We were itching to get away for a quick trip in early June. We'd planned to head to California, but when that trip was delayed, we switched directions. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an easy day's drive from Boulder and as we'd never been, that's where we headed.
Our trip began with a surprise. Expecting a hotter and drier climate than we experience near Boulder, we were surprised by the lush Cimarron Canyon along Highway 64 to Taos, north of Santa Fe. Elevation here is about 7,000 feet. It slows drive time, but the views are worth it, particularly if you plan to tour Taos or the Taos Pueblo.
Santa Fean architecture relies on local materials to create adobe mud-walled homes with flat roofs supported by rows of wooden vigas. Roses seem to love the sun and soil of Santa Fe! Everywhere you look, they tumble carelessly over low adobe walls and lodge pole fences.
We stayed in a charming VRBO through Two Casitas. An authentic adobe home, it is in a quiet residential neighborhood within easy walking distance to the downtown Plaza and Canyon Road art galleries. Super cute, and the roses framing this door smelled wonderful!
(Photo via pinterest)
For authentically handcrafted Native American jewelry, head to the portal of the Governor's Palace alongside the downtown Plaza. As they have for hundreds of years, Native Americans sell their handcrafted jewelry here through the Native American Vendors Program. The program certifies that each artist is of authentic Native American bloodline and they are personally handcrafting their work. With concerns about being able to discern what is true turquoise and what isn't (buyer beware!), a pricey, local Plaza jeweler assured me any turquoise sold through the vendor program is authentic. You're getting the real deal and it's especially gratifying to speak to the artist first hand. Costs are lower than at other high-rent jewelry stores near the Plaza, and the proceeds go directly to the artist.
From the Plaza, walk out Canyon Road for a good half-day tour of art galleries mixed with antique stores, outdoor sculptures, and patches of well cared-for gardens.
For vintage funk, head to the Railyard for a more casual approach to vintage hunting and boutique browsing. Seret and Sons near the railyard is a huge store filled with architectural finds from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia, and Tibet. Rugs, tapestries, Asian cabinets and trunks, carved wooden doors and columns, iron gates and fencing -- it'll blow your mind! We were excited to salvage a rusty old steel table base that will make its home in our garden patio space.
A friend who frequents Santa Fe had given excellent recommendations on local restaurants. After a long, hot day we ended up sipping Margaritas in the shaded patio space outside the top-rated Dragon Room bar with dinner at adjacent The Pink Adobe.
The Pink Adobe didn't disappoint. The warm-from-the-oven blue corn bread was amazing! Reservations recommended.
Twenty-two tribes and nations are represented in the state of New Mexico, with eight Pueblos located near Santa Fe. We visited the Taos Pueblo. Following tradition, the 150 Taos tribe members who live in this 1,000-year-old Pueblo full time do so with no electricity or running water. The population swells during summer and during ceremonies, when many tribe members living outside the walls return to the pueblo.
The ruins of the original San Geronimo church stand near the Pueblo's cemetery, marking the tragedy of an 1847 US military attack that killed hundreds of Tiwa women and children hiding in the church. The handmade, handcarved wooden crosses create a particularly poignant, reverent atmosphere here.
Museum Hill & Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Santa Fe is rated #3 by Travel + Leisure for its more than 20 museums, so make sure to plan time to visit at least a few. A shuttle bus or short ride by car takes you to Museum Hill, where you'll find the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. We toured the Wheelwright museum and picked up a few treasures from their gift shop. The entire area of Museum Hill is a peaceful, restorative site with beautiful views of the Santa Fe landscape and so worth a visit.
(Photo by Maria Chabot, 1944)
Artist Georgia O'Keeffe made northern New Mexico her home and studio from 1945-1984. The Georgia O'Keeffe museum is dedicated to her works and is a short walk from the downtown Plaza. My own awareness of O'Keeffe's works was limited to her late-in-life, expansive landscapes and detailed floral abstractions. We spent about 90 minutes viewing her eye-opening exhibit. A critical player in American Modernism, O'Keeffe's artistic capture of the American Southwest helped define the American voice as distinctly different from European arts.
Plan ahead and schedule a tour of Ghost Ranch, O'Keeffe's home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
This friendly group of locals was photographed in Questa, a small town north of Taos. Such a gorgeous group!
All styling and photography by Urban Cottage Style, unless otherwise noted.