Sometimes you just need to get away. Not that my life is really all that stressful, but it’s nice to do things that aren’t your ordinary, to spice things up a little (I’m so punny…. because red chile).
Nathaniel and I went to Santa Fe for three nights and didn’t worry about anything. We had no schedule, didn’t hurry to do anything, and had a great time. If you’re looking for a few recommendations, take a peek☺️
We started by spending a night in Albuquerque with my uncle and visiting with him for a few hours before heading to Santa Fe. We decided to take Highway 14, the Turquoise Trail, rather than the interstate. It took maybe 40 minutes longer, but was a much prettier drive. We went through an old town called Madrid, which has a lot of cute shops and galleries along its main street (which is Highway 14). We were hoping it would be a bit less expensive than Santa Fe for art/jewelry, but was actually quite comparable. One fun place to visit, though, is Shugarman’s Little Chocolate Shop. They’ve got a ton of delicious chocolate with unique flavors, and you can sample everything! They charge by weight so you can get as much or as little as you want. We got dark chocolate with pecans, maple and sea salt, and we got a red chile turtle. I highly recommend stopping here.
Now we all know Santa Fe is full of art and culture, but a weirder, newer thing to do is Meow Wolf! This is an immersive art experience, and currently there is a bit of a mystery to solve, too, if you’re so inclined. We tried our best to solve the mystery, but got sidetracked with all the other crazy stuff. It’s difficult to describe what this place truly is, but it’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland because of the psychedelic feel. Here are a few pictures, but really, the don’t do it justice. Being in there and touching and interacting with the art is worth visiting.
I also recommend wandering through the churches near the plaza. We went to Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and there was actually a wedding finishing up as we were approaching and the bells were going crazy! It was great! We got to wander in, and the light was perfect so that the stained glass was making beautiful shadows on the floor. Definitely go to the Loretto Chapel. There is a huge spiral staircase that doesn’t really have any conventional, modern supports. I’m sure an engineer could explain how it stands, but it’s more fun to say it’s a miracle, I guess. Either way it’s gorgeous. I wish we were allowed to stand on it, but instead I settled for a picture of me beside it.
We did plenty of walking while on our little trip, but I decided to go for a couple short runs. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately because I was sick for half of September, then I broke my tailbone in early October. My first run since that injury was along Alameda in Santa Fe, and it was pain-free! Woohoo! This street was nice because it had a big sidewalk and was not too busy. I think there might also be a creek that sometimes runs along that road, but it was dry while we were in town.
If you’re looking to grab a drink, the Santa Fe Brewing Company is just a few miles from the plaza/downtown area, and has some silly names for it’s beers, like the State Pen Porter, because it’s pretty close to a prison.
Otherwise, if you’re looking to grab a beer, go to the Draft Station. They have lots of local beer on tap, and they have a rooftop patio that overlooks the plaza. You can watch the locals circle around the square in their cars. Apparently cruising around town with no real destination is a thing in Santa Fe.
We stayed at the Hotel St. Francis (not cheap, but also not CRAZY expensive - plus AirBNB split our payments up so it made it easier to pay), and they have a little bar called Secreto Lounge. While very dark, they have very interesting cocktails. I got a pineapple drink with hints of cinnamon and cardamom, and Nathaniel got a smoked sage margarita. Another night, we also hit the Coyote Cantina for drinks before dinner downstairs at the Coyote Cafe. The Cantina is MUCH more affordable than the restaurant, but the drinks didn’t wow us as much as Secreto.
We splurged the first night and went to the Coyote Cafe. We split a bottle of Garnacha wine, and the food was incredible. I had the Osso Bucco, and would get it again in a heartbeat.
We also went to El Farol, which is on the same street as a lot of the galleries near the plaza. The paella and Spanish inspired tapas were delicious, but what really stole the show for us was the Chicharones! Perfectly fried pork belly that puts everything else I’ve ever eaten in my life to shame. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but have you ever had this? You have to try it. For dessert we had chocolate olive oil cake with peanut butter honeycomb. This was a winner, too. That whole dinner was great. There was even a live jazz trio!
When we go to Santa Fe, we always try to hit Cafe Pasquale’s for brunch. We really like their red chile, and their brunch is quite fun! Be warned that you could wait a LONG time to get a table, especially on a weekend. We also love going to Maria’s. Their blue corn enchiladas and red chile are delicious. They also have an extensive margarita menu. While only about a mile from downtown, we decided to Lyft to and from Maria’s.
We tried a couple new restaurants thanks to recommendations from my sister. For breakfast one morning, we had savory crepes from the French Pastry Shop. This place was cute and we didn’t have to wait! Though, I kind of wish we’d had more red chile to smother the crepe in 😉 We also went to The Shed. Practically every dish comes with posole and garlic bread. I’d definitely go back.
If you’re looking for coffee, check out Iconik. It’s also a book store, so you won’t be bored while they’re preparing your drink. And try the Horchata Latte! It was delicious!
Another great place to try some coffee is Ecco, plus they also have some really interesting flavors of gelato! I tried Earl Grey, Oreo creme and avocado. Plus, if you go here, you can get an affogato, coffee AND ice cream together. I got chocolate and peppermint gelato in mine 😋
As far as shopping goes, it’s easy to spend a pretty penny in Santa Fe. There is no shortage of art or jewelry, plus a lot of the work is done by local artists. I suggest just shopping around, wandering slowly. If something catches your eye, you can try it on - just don’t be shocked if it costs more than you’re willing to spend. I found a gorgeous opal ring, only to realize it was about six times as expensive as I was ready to spend. Definitely check out the blankets at the Palace of the Governors, and go back each day you can. You’ll see different people every day. I’m so glad we stopped by our last morning there, because I had been wanting a bracelet, but everything was too expensive and not quite right. On the last day, a new artist was there, and his bracelets were EXACTLY what I was looking for, and they were a reasonable price. I also got a pair of turquoise stud earrings, that are rough and asymmetrical. They’re very simple, and they’re beautiful because the rocks are beautiful.
A few other fun shops we hit were the Christmas Shop (we like to get ornaments from each place we visit), the Chile Shop near our hotel (because we wanted a ristra for our front door), and Señor Murphy Candymaker under La Fonda because Nathaniel NEEDED piñon candy. We also hit Jackalope which is a couple miles from downtown. They’ve got lots of pots, blankets, rugs, jewelry and other art. There were even glass blowers making things while we were shopping!
This is the longest we’ve ever been to Santa Fe. Usually we’re just passing through for one night tops, so it was nice to have a few days and be able to experience more things at a leisurely pace.