If you have read my articles over the years you know Santa Fe is one of my favorite destinations, and this time of year is no exception. The fall season is also a perfect time for getting off the beaten path and venturing outside New Mexico’s famous city. If you fly into Albuquerque, take the 60 mile scenic route along the Turquoise Trail towards Santa Fe. You will quickly see why the landscape has inspired so many artists over the years. The old coal mining town of Madrid is the main attraction along the trail with an array of small shops and galleries now nestled into the bygone old buildings. We love to stop for lunch at the Mine Shaft Tavern, where you will find the best green chili burger you have ever eaten.
Renting a private casita is our favorite way to stay in Santa Fe. It allows you to experience it like a local. We love to wake up and brew our own coffee and just enjoy the beautiful architecture of a true adobe home with a full kitchen and outdoor living space. We venture to the farmers market on Saturday mornings at the Railyard and gather up beautiful vegetables, home baked breads, and fresh herbs to grill back at the casita. The two rental companies we like to use are Casas de Santa Fe (casasdesantafe. com) and Two Casitas (twocasitas.com). On our most recent trip we were guests at a beautiful private compound and shared some spectacular outdoor dinners with dear friends while meeting several other Texans who have second homes there.
If you prefer a hotel, the famous La Fonda is a great historic property to hang your hat. Another option is Auberge Resort which has recently undergone an extensive restoration of the landmark Bishop’s Lodge. Situated on over 300 acres, it borders the Santa Fe National Forest. Travel & Leisure has awarded Bishop’s Lodge the #1 resort in the West and Conde Nast rated it as one the best new hotels in the world for 2022. Only minutes from the downtown plaza, it is well worth stopping for a drink or dining at the resort’s restaurant, Skyfire, one evening. People ask me what all we do in Santa Fe and I tell them we never get tired of strolling the famous plaza. We grab Huevos Motulenos at Café Pasqual’s for breakfast or a big bowl of green chili stew for lunch at The Shed. We always visit Shiprock, a Native American art and textiles gallery owned by Waxahachie native Samantha Hamilton and her husband, Jed Foutz. On the north side of the plaza is the Palace of the Governors where Native American artisans set up everyday selling handmade jewelry and other crafts. We also enjoy strolling down Canyon Road where you will find some of the best art galleries in the country. There are also wonderful consignment and antique stores in Santa Fe.
On days we want some scenery, we drive the high road to Taos and wind through the mountains soaking up the incredible views of the Carson National Forest and stop for lunch at Rancho de Chimayo. Other days we venture up towards the Santa Fe ski resort and stop at Ten Thousand Waves, the famous Japanese spa. The property is beautiful with lantern lined paths of piñon trees, trickling waterfalls and koi-filled ponds. Wrapped in a kimono, you can relax with a warm foot bath, book a private teak hot tub, or enjoy their sauna and steam rooms between massage treatments. There is also a wonderful Japanese restaurant there called Izanami.
If you choose to visit Santa Fe at Christmastime it is nothing short of ‘magical’. I love walking through the snow smelling the waft of pinon wood in the crisp air and seeing the huge Christmas tree beautifully lit in the plaza. Attending the Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet’s annual The Nutcracker or participating in the Canyon Road Christmas Eve Farolito Walk is always among many holiday events and Midnight Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi is a beautiful experience.
No trip would ever be complete in Santa Fe without dinner at Geronimo’s. The beautiful old adobe structure is quite literally one of my favorite restaurants in the world. We have enjoyed many celebrations there for over 20 years. Other favorite eateries include Sazon, La Choza, Arroyo Vino and Paloma.
Santa Fe’s unique style is rich in culture, characterized by its thriving art community and its Pueblo Revival architecture, but all the surrounding areas are just as breathtaking, interesting, and worth experiencing. No matter the season, it is always a Land of Enchantment.