Where New Mexico, USA
Quick Quote $600 per day per person (including hotel)
Best Season Summer and Fall
Thinking of Art, Culture, Food, Mountains
Best Portrayed in No Country for Old Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Longmire
It’s known as the “City Different,” different, located in what the locals proudly refer to as the Land of Enchantment. Neither is it an exaggeration, for the one-of-a-kind high mountain desert, artistic enclave of Santa Fe, which with its magical mix of natural beauty and diverse cultural history, makes it easy to see why even some Americans don’t realize it’s part of the 50 states. Whether it’s the magic that drew one of America’s earliest known civilizations, the Anasazi Indians, along with later rounds of Spanish, Mexican and Anglo settlers to Santa Fe and New Mexico, or whether it’s their diverse influences that helped create that magic is debatable.
Founded in 1690, Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in America. Settled by the Spanish, surrounded by Native American pueblos and just a few hundred miles from the Mexican border, the fusion of cultures is apparent in everything from this city's food to its traditional adobe flat-roofed architecture, jewelry, and art.
Today it is a favorite destination not only for tourists, but also as a home or second home for writers, artists and celebrities seeking a simpler, more solitary life.
Where to Stay
Inn of the Five Graces This 24-suite property is one of Santa Fe’s better kept secrets. Across Old Santa Fe Trail from the oldest church in the United States, the San Miguel Mission, and next to the oldest house, designers Ira and Sylvia Seret, transformed a neglected cluster of adobe buildings into this magical retreat full of exotic antiques, rugs, textiles and unique architectural elements.
“Few would dispute there is an underlying spiritual element and unique natural light that makes the skies here just a little bit bluer, the sunrises just a little bit pinker, the sunsets a bit more orange, and the overall atmosphere enchanting.”
Just a block off Santa Fe’s main downtown plaza, is La Posada, a 200-plus-year-old luxury property has grown over the years to become a small village with a wide variety of rooms and suites, including one-bedroom casitas with wood burning fireplaces. Belly up to the big wooden bar in the 19th Century mansion that houses the lobby, restaurant, even even a private art collection.Ten minutes from downton, near Santa Fe’s famed outdoor opera house is Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, an intimate, 65-room hotel set on 57 acres in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. Rosewood’s Inn of the Anasazi offers true luxe just off the main plaza.
Where to Eat
One of the best reasons to visit New Mexico is the food, which with its native chiles and mix of Spanish, Native American and Mexican influences is like no other Mexican food. The Shed is one of the most popular places for traditional green chile dishes and margaritas, , but it can also be impossible to get into. A second option is its sister restaurant, La Choza, a few minutes off the Plaza. For more progressive American cuisine, try James Beard-recognized Chef Martin Rios’ Restaurant Martin, which offers a perfect mix of refined and comfortable in an old house near the state Capitol. One of Santa Fe’s newest hot spots is Sazon. Created by Chef Fernando Olea, Sazon offer contemporary and traditional interpretations of recipes from old Mexico, in particular its many varieties of mole. And no visit to Santa Fe is complete without breakfast (or lunch or dinner) at Pasquals on the Plaza. Be prepared to hang out on the street for a while, the restaurant is small and is a favorite of locals and tourists. But it’s worth the wait for their organic food. Try the blue corn pancakes or avocado toast.
An almost indescribable experience, Meow Wolf is a globally renowned interactive community art collective launched in 2016 with support from Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin. It’s first permanent installation, the House of Eternal Return, takes visitors through a multi-dimensional mystery house with secret passages and portals to surreal, maximalist and mesmerizing art exhibits. Spend another day soaking in a private outdoor tub, taking cooking classes, getting a massage or experiencing an authentic Native American Sweat Lodge ceremony at the 70-acre Sunrise Springs resort just south of the city. And of course, there is the art. And lots of it. One of the things Santa Fe is most famous for is Canyon Road, which is lined with galleries featuring well-known artists of a variety of Southwest and other genres. But the renovated Railyards and its Site Santa Fe just south of the Plaza now offers art lovers an additional must-see at this renovated beer warehouse that features contemporary exhibitions. Just a few blocks off the Plaza, visit the museum dedicated to one of the Southwest’s most famous artists, Georgia O’Keeffe, or take day trip 60 miles northwest to her home and studio in Abiqui to see the famed New Mexico skies and landscapes that inspired her work.
One thing Santa Fe isn’t known for is it’s nightlife. But you can still dance the night away (ok, at least until midnight) at El Farol, a restaurant on Canyon Road that turns into a favorite nightclub with live music by local bands on weekends.
Side Trip: Taos
No trip to northern New Mexico is complete without a stop in Taos, a more casual, hippie little sister to Santa Fe. Just an hour-and-a-half north, the drive through the scenic Rio Grande gorge alone is the worth the trip. Shop and see the local art scene in Taos’ town square, visit the Gorge bridge, which at 600 feet above the Rio Grande is the 10th tallest bridge in the country; or visit local potters and artists in the town of Arroyo Seco, which is on the way to the scenic Taos Ski Valley, known for its great hiking trails in the summer and expert ski runs in the winter.
Must dos: Visit the home of Mabel Dodge Luhan, a salon hostess who moved to New Mexico in 1919 and married a Taos Pueblo Indian. She is credited with luring writers and artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams to the Land of Enchantment by sending out invitations to people she barely knew. Or get into the hippie vibe with a visit to the Earthship community, a colony of self-sustaining homes that look like spaceships embedded in the scenic landscape. There are about 70 homes in the 633-acre subdivision, all made from all recycled materials.The community is also the headquarters of one of the early leaders in the sustainable building movement, Earthship Biotecture. And don’t miss your chance to see in person San Francisco de Asis, one of the most painted and photographed churches in the world. Built between 1772 and 1816, the traditional adobe, mud and straw Spanish mission structure is synonymous with New Mexico, made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe and photographers Ansel Adams and Paul Strand.
Where to eat: For breakfast, Michael’s Kitchen and Bakery offers a plethora of homebaked pastries and bread along with tradition diner food with or without a New Mexico chile twist. For dinner, venture to Aceq in the village of Arroyo Seco for a fresh dinner from this family owned farm-to-table restaurant, which uses the best in local, wild and farm-fresh ingredients to develop a unique contemporary New Mexican twist on comfort foods and fine dining classics. For a traditional New Mexican lunch or dinner of enchiladas or other green and red chile favorites, hit Orlando’s, just north of the main town square.
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