By Roberta B. Turner
Santa Fe is a magical and colorful city to visit and one we have visited many times. And we are not alone. Visitors to this city visit an average of three times during their lifetimes. Part of the reason for the frequency of visits is due to the legendary trading center of Native American arts, crafts, jewelry and numerous artists who are featured in the many diverse and exciting art galleries. Santa Fe ranks as the country’s third largest art market.
Santa Fe embodies a rich history and melds the Anglo, Hispanic and Native American cultures whose influences are everywhere, including the architecture, the art, the food and the music. It is popularly known as the “City Different” and is seated at an elevation of 7,000 feet. Its dramatic height provides 320 sunny days a year. The history and culture of Santa Fe will fascinate and inspire you.
Santa Fe is home to the famous Santa Fe Opera, in addition to the Santa Fe Chamber Music and the Santa Fe Playhouse. There are over fifteen museums to visit including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
You can enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, white water rafting, fly fishing and spectacular scenery at the national parks. During the winter season you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and horse and carriage rides.
Food lovers will be amazed at the more than 200 restaurant choices ranging from local New Mexican flavors to Southwestern cuisine to International cuisine. Some of our favorites include the legendary Palace Restaurant and Saloon, which is a local hot spot located right off the main plaza. The Victorian décor merges with the Spanish Colonial aesthetic of New Mexico in the wild west of the 1850s to provide a distinct atmosphere for dining. The saloon, with its red, flocked velvet wallpaper recalls the era of the gambling halls and saloons of yesteryear.
Geronimo on Canyon Road is both warm and inviting. The elegant “Borrego House” was built by Geronimo Lopez in 1756. Thick adobe walls, kiva fireplaces and wood beams surround. Geronimo is the recipient of AAA Four Diamond and Mobil/Forbes 4 Star Awards.
La Casa Sena is located in downtown Santa Fe, in the historic Sena Plaza. The menu features New American West cuisine infused with fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. La Casa Sena has been one of Santa Fe’s finest and most popular restaurants for over 28 years. The fun part of your first trip to this restaurant is when La Casa Sena’s singing wait staff entertain you nightly with the best of Broadway, Jazz and much more. It is first class entertainment right at your table.
The accommodations offered are equally diverse and you can choose from an array of resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, ranches, campgrounds and RV parks.
On our last visit to Santa Fe we stayed at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, located on six historically rich acres in the downtown area. This resort combines the upscale amenities of a modern resort with authentic adobe architecture. From the property’s roots as an 1880s brick mansion to its 1930s expansion, this historic Santa Fe resort has been transformed into one of the Southwest’s most unique destinations.
In 1882, a prosperous merchant named Abraham Staab built the three story brick mansion that now belongs to La Posada. Abraham and his wife, Julia, entertained Santa Fe society in the grand residence. Legend has it that Julia loved her home so much that she has never left it. In recent years, her alleged spirit has been the subject of many ghost tours and an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. The Staab House stands today in the form of a bar, where guests of La Posada enjoy cocktails and light Southwestern fare. Some have even reported meeting the grand lady and I can say I am one of them.
Another resort we have always enjoyed in Santa Fe is Bishop’s Lodge Ranch, Resort, Hotel & Spa. This is a time-honored classic among Santa Fe Hotels and Resorts. This upscale ranch lodging is located on 450 acres of scenic trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. The Pinon trees on the mountains provide the most wonderful scent. The first Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Baptiste Lamy, was drawn to the natural and tranquil beauty of the Tesuque Valley where he established La Villa Pintoresca, his private retreat and chapel. As an integral part of Santa Fe’s history, Bishop’s Lodge is dedicated to preserving Archbishop Lamy’s history. The accommodations are excellent, the dining amazing and the ranch and horseback riding simply breathtaking. We have stayed at Bishop’s Lodge several times and look forward to a return visit. It is a truly unique experience as you feel you are a true guest in someone’s home.
There are many beautiful hotels and resorts in Santa Fe and most of them offer incredible dining options in addition to the local restaurants. Unique hotels to consider and enjoy during your stay in Santa Fe include Inn and Spa at Loretto, Inn of the Five Graces, La Fonda, and Inn of the Governors.
We highly recommend a trip to Santa Fe and its neighboring city of Taos. Taos is home to the country’s oldest pueblo community, and the newest national monument. Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The multi-storied adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years. Approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time.
Taos is well known for some of the best hiking, snow sports, art, and cultural events and out-of-this-world vistas. The most direct route to Taos is 73 miles north of Santa Fe with an estimated drive time of 1 hour 21 minutes.