to Shop in Los Alamos, California
I had a good time doing a little bit of shopping in a few of the stores in town.
I started at Sister’s Gifts and Home which used to be Gussied Up Antiques. I’d say it’s still an antique store, but much more curated and offers some boutique items and local goods. Because it’s better curated, the prices are on the higher end, but I managed to find a gift for my mom as well as a cute, little, midcentury salt shaker for me … and I’m now regretting I didn’t grab a bottle of honey for my honey.
I then headed over to the Los Alamos Antique Depot. The place is huge and you wouldn’t know it from the outside, but it’s three large buildings that are all connected. I’ve never really found anything here that was super amazing, but on this trip, I picked up a Bert Kaemfert record (he’s got the mad hits) for $2, a vintage bakelite bracelet, and an antique postcard.
I stopped into Terramonary Pottery to check out their tie-dye clothing and I probably would have purchased a shirt if I had seen a pink/purple design in my size or a couple of shirts for the twins had they sold children’s’ teeshirts.
Other little shops include:
- Suite B
- Golden O Gallery
- Keane’s Eclectic Shop
- There was also an “antique store” across the street from Plenty, but it was more garage sale/thrift store finds.
Tips for Visiting Los Alamos, California
- The town is sleepy Monday through Wednesday, so don’t expect everything (or anything) to be open if you’re rolling through early in the week.
- Most restaurants close between lunch and dinner, only serve breakfast until a certain time or on certain days, and some of the fancier restaurants might require a reservation if it’s a busy holiday weekend, so do your research before you go!
- It’s hot in the summer. Dress for the weather, bring sunscreen, and water!
Detour | What to do in nearby Los Alamos, California
- Santa Ynez Wineries such as Sunstone
- Pismo Beach
- Sensorio Paso: Field of Light in Paso Robles (1.25-hour drive from Los Alamos)
I very much enjoyed my mini-vacation to Los Alamos and can’t wait to go back on a girls’ getaway weekend or with my husband to do some wine tasting, relaxing by the pool, and more antique hunting!