We’re living in crazy times, uncertain times, nerve-racking times. As many of us hunker down for periods of isolation, do our best to stay healthy and keep our loved ones healthy, in an effort to keep up morale and stay optimistic, I’ve decided this morning to look forward to the days when we can get back out there and explore this beautiful world we live in.
That being said, I’m looking back on a trip to New Mexico I took not too long ago and wanted to share some highlights for any other wanderlust-ers reading this. Like Karen, I count New Mexico as absolutely one of my favorite places on earth, specifically the Santa Fe area. I think it’s hard to describe the magic of it unless you experience it yourself and to me, that’s the most special kinds of magic, so unique, there are no words. I full understand why it’s called The Land of Enchantment. This is a very short list, with just three suggestions per category, but I’m happy to share other recommendations and tips if anybody is interested; just reach out.
The Inn of the Five Graces This beautiful hotel–located right in the heart of the historic downtown district and walkable to many attractions–is owned by a pair of importers of gorgeous textiles, rugs and more and that aesthetic can be seen throughout the hotel and is a big part of its charm, in addition to fantastic amenities.
La Fonda The fun of this hotel (in my humble opinion) is its link to the Fred Harvey Company, a hospitality company along side the railroad line that really transformed the West in many ways. You may have seen the film Harvey Girls about the waitresses that serviced the Fred Harvey hotels staring Judy Garland. It’s located right downtown and has a fun gift shop to poke around in.
Four Seasons Ranch Encantado Off the beaten path and outside of town, this hotel is truly an escape and oh so relaxing. Many of the rooms have traditional kiva fireplaces, which add to the epic coziness of the place in the fall and winter. They also have the best sheets around if that’s your weakness in a hotel.
The hotels listed above are definitely splurges but rest assured, AirBnBs for all budgets and more economical hotels are pretty plentiful in Santa Fe. With so many galleries, museums and restaurants to explore, chances are you just need a comfy, clean and safe place to lay your head anyway!
Taco Fundación Hands down my favorite place to eat in Santa Fe. The tacos are EVERYTHING. No frills (pretty sure it’s housed in what used to be a burger joint or Dairy Queen) and affordable, you should have zero hesitations about going twice in a day…oops! I’ve tried all the tacos on the menu and they’re all incredible, I especially loved the fried oyster and the bison.
Cafe Pasqual’s A Santa Fe institution for good reason and very close to being my second favorite place to eat in town. It’s funky, colorful and while their breakfast is incredible, you’re likely to not be disappointed with any meal they serve here. And they ship their cookies (and have a cookbook) to satisfy any cravings once you’re back home. Located right near the plaza, be sure to walk off your meal by exploring the many shops and galleries that the historic district has to offer. There are so many treasures hidden off beaten paths and around various, little corners.
Sage Bakehouse Pick up some sandwiches here (and don’t forget a cookie, great cookies!) for a road trip out of town. I’m very particular about my bread and sandwiches and they won me over.
Bandelier National Park When the powers that be came up with the “Land of Enchantment” tagline, I think this is the first place they were thinking of. Absolutely magical, from the ancient cave dwellings you can climb into to the trails, heavily scented with wild sage. For any yogis out there, whenever we go into savasana at the end of practice, this is always the place I imagine I’m lying, in a bed of wild sage. Perfection.
Ghost Ranch For all you Georgia O’Keeffe fans, this is a must if you want to see where her inspiration in so many ways came from. A bit of a drive from Santa Fe, but fuel up with some Sage Bakehouse and do it. Also be sure to check out the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in town, too.
New Mexico History Museum A must for anybody visiting Santa Fe for more context of this glorious state. The tour guides are wonderful and it’s fun to meet people from all walks of life and explore a museum together, curious about the same subject; better chances for interesting questions, right?
TO TAKE HOME
Piñon something, anything. In fall and winter, all of Santa Fe has a very distinct smell from something burning. It’s earthy, it’s intoxicating, it’s comforting, it’s enchanting. I think the smells in Santa Fe are actually one of my favorite parts about it; they might consider changing their tagline to “The Land of Enchanting Smells” from the piñon to the wild sage to the region cooking…mmmm. But I’m getting off track here. I asked the receptionist at our hotel what it was and she told me, piñon, a wood unique to the area. Since I couldn’t haul any wood back on the plane with me home, I picked up a hearty supply of piñon incense instead which does a near perfect job of recreating the scent. Also, I picked up some piñon pancake mix because yolo.
Art. Santa Fe is world world-renowned for its art. My husband and I are slowly curating pieces that have a special meaning in addition to being pleasing to the eye and though it wasn’t what we went looking for, I fell in love with an old, New Mexico pennant in Taos and we had it specially framed. Instant trip back to New Mexico, instant smile on a daily basis.
Ristras. Dried pods or bulbs that are hung and typically made of chilies that you’ll see everywhere–on lampposts and front doors. They serve both a practical purpose (for cooking) but they are also believed to bring good health and good luck. We picked up a few on our trip and we have them hanging from a doorknob in our living room and at Christmas, I used them as a tree topper. I saw them in wreath form around town, too.
I could go on and on about things to see, do, eat and enjoy in New Mexico but alas. Here’s to hoping life goes back to normal soon for so many reasons, one being that we can get back to exploring and experiencing life outside of our own bubbles. Until then, I wish all you reading this and yours good health, a sense of peace where you can find it and honestly, another does good health. Be well. -Michaela