Winter Adventures in Santa Fe

Five Winter Adventures That Might Surprise You When Visiting Santa Fe

Santa Fe has always been known as a “high desert” destination, but in the winter, we like to let our “mountain town” show a bit. Santa Fe sits at 7,000 feet elevation in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains which, paired with our blue bird skies, makes The City Different a must-visit winter destination!

Here are a few of the under the radar outdoor adventures that you have to experience while visiting Santa Fe.

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Make This Your Santa Fe November To Remember: Upcoming Events

November always brings an opportunity to take a deep breath and appreciate the wonders of the season. Here in Santa Fe, we are grateful for the beauty of the mountains and the many diverse experiences that are available. From celebrating sustainability to the kick off of the holiday season, Santa Fe is filled with fun.  So join me in discovering a few of Santa Fe’s best November events.

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The End Zone for Fun is Santa Fe

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

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

You Can Be the Star Player in Santa Fe

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

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

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

Go All Out for Art

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

 

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

 

Touch Down Inside Santa Fe for a Bounty of Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Fe Dining: No Concessions Required

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

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

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

Santa Fe Lets You Call the Plays

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

 

Santa Fe Winter is Full of Wonder

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, New Mexico, Winter Must Dos
Soup’s on in Santa Fe: Fill your belly and treat your tastebuds—and those of NM’s most needy, too—at this beloved charity event (Photo Credit: The Food Depot)

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Railyard, Craft Beer, Beer Fest
It’s cheers to you when you lift your glass at Santa Fe Winter Brew Fest. (Photo Credit: New Mexico Brewers’ Guild)

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Art, Cuisine
Combining fine art and festive dinners is a Santa Fe specialty.

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Fine Dining
You should definitely “Andiamo” to Santa Fe during February Restaurant Week!

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.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Winter, Sports, Mountain
A Santa Fe mountain snowshoe hike with Outspire will inspire you! (Photo Credit: Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing)

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.

 

Santa Fe’s Peaceful Spirit is Your Holiday Gift

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday escapes
Silence is golden in the quaint adobe Friends Meeting House on Canyon Road.

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.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Audubon Center, Nature
The Randall Davey Audubon Center is as picturesque in winter as it is in summer.

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico, historic landmarks
Just look up in Santa Fe and you’ll feel your spirits lifted upwards too.

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico,  yoga maze
You’ll be a-mazed at how centered you will feel when you visit Santa Fe.

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.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Public Library
The Santa Fe library scene is one of peace and perusal.

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.

 

New Year’s Eve in Santa Fe is Yours to Create

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Absolutely not, Mr. Burns, that can’t happen in a town that’s more than 400 years old – too many auld acquaintances to play with! Every one of my auldies but goodies has a favorite spot for ringing in the New Year, so I’ve made a list and checked it twice to see where we’ll have fun being naughty and nice!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
Any day can end with ahhh at the Agave Lounge.

Firm believers in top-drawer food with party beverages head to the Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel to pair green chile Kobe sliders with their margaritas or martinis. The handsome fireplace casts cozy warmth throughout the room at this locals’ favorite, where a Happy Hour meet-and-greet easily flows into the wee hours. And if you’re planning on going the distance, the Eldorado’s New Year’s Eve Package has everything you need to welcome 2015 in true Santa Fe style.

Given that Santa Fe has a Palace of the Governors, it’s no surprise that there’s a party palace too, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. Once the bailiwick of the notorious Doña Tules (yes, there’s a story), the Palace has Happy Hour covered, but things really get going once the music starts. The calendar is always fully-loaded, and New Year’s Eve promises a speakeasy with The Shiners Club Jazz Band to swing 2015 into gear.

“Buon Anno” will roll off the tongue when you lubricate your vocal cords with an Italian twist and a glass of Prosecco for a toast at Il Piatto. Not one, but two happy hours on tap here, molto bene! The early one has half-off appetizers and choice wines by the glass. And late diners score at the 9:30 version with those half-off apps, selected wines and a three-course Prix Fixe dinner!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
New Year’s Eve in Santa Fe can be colorful when you toast 2015 at Del Charro.

If you’re feeling casual, the Del Charro Saloon can’t be beat; inexpensive chow and a friendly howdy are guaranteed. Margaritas come with their own shakers, so you can say good-bye to the old year as you pour a good-bye to your last drop. No need to get gussied up – just sit back and relax, nibble an order of Nachos Royale, and watch the ball drop on the screen over the bar.

Casual comfort has a storied past at the Pink Adobe’s Dragon Room, a haunt that locals have been coming to forever (well at least for the last 70 years). Smack-dab in the center of the historic Barrio de Analco, the Dragon Room possesses all the rustic and authentic charm Santa Fe is known for. Tuck yourself into an corner with a margarita close at hand and you might well find yourself making friends with a local sharing tales of bygone days when Rosalea Murphy, the Pink’s legendary founder, reigned nightly for the artists and writers who courted her favor.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
You can light up the night in Santa Fe at Skylight. (Photo Credit: The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Party people skedaddle to Skylight, a hot hit from the moment it opened in summer 2014. Food, yes; drinks, yes; music – sí, sí,sí! Santa Feans like to get their party on and this is the place. Laugh in the New Year with a performance by the Bonkerz comedy team (6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) then keep the amusement alive at the late-night dance party (10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) You can even beat the New Year’s rush and meet at Skylight on December 30 for Tuesday 50-cent wings and $2 Tecates!

There’s a new kid on the nightlife block and the Blue Rooster is sure to keep it rocking well into morning on New Year’s Eve. In the former home of the Rouge Cat (and sticking with the colorful naming), the Rooster has Santa Fe’s gay scene firmly in its sights, but there’s no pecking order on who’s invited to play. Diversity rules this hen house and all are welcome to party their way into 2015. And if your New Year’s Eve dance card is full, come back on Saturday night to hear Santa Fe’s resident disco diva, DJ Oona, pull out all the stops.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
New Year’s Eve is sure to be hot when you let The Den mix the drinks! (Photo Credit: The Den)

Head for The Den, located underneath the Coyote Café, and you’ll feel right at home. This intimate hideaway is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails then comes to life for late-night endings with music spun by knock-out Santa Fe DJs. The signature cocktails are truly inventive and some lucky wordsmith had a great time coming up with awesome appellations for the Den’s apertifs and after-dinner specialties – cheers to them!

Every town has that one local bar that you absolutely must see to say you’ve been there. In Santa Fe, that’s Evangelo’s! There’s an upstairs and an Underground and you want to visit both. The face of bar-founder Evangelo Klonis became familiar world-wide thanks to a famed World War II picture by W. Eugene Smith, and the family atmosphere is palpable. Regulars will regale you with stories (both believable and far-fetched) of musicians they’ve heard here, including bands tailor-made for the movies (witness Jeff Bridges strumming in Crazy Heart).

For ending the night in true dive fashion, I suggest the intriguing set of stairs on the corner of Don Gaspar and West San Francisco Street leading down to The Matador. This hole-in-the-wall with rockabilly flair is the perfect place for a rendezvous with your best buddies. It’s dark, it’s funky, but it’s all Santa Fe – and all of Santa Fe has made a pilgrimage to close a night, a week or the year with a nightcap at the Matador. Close your night by linking arms for a stroll under the twinkling lights of Santa Fe Plaza.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
No matter where December 31 takes you, Santa Fe’s great mixologists will help you shake off 2014 and welcome the New Year!

Ten, nine, eight, seven,….well, you know how it goes. Gather the gang to say good-bye to 2014 City Different style and use my skinny on these ten spots to light up your getaway before the year is gone. Santa Fe has 400-plus years of experience at getting the year off to a festive start – say Prospero Año Nuevo the Santa Fe way and your 2015 is guaranteed to be a truly Happy New Year!

 

 

Giving Santa Fe: No Wrapping Paper or Bows Required

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

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

Cooking Up Holiday Surprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Clever Christmas Presents Include Creativity

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Christmas + Santa Fe = An Experience Memories are Made Of

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything But Silent Nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Santa Fe: Families Rekindled

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Family Reunion
Any time of year becomes a holiday when families are together. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

No doubt about it, Santa Fe is a family town. How could it be otherwise in a place that’s well over 400 years old? City Different Facebook friends are constantly pointing out connections to great-greats going back centuries. And every local restaurant worth its salt has a private room where alumni assemble and 100th birthday parties hold court. Even the Santa Fe School of Cooking is ready, willing and able to put together a festive private party! I always cheer when far-flung relatives and assorted in-laws arrive to celebrate our bond – with a little advance planning, you can do the same.

Winter Over Under Santa Fe’s Blue Skies

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Art Gallery
Winter frost refreshes the view at Shidoni.

I love the fact that Santa Fe has four distinct seasons. Every time of year offers perfect opportunities for a family gathering. With winter on its way, we’re waxing skis and snowboards for the moment when Jack Frost’s powder starts falling at Ski Santa Fe, where snow sports regularly include a cloudless blue sky. Winter Glow nights at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden light up the landscape and a stroll around the Shidoni Sculpture Garden is magical when snow decorates the fanciful creations. If your semester break encompasses January, brew up a visit for the legal-age crew at the New Mexico Brewer’s Guild WinterBrewFest on January 23.

Spring into Action with Spring Break Santa Fe           

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Folk Art Museum
The whole family will turn into fans at Santa Fe’s fascinating Museum of International Folk Art. (Photo Credit: Museum of International Folk Art)

All school districts have individual spring break times, and it’s a blessing that Santa Fe offers so much for visitors with kids in tow. A visit to the Museum of International Folk Art is an experience for the young and the young-at-heart. Be sure to take the little ones to see the awesome collection of bugs and natural oddities at the Harrell House.

You’ll fall under the Old West’s spell as you lope along the trail with Broken Saddle Riding Company. All mounts are smooth-gaited – even inexperienced cowpokes can enjoy a serene ride through the sagebrush. While family foodies taste their way around town with Food Tour New Mexico, sporty siblings can corral 18 holes at Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe. A wildflower hiking trip is a spring awakening and even the least mobile family member can enjoy a sunset tour in Santa Fe Walkabouts’ Pinzgauer 4×4. Extra-lucky visitors can follow up the May 8-10 Passport to the Arts with five full days of Bike and Brew adventure from May 13-17.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Outdoors
Saddle up those sisters and brothers…time to ride into the west with Broken Saddle Riding. (Photo Credit: Broken Saddle Riding Co.)

Santa Fe Has A Bed for Every Head

My cozy adobe welcomes a sibling or two from time to time, but having so many great hotels is a definite plus when the whole family comes to call. Fortunately, Santa Fe has no equal in accommodations and charm. The only problem is choosing!

Wonderful winter memories from the Christmas Eve farolito walk are easy to be had with a stay at a downtown Santa Fe hotel. La Fonda on the Plaza has authenticity built into its very bones; a recent property-wide renovation has this Grand Dame looking spectacular.  For close-to-Canyon-Road action, look no further than the sparkling new Drury Plaza Hotel whose complimentary ample breakfast and afternoon reception are sure to please everyone.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe will feel like home with a stay at La Fonda on the Plaza. (Photo Credit: Robert Reck; Courtesy of La Fonda on the Plaza)

For warm weather reunions, consider the Inn and Spa at Loretto or La Posada de Santa Fe – both let grown-ups sip a cool margarita while kids cool off in the pool. And the Bishop’s Lodge Resort adds tennis courts and horseback riding to their list of amenities, along with their splendid pool.

Pack It All In with a Package

Santa Fe hotels put a lot of creative effort into crafting great deals for their guests. The Inn on the Alameda’s Girls’ Getaway is as sweet for college alums as it is for cousins. Hotel Santa Fe’s Ski Package (through April) has spring break skiing covered. Santa Fe Restaurant Week offers tasty savings from February 22-March 1 and Wine Down Wednesdays at Four Seasons’ Terra feature half-price bottles – and the fabulous views are free!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sunsets
Nothing says Santa Fe like the 360-degree sunsets that Four Seasons’ Terra delivers.

Reunite the Relatives in Santa Fe

As the holidays approach, thoughts naturally turn to family, so why not put something special under the tree? I’ve shared a few ideas, but you can let the Santa Fe professionals put together something just for you. Either way, an invitation to celebrate kinship in Santa Fe is a gift that everyone will cherish and remember for years to come.

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!