Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Discovering Santa Fe - the City Different

It’s spring break season and time to escape our chilly Midwestern temperatures. If you’re looking for a getaway that is rich in art, culture and adventure, look no further than Santa Fe, New Mexico, aka The City Different.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is located near the Santa Fe Plaza.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Santa Fe is over 400 years old and is the oldest capital city in the country. The city boasts 325 days of sunshine a year, majestic 360° mountain views and a captivating blend of Spanish and Native American cultures that is reflected in everything from the its food and fashion to its art and architecture. 

A certain spirituality exists throughout the region as the area is dotted with centuries-old adobe structures and churches that are filled with religious folk art and stories of the past.  

Handcrafted Native American jewelry is displayed outside of The Palace of the Governors.

Santa Fe’s mild spring temperatures will beckon you to spend time outdoors and enjoy the city on foot. For starters, head to the historic Plaza district, the city’s heart and soul, where shopping and eating are abundant and designer cowboy boots call your name. Dozens of distinctive boutiques, galleries, cafés and museums will entertain you for hours. 

For a lesson in area history, visit The Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied government building built in the early 1600s. Spanning an entire block of the Plaza, the Palace is also a hub for local Native American artists to sell their handcrafted jewelry. For turquoise aficionados, it doesn’t get better than this.

The original Frito Pie is served at Five and Dime on the Plaza.

Santa Fe enjoys its distinction of being the 3rd largest art market in the country and hosts world renowned events like the Traditional Spanish Market and the Indian Market which are held in the summer months. A trek up and down Canyon Road will reveal historic adobe architecture, fine restaurants and over 100 galleries showcasing contemporary and old-world arts.  

When you’re ready for a bite to eat, you’ll find no shortage of eateries in Santa Fe to help you sample the best of New Mexican cuisine. A notable culinary feature of the state is its ability to smother almost anything in red or green chile – if you ask for Christmas, you’ll get both red and green. Yes, please.

Enjoy margaritas, live music and barbecue at The Cowgirl.

Enjoy the outdoor patio and a cheeseburger topped with green chile at The Shed off of the Plaza, warm sopaipillas with honey butter at Tomasita’s in the Railyard, or venture off-the-beaten path and savor the El Salvadoran Pupusas at Tune-Up Café. And for the best barbecue and live music in town, an evening at The Cowgirl is a must.

Chile peppers are abundant at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in the fall.

If you happen to be in town on a Saturday morning, visit the Santa Fe Farmers Market in the bustling Railyard district featuring fresh baked breads, artisanal cheeses, locally grown produce and handcrafted items. Arrive early so you don’t miss out on the breakfast burritos ladled with, of course, red or green chile.

My husband braves the Box Canyon trail ahead of me at Ghost Ranch.

Pack in some adventure with a day trip to Ghost Ranch retreat in Abiquiu, about an hour’s drive from Santa Fe. A day pass will give you access to miles of hiking trails with glorious mountain scenery. 

Horseback trail rides are available for all skill levels – the Sunset Ride will take you to where artist Georgia O’Keeffe found her inspiration, completed several paintings and owned a home.

Mariachi Buenaventura performs on the Santa Fe Plaza.

All of these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico. There’s so much to experience that you’ll want to return again and again. I know the feeling well as I just made reservations for a seventh trip there.

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