We just returned from a fun extended weekend in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you have never been to this part of the country, I highly recommend the trip. Before heading to this unique location full of jaw dropping natural beauty, fascinating culture and great art, there are a few things to know. First, and foremost, is that New Mexico is in the USA. I was very surprised to learn that some folks think it is part of Mexico! Secondly, Santa Fe has an extremely small airport. I might say “an unimaginably small airport for a city!” sized airport. You feel like you are stepping back in time with only one gate, no mechanical baggage claim, only one ticket counter – you get the picture. If this airport doesn’t work with your schedule, you can also fly in to Albequerque and drive about an hour to Santa Fe.
As soon as you arrive, you will see adobe virtually EVERYWHERE. It is really quite pretty and unique to this part of the country, and almost all the buildings are made of it.
Culturally, there is a strong influence from four cultures throughout the region: Pueblo Indians, Spanish colonials, Mexican, and Anglo. You can feel it all around you.
Art is huge here. You will see it all around you: in the architecture, sculptures everywhere you look, and in the 400 galleries and 16 museums. Santa Fe is the third largest art market behind NYC and San Francisco. Many of the galleries are located along Canyon Road. This is a fantastic spot to spend time strolling around and in the many art studios/shops. The street itself is really pretty and also has some nice places to stop in for a bite or drink.
At 7000 feet elevation, Santa Fe is the highest state capitol in the country. Although it isn’t known for its altitude, Santa Fe is even higher than Denver. This elevation combined with the dry desert air can cause some physical issues that you need to be prepared for. You definitely need to drink a lot of water and you might become more easily fatigued. (Margaritas do not count!). Beware of the “two for one drink effect”! You buy one drink, but you feel like you had two drinks…
Monsoon season runs from July through October. During those months you are likely to have a passing storm in the late afternoon or evening. These storms can have very heavy rain and lightning. But even so, Santa Fe enjoys 330 days of sunshine and temperate weather. Be aware that temps drop about twenty degrees when the sun goes down, so layered clothing is important!
Santa Fe city has plenty to offer in the way of restaurants, live music, art, history, culture and architecture, but you can also find some wonderful outdoor diversions just a short distance away. We went to Bandelier National Monument about 45 minutes outside of the city. This is an absolutely stunning place to hike, and it has some amazing architectural ruins from the Pueblo people. The main loop of the hike is just over one mile and not every strenuous at all, but there are several optional “add on” loops to make it more challenging. Bring lots of water and if it is summer, it will be warmer here than in the city, so shorts are perfect!
Tent Rocks are also only about 45 minutes outside of the city and that is another great place to hike. We heard that the terrain is a little higher and more challenging than Bandelier, so if you are vertically challenged that might not be the spot for you!
The mountains and canyons around here are breathtaking. We stayed four nights and filled every day. Next time, I think Taos would be a good add-on.
I will fill you in on some of our favorite sights as well as local cuisine in my next articles. Stay tuned!