Santa Fe: The Sure Cure for Cabin Fever

There’s no hiding from the fact that Old Man Winter has the northern hemisphere firmly in his frosty grip. Santa Fe’s 320-plus days of sunshine help mitigate winter’s icy hold and even the season’s short days still seem long – especially now that I’ve read all the books I got for Christmas. There’s only one cure: get up and go! Care to leave the cabin and come along?

Mountain Medicine is a Cure-all

Ninety five percent of Ski Santa Fe’s 77 trails are open, groomed and ready to tackle on skis or boards. Schussing down the hillside beneath a cloudless blue sky or catching some air on a mogul makes you feel totally alive. An easy 16-mile drive leads to the 10,350-foot base and 660 pristine acres. Unless you’re wedded to your gear, forget schlepping and rent what you need (or forgot) at the Ski Shop. After that, it’s up to you!

Skis or boards, simply Ski Santa Fe and you do either! (Photo Credit: Ski Santa Fe)

Skis or boards, simply Ski Santa Fe and you do either! (Photo Credit: Ski Santa Fe)

The runs (20 percent easy, 40 percent intermediate and 40 percent expert) and colorfully named trails (Burro Alley, Desperado, Muerte) are unmistakably New Mexico.  The winter event schedule mixes weekend races with Beats on the Basin monthly afternoon concerts. And that cute guy serving Irish coffee at Totemoff’s Bar midway up the mountain? Call that an added bonus!

If slow immersion into snow-white alpine surroundings is your thing, choose snowshoes. Outspire Hiking & Snowshoeing’s tours are an irresistible temptation to bundle up and venture out into the forest. If you’re a novice like me, Outspire’s great guides really help you get the rhythm right. The plop of snow dropping from a Ponderosa pine, the screech of a hawk circling overhead, a gust of wind dropping the last dead leaves from an aspen grove – Santa Fe’s unique winter beauties quietly await your audience.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland is the tune you’ll be singing when you take a snowshoe hike with Outspire. (Photo Credit: Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing)

Walking in a Winter Wonderland is the tune you’ll be singing when you take a snowshoe hike with Outspire. (Photo Credit: Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing)

Santa Fe Loves Stars on Ice

Those 320-plus days of sunshine I mentioned mean no outdoor ice skating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t skate to your heart’s content. The Genoveva Chavez Center, home to basketball and racquetball courts, an indoor running track, full-on fitness facilities, lap pool and warm-water therapy pool, also boasts Santa Fe’s open-daily ice rink. And with a climate-controlled environment, instead of layering up into immobility, you can glide with comfort and ease.

Holiday on Ice? A Hanukkah party at the Genoveva Chavez Rink made that happen and private parties are welcome! (Photo Credit: Genoveva Chavez Community Center)

Holiday on Ice? A Hanukkah party at the Genoveva Chavez Rink made that happen and private parties are welcome! (Photo Credit: Genoveva Chavez Community Center)

The variety of available activities makes the Chavez Center a family-friendly destination. Skates are an easy rental, and there’s ample seating for spectators to take a picture of your precise pirouetting or watch a battle on hockey skates.

Warm Up Your New Mexico Visit the Meso-American Way

A cup of hot cocoa is the classic winter companion. But Santa Fe’s hot chocolate has City Different style. If you’ve never tasted the nectar that ancient Meso-Americans created from cacao, you’re in for a surprise. Kakawa Chocolate House takes tastebuds on a chocolate adventure you won’t soon forget.

Picturing – and partaking of - a perfect potion at Kakawa is a sweet Santa Fe sensation.

Picturing – and partaking of – a perfect potion at Kakawa is a sweet Santa Fe sensation.

Kakawa’s chocolate elixirs are a revelation that changed the way I think about the cup of comfort Mom served after the mittens came off. Deep, rich, not overly sweet or bitter, these beverages deserve to be sipped and savored slowly. Spiked with native herbs or flowers (and of course, there’s a chile iteration), these concoctions are lovingly hand-crafted into an alternative universe of chocolate flavor. The Pre-Columbian era receives its due, as do 16th and 17th century Europe. American versions run the gamut from Jeffersonian to contemporary, along with original recipes like Modern Mexican and Chai. No wonder the New York Times called Kakawa a 36-Hours must! And with artisanal 80 percent dark chocolate creations made in-house, I guarantee you’ll be back!

You’ve Earned a Cuddle-Up by the Fireplace

Once you’ve gotten your ya-ya’s out, cabin fever is history. That’s when it’s time to toast your toes and challenge your nose over a wine glass. When day is done, grab a seat at El Cañon Cafe & Bar inside the Hilton Santa Fe and you’ve got it made.

Light up the night with a visit to the Hilton Santa Fe for a glass of vino at El Cañon! (Photo Credit: Hilton Santa Fe)

Light up the night with a visit to the Hilton Santa Fe for a glass of vino at El Cañon! (Photo Credit: Hilton Santa Fe)

Part of El Cañon’s coziness comes from the 300-year-old hacienda it calls home. The location is ideal for friendly coffee meet-ups but nighttime is the right time to warm up by the kiva fireplace and compare vintages from the extensive wine list. Light dinner fare lets you create your own pairings in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that just says “ahhh, Santa Fe.” Be sure to check out the Hilton’s Winter Getaway Package, which thoughtfully includes two adult beverages nightly!

Escape for the Cure

Share a toast to Santa Fe and beat those winter’s blues.

Share a toast to Santa Fe and beat those winter’s blues.

Don’t let winter keep you home on the range and stuck in the house. A Santa Fe getaway is the perfect prescription for curing winter weariness. Plus, there’s no better time to catch the year’s best specials. And what could be more special than fresh snow, azure skies, and a memorable spot for sharing a glass of wine by a warm piñon fire? 

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The End Zone for Fun is Santa Fe

It’s that time of year. Monday morning quarterbacks are calling buddies, stocking the fridge with beer and filling the pantry with calorie-laden snacks. If your Monday nights mean anything but football and you’re really excited about the Super Bowl, but only because it means the season will be over, then I suggest you make your own play and head to Santa Fe as if you’ve got the ball and 11 burly NFL defensive players chasing you.

winter, outdoors, national preserve, santa fe, new mexico

Get your giddy-up going on a winter-white sleigh ride at Valles Caldera National Preserve. (Photo Credit: vallescaldera.gov)

You Can Be the Star Player in Santa Fe

I like sports as much as the next gal, but I like to be the one doing, not the one watching. The urge to move is irresistible when everyone on the screen is running around, so I’m leaving him in charge of the remote and strapping on the gear for an outdoor adventure. Now that winter is holding court, Santa Fe’s frosty mountains extend a standing invitation to head for the hills.

Although Christmas is over, sleigh bells still jing-a-ling when you take a sleigh ride through the gorgeous Valles Caldera National Preserve. The 89,000-acre landscape is unforgettable any time of year, but it’s especially memorable when the dark green pines command attention in the snowy white bowl of the caldera created by a one-million-year-old volcanic explosion. And yes, there is a sleigh ride scheduled on Super Bowl Sunday!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, art, outdoor

There’s no skullduggery on the field at Shidoni’s Sculpture Garden, just hand-crafted beauty.

Go All Out for Art

Combining art with the outdoors is something at which Santa Fe excels. I love strolling through Shidoni sculpture when winter’s low sun pairs the artworks with wild shadow patterns. If you hit the foundry on the right Saturday, you’ll catch a bronze pour to expand your understanding of the sculptural process. I might add that this is the place to make creative artwork of your selfies!

 

Touch down at Museum Hill Café for a winter lunch on Museum Hill.

Touch down at Museum Hill Café for a winter lunch on Museum Hill.

 

Touch Down Inside Santa Fe for a Bounty of Beauty

Santa Fe boasts several world-class museums all less than long-pass away from each other at Musuem Hill. The hill features four museums—perfect for dividing your afternoon into quarters of a different sort. No worries about lunch – Museum Hill Café referees that call.

The Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts is a great starting point for enriching your understanding of New Mexico’s deep artistic past. The Museum of International Folk Art is a cornucopia of hand-crafted creativity in four loving-curated wings, with rotating special exhibitions. Museum Hill also boasts not one, but two Native American showcases, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; each is a rich treasure trove worth visiting. End at the Case Trading Post on the lowest floor of the Wheelwright; whoever does the buying has an impeccable eye and oh, the beauties I have scored there!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, museums

The Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is the spot to score big with an only-in-Santa-Fe treasure. (Photo Credit: Eddie Moore for the Albuquerque Journal)

Speaking of scoring beauties, our city is a shopper’s paradise! Condé Nast Traveler just ranked Santa Fe as one of the world’s best shopping destinations, a place for discovering City Different pieces no one else will have. From authentic Native American jewelry vendors under the portal of the Palace of the Governors to custom-designed wedding dresses at Laura Sheppherd to vintage delights at a variety of consignment stores and souvenir postcards at the Five & Dime, Santa Fe goes long!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dining, Plaza, Classic

A Frito Pie! That’s the ticket!

Santa Fe Dining: No Concessions Required

I can’t mention the Five & Dime without mentioning their Frito Pie, a legendary (yes, I’m using that word) concoction of Fritos bathed in red chile, beans and cheese. There is something so special about carrying that warm bag across the street to enjoy your spicy treat on a sunny Plaza bench.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dining

Your stay-at-home hombre will miss out on catching the flavors of Paella La Valencianna at El Meson. (Photo Credit: El Meson Santa Fe)

Of course, dining in Santa Fe is legendary in and of itself. Don’t feel guilty if your honey is home with a bag of Cheetos and a brewski; that’s his choice. Your choice is unlimited! Want to parlez-vous Francais? Bouche Bistro, L’Olivier and 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar each answer Mais Oui with a signature iteration of duck confit. Hungry to practice your Italian? Andiamo (translation: let’s go) to that plate of pasta via Il Piatto, Pranzo Italian Grill, and of course, Andiamo! Santa Fe’s Spanish ancestors would tip their sombreros to tapas at El Meson or La Boca. Sushi and sake take pride of place downtown at Shohko Café and up on the mountain at Izanami. No wonder Condé Nast named Santa Fe the #1 Best Small City in America – being a winner at dinner is a snap!

Santa Fe Lets You Call the Plays

A trip to Santa Fe offers plenty of reasons to cheer! While they’re rooting for the team, we’ll root for bargains, eat roasted root vegetables, and root our hearts in age-old traditions. Sounds like an enchanting plan, no? With so much to see and do in Santa Fe, you’ll never be on the sidelines.

 

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Visiting Santa Fe: A Resolution Worth Keeping

An old Spanish proverb says this: “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Since the holiday time-crunch is past, it’s high time to tinker with the chassis so I’m sharpening my utensils to carve a healthy approach to 2015. And I’ve sketched a blueprint for reaping the benefits of a delicious and nutritious new year in Santa Fe.

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Take a taste at Revolution Bakery and be amazed how good gluten-free can be!

Santa Fe Has a Revolution in G(F)oodness

Gluten-free eating makes all sorts of people feel a whole lot better. Even those of us who don’t experience true intolerance see gluten-free results (witness my sister’s enviable weight loss). I’m a die-hard toast-lover but I never feel like I’m sacrificing or skimping at Revolution Bakery. Their tagline –100% gluten-free paradise – is apt considering the amazing selection. I appreciate the sample baskets for turning tastebuds into appetite. And that gluten-free brioche? Vive la revolution! 

Lunch time is also munch time at Rev Bakery. Pair any of four varieties of 8-inch pizzas (plus one daily special) with a crisp salad to achieve yummy gluten-free liberation. Veggie activists receive their due; of four sandwiches, two are vegetarian and one is vegan. The price point is incredibly reasonable given the unique culinary niche. And that niche is ably filled thanks to owner Dionne Christian and her skillful, early-rising bakers!

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico

An apple a day keeps the doctor away and BODY’s apple crisp is good medicine!

Do Right by Your BODY

Holiday indulgences are behind us, but that mirror is not my friend yet! Thankfully, BODY of Santa Fe is on my tune-up menu. Chef Juan Carlos works wonders with a Café menu committed to organic ingredients, locally-procured whenever possible.

Founder Lorin Parrish made clean eating the Café’s goal from the get-go. Everything on the menu (plus a dedicated kids menu) is clearly identified as vegetarian, vegan, raw or gluten-free and select meat and fish offerings are cleanly sourced. Seasonal availability takes precedence so what’s on the plate is always centered on the best body fuel for the season. I never tire of the ginger stir-fry but winter enchiladas – a spot-on combo of spaghetti squash and green chile – satisfy that chile craving. And a bit of sweet goodness from an incredible warm apple crisp is a welcome finish.

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Health on a plate or in a glass? Rasa Juice bar does both.

Capture the Full Flavor of Health at Rasa

Ayurveda is intriguing; Deepak Chopra’s reach proves this 500-year-old tradition is thriving. A tip from a savvy 14-year-old vegan sent me to Rasa Juice Bar to get the skinny on this science of life (Ayu means life, Veda means knowledge or science) focused on optimum health via diet. It took Santa Fe little time to catch on; Edible Santa Fe has already featured Rasa twice, most recently with a vegan dessert in the seasonal cookbook issue.

Raw, vegan, organic – the words tell all. Confused? The lovelies who oversee this enterprise – Wendy, Pamela, Mariela and Andrea – explain everything (silky smoothies and cold-pressed juices, raw and dehydrated savories and sweets) in appetizing detail. The food is testimony that healthy equals flavor (rasa) in the hands of those inspired by wholesome eating. Thai Green Chili noodles hit my spicy spot perfectly and that raw oatmeal cookie? I’m glad to be in the know now!

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Verde Juice sports fresh green on the staff and in the bottle!

Juice Me Up, Scotty

Locals warmly welcomed brand-new Verde Juice, brainchild of Kelly Egolf whose calling grew from her own needs after surgery led to a two-month liquid diet. Canned nutritional supplements may have the right vitamin-mineral mix, but the flavor leaves much to be desired. Egolf’s creativity yielded tasty recipes with complementary nutritional value. When family and friends sampled the results, the home juicer was pressed into service in a bright, inviting space that instantly says “fresh.”

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico

In Spanish, verde means green; at Verde Juice Bar, it means happy, healthy sipping.

Ingredients are raw, unpasteurized and additive-free and the cold-press method means not made-to-order. Instead, juice blends are bottled for three days only, ensuring freshness and quality. I admit the three-day juice cleanse (comprised of six different juices) requires willpower given Santa Fe’s fabulous dining options, but it’s on my birthday wish list. And the good news? Lizz Redman, formerly in the kitchen at BODY, will be adding prepared foods!

Try Feeding on Santa Fe’s Finest

Hippocrates said that “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” I say take the opportunity to grab a full dose of the best medicine going – delectable food – when you taste the pleasures of a Santa Fe getaway. There’s a bounty of beneficial blessings on a City Different plate so dig in and dig the healthy feeling of Santa Fe!

 

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Santa Fe Winter is Full of Wonder

The jingle bells have stopped ringing but winter is definitely on. And I am psyched to make snow angels and welcome the New Year to Santa Fe. The great thing about being a local is having an earmuff to the snowy ground in plenty of time to plan for a wonderland of fun. So put on your mittens and come along with me for the best in winter adventures Santa Fe style!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Winter Must Dos

Soup’s on in Santa Fe: Fill your belly and treat your tastebuds—and those of NM’s most needy, too—at this beloved charity event (Photo Credit: The Food Depot)

Santa Fe is All Souped Up This Winter

It’s impossible to resist SuperBowl XLVIII fever, but for those who can’t wait for kickoff, Santa Fe’s January 17 SouperBowl XXI makes cups runneth over. This delicious soup competition is firmly established as a January taste sensation and proceeds benefit the Food Depot. Get inspired by the intriguing mix of ingredients that Santa Fe chefs put in the pot and your soup repertoire will improve by the bowlful. Last year’s Best Soup winner, the Winter Squash and Chorizo Soup served up by Terra at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, was a hearty hit and I can’t wait to see what Chef Andrew stirs up this year. With four other categories (best cream, best savory, best seafood and best vegetarian), there’s sure to be plenty of slurping going on!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Railyard, Craft Beer, Beer Fest

It’s cheers to you when you lift your glass at Santa Fe Winter Brew Fest. (Photo Credit: New Mexico Brewers’ Guild)

Brewing Up the Best of Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a chic pick for craft beers (most recently recognized by Thrilist.com as one of the nation’s best brew cities) and there’s no better time to see—and taste–why than at WinterBrew. On January 23,16 breweries and a selection of food stands converge at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Pavilion for a cheery, beery evening. Last year’s slate has been expanded with two new Albuquerque brewers, Red Door Brewing and Ponderosa Brewing. Local favorites like Duel Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing Company (whose 2014 Great American Beer Festival entry won best American-style Sour Ale) will be on tap with seasonal styles. And beer-lovers line up for regulars like Bosque Brewing (Beer Festival winner for Fresh Hop Ale) and Marble Brewery (who scored for Imperial Red Ale). Tickets go fast, so don’t wait to get your taste!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Art, Cuisine

Combining fine art and festive dinners is a Santa Fe specialty.

Feasting on Art is a Santa Fe Tradition

I suspect I sound a bit tummy-centric, so let me paint a picture of Santa Fe ArtFeast for you. This year’s artistic events have seen the Edible ArtTour move to June but February still has a yummy blend of beauty on the The Art of Living palette They’ve stolen my personal credo – It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere – but I don’t mind because I can share in the February 20 fun and festivities (which do include food) that benefit art in the schools. And I’ll take that February 21 invitation to Step Up to the Plate too, thank you very much! The Art of Home tour is the most picturesque way to see Santa Fe design and style in its full glory but be warned – you may well end up wanting your own adobe casita by the time you’re done!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Fine Dining

You should definitely “Andiamo” to Santa Fe during February Restaurant Week!

It’s Time to Eat and Time to Save in Santa Fe

Returning to my food-centricity (can’t help it, Santa Fe equals great cuisine), I look forward to cashing in on Santa Fe Restaurant Week deals. Other cities may have similar events, but they lack the one-of-a-kind regional ingredients that bring foodlovers back to Santa Fe year after year. Fifty-seven restaurants are already on the roster and that list will grow as we get closer to February 22. Smart hoteliers have cooked up getaway deals so I suggest you grab your BFF (best foodie friend) and make reservations for a seat at Santa Fe’s finest tables. Prizes and giveaways are in store along with terrific deals, making everyone a winner at lunch or dinner.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Winter, Sports, Mountain

A Santa Fe mountain snowshoe hike with Outspire will inspire you! (Photo Credit: Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing)

Get Away to Santa Fe’s Winter Wonderland

Of course, a gal has to work off her enjoyment with some outdoor activities and that’s where Ski Santa Fe comes to the rescue. It wouldn’t be winter without a return to the mountains for a dose of snowy magic! Don’t schlep your skis or board, just rent them right on the mountain. Then pick some happening dates and do your downhill in the morning, so you can chill at Beats on the Basin from noon to 3:00 p.m. And if you’d prefer to see the Sangre de Cristo Mountain scenery at a slower pace, plan a snowshoe hike with Outspire to capture Santa Fe’s sparkle and serenity in equal measure.

Get Your New Year On in Santa Fe

Have I convinced you? I’ve been convinced for years – and my 2015 calendar is already marked with monthly must-do’s. There’s nothing like bright blue skies and a blanket of crystalline white snowflakes to start a new year right – and Santa Fe is ready to show you how.

 

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Santa Fe’s Peaceful Spirit is Your Holiday Gift

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday escapes

Silence is golden in the quaint adobe Friends Meeting House on Canyon Road.

Holiday madness is not just a catch phrase, it’s a reality. No matter how early I get the shopping and cooking done, by the time I’ve worked my way through the festivities with friends and family, I am so ready for my share of serenity. In the spirit of the season, here’s my holiday offering to those of you who need the true escape and soul refreshment that Santa Fe has offered for centuries.

Santa Fe is a Prescription for Peace

Sitting mindfully is a spiritual prescription known to East and West alike. And Santa Fe has both varieties for meditative moments. Sunday mornings at the Quaker Meeting House require nothing but a way to get there to sit and soak up the goodness. First Day (Sunday) Meetings are held in the historic Olive Rush house on Canyon Road and visitors are welcome to worship with the Friends.

In a town with historic Catholic roots, it’s no surprise to find a Carmelite Monastery. Santa Fe’s Carmelites are guided by St. Teresa of Avila’s commitment to leading life in silence and contemplation. You can be soothed by tranquility at the daily morning Mass or simply wander the grounds in private reflection.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Audubon Center, Nature

The Randall Davey Audubon Center is as picturesque in winter as it is in summer.

Those whose minds turn east find their way to the Upaya Zen Center, which hosts four daily zazen sessions, as well as an ongoing slate of programs and retreats. The gorgeous setting at the top of a canyon is an inspiration in itself – pristine nature echoing the clarity our souls endeavor to reach.

Finding a beautiful place to be inspired doesn’t require any particular affiliation. The Santa Fe Audubon Center lets birdsong do the work of lifting spirits. Located at the top of Canyon Road in the former home of animal-loving artist Randall Davey, the Audubon also has easy access to the Dale Ball Trails.

Activate Your Center with Movement

Santa Fe, New Mexico, historic landmarks

Just look up in Santa Fe and you’ll feel your spirits lifted upwards too.

Walking meditation is my personal go-to at times when sitting won’t do; sometimes one just has to move to feel centered. Climbing to the top of the Cross of the Martyrs always energizes my body and settles my spirit. Gazing up at the Cross and then out over the city reminds me of all the blessings that life in our special city imparts daily.

Holiday visits from family and friends invariably include a trip to Museum Hill, so as we drift from the Folk Art Museum to the Museum of Indian Art and Culture, we stop on the Milner Plaza and walk the Labyrinth, which silences even the kiddos as they concentrate on staying within the circuit. And there’s even a second labyrinth at the Santa Fe Community Yoga Center!

Santa Fe, New Mexico,  yoga maze

You’ll be a-mazed at how centered you will feel when you visit Santa Fe.

Speaking of yoga, there’s simply no way not to feel more balanced than after a yoga session and Santa Fe abounds in teachers and classes. The aforementioned Community Yoga Center is one of many studios that bring light and life back to body and soul; at BODY of Santa Fe, a yoga class followed by a spa treatment will keep you in the flow.

Read and Reflect to Find Spiritual Refreshment

There’s so much to know about this city that’s more than 400 years old that I sometimes find it a challenge to put it all together. My secret salvation is the Southwest Reading Room at the downtown Santa Fe Library. Classic library etiquette means stillness and silence and an hour spent perusing Santa Fe history enriches any experience. Just about anything you ever wanted to know about New Mexico is waiting on the shelves.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Public Library

The Santa Fe library scene is one of peace and perusal.

After you read up on the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asissi, your admiration for the magnificent edifice is enhanced by knowing its story. And when you sit with your thoughts in a pew, you may even be lucky enough to hear an organist practice or the choir rehearsing a new hymn. Just be sure to exit by the southside door by the Chapel so you can amble through the Bishop’s peaceful Prayer Garden south of the rectory.

Santa Fe is Truly Soul-Stirring

Turn down the holiday buzz and tune up your soul with a Santa Fe getaway and you’ll see how quickly everything becomes lighter and brighter inside. The City Different enjoys world-class status as a UNESCO Creative City and when you create soul-soothing adventures of your own, you’ll bring joy to your holiday world.

 

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New Year’s Eve in Santa Fe is Yours to Create

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Absolutely not, Mr. Burns, that can’t happen in a town that’s more than 400 years old – too many auld acquaintances to play with! Every one of my auldies but goodies has a favorite spot for ringing in the New Year, so I’ve made a list and checked it twice to see where we’ll have fun being naughty and nice!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology

Any day can end with ahhh at the Agave Lounge.

Firm believers in top-drawer food with party beverages head to the Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel to pair green chile Kobe sliders with their margaritas or martinis. The handsome fireplace casts cozy warmth throughout the room at this locals’ favorite, where a Happy Hour meet-and-greet easily flows into the wee hours. And if you’re planning on going the distance, the Eldorado’s New Year’s Eve Package has everything you need to welcome 2015 in true Santa Fe style.

Given that Santa Fe has a Palace of the Governors, it’s no surprise that there’s a party palace too, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. Once the bailiwick of the notorious Doña Tules (yes, there’s a story), the Palace has Happy Hour covered, but things really get going once the music starts. The calendar is always fully-loaded, and New Year’s Eve promises a speakeasy with The Shiners Club Jazz Band to swing 2015 into gear.

“Buon Anno” will roll off the tongue when you lubricate your vocal cords with an Italian twist and a glass of Prosecco for a toast at Il Piatto. Not one, but two happy hours on tap here, molto bene! The early one has half-off appetizers and choice wines by the glass. And late diners score at the 9:30 version with those half-off apps, selected wines and a three-course Prix Fixe dinner!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology

New Year’s Eve in Santa Fe can be colorful when you toast 2015 at Del Charro.

If you’re feeling casual, the Del Charro Saloon can’t be beat; inexpensive chow and a friendly howdy are guaranteed. Margaritas come with their own shakers, so you can say good-bye to the old year as you pour a good-bye to your last drop. No need to get gussied up – just sit back and relax, nibble an order of Nachos Royale, and watch the ball drop on the screen over the bar.

Casual comfort has a storied past at the Pink Adobe’s Dragon Room, a haunt that locals have been coming to forever (well at least for the last 70 years). Smack-dab in the center of the historic Barrio de Analco, the Dragon Room possesses all the rustic and authentic charm Santa Fe is known for. Tuck yourself into an corner with a margarita close at hand and you might well find yourself making friends with a local sharing tales of bygone days when Rosalea Murphy, the Pink’s legendary founder, reigned nightly for the artists and writers who courted her favor.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology

You can light up the night in Santa Fe at Skylight. (Photo Credit: The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Party people skedaddle to Skylight, a hot hit from the moment it opened in summer 2014. Food, yes; drinks, yes; music – sí, sí,sí! Santa Feans like to get their party on and this is the place. Laugh in the New Year with a performance by the Bonkerz comedy team (6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) then keep the amusement alive at the late-night dance party (10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) You can even beat the New Year’s rush and meet at Skylight on December 30 for Tuesday 50-cent wings and $2 Tecates!

There’s a new kid on the nightlife block and the Blue Rooster is sure to keep it rocking well into morning on New Year’s Eve. In the former home of the Rouge Cat (and sticking with the colorful naming), the Rooster has Santa Fe’s gay scene firmly in its sights, but there’s no pecking order on who’s invited to play. Diversity rules this hen house and all are welcome to party their way into 2015. And if your New Year’s Eve dance card is full, come back on Saturday night to hear Santa Fe’s resident disco diva, DJ Oona, pull out all the stops.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology

New Year’s Eve is sure to be hot when you let The Den mix the drinks! (Photo Credit: The Den)

Head for The Den, located underneath the Coyote Café, and you’ll feel right at home. This intimate hideaway is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails then comes to life for late-night endings with music spun by knock-out Santa Fe DJs. The signature cocktails are truly inventive and some lucky wordsmith had a great time coming up with awesome appellations for the Den’s apertifs and after-dinner specialties – cheers to them!

Every town has that one local bar that you absolutely must see to say you’ve been there. In Santa Fe, that’s Evangelo’s! There’s an upstairs and an Underground and you want to visit both. The face of bar-founder Evangelo Klonis became familiar world-wide thanks to a famed World War II picture by W. Eugene Smith, and the family atmosphere is palpable. Regulars will regale you with stories (both believable and far-fetched) of musicians they’ve heard here, including bands tailor-made for the movies (witness Jeff Bridges strumming in Crazy Heart).

For ending the night in true dive fashion, I suggest the intriguing set of stairs on the corner of Don Gaspar and West San Francisco Street leading down to The Matador. This hole-in-the-wall with rockabilly flair is the perfect place for a rendezvous with your best buddies. It’s dark, it’s funky, but it’s all Santa Fe – and all of Santa Fe has made a pilgrimage to close a night, a week or the year with a nightcap at the Matador. Close your night by linking arms for a stroll under the twinkling lights of Santa Fe Plaza.

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No matter where December 31 takes you, Santa Fe’s great mixologists will help you shake off 2014 and welcome the New Year!

Ten, nine, eight, seven,….well, you know how it goes. Gather the gang to say good-bye to 2014 City Different style and use my skinny on these ten spots to light up your getaway before the year is gone. Santa Fe has 400-plus years of experience at getting the year off to a festive start – say Prospero Año Nuevo the Santa Fe way and your 2015 is guaranteed to be a truly Happy New Year!

 

 

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Giving Santa Fe: No Wrapping Paper or Bows Required

Surrounded by the radiance of light-strung cacti and piñon trees at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow, I couldn’t help but get that warm, fuzzy feeling of true holiday cheer.  It reminded me once again that what we remember most about the holidays isn’t what we get or even what we give, but mostly what we do, the experiences we create.  In Santa Fe, there’s a sleigh full of one-of-kind memories just waiting to be made.  So what are you waiting for? Be here now!

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Holiday carols and colorful lights set the mood at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden Glow (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)

Cooking Up Holiday Surprises

When I send out gift certificates from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, I know that my recipients and I will both enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of the encounter. I’m living proof that your average Santa Fean’s cooking skills go from satisfactory to sublime with a Chile Workshop. Your visitors will reap the same results!

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Smiles come with the spatulas at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. (Photo Credit; Santa Fe School of Cooking)

And the Cooking School has more than just hands-on and demonstration cooking classes. Gifting someone with the School’s Shop Walk might mean you receive something unique in return. Signature sea salts or Spanish olive oil sound pretty tasty!  There’s even a three-day Southwest Culinary BootCamp for intrepid home chefs ready to delve deeply into our regional cuisine working side-by-side with some of Santa Fe’s best chefs.

Any conversation about Santa Fe’s best chefs has to include Rocky Durham. After Durham honed his skills in Europe and hosted his own cooking show, this talented maestro came home (as do native Santa Feans who miss the signature foods they cut their teeth on) to create some local culinary buzz. And he’s cooked it up right at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy! The academy’s mission to provide a classic and holistic education for future food industry professionals includes delicious community classes that cater to foodies hungry for authentic experiences.  And the series of Pop-Up Dinners that appear on the calendar are pure palate pleasure.

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Chef Rocky Durham is hands-on in the kitchen at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy. (Photo Credit: Eddie Moore for the Albuquerque Journal)

The Pros Provide the Guide to Santa Fe’s Dining Delights

Seeing the town on foot can be foodie heaven, too, and Santa Fe has double the fun on offer. Both the Santa Fe School of Cooking Restaurant Walking Tours and Food Tour New Mexico provide the perfect way to discover Santa Fe’s restaurant scene. Strolling to Santa Fe’s best restaurants, meeting the chefs, and sampling the flavors is entertainment and dinner in one fell swoop. You could even set up a friendly family rivalry by sending one team to each tour to report back on restaurant revelations!

 

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Who wouldn’t love to experience Santa Fe with Food Tour New Mexico as a guide? (Photo Credit: Food Tour New Mexico)

Clever Christmas Presents Include Creativity

Rest assured that there’s more than dough and spices to get anyone’s hands into. How about an afternoon at Santa Fe Clay? Located in the happening Santa Fe Railyard, this professional pottery studio is home to 20 resident artists and ideas burn as hot as the kiln in the 10,000-square-foot space. The gallery is full with treasures and family-friendly classes and weekend workshops let everyone spend fun-filled hours turning a ball of clay into an artistic masterpiece. And the most fervent craftsman in your family would be thrilled to attend a  2015 summer workshop – Santa Fe’s summer art season is inspiration that never quits.

 

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Hands-on at Santa Fe Clay is a colorful way to spend a day. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)

 

Creativity runs rampant in the City Different and Santa Fe Creative Tourism’s year-round classes come in every do-it-yourself medium imaginable! Budding photo buffs can graduate from selfies to stunning landscape shots and the camera faithful can up the ante with digital film-making classes. Put pencil to paper or brush to canvas for capturing the beauty of Santa Fe’s inspiring scenery. Traditional arts like yarn-spinning and tinsmithing teach the history of New Mexico along with technique. And those who just can’t hold the excitement inside can shake it with belly-dancing or capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) classes.

 

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A monotype class with Sasha Wasko is a one-of-a-kind one-print experience courtesy of Santa Fe Creative Tourism. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Creative Tourism)

 

Christmas + Santa Fe = An Experience Memories are Made Of

Have I lit a fire in your mind? You don’t have to let the gift-giving frenzy get you into a tizzy! As you plan a Santa Fe Plus getaway for that special person on your holiday gift list, make sure you include yourself in the experience – when you combine “be here now” with “do it in Santa Fe,” you’ll want to be along for the fun.

 

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Santa Fe is a Star in Tamalewood

As visions of sugarplums dance in some heads, a City Different scene appears in my mind. I dream instead of the deliciously scented cloud that drifts up as I lift the lid off a pan of freshly-steamed tamales. No Santa Fe Christmas scene would be complete without a pile of pillowy treats on the table, and all over town families are setting the stage for their tamalero (tamale-making party).

Santa Fe, New Mexico,

There’s a cast of thousands when it’s tamale time in Santa Fe.

The tamale is an ancient dish and the multi-step preparation works best when family and friends put many hands and much laughter to work. An assembly line forms to mix up soft masa harina (finely-milled ground cornmeal) dough for encasing familiar fillings or star actors cast by the abuela (grandmother) who shares her secrets judiciously (personally, I’m grateful to the auteur of the Tamale Dressing for Turkey in the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s cookbook). Mama spreads the masa on a pre-soaked cornhusk before passing it to a skillful tia (auntie) who fills and dexterously folds before tying it with a thin strip of cornhusk. The post-production staff packs up a portion of the treasure for the freezer then steams a batch for the hungry horde hovering nearby.

This year, my family crew is spread east and west for the holidays, so rather than a solo production, I’m letting the professionals fulfill my Tamalewood dreams. Care to come along for the ride?

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Let every Posa’s flavor audition for a part in the dining scene!

Posa’s is a Featured Player at the Holidays

Peruse the prepared food section in Santa Fe grocery stores and you’re sure to spot a six-pack of Posa’s tamales. It’s a lifesaver for the time-challenged, as all it takes is a few minutes in boiling water to get these beauties on the table. But if time allows, a visit to Posa’s southside Café is a must-do. With options like red chile pork, green chile with cheese or chicken and a green chile vegan version featuring zucchini, black beans and corn, everyone is sure to be accommodated.

 

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Fat and fabulous – El Parasol writes a great script for tamale temptation.

 

El Parasol is a Location Scout’s Dream

When it’s a grab-n-go day, there’s no better pick-me-up than the hefty take-out tamales that come from El Parasol’s cocinita (little kitchen). Larger than average, these tender treats are stuffed edge to edge with potent flavor. Order red pork and the generous portion of fiery shredded meat tints the tender masa with a scarlet glow. Spicy flavors linger on the tongue long after the tamale is gone. Green chile is no slouch either – whether you order the green chicken version or the green with cheese, you know you’re in New Mexico now, Dorothy!

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A rich veggie filling has top billing in La Casa Sena’s tamale production!

 

Tamale-Time for a Close-up, Mr. de Mille

In the hands of an expert like Chef Patrick Gharrity, tamales dressed for an elegant appearance and a white-tablecloth dinner at La Casa Sena are cult classics. His mixed mushroom tamale is tucked into poblano-scented masa laced with fried sage butter, topped with shallot rings and served on a bed of avocado-tomatillo sauce. Perfection for fervent fungi fans! Pair it with an autumnal beverage like Crispin hard cider and a side of calabacitas (sautéed summer squash) and you’re in food heaven. My, oh my, is this tamale superstar ever ready for the red carpet!

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Having fun is part of the setting when the Santa Fe School of Cooking is in the director’s chair! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

 

Be the Star in Your Own Tamalewood Production

Once you take a tamale tour through Santa Fe, I guarantee you’ll want to know how to direct your crew to make these signature flavors at home. If you can’t borrow a friend’s abuela for training purposes, let the expert chefs at the Santa Fe School of Cooking do the honors. Its ever-popular (read: sell-out) tamale-making classes provide hands-on instruction through the assembly process and run the gamut from the red chile pork standard to a south-of-the-border chicken tamale wrapped in a banana leaf. All classes end with a feasting on the fruits of the labor and the school’s brand-new 25th anniversary cookbook has an invaluable storyboard for home tamaleros!

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A Santa Fe holiday is a sweet affair when Señor Murphy writes the final scene with caramelos, their scene-stealing piñon-candy tamales.

 

Make Tamales Your Classic Santa Fe Holiday Storyline

The holidays are a delicious time of year for Santa Fe locals and visitors. The town sparkles with excitement and our signature regional foods play their roles with gusto. Just be sure to make your holiday getaway Christmas-style – let red and green chile play starring roles and a standing ovation is guaranteed

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There’s No[el] Better Holiday than Santa Fe

Poor Bing Crosby! He clearly never spent his holidays in Santa Fe. If he had, he probably would have never crooned “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” After all, who wants to be home when Santa Fe strikes the pitch-perfect note throughout the holidays? From the church bells tolling in the background on November 28 when Santa Fe’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony ignites holiday spirits to the a capella carolers traipsing up and down Canyon Road on Christmas Eve, there’s a beautiful season rich in song and historic celebration to discover in the City Different!

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Hearts are alight in Santa Fe when the holidays arrive. (Photo Credit: Hannah Abelbeck, courtesy of the New Mexico History Museum)

Deck the [Palace] Halls
Strike the right holiday note with your little elves by bringing them to the Palace of the Governors, decked out in piñatas and live music for Christmas at the Palace, December 12 at 5:30 p.m. Free, fun family activities include operating the antique printing press and with hot cider and cookies on tap. This is one party you’ll want to attend! Be sure to follow up another day with a visit to the New Mexico History Museum to see Gustave Baumann and Friends: Artist Cards from Holidays Past, an exhibit of festive cards created by New Mexico’s most renowned artists.

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Christmas crafts are part of the fun when families celebrate Christmas at the Palace. (Photo Credit: Hannah Abelbeck, courtesy of the New Mexico History Museum)

Strolling back to the Plaza a mere two days later on December 14 is a must. At 5:30 p.m. it’s time for Las Posadas, an annual re-enactment of the Holy Family’s search for lodging. A loyal coterie of volunteers braves winter’s chill to circle the Plaza in a candle-lit procession as devils pop out to menace the seekers at each stop. When shelter is found and evil is vanquished, everyone heads to the Palace of the Governors’ courtyard to warm up, sip cider and sing carols around a cozy bonfire.

Anything But Silent Nights

Musically speaking, Santa Fe makes the holidays sparkle. On December 14 at 4:00 p.m., the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus welcomes guest conductor Jason Altieri to the Lensic for a romp through favorites from White Christmas to Brazilian Sleigh Bells. I suspect you’ll be tempted to hum along with a carol or two! Want to sing, not hum? Return to the Lensic December 15 at 7:00 p.m. when Greg Heltman, founder/general director of the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus, takes the podium to conduct the Santa Fe Concert Band in a rousing annual Christmas Concert. And the audience is always invited to sing along!

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You never know who might show up at the Santa Fe Concert Band’s Christmas Concert! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Concert Band)

The glorious sounds of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s Carols and Lullabies concerts reach perfect heights December 16 and December 18-20 at 8:00 p.m. in the inspirational setting of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. If you can’t wait that long, your best bet is the Chorale’s Winter Festival benefit opener, Christmas + Cabaret : The Lighter Side of Christmas, December 9 at the Inn and Spa at Loretto. And those who love a happy ending should complete the year with Ending and Beginnings: Chilling with Voasis, the eight-voice a cappella jazz/pop ensemble performing December 27 through New Year’s Eve at the Lodge at Santa Fe.

Another magical Santa Fe backdrop has been the holiday home of Santa Fe Pro Musica for ages. Pro Musica’s Baroque Christmas is beloved by locals (read: sell-out) and no wonder. As candles flicker on the altar of the rococo Loretto Chapel, authentic baroque instruments ring out their holiday best twice nightly, at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., from December 19 through December 24. And of course, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Nutcracker, dancing across the Lensic stage on December 20 and 21!

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Santa Fe Pro Musica goes for baroque in their annual holiday appearance at the Loretto Chapel. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Pro Musica)

Dashing Through the Snow. . . And the Lights, too
While touring Christmas lights is a tradition everywhere, the experience is totally unique in Santa Fe. After all, how many towns commit hours of preparation to creating an awe-inspiring display for just one night? I’m referring to the annual Christmas Eve Farolito Walk that leads you from the Santa Fe Plaza to the surrounding historic neighborhoods. Bundle up the gang to see brown paper bags achieve signature status as they turn into farolitos with the addition of sand and a votive candle. Left burning all night long, these humble holiday lights signify lighting the way for the Christ Child. Regardless of your religious persuasion, the beauty is universal.

 

 

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas in Santa Fe. . .
Or a Feliz Navidad. Or sing Joy to the World. Whatever your tune, I’m certain you won’t be singing old Bing, wishing you’d were Home for Christmas. Turn your own holiday into a Santa Fe get-together getaway and a holiday soundtrack you’ll want to repeat for years to come.

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Santa Fe adobes share wall space with farolitos and colored lights alike! (Photo courtesy of the Inn of the Governors)

 

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Gift-Givers’ Guide to Santa Fe Style

Can you feel the holidays humming in the air? Snow has graced the mountaintops, seasonal foods are simmering, and celebrations are in store. Don’t let the thought of holiday shopping scare you because Santa Fe is a gift-giver’s paradise! I hope your list is made and you’ve checked it twice. This is the perfect time and place to score future smiles from one-of-a-kind holiday surprises.

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Things Finer’s name says it all – Santa Fe is full of fine things that amaze and delight!

Festive Finery Makes Gorgeous Gifts

Tucked inside La Fonda, the venerable hotel beloved by locals and visitors alike, Things Finer turns someone else’s unique treasure into a treasured gift. Glittering jewels mesmerize and antique curiosities beckon you to take a closer look. This is a place where you truly never know what you’ll find – that’s what makes it an exciting adventure.

 

 

 

 

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You’ll be sure to meet colorful characters in the Museum of New Mexico gift shops.

Discover Priceless Treasures by Museum Shopping

If you dig unique discoveries, the Museum of New Mexico’s shops need to be on your list. From folk art to handcrafted jewelry to books galore, the staff has searched far and wide to come up with a collection of distinctive global and local items that reflect each museum’s individual mission. Every historic exhibition yields special artistic gems, and they’ve made it easy to shop online for gifts that spread holiday cheer back to the hands that made them.

And don’t forget to go where the artists are. With  250 galleries in Santa Fe, you can’t miss! It’s always exciting to catch an artist on the cusp of a brilliant career, and The Shop at CCA is ideal for scoping out local talent on its way up. The goods on display have the same quirky sensibility as the Cinematheque schedule, with tons of originality.

 

To Market, To Market, To Find a Fine Treat

When you wander over to the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, make a beeline for Bon Marché, across from the Railyard Water Tower. Even on wintry days, the colorful collection instantly whisks you to sunny destinations.

 

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Stroll in to Bon Marché – whose name means “good deal” in French – and you’ll walk out with happy feet and a happy wallet.

Multi-hued Catalan fabrics are woven on turn-of-the-century machinery then shipped to New Mexico where local artisans turn them into must-have beauties. Bright espadrilles evoke summer’s return, and beach bags add flair for lucky friends taking a winter cruise. And if you leave without those cheery napkins you loved, no problem – you’ll find them online.

 

 

Think of Fido’s mournful face if there’s no treat under the tree – you know you need something fun for four-legged BFFs. Pooch Pantry has the best for barkers, and you can even place orders for fresh-baked goodies. Doesn’t Coco deserve to eat her Christmas meal out of festive dinnerware? And if your hound stepped in a puddle on your holiday shopping trip, take heed of the self-service dogwash!

Simply Log In for Hands-free Shopping

For sweet stocking stuffers, I believe a spot of chocolate is required. The wise choice from afar? A jaunt to The Chocolatesmith! Nothing says Santa Fe like a rich dark chocolate pâté infused with chile. The only challenge with signature Santa Fe treats is not to eat them before they get tucked into that holiday stocking! Not to worry, munch away because these delicious delights are available online.

If you opt for gourmet chile chocolate pâté, you’ve got to do it Christmas-style, red and green! (Photo Credit: The Chocolatesmith)

If you opt for gourmet chile chocolate pâté, you’ve got to do it Christmas-style, red and green! (Photo Credit: The Chocolatesmith)

Online is the ticket for making a memorable Santa Fe statement with a gorgeous O’Keeffe poster from Posters of Santa Fe. The brick-and-mortar shop is no more, but theirs is a huge art archive of reproductions on paper. Once you’ve trolled through the online collections to make your choice, it’s a snap to have a poster shipped in time to tuck under the tree.

Light Up Your Holiday the Santa Fe Way

All this shopping and no schlepping required! Just visit PakMail or UPS and your hands are free to snap selfies at the November 28 Christmas tree lighting on the Santa Fe Plaza. If the holiday lights remind you of your own tree, head for The Shop: A Christmas Store or Susan’s Christmas Shop for ornaments with authentic New Mexico flavor. And remember the November 29-30 SWAIA Winter Indian Market for handmade Native American treasures you won’t find anywhere but Santa Fe.

A Santa Fe getaway definitely gives you the luxury of shopping in person, but you can be sure those distinctive presents you chose online will arrive for placement under the tree in plenty of time. Either way, shopping Santa Fe means yours will be the gifts that family and friends cherish for years.

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Don’t wait – start your holidays now in Santa Fe!

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