Los Alamos’ many amenities and advantages – like its outstanding recreational opportunities, cultural attractions and top-notch schools – make it a perfect choice for anyone looking to enjoy a high quality of life. Plus, the community is so great that it's made our Best Small Towns list four years in a row (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).
If you’re still not sure whether Los Alamos is right for you, here are eight of the best reasons to call the city home:
1. Gorgeous Weather
Los Alamos has more than 300 days of sunshine each year, providing a beautiful backdrop for the many outdoor opportunities available (see No. 2). Residents enjoy four distinct seasons, including comfortably warm summers and snowy winters, which makes it a perfect place for those who enjoy activities like skiing and snowboarding.
2. Outdoor Recreation
Hikers are in luck in Los Alamos as there’s a trail within 10 minutes of practically anywhere you find yourself in the community. Destinations like Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve have several miles of trails, and there’s a 58-mile network of trails connecting the mesas and canyons in and around Los Alamos. Golf enthusiasts can play a round at the 18-hole Los Alamos Golf Course, and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is known as one of New Mexico’s most unspoiled ski destinations.
3. Delicious Restaurants
Los Alamos’ diverse dining scene has something for just about everyone, as it includes Mexican eateries, a sushi spot, pizza joints, a Mediterranean cafe and much more. Hungry yet? Check out The 10 Best Restaurants in Los Alamos – you’re going to want to try them all.
4. Artsy Attractions
Downtown Los Alamos is home to the Los Alamos Creative District, which is New Mexico’s only designated creative district and includes the popular Bradbury Science Museum. Those looking for live entertainment can take in performances put on by the Los Alamos Little Theatre, and thanks to the Los Alamos Concert Association, musicians from around the globe showcase their talents in the community throughout the year. In addition, there are nearly 100 public art installations scattered across Los Alamos.
5. Rich History
Only a couple of other cities in the U.S. can say they have a past so closely tied to World War II and the Manhattan Project. During this era, Los Alamos had a top-secret laboratory known as Project Y that was a hotspot for physicists, chemists, metallurgists, explosive exports and military personnel focused on developing and testing atomic bombs. Today the city has museums and a national park devoted to its rich history, and its laboratory still attracts many of the nation’s brightest thinkers (see No. 7 for more on the Los Alamos National Laboratory).
6. Excellent Schools
The Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) system was named the No. 1 public school district in the state by U.S. News & World Report in 2016, and GreatSchools, which is the leading national source of school information, gives LAPS a rating of 10 – the highest possible score. The city is also home to the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, where students can earn associate of arts and science degrees, associate of applied science degrees and certificates in a variety of specialties.
7. Los Alamos National Laboratory
Some of the country’s most innovative and intelligent people relocate to Los Alamos in order to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – it’s just that special. As a result, the community is filled with hundreds of interesting intellectuals. To hear some of their fascinating conversations and learn more about what goes on the LANL, head over to the local Starbucks; the coffee shop plays host to many of their meetings, including discussions about Mars (seriously).
8. Proximity to Other Cool Cities
Los Alamos is less than an hour’s drive from the state’s capital, Santa Fe, a city that’s known for its thriving arts community. In addition, Los Alamos is only about 100 miles away from Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city and one of our 10 Best Beer Cities. Albuquerque also scored spots on our 10 Best Places to Retire, 10 Best Foodie Cities and 10 Best Golf Cities lists.