Whether you are looking for a secluded spot to relax or simply a quiet space to enjoy the outdoors there are lots of options in Santa Fe. The City Different enjoys 320 days of sunshine a year, all four seasons, brilliant blue skies and some of the purest air in the world. Here are some of the best places to relax within the Santa Fe’s historic downtown area. You might even want to have a picnic!
Your visit of Santa Fe has been filled with delicious food, fascinating museums and even flamenco dancing but now it’s time for some exercise and fresh air. Santa Fe outdoor beauty is filled with opportunities to walk, hike, bike or golf!
Santa Fean’s love to get outdoors, earning us the title of “Santa Fe, the 3rd healthiest city in the world” by Citiesjournal.com. Take a leisurely stroll on the Santa Fe River Walk! Conde Nast named it as one of the “10 Great River Walks”. As you walk and hike, know that you are breathing in some of the cleanest air in the country. So now you have heard the Santa Fe outdoor awards…it is time to explore.
You say you have no time for a hike? The Dale Ball Trail will change your mind. Sherman’s Travel spotlighted the Dale Ball Trail as one of “Six Under The Radar” hiking trails in 2014. These trails are 10 minutes from downtown…so no excuses! The system is a 22 mile network of trails from easy to challenging in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The trail features well numbered signs to provide easy navigation, as well as connecting to other local trails, including the Nature Conservancy, and the Dorothy Stewart trail.
Next up is the Atalaya Mountain Trail which is located on the east side of Santa Fe near St. John’s College. You will see why this is one of the most popular and easily accessible hiking trails in Santa Fe. The uphill hike is not for the faint of heart…it takes about three hours round trip, but you will be rewarded with great vistas!
Are you a bird watcher? If so, you’ll want to visit the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary trail. Bring your binoculars and camera as approximately 190 species of birds can be found there. To protect bird peace dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Walk And Catch A Sunset
You say you want to catch a sunset? Why not walk to one? The Cross of the Martyrs is located on the northeast side of Paseo de Peralta between East Marcy and Otero Streets. This walk is a steep climb but well worth it as you will be treated to one of Santa Fe’s best kept secrets for sunset watching.
A walk just isn’t the same without your best friend…dogs like walks too! Santa Fe is definitely pet friendly all City parks allow dogs but leashes are required. If “Fido” and “Precious” want to run free like the wind, don’t worry. The 130-plus acre Frank S. Ortiz Park allow dogs without a leash. Your pet will also love to play off-leash at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter Dog Park. This dog park is fenced and includes a separate area for small dogs.
Park The Car And Ride A Bike
Santa Fe is an ideal bicycling environment due to its compact size, moderate terrain, and sunny weather. There are several bike rental shops that can help you find the right bicycle for your outing. Mellow Velo, New Mexico Bike and Sport and The Broken Spoke are three that are ready to help. In 2011, the City of Santa Fe was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) as a Bronze-level “Bicycle Friendly Community”. The Silver Award was then bestowed by LAB in 2013 and 2014. The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) recognized Santa Fe as a Silver Level Ride Center. The International Santa Fe was also rated as “One of America’s Top Mountain Bike Towns” by USA Today.
Bicycle paths and trails for all types of riders are located in and around the city. Our Santa Fe city trail map will help you plot your bike excursion.
If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, check out La Tierra Trails. These trails are located in the northwest quadrant of Santa Fe. The Fat Tire Society also supplies information on group rides, trail conditions and maps.
A golf course can provide between five to seven kilometers of walking so why not a play a game of golf the next time you visit? Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe is Santa Fe’s well-run municipal golf course which most recently was featured on Fox Sports and Golf Life Television. You’re in for a spectacular golf experience with beautiful 360 degree panoramic views.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that are appropriate for the walk, park or trail you choose. Bring plenty of water, sun screen, sunglasses and rain gear…just in case. If visiting from a lower altitude, take it easy. Altitude sickness and dehydration can lead to serious difficulties, so rest often and drink plenty of water.
Getting out the door is one thing. Getting outdoors is another. Santa Fe beautiful blue skies and amazing mountains will connect you to the great outdoors. So whether you hike, run, bike or golf your outdoor playground awaits you!
Singing the praises of Santa Fe––it’s a never-ending tune. This year alone, our International Folk Art Market took top honors as USA Today’s 10 Best Art Festival, with Art Santa Fe close behind; and three Santa Fe hotels scored spots in the 10 Best Hotel Spas. Tuning into the best of the City Different is a skill worth practicing. In less than a month, however, the practicing ends and the music begins when the sun goes down and the lights come up at the renowned Santa Fe Opera. Now that’s worth singing about!
Inspiration Has a Santa Fe History
Who could have imagined back in the 1950’s that Santa Fe would be home to a world-class opera company? John Crosby did––by envisioning and creating a place for American singers, both professionals and those on the cusp of their careers, to hone their craft at home. SFO’s mission extends beyond vocal artistry, since the pioneering Apprentice Program cultivates stagecraft too. Over the 59 years since 1957’s inaugural season, Mr. Crosby’s vision has become a glorious reality. His inspirational guidance led the company forward before he ceded leadership in 2000 to the innovative Richard Gaddes, who in 2008 handed over the reins to native Santa Fean Charles MacKay, now SFO’s General Director. And Mr. MacKay knows how to ride into the future––seven successful seasons are about to become eight!
One Opera + Two Months = A Repertoire of Five
From its inception, the Opera has been dedicated to showcasing music, drama and technical wizardry via treasured classics, revivals of neglected works, and remarkable premieres. The 2015 season––a mix of beloved standards and new revelations––is no exception. Five all-new (yes!) productions begin Friday, July 3, as scintillating soprano Anna Christy pours her heart out to Alek Shrader in The Daughter of the Regiment. Expect to feel all misty when the audience stands for the traditional singing of the National Anthem before this comedic Donizetti romp begins! No rest for the crew; Saturday’s quick change readies the stage for Verdi’s masterful Rigoletto, with 2015 Beverly Sills award-winner Quinn Kelsey in the title role. A return to founder Crosby’s favorite composer Richard Strauss comes with Salome when petite powerhouse Alex Penda adds the dance of the seven veils to her arias! Mozart is a Santa Fe regular and SFO offers a vocal bouquet in La Finta Giardiniera (composed at a mere 18 years old!) featuring William Burden, Heidi Stober and Susanna Phillips (another Beverly Sills Award winner). August brings the world-premiere of composer Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, with Charles Frazier’s best-seller hero and heroine sung by the amazing Nathan Gunn and Isabel Leonard (both previous recipients of the Beverly Sills Award).
Preludes Are Arranged for the Performance
Although what appears onstage is the ultimate draw, a bevy of singular experiences add zest to the vocal fireworks. Before an opera evening, consider daytime education in the newly-renovated hub of stagecraft magic below the stunning outdoor stage. One-hour backstage tours ($10 adults, $8 seniors, kids free) take place 9:00 a.m. Monday-Friday; augment your backstage prowl with a $10 tour of the extensive “Opera Ranch” grounds––including a “Meet the Artist treat––10:00 a.m. on the last Friday of June, July and August. Saturdays from June 6–August 29, the Opera Guild hosts free Insiders Days, with 8:15 a.m. refreshments before the backstage tour.
Refreshments got your attention? In that case, I recommend dining at the Opera! The July 3–4 Opening Weekend Celebration offers full-bore festivities, and the first performance of every opera is enhanced with an elegant three-course Opening Night dinner set amidst SFO’s lush landscape. Nightly preview buffets include an engaging talk on the performance while you relax over dinner and a glass of wine on the flowery patio. Critical note: once the overture starts, no seating until the first intermission!
For do-it-yourselfers, SFO tailgate parties are as traditional as at major league games––after all, we’re talking major league opera here. Feel free to go for the works, white tablecloths, candelabras and champagne flutes; or simply bring a pair of chairs and pre-order a tailgate dinner before heading to Stieren Hall for a free prelude talk.
Be Prepared to Be Enthralled
Be aware that weather affects fashion and comfort, but you’ll see tuxedos alongside cargo pants and diamonds rubbing elbows with denim. Locals’ tip for visitors: bring a warm wrap to accommodate for our 7,000-foot altitude.
Love of top-drawer opera suffers no economic boundaries since SFO makes it as affordable as possible. Subscriptions are the best way to see more than one opera and you can even craft your own series. Standing room tickets go on sale the day of the performance. If you’re cultivating a young artist, August 16 and 23 Apprentice Concerts are ideal for inspiring little ones who sing in the shower. You can even get a gift certificate to surprise the opera fan in your family. On the subject of gifts, Opera Shop goodies include the 2015 season poster by celebrated Native American artist Dan Namingha.
The Stage is Set for Your Santa Fe Visit
I guess it’s obvious that I’m a big fan––decades of Santa Fe Opera delights will do that! Year after year, talented and passionate souls come together to fill the piñon-covered hills with the sound of music as summer colors paint the sky above this cutting-edge edifice. It’s no wonder the Crosby Theater made USA Today’s list of 10 Best Outdoor Music Venues. A night––and a day––at the Santa Fe Opera is a summer must!
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.
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!
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 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!
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 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.
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.
An old Spanish proverb says this: “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Since the holiday time-crunch is past, it’s high time to tinker with the chassis so I’m sharpening my utensils to carve a healthy approach to 2015. And I’ve sketched a blueprint for reaping the benefits of a delicious and nutritious new year in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Has a Revolution in G(F)oodness
Gluten-free eating makes all sorts of people feel a whole lot better. Even those of us who don’t experience true intolerance see gluten-free results (witness my sister’s enviable weight loss). I’m a die-hard toast-lover but I never feel like I’m sacrificing or skimping at Revolution Bakery. Their tagline –100% gluten-free paradise – is apt considering the amazing selection. I appreciate the sample baskets for turning tastebuds into appetite. And that gluten-free brioche? Vive la revolution!
Lunch time is also munch time at Rev Bakery. Pair any of four varieties of 8-inch pizzas (plus one daily special) with a crisp salad to achieve yummy gluten-free liberation. Veggie activists receive their due; of four sandwiches, two are vegetarian and one is vegan. The price point is incredibly reasonable given the unique culinary niche. And that niche is ably filled thanks to owner Dionne Christian and her skillful, early-rising bakers!
Do Right by Your BODY
Holiday indulgences are behind us, but that mirror is not my friend yet! Thankfully, BODY of Santa Fe is on my tune-up menu. Chef Juan Carlos works wonders with a Café menu committed to organic ingredients, locally-procured whenever possible.
Founder Lorin Parrish made clean eating the Café’s goal from the get-go. Everything on the menu (plus a dedicated kids menu) is clearly identified as vegetarian, vegan, raw or gluten-free and select meat and fish offerings are cleanly sourced. Seasonal availability takes precedence so what’s on the plate is always centered on the best body fuel for the season. I never tire of the ginger stir-fry but winter enchiladas – a spot-on combo of spaghetti squash and green chile – satisfy that chile craving. And a bit of sweet goodness from an incredible warm apple crisp is a welcome finish.
Capture the Full Flavor of Health at Rasa
Ayurveda is intriguing; Deepak Chopra’s reach proves this 500-year-old tradition is thriving. A tip from a savvy 14-year-old vegan sent me to Rasa Juice Bar to get the skinny on this science of life (Ayu means life, Veda means knowledge or science) focused on optimum health via diet. It took Santa Fe little time to catch on; Edible Santa Fe has already featured Rasa twice, most recently with a vegan dessert in the seasonal cookbook issue.
Raw, vegan, organic – the words tell all. Confused? The lovelies who oversee this enterprise – Wendy, Pamela, Mariela and Andrea – explain everything (silky smoothies and cold-pressed juices, raw and dehydrated savories and sweets) in appetizing detail. The food is testimony that healthy equals flavor (rasa) in the hands of those inspired by wholesome eating. Thai Green Chili noodles hit my spicy spot perfectly and that raw oatmeal cookie? I’m glad to be in the know now!
Juice Me Up, Scotty
Locals warmly welcomed brand-new Verde Juice, brainchild of Kelly Egolf whose calling grew from her own needs after surgery led to a two-month liquid diet. Canned nutritional supplements may have the right vitamin-mineral mix, but the flavor leaves much to be desired. Egolf’s creativity yielded tasty recipes with complementary nutritional value. When family and friends sampled the results, the home juicer was pressed into service in a bright, inviting space that instantly says “fresh.”
Ingredients are raw, unpasteurized and additive-free and the cold-press method means not made-to-order. Instead, juice blends are bottled for three days only, ensuring freshness and quality. I admit the three-day juice cleanse (comprised of six different juices) requires willpower given Santa Fe’s fabulous dining options, but it’s on my birthday wish list. And the good news? Lizz Redman, formerly in the kitchen at BODY, will be adding prepared foods!
Try Feeding on Santa Fe’s Finest
Hippocrates said that “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” I say take the opportunity to grab a full dose of the best medicine going – delectable food – when you taste the pleasures of a Santa Fe getaway. There’s a bounty of beneficial blessings on a City Different plate so dig in and dig the healthy feeling of Santa Fe!
The jingle bells have stopped ringing but winter is definitely on. And I am psyched to make snow angels and welcome the New Year to Santa Fe. The great thing about being a local is having an earmuff to the snowy ground in plenty of time to plan for a wonderland of fun. So put on your mittens and come along with me for the best in winter adventures Santa Fe style!
Santa Fe is All Souped Up This Winter
It’s impossible to resist SuperBowl XLVIII fever, but for those who can’t wait for kickoff, Santa Fe’s January 17 SouperBowl XXI makes cups runneth over. This delicious soup competition is firmly established as a January taste sensation and proceeds benefit the Food Depot. Get inspired by the intriguing mix of ingredients that Santa Fe chefs put in the pot and your soup repertoire will improve by the bowlful. Last year’s Best Soup winner, the Winter Squash and Chorizo Soup served up by Terra at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, was a hearty hit and I can’t wait to see what Chef Andrew stirs up this year. With four other categories (best cream, best savory, best seafood and best vegetarian), there’s sure to be plenty of slurping going on!
Brewing Up the Best of Santa Fe
Santa Fe is a chic pick for craft beers (most recently recognized by Thrilist.com as one of the nation’s best brew cities) and there’s no better time to see—and taste–why than at WinterBrew. On January 23,16 breweries and a selection of food stands converge at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Pavilion for a cheery, beery evening. Last year’s slate has been expanded with two new Albuquerque brewers, Red Door Brewing and Ponderosa Brewing. Local favorites like Duel Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing Company (whose 2014 Great American Beer Festival entry won best American-style Sour Ale) will be on tap with seasonal styles. And beer-lovers line up for regulars like Bosque Brewing (Beer Festival winner for Fresh Hop Ale) and Marble Brewery (who scored for Imperial Red Ale). Tickets go fast, so don’t wait to get your taste!
Feasting on Art is a Santa Fe Tradition
I suspect I sound a bit tummy-centric, so let me paint a picture of Santa Fe ArtFeast for you. This year’s artistic events have seen the Edible ArtTour move to June but February still has a yummy blend of beauty on the The Art of Living palette They’ve stolen my personal credo – It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere – but I don’t mind because I can share in the February 20 fun and festivities (which do include food) that benefit art in the schools. And I’ll take that February 21 invitation to Step Up to the Plate too, thank you very much! The Art of Home tour is the most picturesque way to see Santa Fe design and style in its full glory but be warned – you may well end up wanting your own adobe casita by the time you’re done!
It’s Time to Eat and Time to Save in Santa Fe
Returning to my food-centricity (can’t help it, Santa Fe equals great cuisine), I look forward to cashing in on Santa Fe Restaurant Week deals. Other cities may have similar events, but they lack the one-of-a-kind regional ingredients that bring foodlovers back to Santa Fe year after year. Fifty-seven restaurants are already on the roster and that list will grow as we get closer to February 22. Smart hoteliers have cooked up getaway deals so I suggest you grab your BFF (best foodie friend) and make reservations for a seat at Santa Fe’s finest tables. Prizes and giveaways are in store along with terrific deals, making everyone a winner at lunch or dinner.
Get Away to Santa Fe’s Winter Wonderland
Of course, a gal has to work off her enjoyment with some outdoor activities and that’s where Ski Santa Fe comes to the rescue. It wouldn’t be winter without a return to the mountains for a dose of snowy magic! Don’t schlep your skis or board, just rent them right on the mountain. Then pick some happening dates and do your downhill in the morning, so you can chill at Beats on the Basin from noon to 3:00 p.m. And if you’d prefer to see the Sangre de Cristo Mountain scenery at a slower pace, plan a snowshoe hike with Outspire to capture Santa Fe’s sparkle and serenity in equal measure.
Get Your New Year On in Santa Fe
Have I convinced you? I’ve been convinced for years – and my 2015 calendar is already marked with monthly must-do’s. There’s nothing like bright blue skies and a blanket of crystalline white snowflakes to start a new year right – and Santa Fe is ready to show you how.
Holiday madness is not just a catch phrase, it’s a reality. No matter how early I get the shopping and cooking done, by the time I’ve worked my way through the festivities with friends and family, I am so ready for my share of serenity. In the spirit of the season, here’s my holiday offering to those of you who need the true escape and soul refreshment that Santa Fe has offered for centuries.
Santa Fe is a Prescription for Peace
Sitting mindfully is a spiritual prescription known to East and West alike. And Santa Fe has both varieties for meditative moments. Sunday mornings at the Quaker Meeting House require nothing but a way to get there to sit and soak up the goodness. First Day (Sunday) Meetings are held in the historic Olive Rush house on Canyon Road and visitors are welcome to worship with the Friends.
In a town with historic Catholic roots, it’s no surprise to find a Carmelite Monastery. Santa Fe’s Carmelites are guided by St. Teresa of Avila’s commitment to leading life in silence and contemplation. You can be soothed by tranquility at the daily morning Mass or simply wander the grounds in private reflection.
Those whose minds turn east find their way to the Upaya Zen Center, which hosts four daily zazen sessions, as well as an ongoing slate of programs and retreats. The gorgeous setting at the top of a canyon is an inspiration in itself – pristine nature echoing the clarity our souls endeavor to reach.
Finding a beautiful place to be inspired doesn’t require any particular affiliation. The Santa Fe Audubon Center lets birdsong do the work of lifting spirits. Located at the top of Canyon Road in the former home of animal-loving artist Randall Davey, the Audubon also has easy access to the Dale Ball Trails.
Activate Your Center with Movement
Walking meditation is my personal go-to at times when sitting won’t do; sometimes one just has to move to feel centered. Climbing to the top of the Cross of the Martyrs always energizes my body and settles my spirit. Gazing up at the Cross and then out over the city reminds me of all the blessings that life in our special city imparts daily.
Holiday visits from family and friends invariably include a trip to Museum Hill, so as we drift from the Folk Art Museum to the Museum of Indian Art and Culture, we stop on the Milner Plaza and walk the Labyrinth, which silences even the kiddos as they concentrate on staying within the circuit. And there’s even a second labyrinth at the Santa Fe Community Yoga Center!
Speaking of yoga, there’s simply no way not to feel more balanced than after a yoga session and Santa Fe abounds in teachers and classes. The aforementioned Community Yoga Center is one of many studios that bring light and life back to body and soul; at BODY of Santa Fe, a yoga class followed by a spa treatment will keep you in the flow.
Read and Reflect to Find Spiritual Refreshment
There’s so much to know about this city that’s more than 400 years old that I sometimes find it a challenge to put it all together. My secret salvation is the Southwest Reading Room at the downtown Santa Fe Library. Classic library etiquette means stillness and silence and an hour spent perusing Santa Fe history enriches any experience. Just about anything you ever wanted to know about New Mexico is waiting on the shelves.
After you read up on the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asissi, your admiration for the magnificent edifice is enhanced by knowing its story. And when you sit with your thoughts in a pew, you may even be lucky enough to hear an organist practice or the choir rehearsing a new hymn. Just be sure to exit by the southside door by the Chapel so you can amble through the Bishop’s peaceful Prayer Garden south of the rectory.
Santa Fe is Truly Soul-Stirring
Turn down the holiday buzz and tune up your soul with a Santa Fe getaway and you’ll see how quickly everything becomes lighter and brighter inside. The City Different enjoys world-class status as a UNESCO Creative City and when you create soul-soothing adventures of your own, you’ll bring joy to your holiday world.
Santa Fe is well known for delivering top-drawer retail therapy! An itinerary with ample time for wandering our gallery-laden, shop-lined streets is a must for Santa Fe travelers. But if your guy is like mine, his patience for shopping is nil. But there’s no reason to let hubby be bored in our happening town! Take my hints for partner-friendly activities while you browse the boutiques and everyone goes home happy.
Santa Fe’s Museums Are Partner-Perfect Adventures
Beyond the wealth of artistic treasures on display in Santa Fe’s world-class museums there’s also a world of history and New Mexican culture close at hand. The New Mexico History Museum’s extensive collection is housed in a state-of-the-art building adjacent to the 400-plus-year-old Palace of the Governors. Step in either and emerge hours later; there’s plenty to see. Photo buffs (who isn’t one on encountering New Mexico?) will be captivated by the Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography exhibit at the History Museum.
The Palace of the Governors is an engaging chronicle of colonial New Mexico. Just to see the adobe walls and aged floorboards and stand in the courtyard under the same sky as the Spanish gobernadors – that alone is worth the price of admission.
After the History Museum whets the appetite, delving deeper into the Land of Enchantment’s past comes via the New Mexico National Guard Military Museum. Storied figures like Kit Carson fought on the Union side in the Civil War era and New Mexicans served with Teddy Roosevelt’s Roughriders. World War Two’s Pacific Theater intelligence relied on the Navajo Code Talkers’ unique skills, and the notorious Bataan Death March claimed many of our native sons. New Mexico boasts one of the nation’s largest per capita veterans populations, with their experiences intriguingly represented at this fascinating museum.
And as you’re touring downtown Santa Fe, look for the statue of Santa Fe native Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry who was awarded the Medal of Honor in for service in Afghanistan.
Oh Danny Boy, The Greens, The Greens Are Calling
While museum-going is a must in Santa Fe, being outdoors may be equally tempting for your travel buddy. Suggest a round of golf at the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, a city course surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges. With 320-plus days of sun, golfing is year-round activity in Santa Fe. The Baxter Spann course is a par three known as “The Great 28.” And those 18 holes can be followed by a brew and the view at the Links Bar and Grill.
Let Him Get His Game On
If your partner wants to watch the pros get sporty, there’s no shortage of spots. While you’re strolling the Railyard trolling for vintage treats, he can pull up a seat at Junction, where the big screen schedule lets him follow his fantasy players as he savors a burger and a brew. If you’re scoping out the southside, Blue Corn Brewery has him covered with craft beer and a gameday schedule. And a simple barstool perch at the Santa Fe Bar and Grill is a destination Santa Feans have enjoyed for years.
A Spirited Adventure Comes in a Glass
Forego your last round of treasure hunting and rejoin your other half at Santa Fe Spirits. It’s so relaxing to gather in the clubby interior as their friendly Chihuahua mascot Layla makes the rounds, making it the perfect place to show off your new finds to your significant other.
The craft liquor selection – two malt whiskies (Silver Coyote and Colkegan), Wheeler’s Gin, Expedition Vodka and Apple Brandy – is created on the southern edge of town, and the distillery tour is a fun way to the time. Tasting is a must at both locations!
Free to be You and Me City-Different Style
Give yourselves a break. Grab a Santa Fe hotel deal and let each pursue different personal pleasures as you both discover the best of Santa Fe. Now that’s what I call smart shopping!
Santa Fe captured the visual imagination of artistic types early on and movie cameras swiftly fell under New Mexico’s spell. Just imagine Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan making their way west – onscreen – along the fabled road whose destination is Santa Fe. From the past to the present, New Mexico has been a dramatic draw for filmmakers of all stripes and our film scene is booming.
Turn on the Telly to see Santa Fe Shine
Santa Fe has been earning its TV cred via Longmire, the A&E weekly western based on the best-selling books by Craig Johnson. New Mexico made an ideal stand-in for the books’ Wyoming setting, and although the series suffered a sudden summer cancellation, fans mounted a Twitter “stampede” in hopes of a revival. More proof that Santa Fe is a favored site comes from Manhattan. This exciting series, now airing on WGN, was created around actual events closer to home – the birth of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos, a.k.a. the Manhattan Project. Albuquerque continues to build on its Breaking Bad years with a new spinoff, and celebrity sightings will likely continue.
Film Fans Get Their Festival Fix
With its vibrant film and TV industry, a town like ours is a film festival natural. And given Santa Fe’s quirky personality, the line-up in the Oct. 15-19 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival is sure to feature the best indie film debuts of the year. This year, 60 feature films and a raft of shorts (debuting on Wed. night with all New Mexican short films) will be screened at venues all over town. Fascinating discussions with film-world luminaries are interspersed between screenings, and it all culminates with a closing night party at the historic Dragon Room of the Pink Adobe – now that’s a wrap!
If one film festival is good, more is better! The January Santa Fe Film Festival’s New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase awaits us in 2015. Santa Fe even has a truly City Different festival targeted to a very unique genre – the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival’s year-round roster has featured fascinating film fare since its 2010 origins. Their new season, opening Oct. 12, includes a first for Santa Fe: The Chosen: A Mini-Festival of New Israeli Cinema, a November Israeli film festival complete with directors’ interviews. In addition, February 2015 brings a set of fresh, intriguing Italian cinema treasures to Santa Fe – grazie, Italian Film Festival!
Independent Cinema Has a Home – or Two – in Santa Fe
Festival time or not, Santa Fe always exhibits a case of movie mania. Our movie-mad town boasts more than one indie theater for parking with a pal and a box of popcorn. The Cocteau’s calendar includes screenings of the old, new and quirky with intimate conversations with film-makers, authors, artists and performers. If you want to toast your leading lady, the Jean Cocteau Cinema is on tap with mixed drinks, beer, wine and mead (a humorous nod to theater owner/author George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones fame) and savory snacks.
And if you want to view with a brew, head for Brew and View screenings at Duel Brewery – yes, movies in a Belgian brew pub, with a mix of local films, indie treats and thoughtful documentaries screened every other Sunday. I’m a sucker for craft beer, especially when it’s accompanied by the wellspring of craft on display in films making their first appearance in Santa Fe.
Years of movie-going have enthralled me at the CCA Cinematheque, and I bet I saw George R. R. Martin as a local movie buff before I read his books. CCA has treated film fans to a collection of first-runs, award-winning foreign films and oddball offerings for as long as I can remember. The big and beautiful screen and stellar sound system are the anti-multiplex experience. And the ample gallery space is a big plus, with exhibitions that showcase regional and national contemporary artists.
Legendary actress Greer Garson left her mark onscreen in the past; in the present it comes via her dedicated support of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (formerly College of Santa Fe). Her post-film life in northern New Mexico resulted in a generous legacy that created the Garson Studios and made year-round film-making a reality. One soundstage retrofitted into a quality venue became The Screen, a theater space right on campus that thrills film students and locals alike with consistent, intriguing programming.
See Santa Fe in Full Color on the Big Screen
Now that summer’s active outdoor days are behind us, I say it’s time to settle inside for some adventurous autumn film fun. Santa Fe definitely has more than one top-drawer temptation flickering in the wings. I promise I’ll save you a seat!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.