Santa Fe On a Bike Is One Sweet Ride

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Mexico Bike N Sport

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

Mello Velo Bicycles

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

The Broken Spoke

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

Nothing beats traveling by rail…on a bike. 

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

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

Enjoy patio dining a la bicycle.

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

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

 

Anasazi Restaurant and Bar 

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

Second Street Brewery

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

The Shed

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

Cowgirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bike & Brew Fest

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

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

Santa Fe Century

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

Bike to Work Week

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

Ride Through Santa Fe On a Bicycle Built for WooHoo!

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

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

 

 

 

 

Make Your Next Visit to Santa Fe a Tour de Force

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

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

Lose Yourself in a Legendary Landscape

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

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

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

 

Feed Your Fantasies in Santa Fe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the Leader and Do It Yourself

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

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

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

Leave the Driving to Us

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

 

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

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

 

Leave the Planning to Us

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

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.

 

Mud, Sweat & Cheers: Mountain Bikers Rave About Santa Fe

Another giddy cyclist pedaling Santa Fe’s righteous trails. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)
Another giddy cyclist pedaling Santa Fe’s righteous trails. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)

Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome a Santa Fe-based guest blogger who shares his insights into Santa Fe’s unsurpassed mountain biking scene.

As a pathological cyclist, I’ve logged some pretty amazing rides all across the Wild Wild West. But when my biking buddies want the ultimate recco for a destination, the first words out of my mouth are “Santa” and “Fe.” This place offers the best of all worlds when it comes to riding, with mountain trails both technical and carefree, along with an ideal mixture of ascents and descents—all on “tacky,” well-maintained surfaces. Plus, there’s minimal hiker foot traffic to slow you down. Any cyclist will tell you, that’s big. And here’s what really sets Santa Fe apart: Here, you’ll find pristine wilderness and comfy civilization coexisting in total harmony. So that when your epic ride’s over, the experience is just beginning: Award-winning microbrews, renowned art galleries, mind-blowing cuisine, and more lie a few winding paseos away. Plus, you’ll breathe easier (literally) knowing that The American Lung Association ranked Santa Fe near the top of its list of cleanest-air cities in the U.S. That’s right, my singletrack compadres, Santa Fe’s the whole green chile enchilada.

From Gnarly to Novice, Santa Fe Has a Biking Trail for You

Your mountain biking wish is Santa Fe’s command. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)
Your mountain biking wish is Santa Fe’s command. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)

 

Truth: All of the trails around Santa Fe will satisfy any adventure-craving cyclist. But the four most near and dear to my knobbies are: La Tierra, Chamisa, Windsor and Aspen Vista.

A pre-dawn ride on the La Tierra Trail is breathtaking visually and physically. (Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)
A pre-dawn ride on the La Tierra Trail is breathtaking visually and physically.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)

 

 

1) La Tierra. This Santa Fe landmark’s 15 miles of trails exhilarate mountain bikers of all skill levels. Bring your headlamp, because the riding’s great day or night.

2) Want to crank it up a notch? The Chamisa Trail (just six miles from downtown Santa Fe) takes you through all the grades. You start with a rolling loop along three different trails, all the way to technical rides through narrow canyons. Pine trees and grassy meadows are Chamisa’s thing. Definitely one of my Santa Fe faves.

The Chamisa Trail’s lush foliage makes it popular among pedal pushers.  (Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)
The Chamisa Trail’s lush foliage makes it popular among pedal pushers.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)

 

 

 

The Winsor Trail is part roller coaster, part water park.  (Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)
The Windsor Trail is part roller coaster, part water park.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)

 

 

 

3) Adrenaline Junkies, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend: Windsor Trail. You’re on your bike at 10,300 feet, and you’ll plunge through downhill rides along Tesuque Creek, taking your booty straight down 3,400 feet in just 10 miles. Pines, aspens, wildflower-covered meadows … but not for the faint of heart, y’all.

4) Are you ready? I mean, really ready? Alright, let’s head uphill on Aspen Vista. You’ll start at 10,000 feet and grind your way to an elevation over 12,000. Hey, you’ll love the alpine streams and meadows along the way. Then there are the aspens, and stunning views from Tesuque Peak, and the hammock you’ll hallucinate you’re swaying in aimlessly as you pedal higher and higher. This trail is the real deal.

Aspen Vista Trail takes down another rider. “Worth it,” says the rider.  (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)
Aspen Vista Trail takes down another rider. “Worth it,” says the rider.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)

Cycling Paradise and More on Tap at the Bike & Brew Festival

IBU + PSI = FUN at the Bike & Brew Festival.
IBU + PSI = FUN at the Bike & Brew Festival.

The only thing that compares to an epic ride with friends is hoisting a few good beers afterward. Year round, Santa Fe’s phenomenal craft beer scene is a can’t-miss for hop novices and beer-nerds alike, with the oldest microbrewery in New Mexico (Santa Fe Brewing Company) and Winterbrew, an event that’s quickly become a favorite among locals. But on May 15-17, Santa Fe will host its first-annual Bike and Brew Festival, sponsored by Outside Magazine, Cycle Santa Fe, Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau and the New Mexico Tourism Department. This three-day tour de force of cycling and suds will feature local and nationally renowned brewers, and draw cyclists from around the world for craft beer events, group trail rides, the Santa Fe Century ride for the road bikers, live music, and bike-in film screenings. You can even register for a chance to win a personalized, hand-built bike by O’Leary Built Bikes and a luxury three-night stay at Hotel Santa Fe, The Hacienda and Spa, located in the heart of Santa Fe’s Railyard District. This only-in-Santa-Fe festival promises to be totally off the chain (pun intended), and will further solidify The City Different as a mountain biker’s paradise.

 

Find Mountain Bike Nirvana in Santa Fe

Trembly, sweaty, dirty, elated riders fresh off the trail.
Trembly, sweaty, dirty, elated riders fresh off the trail.

 So now that you’ve got the inside scoop on Santa Fe’s dynamic mountain biking culture, you should be well-equipped to hop on the trails and embrace your inner Santa Fean. Both on and off the bike, Santa Fe offers wonders few places can top: Amazing mountain trails ranging from leg-crushing to laidback; cuisine that’ll rock your world; a thriving craft brew scene; live music galore; and so much more. Maybe that’s why Singletracks.com named Santa Fe as one of the top-10 mountain biking destinations in all of North America. So load up your bike and your appetite for adventure. In Santa Fe, you’re in for the ride of your life.

 

Spring in Santa Fe…Love Your Greens

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

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

Vinaigrette Is So Much More Than a Salad Dressing

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

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

 

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

Sampling Sweet Spring Greens at Sweetwater

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

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

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

 

Make a Bee-line for The Beestro

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

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

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

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

Spring is happening at the Santa Fe Farmers Market

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

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

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

Green Up Your Santa Fe Dining

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

 

No Place Does Spring Like Santa Fe

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

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

One Old Culture Honors Another

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

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

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

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

Sounds for Serenading Spring

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

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

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

No Passport Needed to Paint a Pretty Picture of Spring

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

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

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

May I Invite You to May … and June Too?

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

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

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

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

Be Impetuous and Spring into Action

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

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

 

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.

 

Introducing Santa Fe’s Next Celebrated Artist: You.

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

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

Lose Your Painting Inhibitions and Find Artistic Glory

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

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

Nothing Holds Families Together Like Clay

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

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

Get Ready for Creativity Times Tin

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

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

A Fusion of Art and Fashion? Sign Me Up!

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

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

Start (or Jumpstart) Your Artistic Journey in Santa Fe

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

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

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

 

Portrait of the Perfect Ski Day

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

Start the Day by Eating the Santa Fe Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scout’s Motto: Be Prepared

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

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

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

The Hills are Alive … With Snow Sports!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indulgence Earned, Indulgence Found

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

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

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

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

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

Couple Up with Santa Fe’s Romantic Side

Romance. It’s dee-lightful, it’s dee-lovely, and it’s dee-signed for two. The good qualities my honey possesses deserve the reward of some romantic moments spent together in the place we both love so much. Considering that Santa Fe is a leading contender for USA Today’s 10 best list of most romantic getaways (hint: we’re allowed to vote daily until the January 27th close date), there simply couldn’t be a better time to dive into a dee-licious detour from daily demands by designing tempting treats for two. And I’m ready to fill in a few empty spaces on my calendar by celebrating the best of what we share — life and love — in the City Different.

Let’s Fall in Love Again – with Chocolate

Even with an inviting itinerary, it’s indulgent to start the day slowly, just lolling in bed awhile or catching the tail end of an old black-and-white movie on TV. When we give ourselves the gift of a Santa Fe hotel overnight, in-room coffee takes care of any need to rush. Instead the rush comes just after 10 am when the award-winning Kakawa Chocolate House opens, and we can start a day of delightful dalliances with a different dark and heady brew: chocolate!

Created via thoughtful research into chocolate’s historical past, Kakawa’s sipping beverages are hot chocolate like you’ve never had it. And sipping is key, because these elixirs are deep, rich, and meant to be enjoyed slowly. I’m happy that the menu is deep, too, so with two of us, sharing means twice the taste.

The way to the heart begins with a kiss of chocolate on the lips.
The way to the heart begins with a kiss of chocolate on the lips.

I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting to a weakness (okay, that’s putting it mildly) for chocolate. But I am grateful chocolate is a food substance that has undergone a massive craft conversion toward the artisanal. USA Today just gave the nod to Santa Fe’s chocolate excellence, so I say don’t stop with just one stop.  It seems to me that you can never have too much of a good thing, and I’m grateful that C.G. Higgins agreed with that sentiment by conveniently providing two locations for luscious sampling. And it’s simply divine when my sweetie comes up with a killer idea on planning ahead: “Let’s get a box of fudge for later.”

Mmmm, that chipotle chile adds a Santa Fe kick to C. G. Higgins Fudge.
Mmmm, that chipotle chile adds a Santa Fe kick to C. G. Higgins Fudge.

Oh Ho, Honey, Let’s Head for Ojo

Me and mine are big on road trips. Many of our memorable moments have come about in the front seat of a car heading out onto a back road where surprises become gifts. Maybe we see a mule deer pausing to stare back at us while her mate bounds ahead. Or it might be one of those fantastic cloud formations in which New Mexico specializes. And those sudden gifts of nature often occur when we’re on our way to treat ourselves to the healthful luxuries of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa.

The warmth of togetherness beats any weather challenge. (Photo credit: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Spa and Resort)
The warmth of togetherness beats any weather challenge. (Photo credit: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Spa and Resort)

Although it translates literally to “eye,” “ojo” is the word used here to indicate a spring; hence, Ojo Caliente means warm spring. These natural hot springs were known for their historic healing properties long before people like me put pen to paper in praise of their efficacy. I’m a devoted fan of the public pools, with their varying mineral components, but a special day with a special someone definitely rates a private pool. Soaking tensions away under the blue New Mexico sky is so worth a scenic drive up north.

And once we’re thoroughly soaked and muscles are melting, we head for some skilled hands-on healing … ahhh … now what to choose … maybe a Hot Stone Massage for you — with basalt stones from the nearby Rio Grande — and a Sacred Journey Aroma Wrap for me?  Just thinking about all the possibilities, I feel more relaxed. So relaxed, in fact, that I think spoiling ourselves with a full spa package might be the best idea of all!

Relax with your honey in a bath or rose petals. (Photo credit: Inn and Spa at Loretto)
Relax with your honey in a bath or rose petals. (Photo credit: Inn and Spa at Loretto)

While we’re on the subject of full spa packages, doesn’t a bath for two surrounded by drifting rose petals sound like a scent-ual immersion experience? Add in a massage, a facial, and a manicure, and I am over the moon, especially when I don’t even have to put it all together by myself. The Inn and Spa at Loretto already did that when they created Corazones en Fuego – Hearts on Fire. No surprise, since the Spa has won a Condé Nast Traveler Readers’  Choice award four years running; it is definitely time to feed some rosy romantic fantasies close to home!

Let’s Nibble Our Way Around Santa Fe

I know one thing for sure: many a magic memory in my life has been enriched by a food component. Frankly, everything about living in Santa Fe makes me feel hungry — for the enjoyment of innovative art, the solace of great music, the warmth of the sun on my face (remember, minimum SPF 30 at 7,000 feet), and the taste of food prepared by talented chefs that all together form the basis of a terrific lifestyle.

On a restaurant tour with Chef Mica, you learn by listening and earn every bite by walking. (Photo credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)
On a restaurant tour with Chef Mica, you learn by listening and earn every bite by walking. (Photo credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

 

Taking an inquiring mind (and taste buds) to spend a few pleasant afternoon hours on a restaurant walking tour with the Santa Fe School of Cooking means a meal in four separate stops on a relaxing stroll around downtown. The School has planned several winning combinations for comparing and contrasting the flavors that pop up on the dining tables of the City Different. My appetite is definitely aroused by hearing the thoughts and inspirations of each individual chef, and samples at these private tastings are paired with wines from the restaurant wine list.

Tasting a tempting series of treats is a way to turn an afternoon into a meal. (Photo credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)
Tasting a tempting series of treats is a way to turn an afternoon into a meal. (Photo credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

And if you’re looking for a way to expand the experience, add a cooking class and take those savory Santa Fe skills home — I do it, and I live here! In fact, there couldn’t be a better time for a class than right now, since the Cooking School is offering a series of super-affordable Bonus Classes through March, as they refine their annual repertoire. Don’t you just love being the first one to show up with new recipes?

Evenings Divine with Baby Mine

Any perfect day needs a capstone, and all this talk of culinary tours and cooking classes puts me in the mood to plan a dreamy dinner, especially with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Champagne, sunset, plus Santa Fe means it’s decided: Terra at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado. Any excuse to drive a bit off the beaten path into the serene setting of northern New Mexico works wonders for me, especially if a great meal in an authentic setting awaits.

Spectacular Santa Fe sunsets are a bonus appetizer at Terra. (Photo credit: Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado)
Spectacular Santa Fe sunsets are a bonus appetizer at Terra. (Photo credit: Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado)

Surrounded by 57 pristine acres in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, I always feel like I’ve gone back in time when I see the sun in all its glory setting over this unspoiled landscape. Spare and beautiful, dotted with pinon and juniper trees, the vast blue heavens arcing overhead, being here speaks to everything I love about living in the Land of Enchantment.

Dinner at Terra is an exercise in creative contrasts: a luminous backdrop of ancient mountains and sky and a tasteful contemporary use of native materials, stone, wrought-iron, and warm wood. The only challenge to settling in for a leisurely meal from Chef Andrew Cooper’s kitchen is homing in on that entrée … again, thank heavens that loving means sharing.

I may have to insist, however, that my other half weigh in when it’s time to plan where to lay our heads on a set of luxuriously soft white sheets. With so many great hotels in Santa Fe, picking out one place among the many is a two-person job. No complaints from me, though. We’re going to be the lucky ones, since I’m planning to suggest over dinner that we make this year’s anniversary present to ourselves a regular getaway right here at home. Then all we’ll have to do is snuggle up by the fire and design our next special getaway for two.

Make Memories Together in Santa Fe

I cherish the knowledge that the person I’m sharing my life with shares the same love for all things Santa Fe. Even though I occasionally hope my sweetie will surprise me with a slate of loving adventures, I’m content to make magic for both of us. And maybe that’s true for you too. But what do you think? Should we leave the computer open to this page and see what happens?