Santa Fe is a haven for artists, foodies and wilderness lovers – so it's pretty much a place for everyone.
The art on Canyon Road extends up a mile-long road with gallery after gallery filling the windy hill. With world-renowned fine, contemporary and abstract art as well as elaborate, intricate sculpture, the variety is diverse. The galleries themselves feel more like the homes of people who’ve been collecting art for generations than places to purchase pieces.
I learned so much just from the gallery hosts – with New Mexican friendliness, you can't go anywhere with only a, "Hi, how are you?" There’s a great park at the top of Canyon Road to relax in the sun or have a picnic and an amazing tapas place with Flamenco and Latin Jazz depending on the night.
Santa Fe National Forest is only a 30-minute drive, and aspen and pines glitter the mountains as you depart the high desert of Santa Fe. The altitude reaches 8,000 ft, so you need to drink lots of water to fight altitude sickness. The forest is beautiful; a variety of trees jut out of deep red/orange soil. Rivers bend throughout, with fly fisherman simulating visions of Colorado and Montana.
There are lots of natural hot springs right off the road as well as ones you can hike a few miles in to. Ignore the "Do Not Trespass or You Will Be Shot" signs – as long as you stay on the designated roads and trails you're on public property. The hot springs are perfect after a day of hiking, cross-country skiing or downhill skiing/boarding at one of the countless ski mountains within an hour’s drive of Santa Fe.
We personally enjoyed Taos. It had the big, steep “mountain feel” minus the resort and fur-coat attitude that other resorts have sold out to. There’s amazing terrain and tons of snow even after closing day at the beginning of April.
Only 2 hours away from Santa Fe, the town of Taos is a sleepy mountain town replete with artists and culture. Go to Cafe Rellenos and get their stuffed pepper special...a poblano pepper stuffed with beef, dried cranberries, cinnamon and mushrooms and topped with a sweet mole sauce. Then go see live music with the locals at The Taos Inn any night of the week.
If you're not the wilderness activist type but still appreciate the outdoors, check out Bandelier National Monument. About 45 min outside of Santa Fe are ancient ruins and cliff dwellings where you can feel the presence of the Native American spirit. Deep in Frijoles Canyon, you’ll walk past ruins and climb ladders to cliff dwellings where fire stains and petroglyphs still exist.
Santa Fe is small, with a condensed city center that revolves around the Old Town. It's a great place for shopping, with an amazing variety of turquoise, handwoven blankets and art. There are countless restaurants serving traditional Southwest food with specialties like blue corn pancakes, green chili cornbread and enchiladas Christmas-style – which means with both red and green chilies.
Our favorite restaurant was Cow Girls because it felt like that Southwest restaurant/bar you might imagine: older local waitresses who don't care, the strongest margaritas, and food that couldn't be better.