Santa Fe: The Perfect Playground

Not to brag, but I surprised my sister and brother-in-law with the ultimate gift last weekend: A break from their kids during their Santa Fe stay. While they toured art galleries and sipped top-shelf margaritas, I introduced my 7-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew to the kid-friendly wonders of Santa Fe.

Pieces like this animal-eyed work from the Andes Exhibit at the International Folk Art Museum expand kids’ world vision.
Pieces like this animal-eyed work from the Andes Exhibit at the International Folk Art Museum expand kids’ world vision.

With an abundance of hands-on arts exhibits, miles of free biking and hiking, and scores of open-air festivals, I heard plenty of oohs and ahhs, but not one, “I’m booooored.”

 

The Harrell House Is Crawling with Knowledge

Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.
Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.

Tarantulas, millipedes, and scorpions, oh my! The Harrell House of Natural Oddities & Bug Museum offers a scientific adventure for nature lovers big and small. With 2,400 specimens on display and scores of live insects children can hold in their hands (under the watchful eyes of the Harrell House pest pros, of course), children are drawn to this locale like moths to flames. The gift shop offers toys, fossils and science projects. Luckily for me, the tarantulas aren’t for sale.

 

Interactive Galleries will Make Art Aficionados of your Little Ones

At any one of the museum’s kid-centric events, kids are encouraged to touch the art.
At any one of the museum’s kid-centric events, kids are encouraged to touch the art.

Each year, the Santa Fe Arts Institute hosts Arts Alive! events at museums across the city. Spur your little traveler’s creative side with sessions like Japanese kite-making, crafting animal masks, and creating Brazilian dolls, happening Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm. Arts Alive! proved to be so popular that programs like Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan, has just been extended through July 27. And the breathtaking hand-carved animals featured in the Wooden Menagerie: Made in New Mexico, will be on display through next February.

If an Arts Alive! visit doesn’t fit into your travel plans, not to worry. My niece, nephew and I devised our own ideal itinerary. We started by peddling along to the Santa Fe Botanic Gardens along its scenic bike path before cutting over to Museum Hill. The Hill features four of Santa Fe’s premier museums—the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Spanish Colonial Museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art—in one walkable location (even for the shortest of strides).

We made our last stop at the folk art museum, with more than 150,000 cultural artifacts captivating my niece and nephew. Besides the traditional masks and dolls from around the world, interactive galleries—complete with hands-on art stations and a Tree of Life-theme play area—transfixed my pint-sized tourists.

Panoramic views from the Museum Hill Café patio thrill adults and kids alike.
Panoramic views from the Museum Hill Café patio thrill adults and kids alike.

After all the oohing and ahhing, we were a little famished. So we grabbed a quick, tasty bite at Museum Hill Café. The outdoor bistro boasts stunning mountain vistas and a broad menu perfect for every palate.

Santa Fe Children’s Museum Leaves EVERYTHING to the Imagination

The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers the ultimate playground for a child’s mind. And if you’re like me, you can’t help but rediscover your inner child within its walls. This place brims with fun activities for the kids: A dress-up area, cozy story space, water table, wooden blocks, giant bubbles, and much more.

Space Station: The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers an entire floor for interactive activities.
Space Station: The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers an entire floor for interactive activities.

My nephew couldn’t get over the rope chairlift…yep, only in Santa Fe. Outside, the kids tore into a digging area, live music space, a working garden, and more.

But the real hit was Makerspace: An 800 square-foot workshop full of cool tools and technology, from soldering irons to sewing machines to a computer lab. Just sign your kid up for their workshops and classes and let your little ones craft their perfect day.

Their calendar of upcoming events includes an open art studio, watercolor exploration, and even a jewelry-making class on Sundays!

A Crafty Celebration Worthy of Your Scrapbook

The Spring Festival and Children’s Fair makes any kid a happy camper.  (Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)
The Spring Festival and Children’s Fair makes any kid a happy camper.
(Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Planning a Santa Fe visit June 2-3? Don’t miss the annual Spring Festival & Children’s Fair. This weekend celebration will be held at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum set on 200 rolling acres. Kids love the sheep shearing, weaving, and blacksmithing demonstrations, and can try their hand at archery, arts & crafts, face painting, and lots more. Factor in wagon rides, music, dancing, live animals that include mini-horses, a rare white buffalo, and a wolf, and you’ve got a memory that can only be made in Santa Fe. Kids 12 and under get in free, so pack a family picnic and get ready for a weekend adventure.

Make This Vacation Your Kids’ Santa Fe-vorite

When my niece and nephew reconnected with their Mom and Dad after all of our explorations, they could barely get the words out fast enough to describe the experience. These sights and sounds had them truly inspired, as well as really tired. (I got major thumbs up from both parents and kids on this outing!) The fact is, the adventures we adult Santa Fe enthusiasts can discover here are darn near equaled by the thrills that await the kiddos. So don’t forget the camera. Your kids will want to relive this adventure over and over.

Santa Fe: Artful and Full of Art

Drawn to the artistic? I know the feeling well. Watching the talent on parade at Canyon Road’s Passport to the Arts last weekend left me with an appetite for more. Fortunately, Santa Fe delivers a mighty dose of the artistic every single month. There’s so much happening this summer that it’s taken me two weeks to share it all with you. (You read last week’s post, right?) Rest assured, my soul — and yours — won’t go hungry.

Let Your Eyeballs Lead You on an Artful Tour

Summer’s arrival brings long shadows. Around here, we call that time of day “legend light” and the magnificent landscape has been inviting paintbrushes, pastels, and photographers for centuries. Many artisans call Santa Fe home, and revelation arrives when these artistic residents open their doors to welcome us to the Santa Fe Studio Tour June 27-29.

Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)
Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)

A Friday night preview at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design kicks off the excitement. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s time to work the map. The Santa Fe Studio Tour offers the opportunity to visit with 58 artists in 37 studios across the city. Chatting with the artists and seeing their creative spaces always gives me more context, deeper insights into their work. Plus, I get to see whose space is the quirkiest.

 

 

 

 

From Cutting Edge to Classic at Weekend Warp Speed

The Downs at Santa Fe may have morphed from a racetrack into a flea market, but the City Different is way out ahead of the field with this summer’s Art Trifecta. From July 12-14, three stellar organizations join forces to create a winning triplet of artistic expression. Two are storied annual festivals, Art Santa Fe and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and they share this summer weekend with SITE Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s year-round destination for the avant-garde, SITE is revered by locals for showcasing radical re-evaluations of what art means in the 21st century.

Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)
Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)

The Friday, July 13 opening for The Pearl proves the point with a multi-media exhibition of works by Cuban artist Enrique Martinez Celaya (who also trained as a physicist – now that definitely piques my interest).

 

 

Art Santa Fe — Three Words That Say It All

While Santa Fe has a justifiable reputation as the art capital of the Southwest, the art is by no means all Western-style. We have our share of cowboy painters —and darn good ones, too — but cutting edge work shows up all the time. And nowhere is this more evident than at Art Santa Fe.

At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)
At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)

Kids rebelling against the idea of another museum? Turn their eye-rolling into the eye-opening with a trip to Art Santa Fe. The international, contemporary art fair July 10-13 brings the newest, boldest, most original works in its 14th show. My little artist anticipates seeing what’s new every summer and participating in a number of the event’s special sessions, like Korean papermaking I know where I’ll be spending a lot of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

Globally Yours in Santa Fe

You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.
You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.

Just as the quickly as Art Santa Fe has transported me to unimagined other worlds, a quick jaunt over to Museum Hill to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market sends me back to the past, to traditions, and to the far reaches of the globe.

Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With over 150 folk artists from more than 60 countries collected in the space (the expansive Milner Plaza), on same weekend (July 11-13), I can watch a Guatemalan master gourd carver at work, while munching on Indian samosa and listening to Kenyan music.  The best part? As I load up my new, handmade basket for Farmers Market shopping or adorn myself with some great new ethnic jewelry I’ve picked up at the market, I’ll do it in good conscience: Artists take home roughly 90% of all proceeds to support their families—and traditions– back home. I’ve already purchased my ticket!

Santa Fe’s Historic Art Heritage Hits the Plaza

It’s no surprise that Santa Fe boasts the deepest roster of traditional Spanish artists in the country. Many of the artisans who show at Spanish Market are direct descendants of the Spanish settlers who, when packing for their trip across the ocean into the new world, decided against packing easels and paint brushes. (No room on the burro!) Without any of the Old-World gold-leaf for decoration, the settlers turned instead to gold-colored straw, crafting intricate straw inlay to decorate their homes and churches.

Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.
Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.

And without any oils or paints, they mixed natural pigments still used by traditional retablo artist to depict and honor their favorite saints.

It’s not just the divine that’s sublime, though.  After popping into the St. Francis Basilica, I like to head over to the Contemporary Hispanic Market for some twists on tradition.

 

 

Pack Your Comfortable Walking Shoes for Indian Market

Santa Fe’s renowned SWAIA Indian Market turns 93 this year but hardly shows its age. In fact, it seems to get bigger and stronger every year. No wonder, since this is the country’s premiere Native American Arts Festival. (Note to self: Don’t forget the comfy footwear!)

Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.
Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.

Indian Market is a sell-out occasion, so make hotel reservations in advance. That way, you can hit the stalls early before the best pieces are whisked away by proud new owners.

I appreciate how the entire town–locals and visitors alike–turns out in their finery for Indian Market. No doubt, we’re stimulated by the variety of colors and textures on display. And if you mosey over to the Bandstand, you might see how all the elements of a Native costume work in unison when the person on stage does a hoop dance.

Indian Market covers not only the entirety of Santa Fe’s Plaza but the gamut of native art as well. And it’s not all pottery and turquoise.

Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.
Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.

Artistic traditions vary from region to region, with Pima baskets and Haida carvings, Pueblo pottery or Navajo weaving. Contemporary artists are also on display, giving us a generous peek at the next generation of tradition. Simply put, Indian Market is on my Must List!

From Far and Near, the Art Comes Here

I know, lucky me, I live here. Sorry if I’ve made it hard for you to choose. That’s why my own visitors come back again and again … and again. All these wonderfully artistic events return annually, too, so pick what you’ll be doing in Santa Fe this summer and next summer — I know you’ll be back!

Santa Fe On a Bike Is One Sweet Ride

 

You didn’t know Santa Fe culture included bike culture, did you?
You didn’t know Santa Fe culture included bike culture, did you?

It never fails. My out-of-town friends and family always liken Santa Fe’s vibe to that of wonderful European cities—winding boulevards lined with local shops; outdoor adventures galore under breezy mountain skies; plazas and patios and parks, oh my! Well, what’s not immediately apparent to visitors (but is to any Santa Fean) is the smartest way to experience all Santa Fe has to offer: Our old European friend, the bicycle. Exploring Santa Fe on two wheels helps you make the most of your Santa Fe getaway, and blend in with the ranks of us locals. So hop on and follow me. Santa Fe’s a great ride.

Santa Fe’s Many Bike Rental Shops Will Keep You Tall in the Saddle

Kenny at Mellow Velo Bicycles will fix you up for any Santa Fe ride.
Kenny at Mellow Velo Bicycles will fix you up for any Santa Fe ride.

Like countless folks who get their first glimpse of Santa Fe, you’ll probably take one look around the landscape and get the itch to ride a bike—even if you haven’t ridden in years. Fortunately, there are abundant rental shops around town for those in need of a quick cycling fix. These are my go-to’s:

 

New Mexico Bike N Sport

The guys at New Mexico Bike N Sport will hook you up with a top-notch bike for the mountain trail, roadway, or anything in between. We’re talking full-suspension mountain bikes, carbon road bikes, comfy cruisers…the works.

Mello Velo Bicycles

Located smack dab in historic downtown, Mellow Velo Bicycles offers a number of premium and economy rentals, along with expert route advice and maps for on- and off-road adventures. They’ll personally guide you toward their favorite biking spots.

The Broken Spoke

Don’t let the name fool you: There are NO bikes with broken spokes at The Broken Spoke Bicycle Shop. Nothing but great bikes, great people, and great value here. Want a simple commuter bike? The lightest, fastest racing bike on the market? These guys have you covered.

Nothing beats traveling by rail…on a bike. 

The Santa Fe Rail Trail offers a great way to explore The City Different.
The Santa Fe Rail Trail offers a great way to explore The City Different.

Okay, I freely admit that I won’t be cycling across Canada any time soon. But I do fancy myself a more-than-capable rider with insider Santa Fe biking info. Here’s the scoop: One of my favorite places to ride is also the most accessible for travelers. I’m talking about the Santa Fe Rail Trail. For its entire length, this trail is accompanied by a functioning railroad line. And you can expect an amazing diversity of rides to choo choo choose from. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
You’ll enjoy asphalt trails along the first 3.5 miles of railroad track aside the Rail Runner line that stretches southward to Belen, south of Albuquerque. The next 11.5 miles are a different story. From here on, you’re riding winding, unpaved trail, that’s sure to kickstart your Santa Fe adrenaline. In all, the Santa Fe Rail Trail offers something for thrill seekers and chill seekers alike.

Enjoy patio dining a la bicycle.

Your taste buds are in for quite a ride at the bike-friendly Anasazi patio.
Your taste buds are in for quite a ride at the bike-friendly Anasazi patio.

Hey, we’ve all been there in Santa Fe. “Ya know, a top-shelf margarita sure would hit the spot. Some apps with green chiles slathered on top would heighten the experience. And oh yeah, I don’t wanna go anywhere too far to walk or too close to drive.” Well, you’re in luck. Just grab a bike and grab a bite at places like these:

 

Anasazi Restaurant and Bar 

I can tell you, nothing beats riding over to The Anasazi and enjoying their fabulous brunch on the patio while people watching near the Plaza. The epitome of Santa Fe’s one-of-a-kind cuisine, the Anasazi will push your culinary horizons with Duck Enchiladas Mole, Diver Scallops and Kurobuta Pork Belly, Grilled Elk Tenderloin, and other mind-blowing dishes.

Second Street Brewery

Despite the name, Second Street Brewery is second to none. Pedal up to either of two very cool locations—the actual brewery on Second Street, near the Rail Trail, or the Taproom at the Railyard. Described as one of the most varied lineups of any brewery in New Mexico, Second Street offers the foods to match, and live music to boot.

The Shed

The Shed is a Santa Fe landmark that’s always hopping. With its stunning patio in the heart of downtown, you can pedal over, enjoy an authentic New Mexican lunch, and then explore all the sights and shops of downtown. Courtyard seating’s in high demand, so hop on your bike and come early.

Cowgirl

If funky is more your taste, The Cowgirl more than has you covered. With toe-tapping live music and a very eclectic menu that ranges from BBQ to Tex-Mex, The Cowgirl’s two patio-dining areas are the social hub of the Railyard District. There’s even a fun space for the kiddos to play, so make a family bike ride part of your itinerary.

WHAT you ride doesn’t matter. HOW you ride does.

If you plan to bike in Santa Fe, plan on adhering to the do’s and don’ts.
If you plan to bike in Santa Fe, plan on adhering to the do’s and don’ts.

We Santa Feans are totally into cycling, in all its forms. But don’t hop on your bike expecting some no-holds-barred free-for-all. Folks here have very well defined expectations for biking behavior—on city streets, trails, and public spaces. Luckily for you, we’ve developed a handy guide to all the riding tips and resources you’ll need for cycling in and around Santa Fe. Including the proper color of handlebar streamers for riding in The Plaza! (I jest.)

Can’t-Miss Events for Can’t-Quit Cyclists.

You can hop on two wheels darn near any day of the year in Santa Fe, but if you’re really bike-centric, these upcoming events are sure to get your heart racing.

Bike & Brew Fest

For anyone into the pursuit of hop-iness via two wheels, Santa Fe’s Bike & Brew Festival might just be your destiny. Packed with group rides, bike-along brewery tours, craft beer tastings, and loads of live music this off-road celebration will definitely make pallets and pedals come alive. 

Better get it in gear for the 29th Annual Santa Fe Century Ride on May 18th.
Better get it in gear for the 29th Annual Santa Fe Century Ride on May 18th.

Santa Fe Century

Another excursion that’ll seriously get your spokes spinning is the Santa Fe Century ride. This Santa Fe tradition is one of our most cherished claims to fame in the cycling community. Skill level is no obstacle. You’ll get your pick of a 20-mile out-and-back ride, a 50-mile (Half-Century) ride or the full-on Century: 103 miles down the ancient Turquoise Trail. Really, what could be better than biking alongside unmatched scenery with centuries of history under your wheels?

Bike to Work Week

In Santa Fe, a good bike ride even makes your day job exhilarating. Santa Fe’s annual Bike to Work Week provides a great way to shift gears at work, and helps promote healthy, economical and environmentally friendly habits. The week  =is packed with fun (and educational) activities like cycling clinics, mechanical tutorials and a community cruise. And it all culminates with a major bash at the Railyard, with can’t-miss music, food, and demos from Santa Fe’s foremost bike buffs.

Ride Through Santa Fe On a Bicycle Built for WooHoo!

If you didn’t think Santa Fe could get more magical, just add bike. (Photo courtesy of BNMI.)
If you didn’t think Santa Fe could get more magical, just add bike.
(Photo courtesy of BNMI.)

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about riding a bike that takes any activity up a notch. From sipping a margarita on a restaurant patio, to meandering through art galleries, or just lazing on the grass and soaking up some sunlight, when you add a bicycle to the mix, you heighten the joie de vivre factor. So on your next visit to The City Different, join me and my friends as we pedal along the trails, paths and streets of Santa Fe. Your spirits will be riding high.

 

 

 

 

Make Your Next Visit to Santa Fe a Tour de Force

Do you occasionally feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, pressed for time and harnessed to a big watch? Discover the spirit of Santa Fe! We take relaxing-into-the-moment seriously, so I think you should leave the planning to us. Making the most of limited time means doing only what’s necessary, then letting the professionals take over. Once you’ve made plane reservations or tuned up the truck, pick out a great hotel (a tough choice you’ll have to make for yourself), then take a break by touring with adventurous experts who make it their business to see that your getaway is grand.

Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!
Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!

Lose Yourself in a Legendary Landscape

The vistas here are so large and the possibilities so many that it takes a pro to know where to start. You can’t do better than Georges and Sue Mally of Santa Fe Walkabouts, ranked #1 for Santa Fe activities on TripAdvisor. This dynamic duo and their powerful Pinzgauer (not their dog, it’s their fun all-terrain vehicle) get you out of town and into nature in informative and entertaining style. Want to explore the otherworldly Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks? You can scramble to the top or gaze at the azure sky from the bottom of a slot canyon. Hiking can be an easy excursion past ancient petroglyphs or a challenging climb in Georgia O’Keeffe country.

Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)
Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)

Mountain biking your thing? Take a canyon-rim cruise or a strenuous trek straight up the mountain, as Georges paces you pedal for pedal. And then, there’s the Pinz … be it a rocky road to a remote area or a glorious sunset tour to say goodnight to Santa Fe, this is a one-of-a-kind ride you won’t forget in a hurry! You may lose yourself in wonder at what you see, but in the expert care of Walkabouts, you’ll never get lost in anything but dreams!

 

Feed Your Fantasies in Santa Fe

Fun in the sun makes for a delicious day, but you can combine seeing sights with scrumptious flavors in a foodie-style adventure with Food Tour New Mexico. Ranked as TripAdvisor’s #1 Santa Fe sightseeing tour, these rambles through regional specialties should not be missed. And there’s more than one recipe for a nosh through our noteworthy cuisine.

The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.
The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.

The Taste of Santa Fe includes such notable spots as La Casa Sena (tucked inside Santa Fe’s most beautiful courtyard), Taberna La Boca, James Campbell Caruso’s temple of tapas, and Kakawa Chocolate House, recognized as one of the country’s best places for hot chocolate. The Sample Santa Fe tour takes a similar tack, with stops at the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill (a locals’ favorite), Upper Crust Pizza, and Senor Murphy, Santa Fe’s historic chocolatier, tucked alongside the historic La Fonda Hotel. And for those who love a sippin’ sampler, there’s even a Culinary Cocktail Tour — that’s one with shaken or stirred skills to take home!

On the subject of testing the palate with pleasurable potions, be it wine, beer, or spirits, the City Different accommodates different drinking desires. Given that foodies like us like vino, it’s no surprise to learn that you can spend an awesome afternoon tasting local vintages at Estrella del Norte Vineyards.

Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)
Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)

A 15-mile drive north gives wine lovers the flavor of the northern New Mexico terroir and a scenic road trip. Throughout summer, there’s a smattering of wine dinners and classes, and there’s even an April 19th vineyard planting if you want to literally get into la tierra.

If beer’s a beloved buddy (I cherish my hoppy memories), there’s always plenty of brew bubbling. My recommendation is Small Batch Saturday at the Santa Fe Brewing Company. Originating with a local homebrew organization, these 10-gallon gatherings give local beer-loving club members a chance to brew with the experts and share the craft results. Brewery tours or tastings are every bit as tasty as you’d expect from Santa Fe’s oldest brewery, with 20 or so beers in rotation; favorites are always on tap!

It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)
It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)

Santa Fe is a spirited town, and the inroads made by Santa Fe Spirits are proof positive. In just a few short years, Colin Keegan, the don of distillers, has managed to put not only whisky, but vodka, gin, and an apple brandy into the mix. A short drive takes you to an artisan adventure in locally crafted spirits, and it’s enlightening to discover that what we enjoy at leisure commands so much expert attention. A distillery tour is my choice, because I like combining a sip with an education, but knowledge is on hand at the downtown tasting room if you’re afoot and footloose on a sunny Santa Fe afternoon.

It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)
It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)

Follow the Leader and Do It Yourself

If you’re one for marching to the beat of your own drum, make the most of Santa Fe by merely following a beaten path laid out by trail-blazers just like you. If you’re firmly convinced (I am) that a chocolate a day is the key to keeping the doctor away — it is a proven fact that chocolate is good for you – spend a sweet afternoon on a Chocolate Lovers’ Odyssey. You might want to pair that sweet tooth with a caffeine fix, in which case, a Coffee Tour will hit the spot.

One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.
One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.

And eventually, when it’s time to settle down for a real meal, a detour to hunt down your favorite version of our famed Green Chile Cheeseburger simply has to be on the agenda.

Leave the Driving to Us

Even if your trip is just a short hop, I commend you for coming … and I assure you, you’ll be back. The spell of Santa Fe is simply too magical. But if you only have a weekend, take a tram tour to plan for deeper exploration next time. Seeing the sights seated on your keister saves time and foot-power, because there’s just so much to see.

 

Custom Tours by Clarice shuttles the curious on daily tours of our historic downtown four times a day, seven days a week, and if Clarice herself is at the wheel, the friendly flow of conversation is wide-ranging. The Loretto Line Tour Company is Santa Fe’s oldest tram tour, but the enthusiasm and expertise of their guides is fresh as a daisy. Running three times a day every day of the week, Loretto tours cover all the legendary downtown spots, leaving you with a comprehensive overview and a plan for returning to places that piqued your interest.

There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)
There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)

 

Leave the Planning to Us

We’ll take good care of you once you get here; after all, we appreciate our renown as the cultural hotspot of the Southwest. And that means lots of locals make their living by welcoming with open arms and minds full of fascinating facts the visitors who want to enjoy our historic city. Why not leave the selections, explanations, and driving to us? You just kick back and enjoy the scenery, the flavor and the fun! My way of getting the best of the adventure is by spending the least amount of energy planning. Try seeing Santa Fe my way — I know you’ll like it!

Spring in Santa Fe…Love Your Greens

My sweaters have been washed and loaded into the cedar chest, my boots are back in the inner recesses of my closet, and I am so ready for spring. Just when I am totally fed up with winter vegetables, spring obliges me with new inspiration on getting fed. As the sun lifts higher in its course over the blue skies of Santa Fe, I feel lighter and brighter, and that means it’s time to say hello to the fresh green flavors of spring.

It makes everyone happy to see spring greenery return to Santa Fe at the Nedra Matteucci Sculpture Garden.
It makes everyone happy to see spring greenery return to Santa Fe at the Nedra Matteucci Sculpture Garden.

Vinaigrette Is So Much More Than a Salad Dressing

What can you say to a salad bistro except “I love you”? I say it regularly to Vinaigrette, along with giving thanks regularly for bountiful salads that spare me the struggle of trying to pair two lightweight appetizers to make one satisfying meal. If you bring a big boy with a bigger appetite, savory protein additions can be added, though I rarely need to tweak. During the summer growing season, a majority of the organic produce is sourced directly from the owner’s 10-acre Nambe farm, so saying Vinaigrette is farm-to-table is right on target.

A Vinaigrette salad has a whole cast of characters at play!
A Vinaigrette salad has a whole cast of characters at play!

 

My personal favorite is the French Frisee; cherie, I just feel so chic when I eat those curly greens (mais oui, the bacon lardons are tres delicieux). And j’adore the clever word play that invites me to tickle my taste buds with choices like the Nutty Pear-fessor or All Kale Caesar. There is a cast of seasonal salads in play too, and if your dining pals simply must have soup or a sandwich, both are on the menu. And in warm weather, I delight in the cozy back patio for enjoying my greens with a glass of wine and a good friend.

Sampling Sweet Spring Greens at Sweetwater

Me, I love a Brussels sprout. I always think it’s a shame that these beautiful stalks of tiny, tightly wrapped, tender leaves only seem to show up at holidays. That’s why I’m happy that they materialize at my mealtime when I land at the Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen. I’m so hooked on the bright, cheery, sustainable nature of this friendly spot, recently named by FlipKey as a top restaurant in New Mexico. My Green Goddess salad was chock-full of fresh greens, walnuts, pears and the afore-mentioned Brussels sprouts, all coated with avocado dressing. My inner goddess deserves this heavenly treat.

Green me up, Sweetwater!
Green me up, Sweetwater!

Lunch and dinner both have ample options for me and my vegan and gluten-free friends. On Wednesday Thai nights we can “Thai one on” with the once-a-week Asian dishes like Cambodian green mango salad or Vietnamese spring rolls. Wine and beer menu, yes, and those selections rotate to keep us interested. Thanks to Sweetwater, I’ve also discovered that breakfast can be pretty green, with smoothies like Sweet Greens (fruit-heavy but with spinach too!) or Soma’s Sunrise (carrots, beets, kale, and apple). Eat it…drink it…they have it all!

 

Make a Bee-line for The Beestro

Sitting in a beautiful dining room or outdoor patio is a treat at lunchtime; after all, I do plenty of brown-bagging during the week. But when there’s not enough time to make a leisurely lunch hour reality, the petite Beestro comes to the rescue. I can perch on one of the outdoor stools, or I can do take-out, which is perfect for a desk jockey, and just as perfect if I want to sit on the Plaza to people-watch. “Chef-made daily” and “available until sold-out” are calls to action that tantalize me, as is curbside service — call once to order, again at the pick-up spot, then receive the goods.

It’s always buzzing at The Beestro.
It’s always buzzing at The Beestro.

As a tried-and-true SantaFesina, I’m always up for a kick of chile, so the Serrano Lime Chicken Farmer’s Market Salad had my name on it (literally, because I called ahead just in case they ran out). Below a layer of marinated grilled chicken lay fresh greens, thin shavings of carrots and beets, salty olives, and a host of veggies snuggled together. I slathered on the piquant jalapeno ranch dressing, put my fork to work, and I was one very happy chiquita!

Bring it on, Beestro, and we’ll take it out!
Bring it on, Beestro, and we’ll take it out!

Spring is happening at the Santa Fe Farmers Market

The ultimate in greenery, of course, is being served up as we “speak” at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. With spring here, the Market is alive with new activity. There’s always a line for fresh greens from Mr. G’s, so get there early or go without. Bouquets of flowers are once again adorning dinner tables all over town, and the final jars of last season’s jams are selling out in preparation for what is to come.

We celebrate the return of spring with bright bouquets of color from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
We celebrate the return of spring with bright bouquets of color from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.

Not a week goes by that I don’t feel lucky to shop at this centrally-located market, ranked as one of the country’s best by Travel + Leisure magazine. Open in the Santa Fe Railyard on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, it’s one of my go-to’s all year long, and not just for food, since I love the sustainable focus of the Wednesday movie series screening in the Pavilion at 7 pm through May.

Green Up Your Santa Fe Dining

That eat-green feeling is calling … not just for me but also for anyone who sees the sun arc higher or feels the gentle spring rain coaxing tulips to open and the first peas to flower. I am feeling refreshed and ready for everything green; will you accept an invitation to dine on the green side of Santa Fe?

 

No Place Does Spring Like Santa Fe

Santa Fe is so blessed with seasonally special sights and sounds that I never feel shortchanged at any time of year. But I admit that being on the cusp of spring has me in a fever of eager anticipation. As days grow longer, blossoming trees will begin to decorate the city and festive events will bloom all over town. Now is the moment to give in to the beauty and bounty of a colorful southwest spring, so I offer my primavera primer.

The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.
The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.

One Old Culture Honors Another

No country pays a more handsome homage to spring than Japan. Fragrant flowers, gusty winds sending kites aloft, a rich and ancient culture … Santa Fe has them too, though our early blossoms come from gorgeous old apricot trees. Delicious jam ensues later, so look for it at our Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. And Santa Fe also has a Japanese tradition, when we celebrate “equinoxically” on March 22 at the Japanese Cultural Festival.

The delicacy and depth of Japanese artistry is rooted in deliberate design and meaning, and I salute the 10th annual return of this spring event, known as a Matsuri. This year’s theme, good luck, is symbolized by “sho,” “chiku,” and bai,” which translate as pine (symbol of tenacity, here it’s our piñon tree), bamboo (beloved for flexibility, a vital attribute for the original New Mexico settlers) and plum (its early flowers evoking the optimism of spring). I plan to capture in full the flavor of this eloquent triad.

This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!
This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!

After repeatedly visiting the killer kite exhibit (which I’m happy to report has been extended through July 27) at the Museum of International Folk Art, a kite-making demo strikes my fancy as fantastic fun. I also intend to learn to turn my homey tea party into an elegant tea ceremony. And getting into the beating heart of the whole shebang will be a rhythmic riot aided by the Smokin’ Bachi Taiko drums.

Sounds for Serenading Spring

If you’re like me, your life has its own soundtrack, so you’ll also be stoked that the City Different is inviting everyone to Tune into Santa Fe this year. As a die-hard fan of summer’s rich musical offerings, I’m grateful I don’t have to wait until then to get my music fix. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus season covers March with gold-medal violin work, and they’re serving up a big dose of symphonic music in April and May. My calendar is marked in pastels for Easter, obligating my attendance at Santa Fe Pro Musica’s Baroque Holy Week concerts, where the timeless setting of the Loretto Chapel and evocative musical excellence sweeps me back seamlessly back through the ages.

There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.
There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.

Spring brings Aspen Santa Fe Ballet back to the Lensic, and much as I delight in classic ballet repertoire, I cherish the chances that ASFB takes with more avant-garde programs. With a world premiere in the wings and a pair of striking works by contemporary choreographers, I’m relieved to know that if I miss the March performances at the Lensic, a one-night April encore guarantees my dance date.

No Passport Needed to Paint a Pretty Picture of Spring

While New Mexico Magazine features funny monthly tales in which New Mexico is confused with Old Mexico, the only passport required to visit Santa Fe is a Passport to the Arts. Thoughtfully timed with Mother’s Day weekend (by the way, Mom, it’s been way too long since you visited!), there’s much to love — and share — when we wander in and out of the Canyon Road galleries and watch artists ply talents in the open air. Beginning Friday night with openings and receptions, the weekend is rife with demonstrations, food, and music clustered behind adobe walls and in sculpture gardens of historic buildings.

Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)
Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)

I’m awed by the Artist QuickDraw on Saturday morning, a tour-de-force event when participants combine any and all media with individual talent and techniques to create original works of art under the constraints of time and an avid public audience. When time’s up, palette knives and brushes, carving tools and crayons are retired, as the artists prepare their finished pieces and hustle them over to the Live Art Auction. As for me, I relax while they work, but I’m prepared to bid right quick on a favorite piece!

May I Invite You to May … and June Too?

By Memorial Day, Santa Fe will be gussied up in spring finery, trees leafed out and stalks of blue flax bobbing. And El Rancho de las Golondrinas will be spinning the old mill’s water wheel as the New Mexico Fiber Arts Festival returns. I feel sheepish to confess I play favorites, but El Rancho really is one of my special places, especially when it’s time to shear sheep, dye their wool, and spin it into fine colorful yarns. My sister holds the family-knitting crown, and I’m the crochet queen, so I’ll wind up with some naturally hand-dyed yarn for both of us.

Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)
Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

Memorial Day also showcases fine fiber handicrafts at the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival. With 200-plus artists, there’s always an ample display of museum-quality wares to admire, and it’s a perfect appetizer for everything discovered later in summer at SWAIA Indian Market. Since I’ll be fiber-minded, maybe I’ll finally find that long-sought-after Navajo rug for my bedroom. And if not, I’ll still be coming home with a treasure or two.

Spring doesn’t truly end until mid-June, so kids and all, I’ll scoot back out to El Rancho for the Spring Festival and Children’s Fair as soon as school ends. Watching “settlers” baking outdoors in an horno (the traditional NM beehive-shaped oven) and herding livestock makes this re-enactment of New Mexico village life a history lesson disguised as a fun day in the sun for little ones. And with cute baby animals bleating and clucking, there’s an “awwwww” factor that’s hard to beat.

Be Impetuous and Spring into Action

Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors.
Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors. Photo Credit: Eric Swanson Photography

On the scale of awe factors, spring in Santa Fe is a hard-to-beat-the-pleasure time. Balmy weather, flowers blooming, people smiling, and blue skies make each day a precious chance to collect kindred souls and share with them the places I return to again and again. I’ve planted some seeds for spring adventures here in Santa Fe, so don’t wait for summer — have a spring fling of your own!

 

Introducing Santa Fe’s Next Celebrated Artist: You.

Your next visit to Santa Fe could be a thrilling new adventure to the artistic frontier. As someone who’s been fortunate enough to learn from some of Santa Fe’s legendary artisans, I can assure you there’s nothing more exhilarating than expressing yourself artistically with the help of a creative guru. All through March, you can ply your artistic skills under the tutelage of Santa Fe’s renowned artists. DIY Santa Fe: A Creative Tourism Journeyan initiative of Santa Fe Creative Tourism, the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission — offers you the rarest of rare opportunities to create your own artworks under the guidance of more than 200 of Santa Fe’s finest artists.

Turn your inner artist into outward expression with expert, hands-on lessons. (All photos courtesy of Santa Fe Creative Tourism)
Turn your inner artist into outward expression with expert, hands-on lessons.
(All photos courtesy of Santa Fe Creative Tourism)

Lose Your Painting Inhibitions and Find Artistic Glory

Like many people (especially here in Santa Fe), I’ve been known to apply brush to canvas as a hobby. And like equally many people, I run into mental roadblocks again and again: “What should I paint?” “Can I make it look real enough?” “Who am I kidding?”  Overcoming obstacles like these is of paramount importance to capturing your true creative expression. And that’s exactly what celebrated Santa Fe artist Julie Claire enables you to do in her Individual Intuitive Painting Sessions. You’ll throw caution (and inhibition) to the wind, using basic brushes and large-scale canvases to boldly trust your inner voice. Come alone or bring a friend to this three-hour session and get ready for artistic transformation.

Break through your artistic barriers with Individual Intuitive Painting Lessons.
Break through your artistic barriers with Individual Intuitive Painting Lessons.

Nothing Holds Families Together Like Clay

Ever rolled up your sleeves and sunk your hands into a wonderfully gooey blob of clay and made it come alive? Take it from me, it’s an incredibly liberating experience. Celebrated instructor Ginny Zipperer makes creating with clay a family bonding exercise with her Family Clay Play. Parents and kiddos of all ages can collaborate on murals or sculptures inside Ginny’s inspiring studio or beneath the shade trees in her backyard. At the end of the two-hour workshop, your family’s masterpiece emerges from the kiln and you take home the ultimate Santa Fe keepsake. Hey, the family that clays together stays together. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Everyone has a hand in creating a treasure with Family Clay Play.
Everyone has a hand in creating a treasure with Family Clay Play.

Get Ready for Creativity Times Tin

Few things in life are as empowering as creating art from raw metal. You feel like such a primal force as you hew your personal artistic vision from a blank metallic slate. New Mexico’s legendary tinsmithing tradition dates back to the Mid-1800’s, when craftsmen created beautiful devotional pieces for Catholic churches. Chimayo’s own Sharon Candelario studied under New Mexico’s preeminent master tinsmiths, and now offers students hands-on Traditional Tin Smithing lessons for creating tin-edged decorative mirrors, picture frames, religious iconography, and more. I assure you, the process is a transcendent meditation. And the family-owned Medina Gallery, home to leading lights of the Santa Fe artistic scene, offers an ideal place to draw inspiration. Be sure to scope out the perfect wall space at home to display your newly created masterwork.

Renowned artist Sharon Candelario will free the tinsmith within you.
Renowned artist Sharon Candelario will free the tinsmith within you.

A Fusion of Art and Fashion? Sign Me Up!

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about Santa Fe’s legendary artistic community, you discover something downright awe inspiring. My latest discovery? The time-honored artistry of glass bead making. In a wondrous artists’ enclave known as “The Soho of Santa Fe,” several master glass workers collaborate, enabling students and visitors to experience several studios in one locale. This inspirational setting is home to Glass Bead Making with Donna Nova. Donna, who has been crafting glass beads in the old-world tradition for nearly 20 years, leads four-hour individualized classes where students create glass beads in the style of the grand Italian craftsmen. Imagine the looks on your friends’ faces back home when you reveal your personal bead creations.

Yes, these are glass beads! Just a sampling of what you can create under Donna Nova’s guidance.
Yes, these are glass beads! Just a sampling of what you can create under Donna Nova’s guidance.

Start (or Jumpstart) Your Artistic Journey in Santa Fe

Novices and seasoned artists alike find their muse during DIY Santa Fe: A Creative Tourism Journey.
Novices and seasoned artists alike find their muse during DIY Santa Fe: A Creative Tourism Journey.

As someone with artistic sensibilities, I appreciate that Santa Fe offers an environment that continually stokes my creative fire. Here, creative folk of every experience level share ideas, insights, and visions with locals and visitors. Right now, a world of artistic opportunities awaits you among the many inspiring artisans and studios in and around Santa Fe. And with so many special deals on lodging available, there’s no excuse for not getting your art on in Santa Fe.

So come rev up your creative engine and return home with your own personal addition to the art world.

 

Portrait of the Perfect Ski Day

Words like “perfect” always scare me a little. I feel like I’m tempting fate and asking for too much by using it. But there are times when the thesaurus can’t show me a word that describes more perfectly (here I go) a day sent from heaven. I do my share of grousing about the little inconveniences of winter, but the antidote is embracing the white wonderland in all its glory by heading for Ski Santa Fe with a seamless ski day in mind.

Start the Day by Eating the Santa Fe Way

We ski fans are ready to go early, but we need to fuel up first. There’s no point in getting so close to the sky if you don’t stay all day, so acknowledge that old adage that begins, “Breakfast like a king … ”

To me, the best bite of the day isn’t a bite; it’s the first sip of coffee from Ohori’s, setting a Santa Fe standard for independent coffee shops since 1984. After all, a locally roasted cup supports local talent! Santa Fe boasts an impressive crew of coffee brewers, and a coffee tour is part of the adventure for my caffeine-loving visitors. The scintillating downtown aroma of Ohori’s roasting makes everyone a loyal sipper.

There’s a brew just right for you at Ohori’s.
There’s a brew just right for you at Ohori’s.

Once the caffeine kicks in, food follows. If there’s fresh powder, grab a Santa Fe classic:  the breakfast burrito to go. Finding the perfect (!) iteration of this tasty item is a hotly debated topic. Everyone has their favorite, hand-held or smothered, with meat or veg, big enough to share or hands-off. Me, I head for the Santa Fe Baking Company, with burritos and baked goods to suit every taste.

The reason why it’s called Santa Fe Baking Company is simple to see!
The reason why it’s called Santa Fe Baking Company is simple to see!

When there’s no new snow, we may opt for a sit-down breakfast. In that case I’m digging into the Paranormal Pancakes (they’re that good), while I peek over my plate to identify the day’s guest on the KSFR Radio Café. This weekday talkfest is broadcast right from the Baking Co., and later I can catch the podcast of a potent conversation with a Santa Fe thinker.

Scout’s Motto: Be Prepared

With the good fortune to live here, I’m already outfitted, but when ski pals visit, make it easy and rent gear, either in town or up on the hill at Cottam’s Ski Shop. Known since 1976 for great customer service — and for storing visitors’ skis overnight — Cottam’s makes a trip to Ski Santa Fe a one-stop deal. Rental packages cover everything for spending a day up top without the hassle of hauling it from home. But I do recommend reserving in advance — super-simple, no deposit — to be sure you have all you need.

You may very well want a little of everything at Alpine Sports
You may very well want a little of everything at Alpine Sports

If you love being tempted by a gorgeous spread of every outdoor gear item you could possibly desire, renting (or buying) at Alpine Sports is an ideal (that’s another way of saying perfect) option. With 50 years of service to Santa Fe skiers, this family-owned downtown business is one I gladly patronize. The socks alone are a foot fantasy, and a real ski sweater ranks as stylish winter-wear on or off the hill. Rentals are easy online, and the staff is knowledgeable, helpful and most of all, passionate about capturing a perfect (can I use the “p” word again?) Santa Fe ski experience.

The Hills are Alive … With Snow Sports!

Enough talk, time for action! A 16-mile drive leads from the Santa Fe Plaza into the beauty of the Sangre de Cristo range, tail end of the Rocky Mountains, drifting down from Canada to their stony end in New Mexico. While I endeavor to heed the stay-fit advice of the Snow Sports School, there’s usually a year between my ski experiences, so I want a reminder — okay, a lesson. With the variety of skill levels in our crew, lessons thankfully accommodate all.

It’s hard to believe breakfast gets used up so quickly, but brisk winter weather combined with full-body activity has a high calorie-burning quotient, so after lessons, sustenance is required before hitting the mountain. It’s gotta be lunch at Totemoff’s! Fantastic views, skiers zipping by on the Thunderbird run, what’s not to love? Hot drink specials are available all week long, but waiting to mix alcohol until day is done is my motto.

Skiing in a winter wonderland means doing it in Santa Fe! (Photo credit: Ski Santa Fe)
Skiing in a winter wonderland means doing it in Santa Fe! (Photo credit: Ski Santa Fe)

I start with a few easy runs; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once I’m sure I have my sea legs — oops, ski-legs — I’ll move on to a few trips down Lobo to prime myself for Burro Alley. I only dream of tackling Desperado; I admit that’s a Western adventure for a gal whose quick-draw skills are faster than mine. Although my snow-abilities will never merit showing off on a board at the Freestyle Terrain Park, you can bet I’ll make a stop to admire those who can ace it.

Day Is Done, Gone Is the Sun, Time to Gather for More Fun

When the sun starts to sink into the horizon, it’s time to round up the troops because I have my mind set on happy hour at Agave Lounge, one of my favorite Santa Fe go-to’s. I love sinking into a leather banquette near the fireplace when I have totally earned the right to relax. The Pomapolitan is my premium pick in a martini, perfect (sorry, I had to say it) for perusing plates to share. I adore snacking on the green chile sliders, but after a full day outside, the quesadilla is coming along on this refueling ride. Yes, you figured that out, this is not the last stop — we’re going to soak these tired limbs!

Day is done, relaxation won … at the Agave Lounge.
Day is done, relaxation won … at the Agave Lounge.

Indulgence Earned, Indulgence Found

Mighty achy muscles mean a bit of pampering is in order. I’ve always felt that if health plans included regular alternative therapy, we’d all be healthy centenarians. Given the plethora of Santa Fe massage schools, whose graduates often stay on in our healthy city, it’s no wonder there are healing hands at many hotels and spa facilities. But I’m not just talking massage, I’m thinking of pairing therapy with a soothing soak.

Mountains, wood and water mean relaxation at 10K Waves (Photo credit: Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort)
Mountains, wood and water mean relaxation at 10K Waves (Photo credit: Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort)

To mix massage with hot tub heaven, it’s back up the hill to Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Bath House. A sense of total escape ensues when a hot stone massage is followed by an hour in a private outdoor hot tub under a peaceful moon. And now that 10K has added their new restaurant, Izanami, (Sunset Magazine named it #3 on their list of great things in 2014), if we’re still hungry there’s an answer close at hand. We can simply stay for the 9 pm happy hour to cap an active day in the City Different, an especially good notion right now, since Happy Hour is 33% off through February to celebrate Ten Thousand Waves’ 33 years of making people feel terrific!

Get Into Gear and Get Out for a Great Day in Santa Fe

Didn’t realize that Santa Fe had such a super snow scene? Now you’re the one in the know, so go ahead and share the good news! With an early Thanksgiving Day opening and recent snows continuing to plump up the powder at the Ski Basin, Santa Fe skiers are having a fantastic season of sunny fun under a bright blue sky. You simply can’t ask for a better — dare I say it, more perfect — combination of snow and sun (and great deals) than the blessings we’ve received from Old Man Winter. So don’t hold back, come enjoy a Santa Fe snow day yourself!

To Thine Own Self Be Truly Santa Fe

I’m hooked on thoughts of love. I’m sure it’s accelerated right now with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, so I’ve been noodling on ideas to keep romance alive. But when I got the news that my sweetie had been tapped for a month of Sundays – and Fridays and Saturdays — at work, I took my long face alone into another room to pine over weekends of romance lost. But I decided to give myself some credit instead of pity, and had a short old-fashioned talking-to. That did the trick: sad enough that he’s stuck, but why make it sadder? I’ll simply be my own queen-bee until my honey is free to buzz around with me. How do I love me? It’s time to count the ways.

Shake It, Sister

I cherish my hands, because they do so much. I’m fond of my feet because they carry me all over town. My eyes and ears share all the good sights and sounds of The City Different. And I really appreciate my whole body operating by itself without my having to remind it. In view of my body’s excellent performance, I believe it deserves to perform freely, by which I mean to say: let’s dance!

Perhaps you’ve wandered around at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and wondered why you heard the sound of drums. Be advised, there’s some wild action going across the tracks at the Railyard Performance Center. Over the course of 20-plus years, the fabulous free-spirited Elise Gent has built a legion of loyal followers who join together every Saturday morning to welcome the weekend in a ritual of rhythm. In a series of dances from West Africa, the Congo, and Haiti, waves of the willing let go into the joy and freedom of movement accompanied by a killer live drum circle. Open to anyone of any skill level, this is a full-body connection to loving yourself. All you need is loose clothing to lose yourself in this community gathering where you’ll never feel alone. It’s girls and guys alike, so don’t be shy, Mister. Check out this video from Santa Fe Creative Tourism and get ready to dance!

A Sweet Meal for a Single

After letting go on the dance floor, I always feel confident that I’ve shed enough calories to partake of a good lunch without worrying about every bite. All week long, I mind my diet, but when faced with a weekend lunch alone, I think I deserve a sweet hour or so to relax the rules a bit. And one of my favorite places to feel cozy and comfortable is to take the advice of the Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen: Eat Here Now (isn’t that a good old-fashioned slogan?)

Noted locally as one of Santa Fe’s Top Ten eateries, the light, bright dining room feels just right for a gal on the solo go. Secure in the knowledge that I shed at least a pound or two on the dance floor gives me license to order whatever I want, and it takes less than a minute to hone in on the shrimp and grits, a creamy bowl of rich and robust flavor. It’s been on the menu for quite a while, so I’m pretty sure I am not alone in making such a quick decision. And yes, those grits are gluten-free, as are a whole lot of choices, along with plenty of selections for vegetarians and vegans. Who knows, I might even come back on Saturday night to hear poetic tones from John Serkin on the slack key guitar.

Spend some quality time with yourself enjoying shrimp and grits at Sweetwater.
Spend some quality time with yourself enjoying shrimp and grits at Sweetwater.

Feeding the Soul Is a Worthy Goal

Poetry comes in many forms and it’s an old, old tradition, as is Zen meditation. Considering that I have a host of free time to fill, it’s stimulating to have the chance to combine two ancient traditions in one weekend at the Upaya Zen Center.  I am a rank beginner where meditation is concerned, but a retreat feels inviting, and Upaya has a welcoming reputation. To me, Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan sounds tailor-made for Santa Fe, especially since Upaya is perched right below that big sky.

Spend some quality time with yourself at Upaya, which serves organic vegetarian meals. (Photo credit: Upaya Zen Center)
Spend some quality time with yourself at Upaya, which serves organic vegetarian meals. (Photo credit: Upaya Zen Center)

Led by artist/translator Sensei Kazuaki Tanahashi, writer Natalie Goldberg, and Zen teacher Roshi Joan Halifax, this thought-provoking program explores the life and work of Ryokan, considered to be a Zen wise fool — a most intriguing concept. Roshi Joan, founder of the Upaya Center, is the author of many books on applied Buddhism and has a led a multi-faceted career; Sensei Kazuaki Tanahashi is a noted calligrapher, born and trained in Japan. And New Mexico author/Zen practitioner Natalie Goldberg is well known to the many who have used her book Writing Down the Bones to develop the courage to write from the heart. Given that retreat schedules are so comprehensive, I envision taking home some contemplative centering and a dose of wisdom from an inspirational time on my own.

Cooking Up an Artistic Evening

Inspiration comes in many packages, and the artistic scene of Santa Fe comes in many flavors. Some are consistently on tap and others are a rare treasure. Fortunately, one of those once-in-a-while events is happening on Valentine’s Day itself. Seeing as I’ll be flying solo that night, I plan to join other arts-lovers At the Artists’ Table. Hosted by the Santa Fe School of Cooking, which is always first in line to give back to the community at every delicious Santa Fe event, this is a one-night benefit dinner in support of a whole spectrum of the Santa Fe arts community.

A riot of color in the work of Susan Contreras matched by the rich flavor cooked up by Michele Roetzer is on hand At the Artist’s Table (Photo credit: Eric Swanson)
A riot of color in the work of Susan Contreras matched by the rich flavor cooked up by Michele Roetzer is on hand At the Artist’s Table (Photo credit: Eric Swanson)

Combining the work and inspiration of artist Susan Contreras with the culinary skill of chef Michelle Roetzer, the multi-course meal paired with wines is designed to reflect the artist’s Mexican heritage, and it sounds like a winner of a dinner. It’s so satisfying to know that I can dine like a queen, and at the same time help support a cause near and dear to my heart, namely, nurturing the artistic life and love of our community and keeping it vibrant and alive. And going home with a signed, limited-edition piece from the artist is definitely a tasty incentive.

Keep that Art Vibe Coming

One artistic weekend deserves another, and Santa Fe delivers big-time, since February means ArtFeast. Now in its 17th year of showcasing the artistic lifestyle of the City Different through a series of exciting experiences, ArtFeast expands its horizons annually. Taking place this year from February 21-23, five separate events offer five different windows into the originality and innovation that has created Santa Fe’s reputation as a major arts destination. Even though I’ll be strolling alone, I won’t miss Friday’s Edible Art Tour. Gotta love this unique gallivant through the galleries, teamed up with Santa Fe’s best chefs, whose nibbles are there to nosh as you admire the art. And this year, Friday boasts even more to enjoy: a Fashion Feast!

There’s gonna be mucho fun with Mondo Guerra at ArtFeast 2014! (Photo credit: ARTsmart)
There’s gonna be mucho fun with Mondo Guerra at ArtFeast 2014! (Photo credit: ARTsmart)

Fashion fanatic that I am, there is no way I’ll pass on the chance to party with a Project Runway reality star. Denver-based designer Mondo Guerra, a hot Season 8 contender, is bringing some sizzling styles from his newest collection, and with footwear from Santa Fe’s own Goler Imported Shoes, there will definitely be strutting on the catwalk. And the lucky live-auction winner scores a Saturday lunch with Mondo! Hors d-oeuvres are courtesy of the Eldorado Hotel’s signature menu, so it looks like I’ll be continuing my nosh-fest late into the night. No fear, I’ll be whirling about when D. J. Rose from Denver’s Beauty Bar spins the sounds.

Single-ing Through Santa Fe

I’ve spun an enviable plan, don’t you think? A wealth of weekends — or a batch of weekdays for that matter — as a single in Santa Fe seems not only eminently do-able but downright appealing, too. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, and what’s more, it’s actually a lot of fun to find ways to show the love – to you! And hey, if things should change at the last-minute, there’s always room for two in Santa Fe.

Make Awe-Inspiring Outdoor Adventures in Santa Fe a New Year’s Resolution

I know, I know. We usually enter into New Year’s resolutions out of guilt, and typically abandon them out of frustration right around February. But I propose a resolution you’ll stick with joyfully: Resolve to get back to nature and make some truly life-affirming discoveries in the great outdoors in and around Santa Fe. My off-the-beaten-path experiences bring me personal inspiration and much-needed rejuvenation. And what better way to kick off the New Year than to start planning your getaway to personal renewal in 2014? Okay, buckle up for adventure and let’s go.

Tour An Outdoor Museum with Stunning Views at Pecos National Historical Park

The ceremonial Pueblo kiva at Pecos National Historical Park never fails to awe and inspire.
The ceremonial Pueblo kiva at Pecos National Historical Park never fails to awe and inspire.

I can think of nowhere on earth where getting a hands-on history lesson is more visually stunning than Pecos National Historical Park. Located just 17 miles east of Santa Fe, the Park treats you to such unforgettable sights as the Pecos (or Ciquique) Pueblo dwellings dating back to 1100 AD, the remains of the Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos (a Spanish mission built in the early 17th century), and even a stretch of wagon ruts left by pioneers traversing the Santa Fe Trail. In all, you get a vivid snapshot of how human culture has travelled to and from the Pecos Valley for thousands of years. The Park is a wonder to behold, with piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pines towering above the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I’d suggest bringing a lunch and setting aside plenty of time for gazing and sighing, because this place is a wonderland.

Go Back in (Geologic) Time at Bandelier National Monument

The unexcavated Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument offers a rustic, off-the-beaten-path experience.
The unexcavated Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument offers a rustic, off-the-beaten-path experience.

Bandelier National Monument will give your jaw a real workout, because it will be dropping over and over again. Take it from someone with first-hand experience of the place: The pristine nature, postcard-worthy terrain, and stunning pueblo dwellings will be forever imprinted in your mind. More than one million acres of the Santa Fe National Forest surround the Monument on all sides. This is the stuff breathtaking hikes and mountain bike rides are made of. Within the park, you’ll explore pueblo dwellings dating back to the 1300’s that appear both ancient and totally modern in design. These structures are among the Monument’s abundant evidence of a human presence going back over 11,000 years, which includes Petroglyphs, and dwellings literally carved into rock cliffs. That’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers followed migrating wildlife across the mesas and canyons here, and later, the Ancestral Pueblo people built the more permanent adobe settlements. In all, Bandelier National Monument comprises a visually staggering 33,000 acres of beautiful canyon and mesa country.

There’s also a relatively undiscovered gem at Bandelier: The unexcavated Tsankawi section of the Monument. Here, you can hike the very same trails used by the Ancestral Pueblo people, while marveling at numerous archeological sites and petroglyphs—all set against Tsankawi’s spectacular vistas. Be sure to bring your camera, because your friends are in for one legendary slide show! You can make the short one-hour drive to Bandelier from Santa Fe by heading north toward Los Alamos.

Looking for a Real Hot Spot? Valles Caldera National Preserve is Downright Volcanic

Your outdoor wish is Valles Caldera’s demand.
Your outdoor wish is Valles Caldera’s demand.

If you’re looking to get back to Nature, the natural choice is Valles Caldera National Preserve, located a short jaunt north west of Santa Fe. Expect to see wildlife, sweeping vistas, and the Preserve’s defining features: Hot springs, pristine streams, volcanic domes and “fumaroles,” or cracks in the earth’s crust that emit steam and gas. You see, Valles Caldera (also known as Jemez Caldera) is a wide volcanic caldera (or collapsed volcanic dome) that runs for almost 14 miles along the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. The Preserve climbs to its highest point at Redondo Peak, an 11,253-foot resurgent lava dome located entirely within the Preserve. During the winter months, sleigh and wagon rides (complete with a guided tour) within the Preserve offer a magical experience for the whole family. Just be sure to check the available dates for sleigh and wagon rides when planning your trip. Warmer months at Valles Caldera offer a mind-blowing array of outdoor adventures that ranges from fly-fishing and elk hunting, to equestrian trail riding and mountain biking.

Valles Caldera is also home to several lush grass valleys teeming with wildlife. And get this: Only one of these valleys is accessible by a paved road. (Talk about getting back to your natural state!) Trust me, you’ll get the feeling you have this glorious natural setting to yourself, because the Preserve limits the number of visitors each day to ensure an optimal experience. Here, you’ll experience a tranquil sense of solitude that no man cave or bubble bath can touch.

Lose Yourself (and Find Yourself) at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

You’ll Feel Transported at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
You’ll Feel Transported at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

Just 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe lies the doorway to another world. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the Pueblo tongue) achieved its cinematic beauty to layers of volcanic rock and ash deposited by flows from a volcanic explosion 6 to 7 million years ago. Time and water then carved canyons and the legendary tent rocks that are cones of soft pumice stone that range in height from a few inches to 90 feet.

I must confess, Tent Rocks was a life-changer for me. When I first visited, I wandered in awe through the water-etched canyons and arroyos, then summited a bluff that overlooked these otherworldly tent rock formations. The best way I can describe them is a cross between prehistoric stone monuments and fanciful backdrops from classic Roadrunner cartoons. “How did the hand of Nature create something this surreal?” you’re left to wonder.

A hiker’s paradise, Tent Rocks offers trails for novices and adrenaline junkies alike. These trails reveal birds and other wildlife rarely seen by vacationers, not to mention countless meditative moments, and yes, envy-inducing photo-ops. I urge you to make Tent Rocks part of your resolution to explore the wonders of the outdoors. Here, you get a little of that outdoor “I did something adventurous” boost, while nourishing your soul with soul-stirring vistas and the hushed whispers of the canyons.

Make Outdoor Discoveries in Santa Fe a 2014 Resolution

Frijoles Canyon Inspires Santa Fe Visitors 365 Days a Year.
Frijoles Canyon Inspires Santa Fe Visitors 365 Days a Year.

Hey, there’s no law that says New Year’s resolutions have to be something you agonize over. Break out of that same-old thinking about the new year and plan your escape to the outdoor marvels you’ll find at every turn near Santa Fe. You’ll feel rejuvenated, reenergized, and reconnected to nature. And that’s a resolution you’ll love keeping.