As beautiful as LA can be year-round, there are a shit ton of people here. Like, way, way too many people. This leads to horrific traffic. Slit your wrists traffic. Even on the weekends, when all you really want to do is chill, eat, drink and be merry.
Many times when Saturday and Sunday roll around all you want to do is "Get the fuck out of town." Palm Springs is a great option. Santa Barbara. Ojai. The OC. However, every Los Angeleno worth his/her salt participates in the unspoken game of "New Day Trip Spot My Friends Haven't Been To Yet." Always in search of the next big getaway within driving distance. For me personally this basically equates to: "Where is there good food that I can eat?" That led a cooler friend of mine to recently suggest the wife lady and I check out Los Alamos.
Los Alamos is not a big place. Situated off the 101 just north of SB Wine Country and about a 2.5 hour drive from LA, at last check the quaint town had under 2,000 residents to its name. It really only has one main road. Sleepy. Charming. Quaint. Borderline desolate. With maybe a dozen or so shops, many of which aren't open mid-week. However, it's randomly a food haven. Now has a cool motel. And, due to the proximity to the vineyards, multiple wine tasting rooms. You should go for a day. Or a night.
And eat all these things...
Breakfast at Bob's Well Bread Bakery - DEFINITELY get to Los Alamos early so you can indulge in carb on carb on carb at Bob's. They make everything in house. And I don't mean that in the way a lot of places mean "everything in house," and actually mean, "some things in house, but don't ask which things, asshole." The pastries are pretty much unrivaled maybe in all of Southern California (including LA proper) and the the above turkey sausage-breakfast sandwich (English Muffin made in house) has haunted my dreams since I day I ate it. Like the cheerleader who says "hi" to you in the hall -- but maybe was talking to the football player behind you -- that sandwich sticks with you and makes you happy about life. ((open Thurs-Mon, 7am-6pm))
Loaded with carbs (and one of their exemplary baguettes tucked under your arm), you could head to Santa Ynez Valley/Los Olivos/Santa Barbara Wine Country to one of the over 120 local wineries. Or stick in town and mosey on down the block to the very cordial Bedford tasting room.
Lunch at Bell Street Farm - If you do stick in Los Alamos for the day, for lunch head to Bell Street. Famous for their rotisserie chicken, you really can't go too wrong though because everything is fresh and organic. Think your-hippy-great-uncle-who-lives-in-the-mountains-and-sends-you-garlic-cloves-for-Christmas organic. Whatever you order, take it out back on the expansive patio to soak in the sun, but also to people watch. Due to the varietal (wine reference!) of personalities who make a vino pilgrimage -- young lovers, bikers, old farts, drunks -- people watching is one of my favorite wine country pastimes and I highly recommend it to all before the alcohol starts setting in. ((open Thurs 11am-4pm, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm, Mon 11am-4pm))
Done with your meal, head a few doors down to Casa Dumetz's tasting room, run by the wife of Emilio Estevez (The Mighty Ducks Guy!) to sample wines and also sip/pound local craft beers in the adjacent brew bar.
Dinner at Industrial Eats - Full disclosure: Industrial Eats is in Buellton, a 15-20 drive south. It's worth it though, so sober the eff up and make the trek. Located near that Pea Soup place, I.E. is a post-modern pizza shop. A laundry list menu of "pizza," "not pizza" and "sandwiches" sprawled out on recyclable brown paper sort of joint. The menu changes seasonally, which is a very good thing. It does mean, however, the above pictured December pizza, a Pesto-Orange-Goat Cheese-Pistachio, is no longer available. And that sucks because, albeit a somewhat kooky combo, it is damn tasty. Upon your visit I recommend ordering a similarly wacky pizza. It won't disappoint. ((open daily, 10am-9pm))
If you plan to head back to Los Angeles, I.E. is even better because you're already heading in the right direction. Or you can head back to Los Alamos, get a few hard drinks (or above average wines) at the saloon at the 1880 Union Hotel, which actually has been around since 1880. After that, you should crash across the street at...
Stay at Alamo Motel - The Shelter Social Club, the same team behind the rejuvenation of the Ojai Rancho Inn, took over the aging roadside Alamo Motel and turned it into a hip as can be spot. Borderline too hip (the floors are simply the wooden baseboards), it's relatively affordable and possesses a youthful spirited, laid back, Ace-like vibe. One of the more unique head resting spots in all of Los Olivos Wine Country.
After a good night's sleep, you'll be ready to do it all over again...