(Photo by Ana Kamin)
The old Union Hotel stands strong since 1880. (Ana Kamin)

Weekend in Los Alamos: Funky Antiques, Vintage Hotels & Celebrity Wine Tastings


On route 135, only an hour north of Santa Barbara, lies the hamlet of Los Alamos. Driving through Los Alamos feels like driving through a tumbleweed town, but don't be fooled—behind the old western façades, there are cool new restaurants, vintage motels, funky shops, and wine tasting rooms waiting for the off-the-beaten-path traveler.

This former stagecoach station started developing into a modern culinary enclave when LA's showbiz personalities went looking for a nearby escape and the movie Sideways took place in the surrounding areas. The adjacent Santa Ynez Valley, with its rolling, lush vineyards, boasts more than 70 different wineries, which are great for intimate wine tasting tours as they usually accommodate fewer guests than what we're used in Napa or Sonoma. So next time you hit the road south, make sure to put this old cowboy town on your radar.


1880 Union Hotel

This Wild West gem was built in (you guessed it) 1880 as a Wells Fargo stagecoach station to give shelter to traveling passengers. Today the 1880 Union Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in California providing a unique hotel experience. While the original wood floor has been kept (and squeaks unexpectedly), the rooms have been remodeled with plushy beds, colorful wallpapers, and ornament lamps. Each room has its own name (think Floral Room or Sunday Morning Room) and is decorated individually. Rates start at $135 per night. // 362 Bell St. (Los Alamos), unionhotelvictmansion.com

Clear lines mixed with local elements at the Alamo Motel. (Ana Kamin)

Alamo Motel

From Chris Sewell and Kenny Osehan, the hospitality duo behind the Shelter Social Club (who also runs the Ojai Rancho Inn in Ojai and Agave in Santa Barbara) comes the Alamo Motel located on Los Alamos's main drag. Once a run-down motel from the 1950s, Alamo is now a hip stay that won't break the bank. Continuing in their signature, minimal-rustic style, Swell and Osehan have created a very clean and modern look: white walls, reclaimed wood, industrial elements, and art from local artists. Also in the tradition of the motel group, Alamo will feature pop-up shops and host gatherings such as wine tastings and intimate concerts. // 425 Bell St. (Los Alamos), rememberthealamomotel.com


Mouthwatering flatbread for a quick bite. (Courtesy of Full of Life Flatbread Instagram)

Full of Life Flatbread

It all started when a former music producer had enough of his LA life and started a new one in Los Alamos, opening Full of Life Flatbread in 2003. By sourcing ingredients from within an hour's drive from the restaurant, owner Clark Staub dishes up an actual farm-to-flatbread experience. The giant stone oven delivers crisp flatbread pizzas with a perfectly bubbly crust with simple yet toothsome toppings. One of the most popular 'zas is the sauceless cheese and herb flatbread (California mozzarella, Italian Grana Padano cheese, garlic oil, and fresh garden herbs), followed by the smoke-dried tomato and mushroom. Bon appetit!// 225 Bell St. (Los Alamos), fulloflifefoods.com

Delicious in-house made pastries(Ana Kamin)

Bell Street Farm

Having a restaurant in the middle of the agricultural hub of California's Central Valley is a chef's dream. It's no wonder this rustic eatery serves only locally-sourced, high-quality organic food to its guests. Bell Street Farm is open for breakfast and lunch diners, or you can take your order to go. If you have time, stop for their rotisserie pork salad with sautéed fennel and roasted potatoes on butter leaf lettuce. Don't forget to treat yourself afterward with the delightful blueberry scones. // 406 Bell St. (Los Alamos), bellstreetfarm.com

Wine and stories at Casa Dumetz(Ana Kamin)

Casa Dumetz Wines

If you are into good wine and good stories, this is your spot. The owner, Sonja Magdevski, a former journalist turned winemaker, has created a wine tasting room where people come to sip, taste, and chat. Casa Dumetz specializes in small batch wines made only with Grenache grapes grown in Santa Barbara vineyards. One of the most popular wines is the Syrah rosé, promising hints of rose and lavender. // 388 Bell St. (Los Alamos), casadumetzwines.com

Babis's Beer Emporium

If wine is not your thing, just down the street from Casa Dumetz is Babi's Beer Emporium. Also run by Sonja Magdevski, Babi's shelves are stocked with bottles you won't easily find in grocery stores, such as Bitter Monk Beer from Alaska with its citrusy notes or Gigant Vivid from Oregon with a mellow fruity taste. Babi's has selected rotating beers on tap and offers cider tastings as well. Take a seat at the bar or enjoy the patio where you'll find plenty of board games to help wile away an afternoon. Occasionally food pop-ups from different nearby restaurants, such as Sama Sama Kitchen or Valle Fresh taco bar, will serve their specialties with a recommended pairing from Babi's lineup. Check out their Facebook page for current beer selection and events. // 448 Bell St. (Los Alamos), babisbeeremporium.com

Hot bread straight from the oven ( Courtesy of Bob's Well Bread Instagram)

Bob's Well Bread

The popular bakery, Bob's Well Bread, run by former Sony Pictures marketing manager Robert Oswaks, is the first point of contact for many travelers because of its quick and delicious all-day breakfast menu (try the Egg-in-a Jar, a poached egg on top of purple potato mash, bacon, and gruyere cheese) and their yummy grab 'n' go options such as ham & cheese croissants or pain au chocolat. Their bread assortment changes every day offering tasty loaves like rosemary oil, corn rye, and pain de mie (soft bread with butter and milk). // 550 Bell St. (Los Alamos), bobswellbread.com

Old Saloon at the Union Hotel(Ana Kamin)

Wine Saloon in the 1880 Union Hotel

The Wine Saloon in the 1880 Union Hotel collaborates with another Hollywood star who turned his passion for wine into a business. It's Kurt Russell and his GoGi wines, featuring his most celebrated wine "Goldie" Chardonnay, named of course, after his love, Goldie Hawn. From time to time, Kurt stops by for a glass of wine himself, so watch out for a celebrity photo opportunity. The charming saloon with its mahogany bar, swing doors, and toilets with pull chains evokes the days of the old West. Occasionally, locals grab the banjo and cello to play some tunes and create a lively atmosphere. // 362 Bell St. (Los Alamos),unionhotelvictmansion.com


From 1880s fort to 1950s airstream, you can find everything at Depot Mall. (Courtesy of yelp.com)

Depot Mall

This charming old rail station is stuffed with rarities and curiosities. With more than 600 booths, it's a vintage candy store for the die-hard antiquer and a time machine to past eras. You can find lots of everything here from 19th-century porcelain dolls to 1950s trailers and 1980s Nintendos. // 515 Bell St. (Los Alamos), losalamosca.com

Gussied Up Antiques

If you're looking for more antiques, stop at this cute little house with rooms full of memorabilia. How about a MC Hammer doll, neon letters, or vintage fabric? You're pretty much guaranteed to find things you didn't know still existed. To get some inspiration, check out what othertravelers are shopping there. // 349 Bell St. (Los Alamos), facebook.com/gussiedupantiques


Great wines in walking distance from each other.(Ana Kamin)

Wine Tasting

Take advantage of being in Santa Barbara Wine Country and take a tour of some the best tasting rooms. We recommend the following:

The Martian Ranch & Vineyard // 9110 Alisos Canyon Rd. (Los Alamos), martianvineyard.com

Frequency Wine Company // 448 Bell St. (Los Alamos), frequencywines.com

Bredford Winery // 448 Bell St. (Los Alamos), bedfordwinery.com


If you've had enough wine and need to stretch your legs, grab a stick and get going—there are plenty of hiking trails in the area. Check out All Trails for recommendations. Just make sure you have enough water with you. It gets hot upcountry in the summer time, reaching highs around 90°F.

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