Fall…in Love with Santa Fe

I love the way one season slips seamlessly into another here in Santa Fe. The added crisp in the air makes the blues of the sky more brilliant, the sunsets deeper shades of red and purple, and the aspen-covered mountaintops rich shades of gold. And if magnificent landscapes haven’t convinced you to hop a plane/car/boat/train/space shuttle/horse, September is chock-full of activities and events for every interest and palate. Here’s a quick peek:

Flex into Fall at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival

Santa Fe’s clean air, abundant outdoor recreation and farm-fresh food all over town attracts a healthy coterie of yoga-loving souls. With studios tucked all over the City Different, like-minded individuals can find a yoga class any day of the week. It all comes together at the first-ever Santa Fe Yoga Festival on Labor Day weekend Aug. 28-31. Taking place in the serene setting of Bishop’s Lodge Resort and Spa (rooms still available), the festival opens with a drum ceremony and blessing, followed with music by Native Spirits to accompany the setting sun. Native drums not your thing? The variety of yoga classes offered is as awesome as the list of instructors. In combination with special dharma talks, musical offerings and even a Zozobra excursion and after-party, this is one mind-blowing, body-centered, soul-fulfilling three-day weekend.

Hold the pose and reach for the sky at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Yoga Festival)
Hold the pose and reach for the sky at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Yoga Festival)

Fusing Food and Fun is a Santa Fe Specialty

Once I’ve fused myself into fall mode via yoga, I’m heading for FUZE.SW, a deliciously enticing Sept. 12-14 celebration of food and folklore. A potent mix of James Beard Award-winning chefs blends with a tasty, coast-to-coast recipe of authors and food historians offering demonstrations and leading discussions. And of course, there’s food —Friday night at the Green Chile Smackdown (tickets sold separately) pairs with Fuze DineAround specials at local restaurants and Saturday offers food-truck lunching and a Five & Dime Frito Pie finish.

Chefs like James Campbell Caruso of La Boca stir up discussions, insights and more at FUZE.SW

The Thunder Hits Santa Fe in September

After pairing food fantasies with facts at FUZE.SW, running it off is in the offing thanks to the Santa Fe Thunder Run. For me the Sept. 14 half-marathon is wishful thinking, but I’m up to speed for the 5K. And a one-mile walk gives couch potatoes an excuse to get out into the countryside. The half-marathon starts in the heart of Santa Fe on a scenic course, dropping 1,000 feet downhill through Tesuque Village, passing the Santa Fe Opera, Tesuque Pueblo and Camel Rock before reaching the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino finish line. The feel-good extra? The non-profit Global Running Culture uses race proceeds as the primary income source for local and global programs empowering youth through fun and fulfilling sports activities.

Kenya’s Oyugi set a course record in the 2013 Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon. (Photo Credit: Katharine Egli for The Santa Fe New Mexican)
Kenya’s Oyugi set a course record in the 2013 Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon. (Photo Credit: Katharine Egli for The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Game of Thrones Fans Get Medieval in Autumn Since “Winter is Coming”  

Speaking of fun, with September comes one of Santa Fe’s most fanciful events, the Sept. 20-21 Renaissance Faire at El Rancho de las Golondrinas.  If you’ve never visited El Rancho, you owe it to yourself to wander the grounds of this living history museum as locals in medieval garb pursue creative capers.

Juggling fire is all in a day’s work when Clan Tynker clocks in at the Renaissance Faire. (Photo Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)
Juggling fire is all in a day’s work when Clan Tynker clocks in at the Renaissance Faire. (Photo Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

You’ll be awed by Clan Tynker’s feats of magic and musical mayhem and an assortment of sword-fighting swashbucklers will thrill Game of Thrones fans. I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out to see if local resident/author George R.R. Martin makes an appearance! It’s a certainty that their majesties King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella will be there to hold court over this benefit for the Interfaith Community Shelter. Sixteen food vendors and a host of arts and crafts stands help make this a memorable weekend of bedlam and buffoonery.

 

Wind Your Way into Autumn with Wine and Chile

There’s a different kind of bedlam when the big tent goes up at the Santa Fe Opera for Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta. Fine wines and fiery foods take center-stage Sept. 24-28 with a long list of tastings, seminars, demonstrations and wine dinners at Santa Fe’s best restaurants. Take the inaugural Gran Fondo Bike Ride to burn off extra calories as you stop at food stations for caloric indulgence before finishing with a champagne brunch. The Gruet Golf Classic pairs six signature wines with food from 10 terrific restaurants at Buffalo Thunder’s Towa Golf Course. And the Grand Tasting? I guarantee that once you partake in this truly grand experience, you’ll come back annually for the taste of Santa Fe!

There’s always more to pour and sample at the SFWC Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)
There’s always more to pour and sample at the SFWC Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Fall Under Santa Fe’s Autumn Spell

The flow into fall is packed with delicious adventures for those lucky enough to live here or smart enough to get here for the magic. Whether it’s flexing your body into cobra pose or testing your palate at the west’s best wine festival, Santa Fe has it made. I’m up to this tempting task — how about you?

 

 

Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Santa Fe

The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.
The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.

In addition to Santa Fe’s countless indoor wonders (transcendent performing arts theaters, sumptuous spas and jaw-dropping restaurants, just to name a few), the City Different’s pristine natural surroundings make it Mother Nature’s most beautiful theme park. Summer provides the ideal time to explore Santa Fe’s dozens of hiking paths for any level of experience and fitness level, river rafting and some of the best mountain biking trails in North America. Ski Santa Fe transforms into a mountain playground during summer, and the city center is a walkable, bikeable adventure, complete with live music on the Santa Fe Bandstand, al fresco dining and patio happy hour-ing. No visit to Santa Fe is complete without experiencing the natural beauty that’s everywhere you turn here. All you have to do is step outside.

The Travel Bug Will Have You Itching for Outdoor Exploration

The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.
The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.

Getting out and about is a breeze in Santa Fe. But sometimes, we adventurers need a little guidance. The Travel Bug is my go-to gear shop, with shelves brimming with travel guides and maps to make any Santa Fe excursion a success. And when you’re ready to go full Indiana Jones, they’ve got all the right apparel and cool travel accessories. Let’s be honest, we all feel a little more adventurous in a stylish safari hat. Seriously though, you won’t regret taking in the Travel Bug before happily taking in Santa Fe’s many outdoor treasures.

Fuel Your Appetite for Fresh Air at The Beestro

Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.
Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.

Before hiking or biking through the natural splendor of Santa Fe, make sure your journey includes a hearty picnic lunch from one of my favorite eateries, The Beestro. This quaint café is one of downtown Santa Fe’s hidden gems and makes it easy to grab some gourmet sustenance for your hike or ride. Their stacked homestyle sandwiches and hot-off-the-grill Panini (lamb and feta, anyone?) will conquer any appetite. And for the veggie inclined, Beestro’s farmers’ market salads burst with unexpected flavors ranging from quinoa tabouleh to red chile honey salmon. Best of all, you can pop in, gather up the goodness and head for foothills.

Anyone Can Be a Mountaineer in Santa Fe

Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.
Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.

In Santa Fe, you can get back to nature then get back to the middle of town in minutes. The Dale Ball Trails offer an idyllic starting point. This trail system winds through some of the area’s most beautiful natural landscapes in the area, and with several trail entrances around town, embarking on your hike is a breeze. With more than 22 miles of trails through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, hiking Dale Ball is always a new experience. Even if you’re like me and low on the rugged adrenaline-junkie scale, one trek through Dale Ball will bring out your explorer. And don’t worry about high-end gear. The widely varied trail surfaces enable you to hike in anything from sneakers to sandals to hiking boots. So while you’re in Santa Fe, grab a hat, pack plenty of water and sunblock and head for out-of-this-world hikes that are just-down-the-street convenient.

Take Refuge With the Wild at Audubon Center

The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.
The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.

Even during an action-packed vacation, sometimes you have to stop and smell the lavender. The Randall Davey Audubon Center offers 135 acres of peaceful habitat for all manner of plants, animals and visitors. Located just ten minutes from the center of The Plaza, this sanctuary is home to Ponderosa Pine forests, picture-perfect meadows and bird walks led by local experts. (Be sure to bring your binoculars or rent a pair at the on-site shop.) Once you’ve found your bliss and want to step up the exercise a bit, do yourself a favor and hit the Spring Canyon loop. This easy-to-navigate trail makes for a relatively simple trek, but its small ascent doubles as a workout with views no gym can match.

For Instant Adventure, Just Add Water

Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.
Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.

Nothing says summer fun like riding the waves with the whole family. And when you’re in Santa Fe, all it takes is a half- or full-day excursion with Santa Fe Rafting Company. Just park at the boatyard right in the center of Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road and it’s a quick jaunt to the Rio Grande. I know whitewater rafting can seem an intimidating venture for the uninitiated, but Santa Fe Rafting’s trained and certified guides can show even a landlubber how to tame the river. Just choose your desired level of “OMG,” from slow flows to full-on whitewater rapids, and you’re in for an epic day on the legendary Rio Grande.

Canyon Road Makes the Morning Jog an Art Form

 

Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.
Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.

Canyon Road is famously known as Santa Fe’s premier art destination. But any Santa Fean will tell you that a brisk morning jog up Canyon Road offers visual delights of another order. Ascending the hill to this legendary artistic haven in the crisp morning air, then strolling the vibrant sidewalks and soaking in the creative energy, well, it makes for a morning that will make your whole week. Then you can head toward the city center via Alameda for a totally different vibe on your return. Art and exercise along Canyon Road offer just the prescription for an inspiring morning.

Leave No Stone Unturned on Your Trip to Santa Fe

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.
A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

There’s a world of art in Santa Fe that isn’t confined to gallery walls. You’ll find masterpieces everywhere you look among Santa Fe’s piñon forests, sweeping mountain vistas and winding canyons. The fact is, there are so many ways to explore the natural wonders of Santa Fe, you’ll want to develop a separate itinerary just for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re gazing at the skyline from the city’s numerous parks or hiking your way to a spectacular mountaintop overlook, a visit to Santa Fe is guaranteed to expand your horizons. And I guarantee the view is amazing.

 

Everything’s Coming Up Roses in Santa Fe

 

The sun is hard at work in Santa Fe, coaxing bulbs to put out their colorful blossoms to sway in the spring breezes. We’ve had our final drift of snow, and day by day, the sun sticks around in the sky longer and longer. I say it’s time to take a leisurely tour to look around the colorful Santa Fe landscape and be assured the city is indeed in full bloom.

Capture the Colors at The Bishop’s Garden

Seeing Santa Fe’s spring color in the Bishop’s Garden makes a person feel in the pink!
Seeing Santa Fe’s spring color in the Bishop’s Garden makes a person feel in the pink!

The harbinger of spring in Santa Fe is the ubiquitous forsythia. The rich yellows of this hardy plant, followed swiftly by fragrant flowering fruit trees, call me to the Bishop’s Garden, designed by Bishop Lamy who built the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. A colorful real-life character, he is the famed subject of Willa Cather’s Santa Fe-centric novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, a must-read for lovers of Santa Fe.

I love spending some quiet moments in our Cathedral before making a meditative circuit on the path under the beautiful blossoming trees. My next stop? A picnic on the Plaza, where the hanging baskets add color to the heart of our historic town.

Canyon Road, Painted in Mother Nature’s Hues

The Santa Fe Plaza is painted in nature’s colors in the blooming months of spring and summer.
The Santa Fe Plaza is painted in nature’s colors in the blooming months of spring and summer.

 

 

Any historic town deserves help sustaining special sites, and we’re fortunate the Historic Santa Fe Foundation is so firmly rooted in its commitment to preserving the gorgeous gardens at El Zaguan. Built in the 1840’s, the former Johnson family Canyon Road hacienda is named for its long interior hallway (the zaguan) and has served as an artists’ colony since the 1920’s when it was converted into a series of small apartments.  The Foundation continues this tradition by offering one-year residencies to artists and writers whose work benefits from the serene surroundings.

A quiet spot in the heart of Santa Fe, El Zaguan welcomes meditative moments. (Photo Credit: The Historic Santa Fe Foundation)
A quiet spot in the heart of Santa Fe, El Zaguan welcomes meditative moments. (Photo Credit: The Historic Santa Fe Foundation)

 

Some of the trees in the small but lush garden are well over 100 years old, and I love to lean against their trunks and listen to leaves murmur as they did in years gone by. Stands of lilac, lavender, and roses perfume the air from spring to fall. The Santa Fe Master Gardener Association partners with the Foundation, ensuring that the garden is a water-wise oasis retaining its historic origins and beauty. Open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm, the Master Gardeners are on-site and happy to plant-talk on Thursdays and Saturdays.

A 400-plus Year-old City Has a Gardening History

A town as old as ours is bound to count dedicated gardeners amongst its citizenry. The Santa Fe Garden Club relies on many dedicated members, who planted the sculpture garden at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and maintain and support gardens at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts.

Rocks, plants, adobe … what could be more Santa Fe than being behind adobe walls? (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Garden Club)
Rocks, plants, adobe … what could be more Santa Fe than being behind adobe walls? (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Garden Club)

If you think Santa Fe is all sagebrush and cottonwoods, you’re in for a delightful surprise! Mid-April through mid-October, the Garden Club’s Pequeno Tours (pequeno means little) offer intimate tours of three stunning homes and gardens, with a knowledgeable, plant-loving Garden Club member as guide. The tours run frequently, and are a one of a kind experience. Come July, Santa Fe is a riot of color, and the Garden Club’s Behind Adobe Walls Home and Garden Tour is too. Two successive Tuesdays take flora fanatics to eight fantastic gardens, located in private estates and historical sites.

Santa Fe Plants for the Future with a New Botanical Garden

The magnificent museum complex on Museum Hill gained a new partner across the road when the Santa Fe Botanical Garden arose amid the junipers and piñon trees. Celebrating our region’s biodiversity and plant heritage, the Botanical Garden began in 1987 with the seed of an idea planted in the minds of local gardeners. By 1993, the 35-acre Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve opened adjacent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas and cultivated the desire for a city site to host native plants and educational events. In 2006, with 11 acres of land leased long-term from the city, planning began in earnest. With the first phase completed, the Garden opened its gates for year-round viewing in 2013. I’m excited about Origami in the Garden, a large-scale outdoor sculpture exhibition with creations from Santa Fe artist Kevin Box. Kevin’s work is on display until October 25th, and the self-guided cell phone tour ensures a fully enlightened experience whenever I visit.

Blue skies and native plants tell the tale of Santa Fe’s botanical history. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)
Blue skies and native plants tell the tale of Santa Fe’s botanical history. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)

Plans are laid for the next phase, showcasing plants used by local cultures throughout Santa Fe’s ancient past. Clustered around a central plaza, the newest plots will include plants traditionally used for healing, cooking, weaving, and dyeing, along with outdoor classrooms to host programs for the whole family.

Pick Some Pretty Posies at the Santa Farmers’ Market

Growing Southwest beauty differs from planting in the moist Midwest or coastal rain-belts. Be it food for the table or flowers for the soul, those who live by hands in the soil bring their harvest to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Tuesdays and Saturdays. With spring’s arrival, the Market has moved back outside, and that means vendors are multiplying. Right now, I’m all about fresh greens to grace my plate, and beautiful bunches of flowers to make my dinner table festive only gets easier as spring turns to summer.

You can pick a basket of blossoms or a bushel of chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)
You can pick a basket of blossoms or a bushel of chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)

Make Yours a Colorful Journey to Santa Fe

A Colorful Journey … there’s more than one reason this phrase is the City Different’s calling card. The sun is painting long shadows to frame the bright hues tucked against adobe walls and lining garden walks all over town. I am nurturing the notion of adventures yet to come, but in the meantime, I invite you to share the blessings of colorful blossoms and leaves that whisper softly, “Come outdoors and celebrate spring’s return.”

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!

Santa Fe: The Ultimate Treat for Dogs

What’s not to love about two adoring eyes gazing up at you from a four-legged friend? When you have a dog, you know you are loved. So why would you travel without your BFF (that’s Best Furry Friend)? Time was, the pooch was passed up, but we’ve become more conscious that though our pets can’t speak, they experience feelings of abandonment when we go off without them. Hence, the big mournful eyes that ensue as your packing begins. A fun adventure in Santa Fe, ranked as a top spot for canine travel, can definitely include Fido if you know where to go — and I’m happy to share my hound-dog’s favorite haunts.

A Companionable Stay in Santa Fe

The first order of travel business is finding the perfect perch with all the comforts of home. I’ve invited my Kitty-Q to travel too, because “Pets R Us,” but she let me know in no uncertain terms that cars aren’t her thing, so I’ll concentrate on the pooch patrol.

Macie Mae snuggles in for a snooze at the Santa Fe Sage Inn. (Photo credit: Sheila Williams)
Macie Mae snuggles in for a snooze at the Santa Fe Sage Inn. (Photo credit: Sheila Williams)

Whether it’s dogs, travel-tolerant cats, or iguanas (okay, not many of them travel either), Santa Fe is on point with pet travel; in fact, picking pet-friendly lodging boils down to location, price, and style. You can’t go wrong near the happening Santa Fe Railyard, and that means a stay at the affordable Santa Fe Sage Inn. As the inn of choice for the folk artists who come annually for the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, this hotel is used to making all kinds of guests feel right at home, and four-legs enjoy the same genuinely welcoming experience. Your pup gets yummy check-in treats from Zoe & Guido’s Pet Boutique, and you get breakfast daily and free shuttle service. Cozy pet beds are provided, and what better place to walk Walter the Wire-haired Terrier than the 10-plus acre Railyard Park right across the street?

Let your pup take you to the Railyard Park for a sunset stroll. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)
Let your pup take you to the Railyard Park for a sunset stroll. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)

If your Coco is a city dog who likes sidewalk action, you can both be comfy downtown near the Santa Fe Plaza at the Hotel Chimayo. Named for the northern New Mexico village of Chimayo (which some of us believe grows our state’s tastiest chile), this hot spot boasts a Pet-Friendly Package that waives nightly pet fees. And along with a pet swag bag, you get a 15% discount at BOTH Teca Tu Pet Emporium and Zoe and Guido’s — hard to argue with that deal! And while your sweet Shih Tzu Suzie takes a snooze up in the room, you can catch some authentic Santa Fe flavor by kickin’ back on the tuck’n’roll seating in the hotel’s Low’n’Slow Lowrider Bar.

You can get the lowdown on Santa Fe at the Hotel Chimayo’s Low’n’Slow Lowrider Bar. (Photo credit: Hotel Chimayo)
You can get the lowdown on Santa Fe at the Hotel Chimayo’s Low’n’Slow Lowrider Bar. (Photo credit: Hotel Chimayo)

A bed-and-breakfast could well be the optimal option for that old pal who relishes curling up at your feet in an intimate home-like setting. Picture Pancho the Pug taking an afternoon siesta in one of the five individually designed rooms at the Antigua Inn, tucked in a residential neighborhood in the heart of downtown. Small size doesn’t mean any skimping on amenities, which include in-room Jura Espresso machines and loose-leaf tea from the Teahouse any time of day. As befits a classic B&B, the breakfast is a marvel, with fresh croissants and quiche from Clafoutis, along with fresh fruit and juices, organic bacon, yogurts, granola and cereals. And the fresh roses in your room every day? Oh my, you’re the one getting petted here!

A day of doggie delights in Santa Fe begins with a breakfast of champions for humans at the Antigua Inn. (Photo credit: Antigua Inn)
A day of doggie delights in Santa Fe begins with a breakfast of champions for humans at the Antigua Inn. (Photo credit: Antigua Inn)

The “Paws” That Refreshes

When you’re a member of the four-legged species, sometimes you just gotta run! Oh, it’s fine to sniff out new smells at the end of a leash as your human walks along the Santa Fe River, strolls artistic Canyon Road, or browses the shops, but sometimes a pup needs a “paws” for action! The Frank Ortiz Dog Park is the locals’ destination for dog-day cavorting with others of their tribe. There’s an off-leash area for romping, and picnic tables if you want to nosh while Rover does rollovers with Rex, but as always, pet courtesy must be observed, so be aware and have your leash handy.

Pets get off-leash and on the run at the Frank Ortiz Dog Park. (Photo Credit: Bring Fido)
Pets get off-leash and on the run at the Frank Ortiz Dog Park. (Photo Credit: Bring Fido)

Let’s Get Cleaned Up and Chow Down

Living with four paws means picking up more trail dust than two feet do, so perhaps baby will need a bath. Pooch Pantry Bakery and Boutique to the rescue! Not content with baking fresh treats daily, this pet emporium on the north end of Guadalupe Street also offers a self-serve dog wash.

 

A bathing beauty takes a break at the Pooch Pantry. (Photo credit: Pooch Pantry Bakery & Boutique)
A bathing beauty takes a break at the Pooch Pantry. (Photo credit: Pooch Pantry Bakery & Boutique)

Open every day except Monday, the best part of this experience is that once you’ve cleaned your pet, they clean up after you. Now that’s service.

Once doggy is fresh as a daisy, you can pick up pet snacks to go, as well as vitamins (don’t you travel with same?), leashes and collars, new toys, or a colorful dinner bowl.

Speaking of dinner, are you hungry? Just leash up as you leave the Pooch Pantry and lead that clean canine south on Guadalupe Street. You don’t have to let Samson suffer the left-behind blues, because he can come with you when you eat at the Cowgirl Santa Fe.

Get along little doggies, and head for the Cowgirl!
Get along little doggies, and head for the Cowgirl!

 

Spanning almost an entire block, this happening haven has a pleasant patio space for well-behaved pooches to laze while we partake of music and a meal. The craft beer selection has just doubled, the daily specials always get my attention, and portions here are beyond ample.

Bring the Four-legged Family

Maurice says, “Make Mine Santa Fe!” (Photo credit: Candace Martinez)
Maurice says, “Make Mine Santa Fe!” (Photo credit: Candace Martinez)

Traveling with Toto is a treat. As Dave Barry so memorably puts it, “Dogs love to go for rides. A dog will happily get into a vehicle going anywhere.” Pets are welcome guests in Santa Fe; after all, the patron saint of our city is St. Francis of Assisi, lover of the animal kingdom. Our fine furry friends are likely to have more than one travel tale to tell us, but until we speak their lingo, you’ll just have to settle for a look at that eager tail wagging to get full-fur approval on a visit to Santa Fe.

 

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?

 

Want the Ultimate Guys’ Getaway? Head to Santa Fe, Bro.

Editor’s Note: We welcome a guest blogger this week, recounting his guys’ adventure in Santa Fe last Spring.

I know it’s a trend for guys and their buddies to take getaways together these days, and I often get asked to recommend a destination. So I offer the following as a public service to those guys trying to agree on a location for their “broventure.” Last April, my buddies and I debated where we should go, and we decided on Santa Fe. We expected a great time, but what we found here totally blew our minds. See, we discovered an outdoor mecca for dudes, complete with light-up-your-taste buds Santa Fe food and amazing micro-brewed beer.

Great Buds + Great Outdoors = Great Santa Fe Memories

We were anxious to embark on our outdoor spree the very first day. Should we strap on the waders and do some fly fishing? Maybe hit the area’s legendary mountain bike trails? So many options! We had some avid skiers in the group, so we started the trip with the world-class slopes at Ski Santa Fe. At the time, Ski Santa Fe had one of the deepest bases of any mountain in New Mexico—a total skier’s paradise. Man, the skiers and boarders among us shredded away on our first morning in Santa Fe. But the day was still young, so we decided to head down the mountain and squeeze in a round of golf. Where else but Santa Fe can you do this?

My friends and I have been known to hit a golf ball or two before adjourning to the 19th Hole. In fact, one of the guys is a full-on scratch golfer. I’m here to tell you Santa Fe offers mind-blowing options for novice and advanced golfers alike. The Northern New Mexico Golf Trail, with its ten 18-Hole courses, is a wonderland of golf. We’re talking everything from mountain to high-desert courses, all with stunning views of the New Mexico landscape. At the top of the must-play list is Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, just eight miles west of downtown. This legendary muni course is in high-end country club condition, with 360-degree views of the mountains. And yes, we did retire to The Links Bar & Grill after an amazing round. As you might expect, all that outdoor action made us mighty thirsty.

All other muni courses pale in comparison to Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe.
All other muni courses pale in comparison to Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe.

Santa Fe: Home of Craft Beers, Small-Batch Spirits, and Blissed-Out Guys.

Blue Corn Brewery handcrafts amazing ales and stacked enchiladas.
Blue Corn Brewery handcrafts amazing ales and stacked enchiladas.

So, guys being guys, we decided the next item on the vacation agenda should be glue that holds friendships together: beer. Lucky for us, Santa Fe is a goldmine of craft beer brewpubs. Our first stop was Blue Corn Brewery. To get a sampling of their many heavenly hops, we ordered beer flights including everything from Atomic Blonde Lager to the Roadrunner IPA and Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout. Blue Corn recently medaled at the Great American Beer Festival, so this place is more than legit. And if you want a plate of bona fide Santa Fe New Mexican food, their stacked enchiladas and braised pork stew ruin you for the same-old Mexican food back home.

Cheers to the folks at Santa Fe Spirits for the guided tour of their distillery.
Cheers to the folks at Santa Fe Spirits for the guided tour of their distillery.

With an amazing meal and a tasty flight of beers under our belts, we opted to raise our spirits even further at Santa Fe Spirits. These folks distill a dizzying array of small-batch spirits ranging from single-malt whiskey to gin and vodka to brandy. The master distiller gave us a guided tour of the entire distillery, and we sampled various cocktail concoctions in the tasting room. It was the ideal way for us guys to wind down the day. And yes, we took a cab back to the hotel. And oh, what a hotel: the Inn of the Governors.

Guys Kicking It Santa Fe Style at the Inn of the Governors

The Inn of the Governors’ heated pool offers even more liquid refreshment.
The Inn of the Governors’ heated pool offers even more liquid refreshment.

Okay, full disclosure about hotels in Santa Fe: There are a mind-boggling number of amazing choices. A) That’s a very good problem to have. B) You and the crew will get all the details you need to reach a consensus here. After much discussion, the guys and I settled on The Inn of the Governors. It’s located right in the heart of the Santa Fe action, and it’s loaded with old school Santa Fe vibe—adobe fireplaces and all. And get this: Their complimentary “Mountain Sunrise Breakfast” is enough to keep a guy satiated for an entire day. We’re talking Southwestern scrambled eggs, apple cured bacon, hashbrowns, and lots more. Unbelievable in terms of quality and quantity.

 

The red and green chile posole at Del Charro Saloon is a life changer.
The red and green chile posole at Del Charro Saloon is a life changer.

The Inn of the Governors has it all, including the Del Charro Saloon. Lots of hotels have a bar. But the Inn of the Governors has a saloon. Voted Santa Fe’s Best Bar by the Santa Fe Reporter, the Del Charro serves up dude-sized margaritas and local craft beer on tap. And its rugged, old west interior and constant stream of sports on flat screen TVs make it the perfect place to celebrate your guydom. If you’re hungry, well, you better be up for a challenge. From the Stuffed Green Chile Cheese Burger to the Chipotle Wings to the Frito Pie, Del Charro serves up heaping helpings that’ll have the biggest, baddest hombre begging for mercy. Del Charro is open til midnight daily, so there’s no excuse for missing out.

It’s Good to Be a Guy in Santa Fe.

Broventure awaits in The City Different.
Broventure awaits in The City Different.

Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, golf galore, food you’ll find nowhere else, a rocking microbrew scene, live music…the list of reasons why Santa Fe offers the perfect getaway for guys goes on and on. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll return with a feeling of invigoration. (Trust me on this.) If you’re thinking of getting away with your bros, think Santa Fe, Bro.

 

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!

New Direction + New Year = Feeling Newly Santa Fe

One year leaves, another begins. Things change, and with the past gone, we have only the now. Einstein said “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” With the calendar’s turning, I’ve been ruminating on how to re-visit and renew my connection to myself, and to my mind, body, and soul via the revitalization of change. Be it known that I intend to “Be Here Now” in Santa Fe by shuffling my deck of experiences to become a more tuned-in, turned-on version of me … call it happiness 2.0(14)!

Divining A City Different Direction

“It’s in the cards” is one of those phrases I’ve heard bandied about over the years, and I decided it was high time I found out what that meant. Chances are you’ve seen a Tarot deck yourself and wondered what a reading might reveal. Not actually a predictor of the future, the Tarot is rather an aid to help one navigate through life’s present challenges. With so many pictorial designs, there is no one deck of cards used by all, but each set consists of cards known as the Major and Minor Arcana. The four suits of the Minor Arcana (wands, swords, cups, and pentacles), each with a king, queen, knight, and page, offer a specific meaningful approach to life’s practical daily ups and downs. By contrast, the Major Arcana is comprised of picture cards that represent principles, concepts and ideals reflecting powerful, long-term energy or big events in certain areas of life.

Let the cards talk to you through Tamara Janúz at BODY of Santa Fe.
Let the cards talk to you through Tamara Janúz at BODY of Santa Fe.

To move myself thoughtfully forward further into a new year, I turned to Tamara Janúz, who reads Tarot at BODY of Santa Fe every Wednesday, 9 am to noon, and Sundays 3 to 5 pm. Seated quietly, she lays out the cards without fuss and lets the story unfold before your eyes. You’ll excuse me if I don’t reveal the essence of my reading, but I will say that both the Angel and the Queen of Hearts made an appearance.

Turning Two Fitness Ideals into One with a Yoga Hike

I don’t need the cards to tell me to stay in shape (my doctor dad did that), and thanks to any number of yoga and fitness classes all over the city, I have a regular practice schedule flexible enough to keep me flexible. But I’ve been intrigued by the thought of combining two activities I enjoy — yoga and hiking — into one unique outing this year. Thanks to Stacy Kinsley and YogiHiker, it looks like I have an excellent plan to spring into action once winter says goodbye and warmer weather returns. The notion expressed in the YogiHiker tagline, “stillness in action,” embodies much of what I hope to achieve, a centered space for conducting another year on this planet.

Get a mountain high with a yoga hike in Santa Fe. (Photo credit: YogiHiker)
Get a mountain high with a yoga hike in Santa Fe. (Photo credit: YogiHiker)

Recognizing that any practice based on repetitive movements can easily become stale is the essence of the YogiHiker philosophy, which encourages curiosity about both outdoor environs and inner connections to the self in nature. Scheduled for an average 2.5 to 3 hour outing, each of the yogi-hikes takes place close to town, so just like me, you can engage in a centering experience in the morning and still have the rest of the day, as well as a newly-heightened appetite, to mosey back into town for a healthy and well-deserved lunch.

Get the Skinny on Santa Fe Skincare

Paying attention to feeling more blissful has been all well and good, but catching a glimpse of my skin in the mirror after the holidays was not exactly a blissful experience. Okay, it was a magnifying mirror, meaning this was a helpful but brutally honest friend. After that revelation, it hasn’t taken much convincing to steer me towards better skincare. And Living Bliss Skin Care and Botanicals is my new solution.

M-M-M-My skin says thank you, Living Bliss! (Photo credit: Living Bliss Skin Care and Botanicals)
M-M-M-My skin says thank you, Living Bliss! (Photo credit: Living Bliss Skin Care and Botanicals)

A home-grown small business, just the sort of operation I love to support, Living Bliss creates its products with vegan-friendly, non-GMO, organic ingredients, which in simple terms means “fear not, we’re good for you.” And as a dyed-in-the-wool Santa Fean, knowing they’re made according to the phases of the moon for potency makes me feel that’s there’s extra magic working to make me look my best. These goodies, tailor-made for our high-altitude living so close to the sun (not that I’m complaining about 300-plus days of sun, mind you) are available online, but I like to visit the tester samples right here at the Santa Fe Artisans Market in the Farmers’ Market Pavilion on Sundays. I’m even dancing around with the temptation of a personal consultation — nothing like getting advice on best practices in person.

Delight in a New Dance

My waltz with errands around town often includes a welcome stop at a building I once knew as a Piggy-Wiggly grocery, re-incarnated as a Safeway and then Alfalfa’s Natural Grocery before reaching an apex with its current occupant, BODY of Santa Fe. A many-things-to-many-people operation, BODY opened in 2004 and has morphed organically over time into a boutique, natural foods café, a yoga and exercise studio, and spa facility responsive to visitors in search of a health-conscious and sustainably-focused lifestyle. Count me in because you’ll see me there!

A Nia class at BODY is a joyous experience! (Photo credit: BODY of Santa Fe)
A Nia class at BODY is a joyous experience! (Photo credit: BODY of Santa Fe)

Thankfully, I awoke on January 1 with only a few extra pounds donated by holiday fun, but I did not wake up with zest for my usual exercise routine. I don’t know about you, but frankly, I’m a little tired of the same old squats to the same old music.  An inspiration to try Nia delivered a perfect aural and physical detour. A barefoot movement practice drawing equally from martial arts, dance arts and healing motivation, Nia teaches practitioners to cultivate a body-centered awareness through movement to music. Discovering this dance-centric technique at the hands — and feet — of a roster of masterful instructors who teach at BODY was a revelation. The playlists are electric and eclectic, and the dance aspect let me forget about exercising for health and just flow into the freedom and fun of moving. No, I’m not ready for the Nia School White Belt Training at BODY in February (if you are, pencil in Santa Fe for February 20-23), but I’m all set to dance my way into 2014 with a lighter heart.

Appreciating the Appeal of a Young Year

You probably read it here already: the entrance into a new year should be a source of adventure not agonizing. And finding and embracing new experiences is a joyous way to live in the now. If you’ve penciled in joy on your calendar, then follow your bliss to Santa Fe. You’ll find delight in discovering so many pleasurable ways for self-revelation and renewal as a living, breathing being in this still-young century.

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.