TRIP LENGTH: 4 Days
WHERE WE STAYED:
Las Palomas Hotel
460 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501
This hotel had the Santa Fe style that I was expecting to see in New Mexico. As soon as we drove up to the hotel check-in, I could see red chilies hanging in the windows and New Mexican decorations leading to the front door. Inside, the lobby was painted with warm colors, and like every promising hotel, they had chocolate chip cookies (kept warm in a slow cooker)!
When we got to the room, it was just beautiful! It had two rooms, each with a large queen sized bed (perfect for sharing) as well as their own private en-suite, a fully stocked kitchen, and a living room area. For four people, this was more than enough space to feel like a local New Mexican for a few days.
There are two things in particular that I feel made this stay especially wonderful. First, the complimentary continental breakfast in the morning is very underrated . We were pleasantly surprised to find out that breakfast at Las Palomas meant made-to-order omelets, waffles, and lattes as well as freshly made muffins, cereal, toast, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, and granola. I always love it when I can just wake up and not have to worry about finding a place to eat breakfast, and this breakfast does not disappoint. Secondly, being at a hotel that is located relatively close to the Santa Fe Plaza was a great choice. Although it might be a little more expensive, it gave us the freedom to split up if need be and come back to the hotel to rest, relax, or regroup. It also made it much easier because we didn’t need to find or pay for parking while at the plaza.
WHAT WE DID:
1. Visit El Malpaias National Monument – Natural Arch
(On the drive from Albuquerque Airport to Santa Fe)
Ever met an Alpaca? Be sure to Visit Bob and Louise at the Blue Mesa Alpaca Farm which is only located only 15 miles from Santa Fe Plaza. They offer tours on the weekend, but if you’re only able to come on the weekend, don’t fret, just shoot them an email giving them a heads up on when you’ll be coming. They are both so incredibly welcoming and friendly and gave us a tour of their farm. They let us feed the alpacas, see the horses, and even play with their cat Garfield! We got to take pictures with the alpacas, and even got to see a new baby alpaca who was just two days old. Bob and Louise have a alpaca store where we bought some amazingly warm alpaca fur socks.
3. Drive to the Kasha Katuwe Tent Rock Monument
The Kasha Katuwe tent rocks are located just a half hour off the I-25 freeway, (about an hour west of the Santa Fe plaza) and this rock formation is again another beautiful place to visit. It’s best to visit the tents in the morning or early afternoon (we learned that the hard way) so that it gives you enough time to see the whole monument. We arrived at around 5:00 thinking that we had a good two hours before the park closed, but boy were we wrong. By the time it was 5:45, the rangers began closing up the trails. So if you do decide to come and visit these amazing cone-shaped rock formations, be sure to bring lots of water, sunscreen, and a snack (there’s no food establishments on the reservation)! If you are healthy and want to hike, then the Slot Canyon Trail is for you. If you would just like to see the spectacular views, then continue driving up to the Veterans’ Memorial Scenic Overlook. For more information check out the US Bureau of Land Management Trail Guide here.
4. Shop at the Santa Fe Plaza
E San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501The Santa Fe Plaza is the heart of downtown, where locals and tourist gather alike to shop, eat, dance, and explore. The plaza often hosts live music, festivals, and art shows throughout the year. If you happen to come during the summer months, the Santa Fe Bandstand brings the plaza to life with music and dancing. Every day underneath the Palace of the Governors at the north side of the plaza, Native American vendors sell their handmade jewelry, pottery, and other artisan items. It’s a great place to directly meet the jewelers themselves and see their hardwork. Personally, I love when I am able to meet the jeweler, as it brings a lot more meaning to the pieces that I buy.
5. Shop at the Tesuque Flea Market
15 Flea Market Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87506Located only 10 minutes from the Santa Fe Plaza, the Tesuque Flea market is held every Friday, and Saturday outdoors on the Tesuque Indian Reservation. There were over 50 local artisans selling vintage jewelry, rugs, boots, and food. We were pleasantly surprised to find so many different pieces of beautiful sterling silver and turquoise jewelry!
6. Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Georgia O’Keefe is synonymous with New Mexico, and the museum exhibits her beautiful watercolor and oil paintings as well as photography from her husband, Alfred Stieglitz. O’Keefe lived in the town of Abiquiu, and hen moved to Santa Fe in her later years.
WHERE WE ATE:
The Shed (New Mexican)
113 1/2 E Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501 The Shed was one of the few places that my grandma requested that we eat. This local restaurant has been around since 1953 and there’s no question why they are still in business. We loved it so much, we ended up eating here twice…One of their most popular dishes is the blue corn enchiladas smothered “Christmas style” (aka in both their red and green chile sauces). Now don’t get me wrong, they are both tasty, but the green chile sauce hands down was one of the best that I had in Santa Fe. If you haven’t noticed yet, green chiles are all the rage here. My sister ordered a vegetarian garden burger with green chiles on top and I will never look at veggie burgers the same ever again. Just put green chiles on anything and it makes it that much better. Lastly, I absolutely loved the carne adovada which is pork that is slow cooked in their red chile sauce. Just a heads up, this dish is smothered in their red sauce which is spicy and very smoky. Reservations are very highly recommended (especially for dinner).
Jambo Cafe (African)
2010 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505
This African restaurant isn’t located in the plaza, but it’s just a ten minute drive away. Let me tell you, this was one of the best restaurants that we ate at in all of Santa Fe. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s in a shopping plaza, this hidden joint has amazing food. We wanted to try a bunch of things, so the combination plate was a great choice. It came with the goat stew, chicken curry, lentils, rice, and roti (African bread). We also tried the jerk chicken salad, and tiger shrimp. With all of that deliciously savory food, you might want something a little sweet, so be sure to try the hibiscus iced tea!
Blue Corn Cafe (Drinks)
133 Water St. Santa Fe, NM 87501Blue Corn Cafe is located in the Santa Fe Plaza on the second floor. The manager at the hotel had recommended that we go for drinks (rather than food) and I was glad that she did. The atmosphere of the Blue Corn Cafe is very casual and laid back. They have a variety of beers on tap, including a few that they brew in house. I highly recommend coming here for a beer, and relaxing on their outdoor patio (a perfect escape the summer heat).
Cafe Pasqual’s (Mexican)
121 Don Gaspard Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501Cafe Pasqual’s is located just next to the Santa Fe Plaza. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you plan to go for dinner, I highly recommend making reservations ahead of time. At lunchtime, expect a wait between half an hour to an hour. We tried the chili rellenos, green chile jack tamales, and a chicken salad. I’d definitely say that the food has a little twist compared to authentic Mexican (“fancy” as my mom puts it) but the tamales were really really good.
Santa Fe Bite (New Mexican)
311 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501
This awesome diner joint is a hidden gem in Garrett’s Desert Inn on the Old Santa Fe Trail. There’s no question why Santa Fe Bite is famous for their green chile cheeseburger. With just the right amount of heat (without over powering the flavor of the chiles themselves) you won’t be guzzling your beer just to cool down your mouth every bite. The best part is that you can order pretty much any burger or sandwich with their green chiles on top and let me tell you, it just takes the sandwich to a whole new level. I fell in love with the green chiles in New Mexico, and just had to soak it all in one last time before returning home.