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Escape The City: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, relaxation or adventure, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the perfect destination for your next city escape. Nicknamed “The City Different,” you’ll find just that — something different for everyone. Don’t let the smaller size of this city fool you, there are stunning views (think: mountains, mesas, and the Rio Grande), outdoor activities, art, food, architecture, and culture around every corner.

Getting There and Getting Around

For those on a budget, flying into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) and renting a car to drive 45-minutes north to Santa Fe may be a lower-cost travel option than flying directly into Santa Fe. It’s about the same as driving from Philly to West Chester, but on a much bigger and faster highway. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to kick-off your trip with a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which will give you incredible perspective on the rest of your trip. The Pueblo people lived on the land long before anyone else.

Once in Santa Fe, the downtown area has a two-mile diameter, so it’s great for walking. If you’re going in the winter, just remember to pack layers and possibly a pair of boots. With an elevation of 7,198 feet, it can get pretty chilly November through February.

Where to Stay

When you’re in The Land of Enchantment, you’ll likely spend a lot of your time outside. But that doesn’t mean your indoor experience shouldn’t be equally enticing. Check out the countless cozy local options on the New Mexico Bed and Breakfast Trail. Many of these places offer features unique to New Mexico like rooms with kivas (small fireplaces) and bicycles to borrow for the day. The Madeleine Inn offers both, as well as a complimentary breakfast made by a personal chef, snacks and tea throughout the day, and a 10% discount on their spa services.

 

What to Do

Take a morning stroll through The Palace of The Governors, the oldest “continuously occupied public building” in the United States. Along its notable walkway, you can shop artwork created and sold by native artisans. Don’t be shy, ask the artists questions about their creative process and background.

The O’Keeffe Museum is a must-see since the famous artist called New Mexico home and drew inspiration from the land for a large part of her life. If you’re looking for the full experience, leave time in your day to drive 60 miles north to Abiqui, where you can tour her home and studio as well.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more modern, try the Institute of Indian American Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Start on the second floor to view their permanent collection, then head to the first floor to check out new exhibits.

For more history, head to the southeast corner of town to visit one of the oldest residential neighborhoods of European origin in the United States, featuring the oldest church (circa early-1600s) and the oldest house (circa mid-1700s). From here, it’s a short walk to Canyon Road where you can window shop on a long stretch of art galleries. You can end your day with a classic Santa Fe sunset from the highest point in the city by winding your way up to see the Cross of The Martyrs

In this historic neighborhood, you can see the oldest church (right) and the oldest house (partially seen on the bottom left)

 

Where to Eat & Drink

Get ready to crank up the heat! New Mexico is well known for its chile peppers. Restaurateurs in town love turning them into fiery red and green sauces to accompany dishes. Pro tip: Be prepared to answer the question “Red, Green, or Christmas?” when you order. Christmas is a blend of both red and green chile.

New Mexico is well known for its chile peppers

Southwest dinner fare (chiles, grilled meats, blue corn tortillas, and beans) is readily available in most restaurants. It’s done particularly well at The Shed (try the Gran Gold margarita and Shed Corn Chowder) and Mucho Gusto (try the veggie tacos for dinner and rice pudding for dessert).

If you’re looking for a good brunch/lunch spot, then Cafe Pasqual’s is the place to be. If you can’t really take the heat of chiles, there are options like Upper Crust where you can grab a slice of pizza (gluten-free and vegetarian friendly) to give your taste buds a rest.

Craving an early-morning coffee and pastry? Try Sweet Lily Bakery (gluten free and vegan friendly) near the O’Keeffe Museum.

 

If you’ve been to Santa Fe, be sure to share your recommendations on where to eat, sleep, and stay in the comments!