You’ve probably driven past it while driving along Highway 101, but have you ever stopped for a visit in Los Alamos? It’s a small community with a big personality that can make you feel like you’re going back in time. The charming town of about two thousand people is nestled right off Highway 101 in the Santa Ynez Valley about halfway between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. The town is so quaint that it won’t take you long to get to one end of its main street to the other, and that’s why Sarah Haupt loves visiting from Los Angeles.
"I like that it's a small town but there are so many places to eat and it is so beautiful," Haupt said.
One of the many attractions of Los Alamos is the food. Bob Oswaks owns Bob’s Well Bread at the southernmost end of Bell Street, which is a one-stop-shop for breakfast, coffee, lunch, and baked goods.
"Everything is very uniquely European, very artisan,” Oswaks said. “Different breads support different dishes."
The Santa Ynez Valley is filled with vineyards, which means you’re sure to find your favorite blend of wine at tasting rooms like Casa Dumetz Wines.
"What I do primarily is focused on Rhone varietals, so Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rosé,” Sonja Magdevski, owner of Casa Dumetz Wines said.
“And a teeny bit of Pinot Noir because that's what we do really well here.”
For a scenic vantage point, visitors can go to Norman’s, a restaurant atop a hill at the Skyview Los Alamos. When it’s time for bed, perhaps a stay at the Victorian Mansion of Los Alamos will strike your fancy. What looks like a Victorian mansion is actually so much more when you step inside.
"Once you actually open the suite world, you're taken into another world completely," says Rod Rigole, the owner of the bed and breakfast.
So, what’s inside? Six specially curated suites representing a different theme or era. There’s the Gypsy Suite, where guests can comfortably sleep in a gypsy carriage. Or, if the sea is calling your name, then maybe the Pirate Suite is a better fit for you. The lanterns hanging from the ceiling actually sway to give the effect. If you’re looking for something more romantic, the Parisian Suite will make you feel like you’re in the city of love. Guests can even sleep in the bed of a 1956 Cadillac while nodding off to a movie in the Fifties Suite. Plus, the Roman Suite, a room where guests can sleep in a charriot, , and the Egyptian Suite, a room that is fit for royalty.
Aside from the extreme detail that goes into each of these suites, the way the mansion arrived in Los Alamos is equally unique. Rigole says it took the original owner, Dick Langdon, 10 years to finish the bed and breakfast, but before it was complete it was moved by crane in five sections from Nipomo.
"I had always, at that time, dreamed of having something like this, I never thought it would be this,” Rigole said.
After being a guest himself, by a turn of fate, he would eventually purchase the mansion.
"My parents back in the day found Los Alamos, just stumbled upon it as they were driving down the coast and basically found this amazing place called the Victorian Mansion," Rigole said. “They told me about it, they told my sister about it, we stayed with our respective boyfriends and girlfriends at the time and just fell in love with it.”
Rigole would spend a year restoring an artistic that eventually became his own.
"My experience as a guest kind of set the bar for what a bed and breakfast should be and so my goal was to keep it as original as possible,” Rigole said. "Some guests have actually booked and not realized that we're themed suites, so there's an element of surprise."
When guests check in, they’re surrounded by hand-crafted medals and wood, even hand painted murals. Plus, each room comes with its own Japanese soaking tub, and Rigole has plans to add three additional suites including a Treehouse Suite, a Castaway Suite, and a hobbit-inspired suite.
So, why not, take a break from reality and a trip to a place or era you’ve never been.
While in Los Alamos, after a nights stay, a glass of wine, and a hearty meal, you’ll probably soon find out you got more than what you came for.