Vacation for Two in Santa Fe, NM Area
May 8, 2016 5:43 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are headed to Santa Fe for vacation the last week of August and are looking for lodging, outdoor activity, art, and food recomendations!

My wife and I are headed to Santa Fe for vacation the last week of August (headed into September). The latest question I could find for things to do was from 2014, so we're looking for updated recommendations. We are flying into Albuquerque and have 7 nights. Currently we are targeting Santa Fe and Taos. We like art, the outdoors, and good food. We would like to stay within walking distance of things where possible, but will have a car for transportation/day trips (i.e. out to Bandolier, Tent Rocks, pueblos, etc.). What are your favorite places to stay & eat? Favorite things to do? Any areas we are missing?
posted by sgo to Travel & Transportation around Santa Fe, NM (22 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu - hiking and horseback riding in the exact spots where Georgia O'Keeffe made her southwest paintings. I was just there yesterday, and along the ride our wrangler said things like "there's the juniper tree she painted," "there's the red hill", etc, and named the actual paintings [he was more detailed and articulate than that, but that's the general idea].
posted by ellenaim at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

O'Keefe's home in Abiquiu is a must-see.
posted by brujita at 6:26 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Best restaurants are:

Santa Fe

The Pantry - New Mexican, there will be a wait.
Tia Sophia's - New Mexican (breakfast, lunch)
Jambo Cafe -North African/Caribbean
Clafouti - Excellent French bakery
Roha - Ethiopian, lunch or early dinner (in a mall)
Pho Kim - Vietnamese, unpretentious, run by a family. The Pho is outstanding, the service not.
Paper Dosa - Yum

High-priced and riding-on-their-reputation-at-this-point (avoid):
The Compound


The Taos Diner (2 locations, I prefer the north one, best breakfast burrito in the state)

Okeefe's home is mentioned in a previous answer. Not necessarily easy to access.

Feel free to MeMail me with questions.
posted by falsedmitri at 6:47 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

How could I forget Santa Fe's latest indescribable attraction!? Meow Wolf!!

Read more about Meow Wolf here, here, and here!
posted by ellenaim at 6:56 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

An easy (2 miles one way, ~1000 ft altitude made good) and beautiful hike is the Williams Lake trail. At that time of year, you will need to get out there and back early because of the storms.
posted by falsedmitri at 7:14 PM on May 8, 2016

Best answer: The Love Apple in Taos is great! Get reservations and take cash as they don't take cards. Worth it. We stayed at La Posada de Taos and loved it there. Amazing breakfasts there.

Santa Fe: The Old Santa Fe Inn is about a 3 block walk from town, comfortable and good breakfasts, free parking and really reasonable rates.
We loved the Museum of Contemporary Arts. There's a shuttle to the top of Canyon Drive and it's fun to walk down the hill, stopping in to the dizzying array of galleries.

For a wonderful contemporary gallery, Hand Artes Gallery in Truchas is worth the stop.

If you have any interest in quirky New Mexico, try to see the Tinkertown Museum outside of Albuquerque. Madrid is a funky little town on the Turquoise Trail that we enjoyed.

A short side-trip from Taos to Los Alamos is stunning.

If you're staying in Albuquerque at all, consider the Hotel Andaluz. The art in the lobby is worth the price of admission. For a weird and terrific steak dinner, try Vernon's Speakeasy
posted by lois1950 at 7:46 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm in Taos now!

We've had a pretty laid-back week, but I love taking 64 (just north of Taos) over the Rio Grande Gorge. The bridge is scary-high over the river (I white-knuckled it the whole way over) and you can walk and look down down down. If you drive out a little further, you can see some very cool looking earth houses on the same road.

If you're at all a fan of DH Lawrence, the DH Lawrence Ranch is very neat and free to walk through, though hours are limited. You can wander right into the cabin where he lived with Frieda and then go sit underneath the enormous ponderosa that inspired Georgia O'Keefe's painting (The Lawrence Tree). Gorgeous view of the valley.
posted by mochapickle at 9:03 PM on May 8, 2016

Falsedmitri, not easy but worth it!
posted by brujita at 9:05 PM on May 8, 2016

Also have heard good things about Orlando's in Taos but didn't make it there this time.
posted by mochapickle at 9:06 PM on May 8, 2016

Best answer: Stoneweaver is right. You arrive a week after Indian Market which is the height of our tourist season. It only gets busier.

Drive up to Santa Fe on the Turquoise Trail. The Plaza is the center of historic Santa Fe and also the most touristy. The Palace of the Governors is worth a visit (along with the Northern New Mexico tribal members who can sell under the portal). Nearby is the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Georgia O'Keeffe Gallery , La Fonda (an original Harvey House) , the Loretto Chapel (with its miracle staircase), the Lensic and St. Francis Cathedral . Friday night on Canyon Road usually has lots of art openings. You can visit the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Santa Fe Canyon Preserve trail (.pdf) nearby.

And… MeowWolf (mefi).

If you like to hike, I highly recommend the local Sierra Club's Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area (7th ed). The Pecos Wilderness Area is my favorite. There are also plenty of trails on the Ski Basin road.

Aug - Sept is monsoon season. Afternoon thunderstorms (lots o' lightning, hail) are not uncommon. Hike with plenty of water and rain gear.
posted by jabo at 11:20 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ten Thousand Waves! Go for a soak, at the very least.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:20 AM on May 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Also, you must, must, MUST go to Maison Faurie Antiquities. It's the most wonderful thing in Taos!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:24 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Taos Inn is adorabe but may be overpriced. Highly recommend Bandelier/Frijoles Canyon outside Santa Fe, and in Taos, you can hike to the convergence of the Rio Grande and the Red River. I love the gorge, and you can drive down into it (last time I was there there were some old cars that had driven INTO it. Oops!). If you like weird shit you might also want to check out the Earthships. I also really love a day drive around the Enchanted Circle
posted by Brittanie at 3:05 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For those of you saying that the last week of August is crazy busy, I'm talking about Aug 27-Sept 3. We were thinking the week after, but chose that one because we thought the Festivals in Santa Fe would make things crazy there. Should we reconsider dates?
posted by sgo at 4:29 AM on May 9, 2016

Response by poster: Might the week of Sept 10-17 be better?
posted by sgo at 6:27 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In Santa Fe I like Maria's. It's more of a local place in a very old house. GREAT tequlias. And for green chile cheeseburgers, the Bite.

Even if you're not religious consider going up to Sanctuario de Chimayo. It's lovely and the drive through the Espanola valley is wonderful. Do partake of the holy dirt...

If you're going to take at least a whole day consider the Bisti Badlands near Farmington. It looks like the moon - never seen anything else like it.

Tent Rocks is beautiful as well, but know that it's HOT, and you'll need to bring a lot of water. The hike was strenuous for me, but I'm not a hiker.
posted by answergrape at 8:23 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Last time we went to Santa Fe, my boyfriend and I did the Puye Cliff Dwellings tour and really enjoyed it. It was only us, another couple, and the tour guide, and it was really cool and informative. It's in Espanola, about a half hour drive north of Santa Fe.

And I love love love El Parasol (not fancy at all, but I'm not sure what you're looking for). I want to go back to Santa Fe just to gorge myself on their taco
posted by jabes at 8:37 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have had really good luck with VRBO in the area surrounding Taos. If you spend your time in the thick of things in Santa Fe, you might like a change of pace and stay a couple days in Arroyo Seco or Arroyo Hondo outside of Taos on the road to the ski valley. arrroyo seco is a tiny funky town with a few shops and artists, great views, delicious ice cream and yummy tamales. Some great homes for rent in Arroyo Hondo. Easy car access to town or the gorge from either place. We ate at Sabroso and enjoyed it - it would also be a great place for drinks on a patio.

There are natural hot springs you can hike to in the gorge if you are inclined. Some of them have pretty colorful characters that are there most of the time.
posted by domino at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2016

Best answer: When you go to Bandolier, you have to take a shuttle into the park (unless you fit the list here) that you pick up in White Rock, NM. It's nice to get a ride into the park, because you can enjoy the scenery a bit more than when you're the driver. In White Rock, there is the White Rock Overlook which has a gorgeous view of the Rio Grande and is worth a quick drive over to from the shuttle parking lot. There is also a hike [warning: PDF] there that's supposed to be nice, but it is very steep and I haven't tried it because of vertigo issues.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 10:55 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fiesta is the first weekend of September. There will be parades, a craft fair on the Plaza and the burning of Old Man Gloom on the 2nd. It's a great opportunity to experience the cultural heritage but it will also mean more crowds. I think it stays busy here into October but there are fewer big events.
posted by jabo at 11:21 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

And I'll add my 2 cents on restaurant suggestions… Cafe Fina is located North on I-25 at the Clines Corner exit and is great for bfast and lunch. Harry's is nearby on the feeder road and is very popular. And if you head up to Chama, my friend Paul runs the Three Ravens Coffee House in Tierra Amarilla right next door to the courthouse. Ask him about his drums.
posted by jabo at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2016

As mentioned above, you will need to use the shuttle service to Bandelier from White Rock; there really isn't enough parking at Bandelier due to flood damage.

When you arrive in White Rock, you should have breakfast or lunch at pig+fig bakery and cafe. MeMail me and I can meet you there :)
posted by ellenaim at 11:44 AM on May 11, 2016

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