Santa Fe vacation
February 18, 2018 8:52 PM   Subscribe

Based on your responses to this question I think we've decided on Santa Fe. There's still more work for you to do, though.

If you were planning a trip to Santa Fe in August or September, what all would be on that trip? Where would you fly into (assuming a starting point of New Orleans)? What are the absolute can't-miss parts of the city and / or surrounding areas? Assume that we're going on something like a week's vacation and are excited to drive to, from, near, around, and through whatever's worth seeing.
posted by komara to Travel & Transportation around Santa Fe, NM (23 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I'd recommend a side trip to Taos!
posted by flyingfork at 9:09 PM on February 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn’t like Taos. I did like Acoma Pueblo.
posted by vunder at 9:58 PM on February 18, 2018

Oh gosh the Kakawa Chocolate House is one of my favorite places in the country. People joke about being high on chocolate but... It's incredible and actually hugely historically enlightening as you find out very quickly why cacao was a sacred food and chocolate was once drunk like coffee.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:29 PM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Acoma is incredible and Taos is also a nice day trip. Abiquiú and Ghost Ranch are also beautiful.

Do Not Miss - Meow Wolf. I can’t describe it but it’s absolutely amazing and worth a visit.

Fly into Albuquerque and you can rent a car and drive up or catch a RailRunner train if you don’t plan on driving.
posted by forkisbetter at 10:57 PM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Flying into Albuquerque is probably the most affordable option, though there are flights into Santa Fe, but they will probably involve a connection (in Dallas or Denver?) and they will definitely be pricier. Albuquerque + rental car is the way to go.

Have some classic New Mexican fare at The Shed in the Santa Fe Plaza. If you can't decide between the red sauce and the green sauce - order it "Christmas" style (you get red and green).

A drive up to Las Vegas (New Mexico) would also be a nice excursion. The Plaza Hotel (a location in the film "No Country for Old Men") is worth a look or a stay. And a meal at Charlie's Spic and Span would be nice and local.

Just outside Las Vegas, in the barely marked town of Montezuma, you'll find the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West. If campus tours are available, you'll want to take a look at the restored "castle" - a beautifully salvaged relic from another era. There are also hot springs nearby.
posted by tmharris65 at 2:43 AM on February 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, some events to know about:

Mid-August is Indian Market.

At the end of August is the burning of Zozobra.

Beginning of September is Fiesta.

These events are definitely something to plan around -- either to ensure that you're there or that your dates don't coincide, depending on your interests. It may be harder to get hotels for some of these dates, and they may be more expensive than usual, particularly for the week of the Market, which is huge. It's a fairly small town, so the big influx for the Market means restaurants and the Plaza (and the parking lot of Trader Joe's, oh my god) can get very crowded, and parking can be rough. But there's an opportunity to see and buy amazing art, and it's certainly an experience! Just a very busy experience. Fiesta and Zozobra don't have quite such an international tourist presence, but there are still lots of special events and things get busy; hours and availability of other attractions you want to see may be affected, so it's good to plan around.

Depending on the timing and the weather, you may be there to see the aspens change up in the ski basin, which is a beautiful golden sight. You don't even need to hike to get to Aspen Vista, you can just drive straight up the ski basin road. It's worth the trip. Ten Thousand Waves is on that same road and also worth the trip; you can get a daypass and soak and chill for as long as you like.

August/September is green chile season, so leave some space in your car for some chile, because you will definitely want to take some home. You can find roasters in almost every parking lot, and it smells amazing.
posted by halation at 5:02 AM on February 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you drive to/from Albuquerque, make one of the trips on the Turquoise Trail.

A visit to the Los Alamos museum and Bandolier National Monument is also worthwhile.

Taos Pueblo is great to visit (Taos itself has gotten way too crowded and commercial) but if you go on a feast day leave your cameras in your car.

I second everything else everyone has recommended.
posted by marguerite at 6:07 AM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Check out more recent information but we enjoyed our side trip to see the Chimayo weavers many years ago.
posted by Botanizer at 6:19 AM on February 19, 2018

The Puye cliff dwellings are a really amazing side-trip, and one that is generally not over-run by tourists. The view from the cliffs is gorgeous. It's on 30 just south of the Santa Clara Pueblo.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:29 AM on February 19, 2018

Downtown Santa Fe has a lot of great historic buildings, museums and galleries, but is also very touristy. If you find yourself downtown and in need of really good coffee and a breather, Iconik Coffee is attached/next to a nice bookstore.

Seconding Kakawa Chocolate House. It haunts my dreams.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 6:42 AM on February 19, 2018

Oh, and, if you decide to fly into ABQ and drive up to Santa Fe, I highly recommend foregoing I-25, and, instead, driving highway 14 up to SF.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:49 AM on February 19, 2018

A smothered breakfast burrito is one of the really classic things to eat in Mew Mexico and Tia Sophia’s does it the best. It is less touristy than The Shed and has the best green chile.

Another breakfast spot I really love is Chocolate Maven, really great coffee and the best waffle I’ve ever had.

I really like La Choza for dinner. This is a real locals spot.

If you get a little burned out on the classic fare, I’ve also eaten really really well at Paper Dosa.

You should definitely do Meow Wolf. There is also an almost limitless amount of hiking to do around there. One of the most memorable ones we’ve done is a trip to Tent Rocks. Have fun!
posted by cakelite at 7:29 AM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I got good advice here a while back.

Highlights: The Sante Fe Opera, hiking Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch (bring water!), El Santuario de Chimayo on the way to Taos, driving from Los Alamos to Jemez Falls (through the really scenic Valles Caldera), Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Los Alamos and Taos were fine.

If you are into photography, there are a lot of great galleries in Sante Fe, even if you don't have $5,000 for an Ansel Adams print. If you are into computers, check out STARTUP museum in Albuquerque.
posted by starman at 7:47 AM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm really a fan of Tomasita's. (This may be a function of tolerance for spicy food and affection for green chile in particular.)
posted by sourcequench at 9:34 AM on February 19, 2018

The closest major airport is in Albuquerque. If you arrive early enough, you can take I-40 East to Hwy 14, drive up along the backside of the Sandia Mt.s and stop in Madrid for a burger at the Mine Shaft Tavern. I agree you should consider planning for Indian Market and Fiesta. That's when things are busy here.

Apart from Meow Wolf, most of the tourist spots in town are centered on the Plaza and nearby areas like Museum Hill and Canyon Rd. It's a short drive up to the Ski Area. If you are going outside of town, you'll probably want to make a day of it.

Really, all of the suggestions posted here and on the other thread are fun to visit. And there is no shortage of spectacular views. My favorite is watching the sunset.
posted by jabo at 9:51 AM on February 19, 2018

Take a side trip to Madrid, a former mining "ghost" town turned hippie/tourist colony - and go to the museum. Extremely quirky, fun, unusual.
posted by Miko at 10:02 AM on February 19, 2018

If you have a car, I really recommend going to the Tune-Up Cafe for breakfast. (It's a 10-min drive away from the main tourist area.) The places in town get SO crowded, especially The Shed. But if you have a chance to go to The Shed, it's delicious and worth a (small) wait.
posted by flyingfork at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fly into ABQ and rent a car. Drive to Santa Fe via NM Highway 14. It will take you through Madrid and some other interesting places. Much nicer drive than I-25.

Also Markey Day/the Square in ABQ is much more affordable than the same in Santa Fe.

Enjoy your trip no matter how you go! :)

posted by sandpine at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2018

Response by poster: > Fly into ABQ and rent a car. Drive to Santa Fe via NM Highway 14. It will take you through Madrid and some other interesting places.

I just mapped that and dropped into Street View on 14 somewhere near Placer Mountain. I instantly got excited in a way that I can't really describe. That's exactly the kind of thing I want to see and drive through. Thank you.

And thank you everyone else so far - we will be looking into every recommendation above.
posted by komara at 1:37 PM on February 19, 2018

If you want to drive through pretty scenery and go to Taos, drive on the "High Road" it's a gorgeous drive.

I also recommend going to Ojo Caliente spa and mineral springs.

In Santa Fe, definitely check out Meow Wolf. SITE Santa Fe was just remodeled and I haven't had a chance yet, but have heard their exhibit is good. Also, I always love the Folk Art Museum.

If you drive through Madrid on the way to/from Albuquerque, check out the chocolate at Shugarmans and sit outside at the Hollar (the Mineshaft Tavern is also fun).

For easy day hikes, check out hikes near Tesuque (just north of Santa Fe) and Rio En Medio (just north of Tesuque) is a nice, shady hike along a creek, Bandolier has some nice easy hiking (you'll have to drive to White Rock and take a shuttle to the park), closer to town there's the Dale Ball trails and hiking at the Randall Davey Audubon Center. Here is a website with local trails:

Remember that Santa Fe is at about 7,000ft above sea level, so give yourself time to adjust and drink plenty of water if you're going to go hiking. Just drink a lot more water than you normally do. And wear sunscreen.

Santa Fe has some world class restaurants - in addition to the places mentioned above, check out Pasquals, Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, Shoko, Jambo Cafe, Modern General, Vinaigrette... and definitely try some chile while you're visiting.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 2:42 PM on February 19, 2018

The local galleries and art are amazing as is the opera.
posted by xammerboy at 5:51 PM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Good places to hike are Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and Bandelier National Monument.

Another day trip is the El Santuario de Chimayo Shrine, known for a sacred sand pit and more.

We like to stay at the El Rey Inn.
posted by maurreen at 7:51 PM on February 19, 2018

Chimayo, absolutely. Salted pistachios roadside.
I loved Santa Fe more than Taos. The Garden of the Gods just outside the city between there and Albuquerque
posted by TravellingCari at 10:14 AM on February 21, 2018

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