Visit This Charming Food-Loving Town in California Before Everyone Else Does

When I tell people that I’m taking a trip to Los Alamos, they respond in one of two ways: Either they have never heard of it or they assume I mean Los Alamos, New Mexico (infamous for its national laboratory and the Manhattan Project). I’m always thrilled to introduce them to Los Alamos, California, a small town 45 miles northwest of Santa Barbara that just so happens to be one of the best places to visit if you love food and wine.

Not that long ago, Los Alamos was nothing more than a sleepy exit off Route 101 that you’d miss if you blinked while driving by. But something interesting has been going on in recent years. A happy mix of young entrepreneurs and established creatives has moved in and they are thoughtfully reimagining, renovating, and redesigning everything, bringing in fresh new ideas without losing any of the small town charm. Come for the unpretentious cowboy-winemaker vibes, and stay (in a beautifully restored motel room) for the award-winning restaurants. Los Alamos has transformed from a stumble-upon town into a worthy destination.