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A Weekend in Los Alamos, California

When Ben and I (lily) were married in a barn on my parent's East Tennessee property seven years ago, we had big plans to travel the world. And we made some good headway for the first three years of marriage. Then little baby came along and we revisited the vow and did our best to continue our trips (with a lot more luggage). But then all of the sudden we woke up one day and realized it had been over two years since we went away just the two of us. Not okay. While we love traveling together as a family, I think a marriage can definitely feel it when there hasn't been some intentional time away as husband and wife. 

the alamo motel, los alamos california

So for our seventh anniversary we searched for a spot within driving distance, with good food and good design but sleepy enough that we didn't feel pressure to get out and see everything. The tiny town of Los Alamos, just a few miles north east of Santa Barbara, met all of our desires. We lodged at The Alamo Motel -- the most recent renovation of the Shelter Social Club -- and opted for a kitchenette which we used quite a bit (the other option is a claw food tub which is totally cute). The idea of three days and nights with no where to be, no where to go couldn't have sounded more luxurious. I stumbled upon a article naming Los Alamos the state's next culinary destination and had bookmarked a few restaurants and shops to check out only to be quite delighted to realize they were all right next to each other. The main street is about half a mile long with the Alamo Motel smack dap in the middle; you can stand at one end and see all the way to the other. We parked our car on Friday and didn't move it until we left on Monday.

Our time there was quite chilly and rainy which didn't stop us from anything but using the adorable fire pit in the hotels courtyard.  We ate at Bob's Well Bread every morning (delicious coffee, fresh bread and decadent pastries), always grabbing a baguette on our way out to have with the salami and cheese we brought ourselves. Then we'd pick one of the wine tasting places for an afternoon drink - our favorites were Muni Wines situated on the hotel's property and Frequency, literally just across the street. The old fashions at The Union Hotel weren't our favorites but the lobby and bar environment made up for it. One late night we dined at the town's only supper joint, Full of Life Flatbread, taking a seat at the bar rather than waiting 30 minutes but left pretty disappointed at the service and the food. I've read quite a few good reviews of it so if you give it another try, wait for a real table in the back.

Our favorite meal was a late lunch at Bell Street Farm (only open from 11-5 so plan accordingly). The place was packed but not uncomfortably so (there's an adorable back patio for sunny days), and we were greeted by the owner, Jamie at the register, who clearly thrived on making his customers feel welcome and comfortable. While we were eating I watched two new parents juggle their food and their fussy baby only to watch Jamie approach and ask if he could hold the baby while they ate. He proceeded to bounce around the restaurant baby in arms and check on the rest of his guests. And I, remembering the rarity of eating a meal at the same time as your spouse with a newborn baby, proceeded to weep uncontrollably into my delicious olive bread tartine.

We spent one morning perusing the town's antique market -- a large train depot turned antique mall along with a few historic houses sprinkled along the road. Our favorite was the tiny shop just across the street from the hotel run by an old Irish gentleman by the name of Dennis. 

Los Alamos has all the quaintness and character of a small town but the creativity and refined cuisine of a big city. Most of the business owners we met were Angelino transplants just looking for a slower pace of life but not sacrificing quality in search of it. Each owner highly recommended another with the kind of camaraderie you can miss in a big city. The whole town shuts down on Tuesday, some spots on Monday, too, so it's definitely an end of the week getaway. I couldn't recommend the town more and really can't wait to be back. 


RECIPE | Grilled Grapefruit

Olive Oil + Dark Chocolate Mud Pie