SIMPLY SANTA FE
There are few places that I love more than my home away from home…Santa Fe. I was born in the tiny town of Roswell New Mexico which is halfway between the tiny dust town I grew up in, Midland, Texas, and the metropolis of Santa Fe. For as long as I can remember, Santa Fe has been a gravitational pull. The light, made famous by Georgia O’Keefe, the smells of pinion and pine burning and the earth so magnificently red that the building code requires that you adhere to the traditional stucco mud used by its original inhabitants. Santa Fe was founded in 1610 by Spanish colonists. The town boasts the oldest church in the US as well as the oldest building cited on the main square…both stucco structures. Santa Fe means “Holy Faith” in Spanish and the patron St. Francis, patron saint of animals, is seen at every turn. Because so many people planning a visit routinely ask for my favorite things to see and do, I am sharing them with you today. Whether you are planning your annual pilgrimage for Indian Market in August or a fall trip to view the golden leaves on the Aspen trail, there is never a time that my favorite place on earth disappoints.
Let’s start with the FOOD! Truly, the most amazing food scene exists in Santa Fe. The famous hatch chilies that are roasted out in the open are the fruit of the gods. You can buy some, freeze and take home to last until your next visit. Here is a list of just a few of my favorite haunts and why:
Geronimos - This is a splurge and you will need a reservation but it is truly worth every 5 stars that it is rated. Favorites include the elk tenderloin with morels and the prawns. The white stucco restaurant at the end of Canyon Road would be my last meal - for real. 724 Canyon Road. (505) 982-1500.
Cafe Pasqual’s - This farm to table restaurant is worth the wait. The blue lady enchiladas are an all time favorite but truthfully I can never decide what to order because I want it all! Be sure to grab a few of the amazing homemade cookies at the counter. Cool vibe and mouth watering food. If you have to wait, grab a cocktail at the St. Francis Hotel across the corner or take a stroll through one of my favorite stores, Doodlet’s, directly across the street. Cafe Pasqual’s is located at 121 Don Gaspar. (505) 983-9340.
The Plaza Cafe - Located right in the main plaza of Santa Fe, the line for breakfast can be daunting but it moves quickly and it is worth sitting in the plaza to dine on the best huevos divorciados you can imagine. But don’t stop there, order up a stack of blue corn piñon pancakes, a homemade cinnamon roll and a side of the best bacon you have tasted for the table. Honestly, all so good you cannot order just one thing. If you are a pie lover, the coconut cream has a toasted coconut crust- I mean stop already. 54 Lincoln Avenue. (505) 982-1664.
Cowgirl Santa Fe -I spent so much time here when my kids are younger that we never miss this spot for some local flavor. While the back boasts a fun kids play area, there is always live music and a few ranchers who roll into town and belly up to the bar. The food is consistently great. Try the bar-b-que smoked out back, the frito pie or the amazing squash casserole for vegetarians. The famous baked potato ice cream sundae is about the cutest thing you have ever seen. 319 S Guadalupe St.(505) 982-2565.
Gabriels - This is outside the city limits just a short drive but worth it for great food and table side guacamole. If you have little one’s head out before sunset to watch all the prairie dogs playing on the mesa. This is a casual place perfect for large groups. 4 Banana Ln. (505) 455-7000.
La Casa Sena - This landmark restaurant has something for everyone. If you get there in time for lunch, beg for extra blue corn muffins and sit in the courtyard near the fountain. If you are looking for something really different, try dinner in the tavern where the waiters are former Broadway singers and intermittently perform for the diners. They take special requests and nothing beats Old Man River or Beggars at the Feast from Les Miserable by the entire staff. Don’t worry, little people in tow, they know a few Disney songs that the pianist is always happy to play. While this may sound cheesy to some, it is simply fun and when in Rome… 125 E. Palace Ave. (50) 988-9232.
The Shed - I would be roasted for not mentioning this all time favorite. While it is not my favorite because it can use more spice than I can handle, it is the favorite of my family. Not going to lie, the margaritas are dangerous! Not a good idea to have more than one at the high altitude but not to be missed. 113½ East Palace Avenue. (505) 982-9030.
Modern General - Ready for a cleanse yet? This is our go to for a healthy breakfast where the fresh pressed juices and avocado toast bring our bellies back to normal. This is also a small outpost store with the best books and home goods in town. Don’t miss this sensorial experience. 637 Cerrillos Rd. (505)930.5462
Rooftop Pizzeria - Don’t worry, they have green chilies for your pizza too. This is a great spot for watching the sunset on their back deck and sharing a gourmet pie. The pistachio crusted goat cheese with cherries is divine. Casual and always hits the spot. 60 East San Francisco St, STE 301. (505) 984-0008.
Pink Adobe and the Dragon Bar - A regular spot for the politicos, it is located across from the state capital. Such a fun atmosphere with comfort food. Best for dinner where the bar comes alive with live music. 406 Old Santa Fe Trail. (505) 983-7712.
If you can still walk from all the wining and dining, take the walk down Canyon Road. This is the art mecca of the West coast. Admittedly, there are so many galleries on this one street I am not sure I have been into all of them. As with anything, the artists tend to move from time to time to different galleries so it is worthwhile to visit as many as possible in order to discover new artists and rediscover ones that you genuinely love. Below are a few that you absolutely cannot miss. These are a few of the galleries I love best because they will take the time to educate you on the artists and show you things that they may not have enough space to display. So ask questions and peek into the stacks!
Meyer Gallery - A few of my all time favorite artists are represented in this established gallery. Don’t miss the work of William Hook, Brad Price, Andrei Kioresku or Francis Livingston just to name a few. This is a gallery that has something for everyone and the quality of the pieces is unparalleled. The gallery director is knowledgeable and will happily tell you all about the living artists as well as the Taos Artist Colony where it all began. 225 Canyon Rd Suite 15. (505) 983-1434.
Giacobbe Fritz Fine Art - A smaller gallery but wonderful in every regard. My latest crush, Ben Steele, is represented here and I am saving my pennies for one of his pieces. Don’t miss Mary Alayne Thomas, a locally raised artist whose tender pieces are the stuff of dreams. 702 Canyon Road. (505) 986-1156.
Nuart Gallery - This is an unparalleled gallery representing some of the best and most widely collected artists in the world. Two of my favorite pieces came from this gallery and before I leave this world I hope to have a Juan Kelly whose pieces have always reminded me of a cross between Narnia, The Life of Pi and a trip to Versaille. Don’t miss Erin Cone and Santiago Perez while staring into the eyes of an Alberto Galvez. Be prepared to be mesmerized. These pieces are not for the ordinary collector but rather extraordinary in every way. 670 Canyon Rd. (505) 988-3888.
If the art is overwhelming and you aren’t ready for any big purchases just yet, take a stroll through a couple of my favorite small shops.
Doodlet’s - I mentioned this small spot earlier as it is across from Cafe Pasquale. This has something for everyone and is part novelty, card, and book store. With books you never knew you needed and so many fun novelties at every turn, you will be thinking about this place for a few hours. Don’t miss the local folk art on the wall behind the counter or pick up piles of milagros for your flaming heart. Come prepared to purchase all the amazing stocking stuffers you are hustling to buy last minute because this is a one stop shop. 120 Don Gaspar at Water St. (505) 983-3711.
Suncountry Traders - Locally owned by a darling woman with long white hair for as long as I have been alive, this store is an education. She buys directly from the tribes and knows each artist personally. Zuni bead animals, fetishes, Kachina dolls and mountains of jewelry are organized by tribe. Ask questions, try on pieces and be prepared to walk away knowing more than when you arrived. This is the store that is really about art at its roots…the artist. 123 E Water St. (505) 982-0467.
Travelers Antique and Tribal Arts Market - This market takes place in the Devargas Mall Parking Lot Sunday’s only from 7am- noon. Don’t miss this whirl of color and local specialties. Ristras made from dandelions and dried chilies are here. 153 B Paseo De Peralta. (505) 989-7667.
Santa Fe Flea Market - The flea market of Santa Fe was quite possibly the biggest attraction when my kids were little. I spent hours strolling through booths, meeting local artists and snapping up paintings for a few dollars. When the tribe closed the original site by the opera house I saved lots of dollars but surprise….the new flea market has arrived and it is AH-MAZE-ING. While the prices are a little higher than they used to be, the goods are incredible. Looking for a good value on turquoise jewelry, do not miss this stop! 2904 Rufina Street. Call (760)727-8511 for hours.
Leslie Flynt - Located across from the Meyer Gallery, this sweet shop has locally grown lavender products, exquisite linens and the jewelry is very special. The Navajo bell jewelry is a special quality. It is so fun to learn the different styles of each tribe at the different shops. 225 Canyon Road. (888) 955-9901.
The Rugman of Santa Fe- Ercan, the owner, is adorable. Ok, my aunt has a crush on him. But he actually has an amazing collection of rugs. Not necessarily all regional rugs but many specimens that work in a myriad of spaces. He also carries piles of kilim rug pillow covers which are fun to flip through for a small rug fix. There are two locations. The first is at 628 Old Santa Fe Trail and the second 130 Lincoln Ave. (505) 988-2393.
Lucchese Boots - Located on the plaza, this is the spot for handmade boots. They usually have a master boot maker working in the window. If you want to walk out with a stellar pair of the real McCoys this is your stop. If you have time to wait, get measured for a custom pair before you ride out of town. 57 Old Santa Fe Trail. (505) 820-1883.
I spent many weeks trekking to Santa Fe with my little ones. Those summer and winter days are filled with some of my fondest memories. Many people don’t realize that Santa Fe has so much to offer the kiddos! Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do. With a little planning, your days will be a balance of activities for every age.
Horseback Riding at Bishops Lodge - This newly renovated lodge offers a trail ride that makes you feel like a real cowboy. You can pick the time and distance. Right outside the main square the lodge is situated in a beautiful spot. 1297 Bishops Lodge Road. (505) 819-0095.
The Children’s Museum - I have been to a ton of children’s museums but this one is so interactive for every age you won’t want to miss this stop on your trail. Both indoor and outdoor activities are available. 1050 Old Pecos Trail. (505) 989-8359.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks - A beautiful hike through slot canyons with obsidian in the soil. Located at the Pueblo de Cochiti, be sure to check online to make sure that there is not a closure for pueblo rituals. This hike is beautiful in every season. The obsidian that looks like garnets was called Apache tears. It is important not to take anything from this national landmark but it sure is tempting. BLM Road 1011, County Road 22, Cochiti Pueblo, NM 87072. (505) 331-6259.
Bandelier National Monuments - This is the famous cliff dwellings. Not to be missed, you can actually climb the ladders, sit inside the caves and see for yourself the art of the Native Americans who lived inside these dwellings where they climbed to escape threats. A small hike so I don’t recommend for those with strollers. 15 Entrance Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544. (505) 672-3861 x 517.
Climb Santa Fe - Still have a kid who did not get to climb enough? Head over to Climb Santa Fe to hone those rock climbing skills and release more energy. 3008 Cielo Ct. (505) 986-8944.
Taos Pueblo - Explore an active pueblo. Native Americans still live and work in this pueblo. Buy some fry bread and understand how they built these very old structures. 120 Veterans Highway
Taos, New Mexico 87571. (575) 758-1028.
Meow Wolf - Their website says it best! This place is “a combination of jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum and immersive art exhibit.” Be sure to check out their upcoming events and special performances. You can click here to view the calendar. 1352 Rufina Cir. (505) 395-6369.
Rancho De Las Golondrinas- THIS IS THE COOLEST place and so few people know about it. It is a living history museum…the Mount Vernon of the West. So special that they made an American Girl Doll, Josefina, from this very spot. Tons of activities for the kids from building a tiny pueblo from clay bricks to take home to dressing up as a Spanish colonist. Live animals and plenty of space to roam. Such a fun place to visit for several hours. 334 Los Pinos Road. (505) 471-2261.
Señor Murphy's Candy Store - Located in the plaza at the La Fonda Hotel. Ready to treat yourself and the kids? Stop in for the famous piñon brittle, pecan bueno and a family favorite bananas dipped in chocolate, rolled in almonds and frozen. Take a few boxes of the green chile or red chile brittle back to those left at home. This is one of the best treats in Santa Fe. 100 East San Francisco Street. 505-982-0461.
Ok adults, I didn’t forget you! Two of my favorite spas are in or near Santa Fe. After a long day of mountain biking on the miles of mountain trails, be sure to reserve a tub at the famous Ten Thousand Waves.
Ten Thousand Waves - This zen retreat is second to heaven. If you forget to reserve a private tub don’t worry, there is a female or male only tub and a communal tub. Bring your swimsuit. Arrive early to decompress in the meditation room, soak your feet while watching the coy or sit by the kiva fireplace and sip something special. This could easily be an all day affair if you play your cards right. I have never had a better massage than at Ten Thousand Waves. #truth The smells alone are worth the walk up the lantern lit trail. SO many offerings so be open to something new and try a clay or Thai massage. The best therapists reside inside these walls. Be sure to leave an offering to the Buddha when you arrive to make sure you are covered.
After you are fully relaxed, be sure to reserve a table at their restaurant Izanami. Sip on Sake while eating food that is better than Nobu. Yep, you read that right….it is better than Nobu. Be adventurous. Oh and they don’t mind if you waddle over in your robe - it’s Santa Fe so just go with the flow. Ten Thousand Waves is located at 21 Ten Thousand Waves Way. Call (505) 982-9304 to make your reservations today!
If you are interested in seeing the back country, stop in at Ojo Caliente. When my kids were little, it was a rustic lean to that housed natural springs of arsenic and iron just to name a few. There are several tubs with specific minerals overlooking rock ledges under the big blue sky. Whatever ails you, there is a tub with a remedy at this au natural spa. Located at 50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM 87549. (877) 977-8212.
Feel free to message me as I know I have missed so many of my favorite things on this list. Enjoy what we call “God’s Land”, you will leave changed.