Santa Fe in Two Days : And a Day Trip to Taos
Jul 25, 2014 05:14PM
● By Megy Karydes
There is a spiritual pull to Santa Fe, New Mexico, some say. From the minute one steps onto its soil to the first breath of the unmistakable nutty piñon aroma wafting from the nearby trees, an undeniable sense of adventure is waiting to be experienced in the Land of Enchantment.
Artists, authors and designers often say inspiration comes from savoring daily experiences and taking time to enjoy the details in life. Yet, sometimes we need to leave our comfort zone to find inspiration, and many have found it in and around Santa Fe.
Santa Fe is an art lovers enclave. It’s filled with traditional, folk and contemporary art galleries and home to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market (FolkArtAlliance.org), which welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world each July. But it’s also a place where people can learn new skills—from tinsmithing to writing an entire book over the course of a single weekend. Consider this guide a Weekend in Santa Fe Inspiration Itinerary.
What to Do (Get Cooking)
The instructors at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (SantaFeSchoolofCooking.com) can inspire even non-cooks to spend time in the kitchen. Their knowledgeable team gives guests the lowdown on red and green chiles, offers tips on how to prepare traditional New Mexican dishes such as the many variations on chiles rellenos, delves into the world of molé end even offers Native American food primers, all while serving bottomless cups of locally roasted piñon coffee. Ask to taste the specially made honey whip, which is especially tasty when served alongside freshly prepared sopapillas.
Where to Go (Find Inspiration)
Further cooking inspiration can be found at the Santa Fe Farmers Market (SantaFeFarmersMarket.com) on Saturday and Tuesday mornings. What began with a handful of farmers in the late 1960s has grown into 150 active vendors that offer fresh and local produce and serve up hearty samples. Visitors will find local specialties from blue corn flower to dried red and green chile alongside market staples.
For those looking for a space to focus on their writing, coach Tom Bird (TomBird.com) has helped authors focus and get it done over a weekend through his writing lectures at BODY of Santa Fe (BodyofSantaFe.com).
Lauren McDonald, guest services manager at BODY of Santa Fe, knew she had a book in her and used the opportunity last November to participate. Arriving without any advance preparation (according to McDonald, Bird doesn’t want any work to be done in advance), she and her fellow 34 writers wrote throughout the weekend and all of them finished the weekend with a book. “It’s mind blowing,” says McDonald. “And life changing.” She adds that the process of writing the book is also a healing process for everyone, but at the end of the day, we all have life experiences and emotions and if writing a book is a goal, this is the workshop to take. “It’s a remarkably supportive environment,” she notes.
Writers need not be the only ones to apply. BODY at Santa Fe can be a retreat in itself. It’s a unique space that includes a spa, yoga and dance studio, full dining café and boutique. Simply walking into this space brings a sense of calm. More than 15 therapists are on hand to offer treatments ranging from therapeutic massages to facials. The yoga and dance studio is an inviting space, and BODY offers events throughout the month, including vinyasa yoga with live music and daily meditation. After a treatment or class, guests can relax over a raw, vegan or gluten-free meal in the café, either at a table or on floor cushions, yogi style. More than 90 percent of the ingredients served at the café are organic and locally grown.
BODY also offers local organic wine, beer and sake, plus unique vegetable cocktails and elixirs. For something a bit more sweet, try a handmade raw organic truffle, sweetened with agave nectar that’s created onsite by the in-house chocolatier.
The Museum of International Folk Art (InternationalFolkArt.org) is curated with so many beautiful pieces of folk art from around the world that one can easily spend more than a day and not see it all. Kids will appreciate the interactive activities throughout the museum.
The museum is part of Museum Hill, which includes the Santa Fe Botanical Garden (SantaFeBotanicalGarden.org) and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (IndianArtsAndCulture.org). For a fantastic view of Santa Fe, enjoy a drink and a meal at Museum Hill Café (MuseumHillCafe.net).
Elsewhere in Santa Fe is the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (OkeeffeMuseum.org) which exhibits almost 1,000 works by the legendary 20th-century artist.
Where to Eat (Feed Your Soul)
For a healthful breakfast, head to Teahouse (TeaHouseSantaFe.com) which many tea lovers consider paradise. Located along Canyon Road on a stretch of galleries and artist studios, it may be hard to decide among the varieties of tea. Order the breakfast burrito with green chili and Norwegian eggs Benedict and ask about the day’s freshly baked scones and muffins.
Closer to the Plaza, La Plazuela restaurant sits on La Fonda on the Plaza (LafondaSantaFe.com) hotel’s original 1920s patio. The menu includes both meat and vegetarian dishes, and the kitchen will accommodate special dietary requests. Northern New Mexico specialties are available for both lunch and dinner, and the menu highlights many gluten-free options.
For a slightly different taste of Santa Fe, head to Il Piatto (IlPiattoSantaFe.com), one block from the Plaza, for dinner. Using ingredients from the weekly Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, Chef Matt Yohalem creates Italian farmhouse styled dishes that are both upscale and comforting. An advocate of the farm to table movement, he actively promotes the farmers’ market and it’s entirely possible to see him shopping there for the evening meal. Consider the gorgonzola and walnut ravioli, but leave room for dessert.
After hours, head to Secreto Lounge (SecretoLounge.com) in Hotel St. Francis (HotelStFrancis.com), for a cocktail. Best known for its garden-to-glass libations, ask for The Spicy Secreto, which features local crushed cucumber, jalapeno and cachaca rum.
Where to Stay (Stay in History)
La Fonda on the Plaza (LaFondaSantaFe.com) is for history and art lovers alike. The hotel, the oldest in Santa Fe and conveniently located on the Plaza, features original artwork throughout the property and is worth a stop even if you don’t stay the night. Historical records suggest that La Fonda on the Plaza sits on the oldest hotel corner in America. When Santa Fe was founded by the Spaniards in 1607, records show an inn, or fonda, was among the first businesses established, at the same location where La Fonda sits today. Guests will feel like they’re staying in a living museum because each room features original art by local artists from the hand-painted headboards to the tile artwork in the bathroom.
Just Outside Santa Fe
Tinwork art is popular throughout the state and visitors can learn traditional tin smithing from artist Sharon Candelario (blacketchedtin.com). In the nearby village of Chimayo, just over 30 minutes away from Santa Fe, Candelario provides one hour hands-on workshops every Tuesday and Thursday. By the end of the workshop, visitors will have created their own traditional tin hearts desires ornament.
Whatever your passion—inspiration, cooking, eating, history, relaxation, nature, shopping or just good old-fashioned sightseeing, Santa Fe has it all. Most of all, visitors will return home with the memory of a sky so big that it is always the star of the show.
An Extra Day in Taos
Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a charming, vibrant, multifaceted town, but nearby Taos provides added depth to any visitor’s experience. The magical landscape and cliff dwellings, museums, dining and accommodations make for an unforgettable adventure along the path less traveled.
One could easily spend a week or longer in Taos. but if there is only a day or two, here are a few options:
Ever taken a tour in a Pinzgauer, a Swiss military all-terrain vehicle? It’s possible, with a tour booked through Santa Fe Walkabouts (SantaFeWalkabouts.com). The company brings visitors to hikes along paths less traveled, mountain biking along rugged trails and walking tours through ancient ruins and cliff dwellings, all to appreciate the cultural diversity northern New Mexico affords. The husband-and-wife team leads groups regularly throughout Santa Fe, Taos and other nearby areas.
During the warmer months, the Los Rios River Runners (LosRiosRiverRunners.com) offers full-day whitewater rafting trips which explores 17 miles of intense, challenging rapids crashing through the most awe-inspiring part of the Rio Grande Gorge.
Taos is also an artists’ community. Check out the Harwood Museum of Art (HarwoodMuseum.org), which focuses on art created in, inspired by or relevant to northern New Mexico, and the Blumenschein Home & Museum (TaosHistoricMuseums.org/El-Blumenschein-Home). The Blumenschein was the home of two of the co-founders of the Taos Society of Artists, and the museum is conveniently located on historic Ledoux Street, in downtown Taos.
Taos Pueblo (TaosPueblo.com) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a National Historic Landmark, continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years. While photography is not permitted at many pueblos, it is allowed at this location for personal use.
Where to Eat
Chef Frederick Muller calls the cuisine at his restaurant El Meze (ElMeze.com) La Comida de las Sierras, which uses the food of the mountains, fresh trout, jamon, corn and chiles, wild mushrooms from the mountain forests and local organic produce from the small farms. Expect clean flavors at his popular farm to table restaurant featuring American comfort food.
Vegetarians will appreciate El Gamal, a Middle Eastern restaurant located behind Taos Plaza and Raw to Go—primarily a takeout place, but for a quick and delicious meal, it hits the spot.
Where to Stay
To really appreciate the natural beauty surrounding Taos, book a stay in a bed and breakfast (nmbba.org/taos-new-mexico-bed-breakfast.html). Many are located within walking distance of Taos Plaza, and it’s a great way to learn more about the area, because many hosts are happy to provide information about their city for out-of-town guests.
Santa Fe, Taos and other nearby areas are home to adult flower children, a melting pot of artists and those that have fallen in love with the outdoors. Its Native American history is preserved in today’s culture for everyone to appreciate and enjoy. Miles of art and land, as well as a wealth of adventures and inspiration, are waiting for those that venture into Santa Fe to discover why it’s called “the city different.”