Fred Donnelly, Travel Writer for Bon Voyage gave us the rundown on his latest trip to The City Different.
“Santa Fe, New Mexico, population 69,000, has a strange almost other worldly aspect to it. Clearly it’s a city but it has no high-rise buildings to speak of and its civic architecture displays an eerie uniformity. For many decades its building codes have not only restricted heights of structures but also colours and styles.
To the visitor from away, it looks Spanish or Mexican or exotic. Perhaps this is its charm, to be foreign in appearance but still part of the American West.
The old central Plaza laid out by the Spanish all those centuries ago is still the hub of activity for the tourist. Running away from it in all directions are side streets, warrens of arcades, galerias and courtyards, along with many smaller “Plaza Mercados”. Santa Fe is a top destination for high-end shopping, with its many retail outlets. What’s on offer is fine art work, jewelry, native handcrafts, western apparel, rare books, antiques, china, leather goods and luxury imports of every type.”
Read the full article to find out why Santa Fe’s history makes it a fascinating and intriguing cultural destination.
Santa Fe is a world-renowned destination for many things including art, culture, history, shopping and yes, food. But how does a small town with only 68,000 residents high in the mountains of Northern New Mexico match up to such culinary icons as New York, Santa Francisco, and Paris?
Incredible culinary talent seems to be the special ingredient when added to the tranquil, yet vibrant surroundings of the City Different. Bringing flavors from around the world and fusing them with indigenous ingredients, Santa Fe Chefs are making a mark on the international food scene through not only the stomach, but also the soul.
One such local Santa Fean cooking up magic is noted chef Martin Rios. For Martin, Santa Fe isn’t just his home; it’s his passion. From the moment I sat down with this James Beard Recognized Chef I could feel his enthusiasm. Martin is warm and inviting, yet surprisingly, a bit of an introvert whose cuisine is anything but shy. He’s known for dishes that blend contrasting flavors perfectly on the palate. Having dined in his signature restaurant many times, I was admittedly eager to put a face to the name and plate. But given the remarkable story of Chef Martin, I wanted to know more than ingredients and techniques; what I really wanted to know was his recipe for life.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico Martin moved to Santa Fe just before middle school, and didn’t speak English until he was 14. Determination is what he possessed; knowledge and experience is what he desired. As a teenager, armed with his culinary “Bibles,” Martin immersed himself in all things cooking
Starting as a dishwasher at age 17, he quickly moved up the kitchen ranks from potato peeler to prep-cook and so on, steadily realizing his dreams. Then one day, as luck should have it, a line cook was out sick. Martin jumped to the line proving his skills…with that his career really started to sizzle.
Within a few years Martin Rios advanced to the coveted position of Executive Chef at the Eldorado Hotel, earning the restaurant AAA Four-Diamond and Mobil Four-Star ratings. Though very busy pursuing culinary greatness at the Eldorado, he also found the time to pursue and marry his wife and business partner, Jennifer.
From immigrant, to dishwasher, to award winning chef, Martin Rios embodies the true meaning of hard work. This determination and fervor for fine dining lead the already accomplished professional to leave his noted position at the Eldorado for a new challenge. “I already had become an executive chef. I was running a four star restaurant. I could run a banquet from ten people to two thousand. But, it came to a point where it was just a job, I wasn’t learning anymore,” states Martin. So, that’s why at age thirty Martin and Jennifer made the decision to move to Hyde Park, New York where he would hone his skills at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). The experience at CIA not only reaffirmed Martins’ beliefs in his talents, but also provided him the refinement to advance his career.
New York may have given him the confidence to peruse his dreams, but Santa Fe continues to give him the vision to see it through. Like so many creative souls that make Santa Fe home, Martin Rios is a true artist, and his medium is food. It was no surprise upon completion of the CIA program Martin and Jennifer returned home to their creative nest in Santa Fe, NM, and begin planning the launch of Restaurant Martin.
Santa Fe not only offers Martin the opportunity to work one-on-one with local purveyors and farmers to source the best ingredients, but also the space to cultivate his own garden and the quality of life to raise a family (including two daughters and four dogs).
Chef Martin Rios and Jennifer bring their love of food to the hearts and bellies of Santa Fe diners at Restaurant Martin. Housed in a charming old adobe on Paseo de Peralta Street, the restaurant encompasses a laid back vibe complete with intimate seating, an inviting patio, and organic garden. But don’t let the tranquil ambience of this unassuming restaurant fool you; the award winning cuisine of Chef Rios is anything but humble. Dishes like Cinnamon Glazed Quail and Butternut and Green Apple Bisque are sure to have you boasting.
Featuring local produce and organic meats combined with Southwestern and Asian flare, as well as French techniques, the menu at Restaurant Martin is so unique that Chef Rios earned the runner up position for the prestigious James Beard Award “Best Chef of the Southwest” in 2011. The accolades don’t stop there, Martin Rios has showcased his skills on Iron Chef America, is the only New Mexico Chef to have won the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence, and has twice been named ‘Chef of the Year’ by the state of New Mexico.
When I asked how he enjoys all this success, his answer is, of course, modest. “When I look at what I have accomplished, with the help of my wife, I feel humble. Starting as an immigrant with very little, it was a hard road to achieve these things, but as long as I have the willingness and desire, I know there is more out there. We have accomplished a lot, but we are always looking for ways to improve,” words of wisdom from a great chef whose forte is always fresh and imaginative.
They say an artist communicates through their medium, so I of course couldn’t resist asking Martin to sum up in one word what he wants patrons of his restaurant to take away from their experience. He poignantly answers “Satisfaction,” as Jennifer lovingly adds “Passion.”
For a truly satisfying culinary adventure, make plans to experience the passionate and innovative cuisine of Chef Rios at the acclaimed Restaurant Martin.
Dishes not to miss:
Butternut and Green Apple Bisque: Poached Maine Lobster, Gingerbread-Coffee Toast Butternut-Hazelnut Toffee, Cranberries, Pumpkin Seed Oil
Chocolate may reign as queen of the exhibition New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate y Mas but yerba mate holds court as the most popular drink in Latin America and is gaining ground in this country—having now moved to the shelves of major grocery stores.
Mate, once used as a drink in spiritual ceremonies, as a medicinal herb, and as a trade commodity by Native South American populations, is today, in Latin America, a popular hot tea.
Drinking mate is quite social, mostly served and shared with family and friends during the merienda, or mid-day break. Don’t let familiarity deceive. Preparing and serving the drink is considered a great honor. Ceremony dictates the cerbedor’s (server’s) tasks—drinking the entire first cup filled with leaves and hot water, then refilling with water and passing the cup and bombilla (straw) counter-clockwise to the next person, and on until everyone has had their fill. Mate’s flavor lasts quite a while with water added to the cup over and over again until the taste is finally gone (or lavado or flat).
Serious mate drinkers enjoy it with nothing added but hot water and believe that gourd cups enhance an extra special flavor of the mate herb. Others mix in flavorful herbs or add a small amount of sugar and might even drink from a cup made of wood, clay, metal (often silver), or coconut shell.
The mate cups on view in the exhibition range from simple hollowed gourds to the highly ornate that once graced the tables of Spanish colonial homes. Today you can buy brightly colored aluminum cups (and entire mate serving sets) reflecting modern design sensibilities and ease of transportation (like a thermos you can pop in your backpack).
Yerba mate is a member of the holly family Ilex paraguayensis. The young leaves are harvested during the dry winter months from June through August. Yerba mate grew wild in northeastern Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil and was domesticated and exported by the Jesuit Priests during the 17th and 18th centuries. In time, mate production became a major export commodity and is today considered the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate y Más runs now through January 5, 2014.
Looking for an guilt-free way to feel downright decadent? Feast on delicious, three-course meals for a mere pittance when the annual Santa Fe Restaurant Week returns February 24th- March 3rd, 2013.
Now in its fourth year, Santa Fe Restaurant Week kicks off a 24-day culinary celebration. In addition to value-priced dinners and lunches, people can expand their epicurean horizons through daytime cooking demonstrations, classes, and wine & spirits tastings. More than 50 Santa Fe restaurants will participate in the Sunday-to-Sunday culinary extravaganza, and several hotels will feature special Restaurant Week lodging packages.
“Few cities of this size can boast a restaurant scene that’s as impressive or diverse as Santa Fe’s, and Restaurant Week provides the perfect opportunity to explore new places and revisit old favorites,” said Michele Ostrove, president of Wings Media Network, which organizes the event throughout the state. “You can learn from the pros during the daytime events, and indulge in fabulous food at incredible prices. It’s the week that locals and many visitors look forward to all year.”
Three-course, prix-fixe dinners will be offered in four categories: $25 for two for casual-dining restaurants, and $20, $30 or $40 per person, depending on the restaurant. Many restaurants also will be offering two- or three-course, value-priced lunches. Visit the Santa Fe Restaurant Week website to compare menus, sign up for daytime events, and register for the sweepstakes giveaways. Reservations can be made through the website or by calling the restaurant directly. Make reservations today!
Santa Fe is a 400-year-old historic city that is ever changing. We want to make sure you are in the know about all the latest happening in the City Different! Read on to find out What’s New in Santa Fe.
New Ski Area Base Lodge: Ski Santa Fe, located 16 miles from downtown Santa Fe, will open a 12,000 square foot expansion to La Casa Lodge base facility this winter. The new addition will increase the size of the rental shop, add new seating space in the food service area, expand menu options and add additional retail space. The area offers a dedicated children’s ski school and terrain for all abilities. Ski Santa Fe’s scheduled season for 2012-2013 is Thanksgiving through Easter.
Restaurants and Dining
New Chef at Rancho Encantado. Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe welcomes Andrew Cooper as its new executive chef. Cooper arrives from the Four Seasons Hualalai on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Chef of the Year Award. Chef Carmen Rodriguez of La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa was named Chef of the Year by the New Mexico Restaurant Association. Rodriguez was chosen not only because of his fine cuisine, but also because of his many contributions to the Santa Fe community and his efforts to encourage more Hispanic chefs.
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen: First time restaurateur Fiona Wong and longtime culinary professional Soma Franks open their new health food café and wine bar. The restaurant will focus on using as much locally sourced farm to table food as possible, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. 1512 Pacheco in Pacheco Park.
Cave Wine Bistro: Opening soon, this intimate space will feature an eclectic menu and an extensive wine list with more than 125 wines by the glass alone. Plans call for keeping the kitchen open late every night at the bistro’s convenient location in the Plaza Galeria facing the Santa Fe Plaza.
Momo & Co. Bakery and Boba Tea Bar: An entirely gluten-free and mostly vegan bakery and teahouse that opened this fall. Baker Leslie Thompson, a native of New York, has met the many challenges of not only baking without flour, eggs and butter but doing so at Santa Fe’s 7,000 foot elevation. She joined with boba tea fan Carola Kieve, who created an all-natural version of boba tea, to open the Johnson Street storefront. The bakery also offers gluten-free and vegan entrees including pizzas, sandwiches, soups and salads.
The Real Butcher Shop. Pollo Real has been a popular staple at The Santa Fe Farmers market for years, providing customers with tasty, naturally raised poultry and eggs. Now the farmers are taking the next step, opening a butcher shop that will feature their own products and also naturally raised, grass finished and heritage meats and charcuterie from New Mexico and Colorado. The results promise to be delicious. The store opens around the first of the year.
Santa Fe School of Cooking Moves. The Santa Fe School of Cooking is in its expansive new location at 125 North Guadalupe Street. The beautifully renovated building, a former Packard dealership, has a cool retro/modern/New Mexico vibe and houses two kitchens and a large outdoor patio. Santa Fe chef and restaurateur Tracy Ritter is Director of Cuisine.
Santa Fe Culinary Academy Opens. The Santa Fe Culinary Academy, on the top floor of the downtown Plaza Mercado, is open and teaching classes. Fall classes include everything from basics classes for home cooks to continuing education for restaurant professionals. In January, the academy will welcome its first full-time class of aspiring professional chefs. A student restaurant will allow them to polish their craft. Santa Fe native Rocky Durham and Tanya Story are executive chefs and co-founders.
Museums & Openings
Santa Fe’s newest museum. The Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts is a national museum honoring the work of Native women from North America. Named for the first female student in the first Santa Fe Indian School art class, Pablita became the first Native women to paint full time as a career. The museum features the work of Native painters, potters, sculptors, weavers, jewelers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, poets and writers.
New World Cuisine. A major new exhibit titled New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate, y Mas, at the Museum of International Folk Art, explores our food’s many fascinating historic, cultural and geographic connections. The exhibit, which opens this December 9 and runs until January, 2014, will feature more than 300 objects related to the gathering, preparation, serving and storage of food. The histories of chocolate and mate are of particular interest and are illustrated by the many decorative cups, sippers, stirrers and pots used to make the popular beverages.
Hands on Santa Fe
DIY: A Creative Journey. In March, 2013 Santa Fe Creative Tourism and Santa Fe’s lodgers collaborate on a month of creative experiences combining workshops and classes taught by local artists with savings at participating accommodations. Discover Santa Fe through a hands-on class in painting, glasswork, writing, photography, folk art and more during this month of personal expression in Santa Fe.
In the News
Top Choice in Conde Nast Traveler. For the twenty-first year in a row, avid travelers who subscribe to Conde Nast Traveler magazine ranked Santa Fe as one of the top cities to visit in the United States. Santa Fe ranked fourth in the travelers pick, behind Charleston, South Carolina, San Francisco, California, and Chicago, Illinois. The popular survey, which is widely used by people planning vacation travel, polled more than 46,000 readers.
Additionally, five Santa Fe hotels were included in the Conde Nast survey’s Top 25 Hotels in the Southwest. Number one on that list is the Inn of the Five Graces. The Inn and Spa at Loretto was ranked fifth, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi tenth, Hotel Saint Francis twentieth, and La Fonda on the Plaza twenty-first.
Travel + Leisure magazine also picked out Santa Fe for its many charms, ranking it the second best city in America overall during its annual American’s Favorite Cities 2012 poll. The results included voting Santa Fe a #1 Cultural Getaway in addition to praising the city’s shopping, romantic side, museums and galleries, food, cleanliness, environmental friendliness and historical sites.
Santa Fe has long been heralded as a go-to culinary destination. Most foodies know the region for hearty ingredients like native chile, corn and squash, but surprisingly chocolate has been a coveted New Mexico delicacy for more than a century. Before the French enticed the world with their truffle and before the Swiss made chocolate milky sweet, Native New Mexico tribes were already coveting the cacao bean. Yes, Santa Fe’s relationship with chocolate is older than the city itself. Need proof? A 1,000-year-old pottery shard, unearthed from the Chaco Canyon, was found to have traces of theobroma (chocolate’s scientific name). In 1600 Don Juan de Oñate himself noted an inventory to the “Crown” of Spain of “eighty small boxes of chocolate”. And in 1661, then Governor, Lopez de Mendizabal, spoke of time spent sipping chocolate with his wife Dona Teresa at the Governor’s Palace.
A visit to the City Different is incomplete with out an exploration of the rich culinary traditions. And now it’s easier than ever to discover the sweet history of New Mexico foods via the new exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art, titled “New World Cuisine: The History of Chocolate, Mate y Más”. This celebration of ancient fare reveals the cultural power of chocolate, highlighting its important role in the culinary revolution. Traditionally a bitter brew, this beloved bean was considered so valuable to the Natives of New Mexico that they used it like money, and believed it possessed special ceremonial powers. It was only when transported back to Europe that is became sweetened and molded into the delicate candies we enjoy today. So precious was this potent elixir that Juan de Oñate housed it in intricate spice jars with locking metal lids to protect the cacao from thieves. Nicely played, Oñate. Nicely played.
After soaking up six centuries of rich chocolate history, you’ll be more than ready to indulge your senses in the here and now. Fortunately, modern-day Santa Fe is home to the incomparable Chocolate Trail, a chocolate-infused route that connects four world-class chocolatiers: Todos Santos, C. G. Higgins Confections, Kakawa Chocolate House, and The Chocolate Smith.
Walk, don’t run, through Santa Fe’s chocolate nirvana sampling everything from traditional cacao drinks to delicate hand rolled truffles.
Here’s everything you need to know to slowly savor your indulgent tour.
Todos Santos Chocolates and Confections
Todos Santos showcases the artistic chocolate genius Hayward Simoneaux. Here he offers unique truffles with rare and amazing flavors like candied grapefruit peel and hickory-smoked sea salt. The shop prides itself on eclectic decorations and Chocolate Milagros. Simoneaux crafts Catholic emblems out of chocolate, then coats them in a fine layer of edible silver or gold. That’s right, you can get your chocolate with a side of gold.
C. G. Higgins Confections
C.G. Higgins was the official candy maker for Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary, which is further proof of the city’s reverence for chocolate. Higgins’s Chile Caramel Corn and Chile Pecan Brittle each took home first place Scovie Awards (the official awards of the Fiery Foods show). His impossible-to-resist truffles come in surprising flavors– “surprising” meaning “ecstatically good” – like blackberry balsamic, cardamom raspberry, and jalapeño lime. Higgins also offers drinking chocolates, handcrafted fudge, and caramel corn that are all beyond delicious.
Kakawa Chocolate House
Kakawa Chocolate House, run by owner Peter Wolf, specializes in authentic and historic drinking chocolates. One sip and you will forever swear off powdered chocolate. Thick exotic brews, flavored with ingredients like roses, nuts, ancho chile, and hibiscus, tempt the traditional and adventurous palate. Sip on an elixir re-created from Aztec times, or a rustic drinking chocolate made from Thomas Jefferson’s own recipe. Amorous visitors can share the Love Potion, a sensuous concoction that uses damiana, an herb with legendary aphrodisiac qualities. Delicately indulgent pomegranate and lavender truffles make the perfect companion to Kakawa’s brews.
The Chocolate Smith
No matter how often I visit (confession time: often), I still have a tough time choosing a favorite from the sea of chocolate barks and bonbons at The Chocolate Smith. Thankfully they provide samples, best enjoyed as you watch the artisans pour and cut chocolate on marble slabs. Jeff and Kari Keenan craft their delectable artisan barks from fresh ingredients like organic espresso, tamari-roasted almonds, homemade English toffee, and New Mexico green and red chili roasted pistachios. Their tempting sierra blanca bark, a white chocolate ganache with fresh lime and ancho chile, has a special place in my heart.
Learn, savor and rejoice, chocolate lover! Chocolate has a stirring, centuries-old history here in Santa Fe. Come see, smell and taste for yourself one of our most revered and inspiring culinary traditions still alive today.
In a city known for boldness, spirit, and creativity, Santa Fe’s art scene thrives! Vibrant galleries, nearby artist studios, and annual art markets give Santa Feans, and loyal visitors, plenty of inspiration to shop for one-of-a-kind art pieces year round, even (and especially) during the winter months.
I admit it: I used to think that “fine art” was out of my collecting stratosphere. Santa Fe changed all that. Now I’ve begun my very own Santa Fe art collection, finding a few special pieces that fit my offbeat personality and non-Rockefeller budget.
How I Became a Gallery Gal
My Santa Fe art shopping tradition started one ordinary Friday when I reluctantly agreed to tag along with friends to a gallery walk in Santa Fe’s renowned and rejuvenated Railyard. As an out and about Santa Fean who has entertained many an out-of-towner, I knew the Railyard as a shopping, dining, and mingling neighborhood. What I didn’t realize was that our local and laid-back hangout was also a hotbed of world-class visual art talent.
Mellow trip-hop sounds seeped out the doorway of the first gallery, as a DJ entertained a young and friendly crowd. I let out a sigh of relief, and joined my friends at the wine station. Then, luscious New Mexico wine in hand, I casually took in an astounding collection of contemporary paintings, the richness of the duotone of mountain-sky blue and rich black connected me to the work.
The next three galleries were equally lively, and equally mind-opening. Sampling local goat cheese paired with Estrella del Norte wine, my typically non arts-opinionated group and I found ourselves in the throes of a deep discussion about the use of modern media – digital printing – in fine art. We were hooked. Luckily, Santa Fe’s Railyard ArtWalk happens the last Friday of every month. My friends and I have made it a ritual, a kind of Art Club, where we meet and appreciate our local artists, and uncover pieces for our own small-but-growing art collections.
Santa Fe gallery events happen year-round. Check the Santa Fe Gallery Association or The Santa Fe Reporter to stay up-to-date. And in addition to gallery events, anyone can experience Santa Fe art “real time” by taking a Santa Fe Studio Art Tour, where you’ll see local artists at work in their element. This is for real, folks – as in adrenaline rushing as you witness fresh paint hit the canvas of a soon-to-be spectacular work.
In typical Santa Fe art style, Studio Tours keep it laid-back and friendly. Artists welcome your questions, and invite you to get up close to the works-in-progress. And it wouldn’t be a Santa Fe art event without great music and delicious local food and wine. Oh, how I heart this town.
If your itinerary does not sync up with a scheduled Studio Tour, make your own studio tour by selecting your favorites from an array of art galleries and studios in our Canyon Road arts district. World-famous restaurants, cozy bars, and quaint coffeehouses are tucked away along Canyon Road. Coincidence? I think not.
For more seasoned art aficionados, or those ready to commit to dive head first into Santa Fe art, studio tours of nearby arts communities offer enthralling opportunities to meet working artists and tour our scenic landscape. Thanksgiving Weekend the La Cienega Studio Tour will take visitors 10 miles northwest of Santa Fe to view 30 artists with traditional work and expressive, modern art in all mediums. For a list of other art events, visit Santafe.org’s “What’s Happening” section.
Pressed for time, but want to find authentic Santa Fe art? Locals like me turn to the shopping section at SantaFe.org. Seriously. It’s a convenient, trusted hub featuring some of Santa Fe’s most popular artists.
Winter Indian Market
Generations of art lovers know that few experiences compare to the rich, authentic feeling of our Summer Indian Market. What many don’t know is that our equal enriching counterpart, the Winter Indian Market, is held during Thanksgiving weekend, November 24-25, and is the perfect way to enjoy the holiday shopping season.
During Winter Market, Santa Fe’s Convention Center transforms into a hub of art shopping, live music, and delicious local food, as more than 150 Native artists showcase traditional and modern art reflective of centuries-old traditions. As important as visual art is to Winter Market, renowned music artists, filmmakers, even poets will share their interpretations of Native culture.
What I’ve discovered about Indian Market is that it’s a fun and memorable way to experience a rich culture. In addition to, I love stalking the silent auction items, keeping my eye peeled for my must-have selection, and attending fascinating lectures about Native Art history, techniques, and collecting. A novice, but improving, collector myself, I enjoy meeting artists in-person, and learning the stories behind the one-of-a-kind pieces created by hand in time-honored native tradition. Find out more about the market at the Winter Indian Market website.
Winter Spanish Market
This December 1-2 Santa Fe’s colorful Convention Center becomes home to Winter Spanish Market, and that means an opportunity to shop for Santa Fe’s beloved straw appliqué, tin, retablos, and santos – iconic art techniques you’ll recognize even if you don’t know their names. The embroidery, weaving, woodwork, religious figures, and even Christmas ornaments, based on 400 years of Spanish tradition, bring to life one of Santa Fe’s greatest cultural influences, the Spanish Colonial period.
Like Indian Market, Spanish Market is a Santa Fe tradition. Take it from a local, though, Winter Spanish Market is a great way to enjoy all the food, music, and fun of the Market, without the crowds and hassle of the busy summer event. Get up close to the artists, enjoy one-on-one discussions with traditional craftsmen and musicians, and, this is important, find that special holiday gift among by more than 100 Hispanic artists.
Shopping for Native American Jewelry
My favorite shopping involves wearable art, especially jewelry, and you can find authentic Native American jewelry and art vendors daily at “The Portal” at The Governor’s Palace. There are always dozens of vendors selling custom pieces year-round, snow or shine, at the Plaza.
Conscious shoppers, like me, take comfort in knowing The Native American Vendors Program is regulated to ensure the livelihood of the vendors and the authenticity of their work. Knowing that makes me love my purchases even more.
Here’s another winter shopping insider tip: prices are already reasonable in the portal since the artists are selling directly to you, but in the winter off-season, customers are able to bargain on price, which I think is an art form in itself.
Tis the Season
There’s no such thing as a bad time to shop for art in Santa Fe. But when it comes to finding art bargains, delving into local culture, and enjoying our relaxing cooler weather, there’s no time like the present.
Visit SantaFe.org/art to find a gallery, find a festival, find a tour, and find a little bit of yourself in Santa Fe’s art scene.
If you’re planning a trip to Santa Fe, here’s an unusual suggestion to make your experience truly authentic: get out of town.
Don’t get me wrong. Santa Feans love our visitors. And while we can’t wait to show you around our Plaza and quaint historic center, we also want you to experience a soul-stirring adventure around Santa Fe. That means venturing just outside Santa Fe to a nearby Native American pueblo.
Locals and visitors alike will tell you visiting a Native American pueblo is an experience that defies explanation, but I’ll try anyway. New Mexico’s Native American pueblos are the oldest tribal communities in the country. So when you visit one of Santa Fe’s neighboring pueblos, you’re stepping into living history.
Native American pueblos preserve the tradition of honoring spirit, earth, and all living things. You can feel it. I know every time I walk the sunny packed dirt sidewalks of Taos Pueblo I feel connected to something greater than me. And when I see the sun sparkle off the beaded headdresses of the dancers, I feel I am sharing the spirit and traditions like someone standing in the same spot a hundred years before. It’s just that powerful.
Of the 19 Native American pueblos in New Mexico eight are located within a short drive of Santa Fe. Although each pueblo has its own distinct traditions, customs, history and native dress, they all have celebrations. At a pueblo’s “Feast Day” you’ll be immersed in centuries-old rituals, spectacular dancing (the renowned Santo Domingo Corn Dance includes up to 1,000 dancers) soulful singing, and beautiful native attire.
Feast Days are open to the public, and in addition to the traditional pageantry often include cultural activities, food and arts and crafts vendors – be still my shop-a-holic heart. My friend explained it best, “I will never forget watching the dancers, from little ones to elders, and seeing their pride of their people and culture.”
Feast Days bring to life Native American heritage, as a visitors we have the honor of sharing authentic sacred traditions. The celebrations provide a way of giving praise and thanks for life of their ancestors. With that in mind, consider these tips for enjoying your visit to a pueblo, while honoring the sacred rituals:
1. Stay in the area designated for the feast day or event. Families still live in the pueblos, so enter a pueblo home as you would any other: by invitation only. 2. Ceremonial dances are part of a religious ceremony. Do not applaud after a dance or interrupt or talk to dancers before, during or after a dance. Ceremonies should be watched quietly and respectfully. 3. Most Native American pueblos and tribes forbid drawing, videotaping and photography on the pueblo or at dances and events. This is to preserve the sacred nature of the event and the privacy of the people living there. 4. No pets. 5. No cellphones. 6. No alcohol. 7. Shaking hands is the appropriate way to greet a Native American. But, Native Americans prefer a gentle handshake to a firm one.
8. Also, don’t forget sunscreen, water, and cash. You’ll be outside and you might need some supplies or souvenirs.
Planning a trip? Below are the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos, and information about upcoming events.
Of course, there are more events than these listed. In addition to the links provided, you can go to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture’s website for general info about pueblo events.As a proud Santa Fean, this is one time I encourage you to hit the road. Enjoy a truly authentic cultural experience at a Native American pueblo. Santa Fe will be waiting for you when you get back with the glow of a piñon fire and a warm bowl of green chile stew.
Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the U.S., which means that ghosts and spirits have had over four centuries to make Santa Fe their home. As the city settles into autumn, the Halloween season begs visitors and locals alike to explore Santa Fe’s haunted history. Do you dare?
Santa Fe’s Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and pioneer cultures each contribute to the city’s spirited remnants. History points to a city built on the ground of an abandoned Tanoan Indian Village, including the sacred Tanoan burial sites. That’s almost a guarantee for spookiness.
As you stroll along the shaded Santa Fe River, be aware of La Llorona(pronounced “LAH yoh ROH nah”) the “Weeping Woman”. Her tall, thin spirit is said to be blessed with natural beauty and long flowing black hair. Wearing a white gown, she roams the rivers, wailing into the night and searching for children to drag, screaming to a watery grave. These days many Santa Fe parents use the legend of La Llorona to keep their children in line. Be good, or La Llorona may come looking for you!
Holy ground always intrigues the spirit-curious and the Chapel of San Miguel, the oldest church in the city, is an iconic staple that will not disappoint. It too was built on top of a burial site in the early 17th century, and was the first building burned in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Hundreds of human remains have been found beneath the church, and many visitors have claimed to see and feel ancient spirits in the sanctuary. Even the gift shop is haunted by the presence of a child that died in the 1940’s. His heavy footsteps and laughter can be heard about the room.
Hoping to visit a site with a bewitched history? The Oldest House, approximated to be 800 years old, once housed a witch and her sister. The two were tried for witchcraft, found guilty and beheaded. The spirit of one can be seen roaming the narrow road just outside the home.
Legendary hotels like the La Posada Hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza and the Palace of the Governors add to the haunted legends in downtown Santa Fe. The ghost of Julia Staab still haunts the room she died in at La Posada, once her lavish residence. Ask for room 101 if you’re brave enough to spend the night. La Fonda Hotel has sightings ranging from ghosts moving through walls to the spirits of a hanged judge stalking the hallways.
If you can’t make it to Santa Fe this Halloween to explore your mysterious side, it offers year-round tours of its most eerie locations. The Original Santa Fe Ghost Tour guides you through the paranormal activity in the city’s past and present.
Listening to the unearthly accounts of Santa Fe’s resident spirits offers a glimpse into the city’s paranormal activity. Book a stay in one of the haunted hotels and they just may come calling!
“If you believe that chocolate should be a food group, you’ll love the Santa Fe Chocolate. This delicious Santa Fe Chocolate Trail is scattered around the downtown area waiting for you to visit. The four shops each put their own spin on the bean, including use of that New Mexico staple, chile. If you’re not planning to be in Santa Fe anytime soon, the unique shops on the Santa Fe Chocolate all do mail order and all but one are on the web.”