The End Zone for Fun is Santa Fe

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

winter, outdoors, national preserve, santa fe, new mexico
Get your giddy-up going on a winter-white sleigh ride at Valles Caldera National Preserve. (Photo Credit:

You Can Be the Star Player in Santa Fe

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

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico, art, outdoor
There’s no skullduggery on the field at Shidoni’s Sculpture Garden, just hand-crafted beauty.

Go All Out for Art

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


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


Touch Down Inside Santa Fe for a Bounty of Beauty

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

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

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

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dining, Plaza, Classic
A Frito Pie! That’s the ticket!

Santa Fe Dining: No Concessions Required

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

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

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

Santa Fe Lets You Call the Plays

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


Giving Santa Fe: No Wrapping Paper or Bows Required

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Caroling, Christmas, Holiday, Shopping
Holiday carols and colorful lights set the mood at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden Glow (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)

Cooking Up Holiday Surprises

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cooking, School, CHristmas, Holidays,
Smiles come with the spatulas at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. (Photo Credit; Santa Fe School of Cooking)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Clever Christmas Presents Include Creativity

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


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


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


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


Christmas + Santa Fe = An Experience Memories are Made Of

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


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

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

holiday, santa fe, New Mexico, lights, Christmas, candles, festive, holidays
Hearts are alight in Santa Fe when the holidays arrive. (Photo Credit: Hannah Abelbeck, courtesy of the New Mexico History Museum)

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

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

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

Anything But Silent Nights

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


Santa Fe: Between the Lines

For over 400 years, Santa Fe has attracted quite a cast of characters — from New Spain explorers to Old West cowboys, renegade priests to virtuous madams. Which, perhaps, explains why a legion of literary lions have found their stories (and made their homes) here. As you stock up on books for those fireside hours, I have a few recommendations. But my best tip? Pull your nose off the page and start your own exciting new chapter in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
The story of the man behind the building of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis is a Santa Fe must-read. (Photo Credit: LeRoy N. Sanchez)

Real People Make Rich Characters

You can’t go wrong with a classic. Countless visitors admire our gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, but how many delve into the history of the man who brought this magnificent edifice into being? Be among those in the know by settling down with Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather’s fictionalized portrait of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy. This fascinating historical perspective is well worth getting to know. Your appreciation of his beautiful church and verdant garden will be enriched by this lively tale of a remarkable individual and his lasting Santa Fe legacy.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Native American, Bandelier National Monument
You can muse on the mysteries of a Bandelier kiva from Adolph Bandelier himself. (Photo Credit: National Park Service)

Mining Fact for Historical Fiction

Given Santa Fe’s rich multicultural heritage, authors digging for subject matter never come up short. Renowned archaeologist Adolph Bandelier is best known for the fabulous site that honored his excavation by naming it Bandelier National Park. One of New Mexico’s must-see spots, these extensive ruins are a magnet for locals and visitors alike. Your hike will never be the same after Bandelier’s imaginative gem, The Delight Makers, brings this ancient culture to life. And speaking of Native culture, a Santa Fe getaway always involves at least one great Tony Hillerman novel featuring his intriguing Native American detectives Jim Chee and Lt. Joe Leaphorn.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones
Even though it was George R. R. Martin Day in Santa Fe, the author had to sit carefully on that Iron Throne! (Photo Credit: The Santa Fe Reporter)

Santa Fe: Where Fantasy Fiction Reigns

Colorful characters still abound in Santa Fe, and winter nights are perfect for fantastic tales from one-of-a-kind local, George R. R. Martin. This prolific author, best known for his A Song of Fire and Ice series (aka HBO’s wildly successful Game of Thrones), has called Santa Fe home since the late 1970s. Fans avidly await the next book in the Fire and Ice series, but Santa Fe got an extra gift when Martin renovated the beloved Jean Cocteau Cinema, which delights film fans with a quirky selection of the old and new. And speaking of old and new, Martin fans who only know the Fire and Ice saga can keep themselves plenty busy with his rich collection of fantasy fiction.

A Real-Life SyFy Thriller

Specific events have indelibly marked modern life, and modern life is just as lively in the spoken word (read “screenplay”) as it is on the page. The exciting tale of the atom bomb has been writ large in today’s riveting WGN Manhattan TV series. The Manhattan Project was rooted in an unremarkable building at 109 East Palace Avenue in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Manhattan Project, History
It took years of secrecy before the history of the bomb was finally revealed. (Photo of an article from The Saturday Evening Post article from November 1945)

Scientists on their way to Los Alamos had to stop first at this 1600s hacienda-turned-government-office to receive security passes and IDs before heading north with directions to the clandestine site. Due to the top-secret nature of the project, 109’s personnel handled correspondence and personal matters so the geniuses could work in uninterrupted privacy. And WGN’s screenwriters have been handed a treasure trove of colorful characters in this exciting saga of “the Hill,” as it’s known around these parts.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Witter Bynner
It’s easy to imagine being inspired to poetry with a stay at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, formerly home to poet Witter Bynner. (Photo Credit: The Inn of the Turquoise Bear)

Santa Fe in Verse

You can’t say “spoken word” and not talk poetry! Poetic types are well aware of poet Witter Bynner, whose charmed early 20th century Santa Fe lifestyle included acquaintances like D. H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. Artists and intellectuals of all stripes shared pleasant hours at Bynner’s adobe home, now the Inn of the Turquoise Bear. A bequest from Bynner’s estate founded the Witter Bynner Poetry Foundation to perpetuate the art of poetry through grants and since 1997 the Witter Bynner Fellowship has been awarded to recipients selected by the U.S. Poet Laureate. Santa Fe even boasts its own poet laureate, and thanks to the Muse Times Two readings at Collected Works Books, poetic expression here is alive and thriving.

Let Your Legs Lead You on a Literary Tour

If you need to stretch between chapters, tell your feet to work together with your imagination and take a Literary Tour of the City Different. Add the Lannan Readings and Conversations to your literary survey of Santa Fe and your education is complete. After a trip to Santa Fe, you’ll have quite the story to tell!




In Santa Fe, There Are So Many Reasons to be Thankful

Every year, we have a designated opportunity to give thanks for life’s many benefits. But for us Santa Feans, reasons to be thankful jump out daily – from the awe-inspiring mix of scarlet and gold in a sunset that stops us in our tracks to the comforting warmth of a fresh tortilla on a crisp autumn morning. I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just list five reasons why you should make yours a City Different Thanksgiving. You can thank me later.

winter, ski, sports, santa fe, mountains
Your heart will soar as you ride the lift to the top of the mountain at Ski Santa Fe.
(Photo Credit: Don Gaspar Inn)

I’m thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Weather.

An average of 320 days of sunshine a year ensures delightful times as you hike up or glide down a snowy hillside with brilliant blue skies. And all without the bone-chilling humidity. The mountains encircling Santa Fe are gorgeous any time of year, but fresh powder for a Thanksgiving opening? It’s entirely possible and Ski Santa Fe has set its sights on a November 27 opening – fingers crossed!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cuisine, Tamales, Classes
Chef Noe Cano demonstrating the holiday art of homemade tamales. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Chile

Whenever I mull the idea of living elsewhere, the thought of a chile-less life stops me cold. I cannot imagine autumn without the scent of roasting chiles, let alone giving up my breakfast burritos to go on a snowy morning. As for Thanksgiving, turkey is the centerpiece but the distinctive flavors of our regional New Mexico cuisine find their way onto holiday dining tables all over town. Speaking of which, classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking have been tuning up my family recipes for years, and a Native Harvest Feast class (November 6) taught by Native American Chef Lois Ellen Frank offers wonderful alternatives for your holiday table. I cherish this family-run temple of taste, marking their 25th anniversary with a new cookbook out in December.

Native American, Pueblo, Tesuque, dance
An undated Tesuque Pueblo Turtle Dance captured by renowned New Mexico photographer Laura Gilpin. (Photo Credit: Laura Gilpin; in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Cultural Combinations

Santa Fe was diverse long before diversity became a buzzword. Frontier life meant neighbors of every persuasion pitched in to create a community. You’re as likely to meet a Valdez with blue eyes and blond hair as one with thick black braids trailing down his back. Having a thriving Native culture adds unique character to the Land of Enchantment, and I honor that gift annually by attending Pueblo feasts. Tesuque Pueblo is less than ten miles from Santa Fe, and its San Diego Feast on November 11 is a memorable event celebrated with beautifully costumed dancers and a drum group on the pueblo’s central Plaza.

Santa Fe, Holidays, Lensic, Performing Arts
Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous lights up the Lensic stage annually. (Photo Credit: Wise Fool New Mexico)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Vibrant Arts Scene.

Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky to live where the artful spirit is so alive. From lovingly handcrafted mission altarpieces to cutting-edge art exhibitions; from solo Native flute to a full orchestra; from age-old legends told around a campfire to pop-culture poetry readings; Santa Fe has it all. Every season is graced with inspiration, and Thanksgiving is no exception. SWAIA’s Santa Fe Winter Indian Market (Nov. 28-29) showcases the rich artistic culture of the First Peoples. A Saturday afternoon bronze pouring at Shidoni Gallery demonstrates the traditional execution of sculptural expression. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus’ annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah fills the Lensic on Sunday, November 23 and four rousing performances of Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous are on the Lensic’s roster November 28 to 30.

I’m Thankful for…Santa Fe’s Festive Spirit

Santa Fe is a town that loves to celebrate old traditions and create new ones. From January’s Souper Bowl to May’s Passport to the Arts; from July’s International Folk Art Market to November’s PieMania, Santa Fe knows how to throw a great party! And Thanksgiving ushers in an unusually rich series of pleasures. After the turkey is reduced to leftovers, we’ll head down to the Plaza on Friday, November 28 to watch as the big Christmas tree lights up to celebrate the start of the holiday season. With so much December fun in the wings – Christmas at the Palace and Las Posadas, the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk and Christmas Day dances at the Pueblos – not a moment goes by that I’m not grateful to be living here.

Wine, Fireplace, Santa Fe
Toast the love of friends and family by spending Thanksgiving together in Santa Fe

You’ll Be Thankful You Came to Santa Fe

It‘s easy for me to ramble on about the wonders of Santa Fe  because the magic is real in the Land of Enchantment. And best of all? The welcoming spirit of the people, who share the same questing spirit and love of life that brings you here! Why not celebrate your Thanksgiving with a stay in Santa Fe where gracias is lived all year-round?

Santa Fe is a Craft Beer Bonanza

I’m spelling this month Octobeer because autumn is the perfect time for exploring Santa Fe’s booming craft breweries. Local brew has deep roots – witness this April 29, 1889 journal entry from archeologist Adolph Bandelier (for whom Bandelier National Monument is named): “Went to Mass. In the afternoon to the brewery”. Why not take heed of Mr. Bandelier’s suggestion and come along with me on a foamy foray?

It’s All in the Name and In the Beer Too

Tucked in Santa Fe’s southside, Santa Fe Brewing Company has 26 years in the keg. Its flagship Santa Fe Pale Ale remains the rock this brewery was built on and a plethora of specialty beers pop up seasonally.  Right now, I have my eye on – you guessed it – Oktoberfest, a cheery ode to the season that I can’t resist and the 2014 bronze medal winner at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in the American Sour Ale category, the brewery’s very own Kriek.

A refreshing afternoon is always on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company.

Two tasting rooms on opposite ends of the county (the brewery perched on the Turquoise Trail and the Eldorado taproom off I-25 north) make casual get-togethers a breeze. Cap off your experience with tours at the brewery location. Small Batch Saturdays feature five-gallon experimental beers – a great pick for the best in beer-lovin’ weekends. What’s more? The brewery’s events calendar is topped off with fun.

Hit Second Street for First-rate Brews

After a long day, a glass of craft brew is a tempting notion and, thankfully, Second Street Brewery is always just around the corner. The original brewery on – where else – Second Street is a funky mix of artists’ studios, stoneyards and fitness studios. This homey pub includes a host of beers on tap. I’m a Kolsch girl myself – I love this light ale with lager-like flavor. Pairing brew with offerings like beer-back pork shanks and lots of live music guarantees a great time.

A beer and a bright blue sky make the perfect combo at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard.

 After a Saturday morning shopping spree next door at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market or downtown gallery hopping, I stop by Second Street’s Railyard outpost for a break with a beer boost. It features the same great craft brews and the Alien Burger, winner of the 2014 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown 

Beer and New Mexico – Matchless Bar Buddies

I was a Blue Corn Café regular before they added the brewery and the 1997 decision to start brewing made things even better! Six house beers and four rotating specialties present plenty of choice for beer aficionados. Blue Corn Brewery’s aptly named Blue Corn Café and Brewery Gold Medal Stout won—yup—the gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. This latest award complements its collection of hardware for the brewhouse’s Resurgence IPA, winner of the 2013 New Mexico IPA challenge and its classic best-seller, Road Runner IPA, is a hops-lover’s dream. Boasting the same super beer selection just off the Plaza, the downtown Café is an ideal spot for enjoying classic New Mexican cuisine.

Like the sign says, Blue Corn Brewery is all about the craft.

 I’ve always been a sucker for their Atomic Blonde Lager and chicken fajitas make a fine companion, especially on game days! This friendly hangout puts out the welcome sign for beer socials on once-a-month Thursdays at the Brewer’s Table. And beer to go? This month, that 32 oz. growler will be filled with Night Train, a seasonal German schwarzbier (a smooth black lager) that I’m dying to try with take-out tamales.

No Need to Duel;There’s Plenty to Share

Imperial pour is a great concept and its full golden glory arrives in proper glassware at Duel Brewery. Off the beaten path and utterly craft-driven, this Belgian brewery has a creative side to complement the complex flavors of their brews. Duel’s Fiction IPA is precisely named; although they didn’t set out to make beer that would have hopheads cheering, the balance in this brew is more than enough to qualify its best-seller status.

Duel Brewery makes it an OctoberFest-ive night out!

Given the time of year (and my German ancestors), Duel’s Octoberfest captured my full attention as accompaniment for their sausage plate. White bratwurst paired with spicy hot sausage rest on a pile of sauerkraut with Duel’s killer marble rye bread. Let’s just say I fell in love with October all over again! The beatnik atmosphere and industrial setting is my kind of pub scene. With life drawing sessions ($25 gets you a beer, a signature waffle and two hours with a live model), movie screenings and a healthy roster of live music, Duel is the place for expressing your artistic side as you explore their palette of beers.

Sample the Golden Colors of Autumn in a Glass

A hunt for the Southwest’s best beers leads to Santa Fe.

With fall colors painting the mountains and fresh-roasted green chile appearing in restaurants all over town, what could be a better partner for the season than a frosty local beer? I definitely recommend a 2015 Santa Fe Bike and Brew getaway but don’t wait until then. I guarantee it won’t take an archaeological hunt worthy of Mr. Bandelier to craft your own beer saga this year in Santa Fe!


Launch Balloon Fiesta Fun in Santa Fe

The first weeks of October are high times in New Mexico, especially for balloon pilots and their friends! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 with only 13 hot air balloons and has blown up (pun intended) into the world-class festival it is today. This year, more than 600 balloons will launch from a 365-acre dedicated park. Due to a stellar 43-year safety record, visitors can amble among the balloons – which come in every shape and color combination imaginable – for up-close views and a chat with the pilots and crew.

The shapes and colors boggle the imagination at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!. (Photo Credit:
The shapes and colors boggle the imagination at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!. (Photo Credit:

The glorious October weather also plays a starring role, with cool mornings giving way to glorious autumn sun. Early risers catch the Dawn Patrol and the evening balloon glows offer an incredible opportunity to admire these majestic “sailboats of the air.” Balloon Fiesta is definitely a bucket-list event, and approaching it from Santa Fe is the insider’s way to get the best of everything.

A balloon glow is a magical moment. (Photo Credit: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta)
A balloon glow is a magical moment. (Photo Credit: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta)

Make Santa Fe Your Home Base for Balloon Magic

Albuquerque hotels will be bursting at the seams Oct. 4-12 during Balloon Fiesta, as the Duke City (Albuquerque’s nickname) welcomes more than 100,000 visitors for this signature event. Those in the know head north to grab a great hotel deal in the City Different. From intimate B&Bs to luxurious spa resorts, Santa Fe offers a tranquil respite from the lively action down south. What’s more, you can’t underestimate the bounty of dining possibilities in our renowned culinary destination.

The Mine Shaft in Madrid, NM is a welcome detour on the Turquoise Trail.
The Mine Shaft in Madrid, NM is a welcome detour on the Turquoise Trail.

Early morning launches mean the drive to Albuquerque includes an unforgettable sunrise over the Sandia mountain range. And after the balloons touch down, you can take the scenic drive up the Turquoise Trail to rendezvous for lunch in Madrid at the Mine Shaft Tavern, one of eight finalists in this year’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown.

Stroll and Shop to Your Heart’s Content

Take the afternoon to wander legendary Canyon Road and you’ll find colors that rival those seen in the balloon ballet above. A self-guided Canyon Road art walk is a must-do for every Santa Fe visitor. No surprise — Santa Fe’s 250 art galleries uphold our reputation as the arts capital of the Southwest. Regrouping for refreshments is a snap; simply stop at Caffe Greco for a potent Lavazza espresso or head to The Teahouse for a cuppa. You can even wind your Canyon Road day right into evening with dinner and live music at El Farol.

Canyon Road is worth some face time when you visit Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of The Eldorado Hotel and Spa)
Canyon Road is worth some face time when you visit Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of The Eldorado Hotel and Spa)

Going home with Balloon Fiesta souvenirs is fun, but shopping the Santa Fe Plaza is still numero uno in my book. Whether it’s silver, turquoise or stylish southwest clothing, you’ll find a multitude of choices, from Native American vendors under the portal at the Palace of the Governors to shops showcasing leatherwork or lacy lingerie. Galleries thrive here too, with renowned Native artists like Allan Houser and the Namingha clan ensconced on Lincoln Avenue. And food? The only problem is choosing where … carnitas from Roque’s stand or a visit to The Shed, tucked in the colorful courtyard of Sena Plaza.

The Best of Fall Grows in Santa Fe

Santa Fe boasts a bonus during the first weekend of Balloon Fiesta Oct. 4-5 since El Rancho de las Golondrinas ends its annual series of festivals with the most popular event of all: Harvest Festival. This living history museum takes you back through New Mexico regional heritage with bread baking in hornos (beehive-shaped outdoor ovens) and grapes crushed by hand. This is your opportunity to learn how to string a chile ristra, the ubiquitous autumn décor hanging from portals and porches all over the state. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of fall than a day at Golondrinas!Harvest-Festival-ristra-stringers

Look Up at the Skies then Look North to Santa Fe

The ideal launch pad for your Balloon Fiesta adventure, Santa Fe offers all of New Mexico’s beauty with a fraction of the crowds – it’s hard to argue with that prescription for pleasure. Go ahead and get high on Albuquerque’s aerial artistry and let Santa Fe provide the spot for a perfect landing.

Santa Fe In The Fall Is the Fabled City of Gold

With the sun shining daily in a bright blue sky and dramatic sunsets nightly, Santa Fe summers are simply the best. But as end-of-season beauties like tall, yellow native sunflowers bloom and wave in the breeze, it’s obvious that summer is about to give way to fall. And that’s fine with us, because it means the hillsides and valleys are about to turn daytime into glorious shades of autumn that rival our evening colors.

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Santa Fe: Native Treasures and Artistic Pleasures

Even with its long days, summer is a season that simply seems to fly by. But here in Santa Fe, our numerous arts events prove summer has yet to reach its peak. I’ll be taking my vacation off-season and enjoying the great weather at home, because August is an amazingly artful month of can’t-miss experiences.

Indian Market
SWAIA Indian Market is the largest Native Arts festival in the country.

Santa Fe has a centuries-old history of Native art and culture. Baskets and beads, paintings and pottery, jewelry and clothing — all are part of an artistic legacy that grew from usage. And over time, these items grew more beautiful and desirable to collectors. SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market has history, too, and Santa Fe is primed for its 93rd appearance Aug. 18-24.

The whole town dresses up for this party. And even after years of attending, I can’t wait to show up in my finery. Seeing the crowd decked out in its silvery best sends any style-hound hunting for a Concho belt or dangly turquoise earrings.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.
Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

The Market hosts artists from coast to coast so you’ll find both Penobscot baskets and Pueblo pottery. Haida carvings find a home near Hopi katsinas, and Navajo rugs and colorful paintings are also part of the mix. Bring your collector’s eye and you won’t be disappointed.

Meet a Native Art Star on the Page and in Person

One of the West’s most celebrated painters makes a special trip to Santa Fe during Indian Market. Kevin Red Star, a Crow native from Lodge Grass, Mont., delves deep into family experience and heritage to create contemporary works prized by collectors. One of the first students of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Red Star also received a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute.

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available. “Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)
Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available.
“Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

The experience provided exposure to political and social concerns that affect Native life and continue to inform his work. Red Star notes “I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.”

Meet Red Star Aug. 20 at Collected Works Books where he will sign copies of the gorgeous new book Kevin Red Star Crow Indian Artist by Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken; all proceeds that day benefit SWAIA. An opening reception for Red Star’s new exhibit and another book signing are at Windsor Betts Gallery Aug. 22.

Get Familiar with IFAM

IFAM, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, sets down roots in the Santa Fe Railyard Aug. 21-23. This new festival runs concurrently with Indian Market, giving visitors double the reason to be in Santa Fe. IFAM’s mission is to provide exposure for artists whose work may not fit SWAIA categories or regulations. There are over 565 registered Native American nations and IFAM’s palette of participants includes a host of Canadian First Nations and indigenous Hawaiian artists. It’s no surprise that the artist list has grown quickly!

Between the historic pictures and the fascinating story, this is a book to cherish. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

And IFAM hosts a special event Aug. 21 called Red Star, Rising Star with — you guessed it — Kevin Red Star. Red Star is mentoring George Alexander, a young Muscogee artist, and together they’ll do a live paint accompanied by music from Brian Frejo. The resulting artwork will be raffled off and a book signing at the event both benefit IFAM. The Market runs both days 10 a.m.–5 p.m., with entertainment on the Railyard stage noon-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams Are a Perfect Pair

Speaking of indigenous Hawaii, I heartily recommend the O’Keeffe Museum’s killer exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe & Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures Exhibit. Both artists had a special connection to New Mexico, so pairing them makes sense, especially as they also shared a natural ability to let native flora create an authentic sense of place.

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)
Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

It’s amazing to think of O’Keeffe as a hired art-hand for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which commissioned her to create ad illustrations in 1939. O’Keeffe’s compositional ability is always remarkable, and her tropical blossoms and landscapes offer a lushness that contrasts with her Southwestern works. Adams was also in Hawaii on commission; his 1948 government assignment was followed by a 1957 bank commission. Adams’ love of the outdoors and deep connection to the land are always at the forefront of his images and this stunning compendium is no exception. See this one before it closes Sept. 17.

Wrap Up Your Summer With Only-in-Santa-Fe Experiences

Summer’s beauty is far from over. And Santa Fe can prove it, with a bounty of treasures ripe for the picking. There’s no place like here to tuck an artistic rendering of colorful memories into your bag. When the arts of August arrive, just get here and let Santa Fe do the rest.


Artful Adventuring Awaits in Santa Fe

Summer is in full bloom–flowers blossoming and bees buzzing on long days ripe for enjoyment. I’m buzzing too, with excitement about the artistic riches in our hive. Santa Fe is always top 10 for creative cities, so we don’t need to go looking. Art and artists abound here!

The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.

See Beyond the Flower to a Colorful Career in Santa Fe

After her 30 years in residence, it’s apt that the new Judy Chicago exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Art is titled Local Color: Judy Chicago in New Mexico 1984–2014. As the artist notes, New Mexico attracted her for the same reasons it draws so many:

“What I wanted was the freedom to work. And that’s what New Mexico has given me, far away from the centers of the art world where the international art market presses down on artists and makes it difficult to pursue a personal vision like my own.”


Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)
Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)



The exhibit focuses on works made in New Mexico, where Chicago shares studio space with her husband in an old hotel they renovated. A gamut of media is represented – cast bronze and needlework, stained and painted glass, works on paper and painted porcelain in themes both intimate and universal.


Far East Art Styles in a Southwest Setting

Our serene Santa Fe Botanical Garden provides seasonal color and form for plant-loving people. But those who love get an extra twist on the outdoors with Origami in the Garden. This large-scale installation of folded metal forms by artist Kevin Box is up until October. Each time I visit, I choose a different time of day, so the magic of light and weather always lets me experience these unique works anew.

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

The artist considers origami a “simple metaphor for life. We all begin with a blank page, what we choose to do with it is what matters and the possibilities are endless.” Though fascinated by this intricate Japanese art form, Box was struck by the natural impermanence of the paper traditionally used to create origami. His re-envisioning led to 15 evocative cast and fabricated sculptures thoughtfully situated throughout in the garden’s graceful setting. The garden has been a great addition to the City Different and installations like this prove it!

Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)
Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)

The Artistic Landscape is Unlimited at SITE Santa Fe

A visit to the cutting-edge SITE Santa Fe is de rigueur. From the day it opened, the quality has remained sharp, with thought-provoking exhibitions that validate Santa Fe’s credentials as an arts capital. The project, SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas, is a six-year series of linked exhibitions showcasing contemporary art of the Americas, and the museum-scale SITE space kicks off the project with Unsettled Landscapes, opening on July 17.

SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)
SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)

Organized by a curatorial team from throughout the Western Hemisphere, Unsettled Landscapes is the first of three biennial exhibitions taking place. Sewing together the themes of landscape, territory, and trade, the exhibit is laced with political and historical narratives. With artists from Nunavut in the northernmost reaches of Canada to Chile’s Tierra del Fuego, the artistic spectrum covers a lot of territory. I’m ready to embark on this journey July 18 with Pablo Helguera’s Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano, a multi-disciplinary performance based on the forbidden card games of New Mexico’s Mexican era.


Bring On the Blues

Anyone who knows me knows that Turquoise, Water, Sky: the Stone and Its Meaning at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has me enthralled. My turquoise fandom has me ooh-in and ahh-ing at this remarkable compendium of artifacts from the Museum’s collection. Not simply a semi-precious gem, turquoise has been honored as a sky and water stone, bringing blessings, good fortune, protection, good health and long life.

Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)
Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)

Cherished for its beauty and extensive range of hues, this “fallen sky stone” hidden in Mother Earth was a Southwestern adornment long before Columbus landed. Each individual stone’s color depends on the minerals in the area where it was mined. More copper means a bluer stone, more iron a greener one. Ancient mines dotted the Southwest, and the resulting variety of color and design is mesmerizing. And the history of turquoise in the Southwest is just as spellbinding. The museum has done a yeoman’s job of scouring the archives for examples, and an afternoon here means you’ll probably be shopping later to add to your own collection.

The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)
The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)

Santa Fe Creates an Especially Artistic Summer Experience

Having this rich mix of the traditional and the new means there is a pleasurable palette of experience for all. That’s why my adobe abode is summer visitors’ central! Creativity has been at the forefront of Santa Fe for centuries, so make your artistic pit stop here and you won’t go wrong.