Over Veteran's Day weekend I took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico! I have wanted to visit for a long time, and it was a perfect chance to meet up with some friends who moved to LA a few months ago. I'm sharing our itinerary- so next time you have a long weekend, I highly recommend following these tips and taking a trip to Santa Fe. In November, the air was chilly and crisp, the tallest peaks were barely dusted with snow, and there were lots of vibrant fall colors still on the trees.
We flew into Albuquerque late on Thursday night and drove our rental car to our VRBO near downtown Santa Fe. Your itinerary begins the next morning!
Wake up and stroll to breakfast near the plaza at Palacio Cafe. They have great New Mexican influenced breakfasts (think red and green chile) but also breakfast standards like eggs benedict and simple pancakes. After you're fed and caffeinated, drive an hour and fifteen minutes to Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keeffe had her home and studio. The drive gets prettier and prettier as you near the ranch.
If you plan your trip right, you can take a tour of O'Keeffe's home and studio. Unfortunately, we visited on a weekend when this tour was not offered, but I would go back to New Mexico just to visit Ghost Ranch again and see where O'Keeffe lived and worked. You should plan ahead and purchase tickets here. The two other museums on the property aren't spectacular, but the Museum of Paleontology has a few cool fossils and lots of information about how all the different layers of rock on the property formed. There are also a number of hikes that start near the visitor's center - we chose the Chimney Rock hike, a quick 3 mile out-and-back that offers spectacular views of the Piedra Lumbre basin.
After your hike (and on the way to your next destination), stop at the unassuming Mamacita's Pizzeria. The owner told us that it was voted second best pizza in all of New Mexico, and it was pretty darn good for a tiny spot in the middle of nowhere.
Now, make your way to Ojo Caliente. This is a beautiful resort and spa out in the desert with pools, saunas, a restaurant, cottages, and a hotel. With more time, I might have booked a massage or spa treatment, but for the afternoon it was nice to just spend time in all the pools. They have a lithia spring, an iron spring, a soda spring, and an arsenic spring. I didn't get any pictures of the pools, but the buildings and the grounds are all very lovely and tranquil.
Once you've turned into a prune, drive back to town and have dinner at Harry's Roadhouse, a favorite with locals.
Wake up early and head out on another hike for the morning. Nambe Lake is a 6.2 mile out and back trail that will get your heart pumping and ends at a beautiful mountain lake. After your hike, you'll spend the rest of the day exploring downtown Santa Fe.
First, refuel after your hike with lunch at Cafe Pasqual's. This was our favorite meal of the trip! We had delicious soup, a killer chicken sandwich, and mac n' cheese with chiles and spinach. After lunch, wander the Plaza which has cute shops, and tons of Native American vendors set up along the edges. If you are in the market for turquoise jewelry, fossils and minerals, or cowboy boots, you are in luck. The architecture is also fascinating and mostly adobe-inspired.
Be sure to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum before it closes at 5pm. I learned a lot about her life - her early art, her marriage, and her eventual move to New Mexico. The museum isn't huge but has a lot of good info and great examples of her different artistic phases.
Before you call it a night, get dinner La Choza. If you can't decide between the green and red chile, just go Christmas Style!
Spend your last morning at Meow Wolf. This is an old bowling alley that is now filled with an amazing interactive installation called 'The House of Eternal Return'. It was incredibly fun, and you can spend hours in this one big mystery/art piece. I don't want to say more about the installation- it might spoil the mystery, so you will just have to go and check it out yourself! (For GoT fans, note that the permanent space was secured in part by George R. R. Martin, who lives in the area.)
Have lunch at Maria's before you head back to the Albuquerque airport. They have great New Mexican food- sopaipillas and blue corn enchiladas and chile rellenos. Drive back along the scenic route through Madrid, NM on the Turquoise Trail. This is an adorable old ghost town that now has lots of art galleries, jewelry stores, and restaurants.
And that is the end of your trip... Farewell, New Mexico!
All images in this post belong to www.baytobaltic.com.