Santa Fe, New Mexico 72-Hour Vacation
the Beauty of Santa Fe
By Charlotte Balcomb Lane
Fe lives up to its epithet as “The City Different”
with a unique culture infused with Native American,
Spanish and Territorial influences. From cuisine to
architecture, the city openly displays its multicultural
facets and invites newcomers to explore and discover
its beauty, including the world-famous red sunsets.
Santa Fe is the third largest art market in the United
States, following New York and San Francisco, but besides
art galleries and natural beauty, the city also offers
historical sight-seeing, skiing, world-class shopping
and dining to suit the tastes of any traveler.
Fe's setting at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
provides spectacular views in every direction. You can
hike, mountain bike or ride the chairlift to the top
of Santa Fe Mountain. A stroll up historic Canyon
Road, a mecca for artists, offers more than
a mile of galleries and dozens of sculpture gardens.
Make sure to browse Canyon Road carefully, and take
home some original Santa Fe art to remember your trip
best way to reach Santa Fe is to rent a car at the Albuquerque
International Sunport and drive north. Santa Fe and
Albuquerque are about sixty miles apart, but the numerous
Indian Pueblos between them keep the stretch fairly
free of development. In every season, the drive—the
most direct route is to head north on Interstate 25—offers
mind-blowing vistas. If you’re a fan of slots
and table games, stop along the way at any of several
Indian casinos, including Sandia, the
Santa Ana Star and the San
Felipe’s Casino Hollywood.
You can also take the road less traveled.
North Highway 14 wanders along the east side of the
Sandia Mountains, through old coal-mining towns that
have become havens for artists, craftspeople and proponents
of living off the grid. The route is a National Scenic
Byway and, though the drive is less direct than the
I-25, it offers plenty of shopping, stretching and sightseeing
Santa Fe’s south side is the most modern, resembling
many other cities in the throes of sprawl and big-box
development. Cerrillos Road, the main north-south artery,
is where you will find more economical chain hotels
and restaurants, plus your fair share of all-American
traffic. If you want to stay slightly away from the
tourist throngs in town, you might like the Courtyard
by Marriott for a comfortable night that won’t
break the bank. For more local flavor in this area,
consider El Rey Inn, which features
one-story casitas surrounded by lush gardens.
closer you get to the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the quainter
and more beautiful the town becomes. However, hotel
accommodations on the north side of town will cost more,
as they are more luxurious.
the best hotels in Santa Fe is the Inn
of the Anasazi, with an elegant Southwestern
décor and modernly furnished rooms. For other
top-of-the-line experiences in the heart of town, you
can choose between Eldorado,
the historic La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and
Spa or the Hotel St. Francis.
Each provides a unique vision of Santa Fe through its
art, architecture and style. If you’d prefer deluxe
Southwestern accommodations near Santa Fe but not right
in the city, try Bishop’s
Lodge which boasts 450 acres of grounds,
horseback riding and the SháNah Spa and
Bishop's Lodge, Father Lamy and Willa Cather
the mid-17th century, rumors arose about
loose conduct among Catholic priests in
the American southwest. The French Father
Jean Baptiste Lamy was transferred from
Cincinnati to Santa Fe to supervise things
and to create a provisional diocese know
as the vicariate apostolic of New Mexico.
Bishop Lamy's journey took him from Ohio
to St. Louis, down the Mississippi to New
Orleans, onto a boat to Galveston and up
the Rio Grande river valley, arriving at
his new home a year later! In
the 1860s Bishop Lamy purchased for $80
what became his home and is now 420 acres
of a family and business retreat known as
the Bishop's Lodge. A great source
of additional information about the Bishop
is Willa Cather's 1927 novel Death Comes
for the Archbishop. The book's protagonist,
Jean Marie LaTour is based on Father Lamy
and his life in New Mexico, where he served
as Archbishop from 1851-1888. The novel
also captures the vastness of New Mexico's
geography with great attention to descriptive
detail. A great read for the plane ride
to or from Santa Fe!
granddaddy of all Santa Fe hotels is La Fonda,
which anchors one side of the world-famous Santa Fe
Plaza, where a fonda, or inn, has stood since 1610.
The current incarnation features individually decorated
rooms, a lively downstairs bar and a bird’s-eye
view of life on the Plaza and St. Francis Cathedral.
Across the Plaza from La Fonda is the Palace
of the Governors, the oldest government building
in the United States, dating back to 1607.
Fe has abundant dining options, up and down the price
scale. From traditional northern New Mexican fare, which
features red and green chile sauces, corn tortillas,
beans and rice, to the latest in contemporary American
fine dining, the City Different will not disappoint.
your arrival brings you up North 14 during breakfast
or lunch hours, be sure to stop at the San Marcos
Café and Feed Store, just south of Santa
Fe. You’ll know you are in the country when you
see peacocks roaming the grounds, plus a menagerie of
real and sculpted from metal. This working feed store
not only does a booming business in hay and ranch hardware
but also boasts a wonderful kitchen that will transport
you back in time. The menu offers jumbo homemade warm
cinnamon rolls, green chile stew, hefty three-egg omelets
and wonderful French toast made with homemade bread.
If you’re itching for something spicy, try a breakfast
burrito stuffed to bursting with scrambled eggs, ham
or bacon, cheese and red or green chile sauces. The
meal will give you plenty of fuel for a day of exploring
as you head north toward the Plaza.
you do so, remember this traffic tip: Approaching Santa
Fe from this direction, you can either take Cerrillos
Road west or I-25 north to St. Francis Drive. If you
want to slog through traffic or find an inexpensive
hotel, choose Cerrillos Road. Otherwise, make a beeline
to St. Francis and head directly to the Plaza.
Plaza has been the heart of Santa Fe for hundreds
of years. Today, instead of trappers, campesinos and
shepherds, you will find a whole cast of characters
defining the modern city: counter-culture teens, well-to-do
retirees from Texas and tourists throng the Plaza, keeping
it lively. For shopping, you’ll find world-class
boutiques specializing in fine leather apparel, Indian
jewelry and art.
you want to jump right into Santa Fe’s culture,
start at the Palace of the Governors
where you can stroll and shop. This humble one-story
building on the north side of the Plaza has flown the
flags of Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy and the U.S.
Territory. Appropriately, it is now New Mexico's history
museum, featuring changing and permanent exhibits as
well as a terrific gift shop. Under its shady portal
facing the Plaza, Pueblo artisans spread blankets year-round
and lay out turquoise-and-silver jewelry, beadwork and
other keepsakes that make perfect gifts for loved ones
or yourself. Much of the jewelry is finely made—and
much less expensive than what you will find in retail
head to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
which celebrates northern New Mexico’s first lady
of art. Since 1997, it has displayed more than eighty
of O’Keeffe’s works as well as traveling
exhibitions highlighting other 19th-century and contemporary
you’re hungry, try the attached O’Keefe
Café, which offers a changing seasonal
menu of upscale choices for lunch or dinner. For a full
experience, try the chef’s tasting menu, which
pairs wines with each course.
your meal, visit St. Francis Cathedral,
a historic Romanesque church built by the famed 19th-century
New Mexican prelate Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. Pay
special attention to the statue of the Madonna, called
La Conquistadora, which was brought to Santa Fe by the
Spanish in 1692.
Another interesting stop nearby is the Wheelwright
Museum of the American Indian. Founded in 1937
by Mary Cabot Wheelwright, an East Coast blueblood,
it honors the beauty and complexity of Native American
weaving, pottery, jewelry and basketry.
Fe is a city made for walking, but by now you might
be in the mood to rest your feet and fortify your energy.
A trip to Maria’s
of Santa Fe, which has been welcoming guests
for more than half a century in a house originally built
in the 1880s, is in order. The red and green chile sauces
are legendary, and so are the margaritas, of which there
are a more than a hundred to choose from. The recipes
for these can be found in The Great Margarita Book
written by owners Al and Laurie Lucero. There’s
also a terrific wine list. Whatever you drink, don’t
miss the blue corn chicken enchiladas or Maria’s
famous shredded carne adovada.
amusing watering hole is the San
Francisco Street Bar & Grill, which
overlooks the plaza from the corner of San Francisco
Street and Don Gaspar. It offers a lively menu of seasonal
American dishes for lunch or dinner, including crab
cake salad on mixed greens with toasted walnuts, or
Mexican-style penne pasta with shrimp, garlic and dry-cured
olives. The kitchen also prepares a signature soup daily.
a more upscale meal, make reservations at Geronimo
both award-winning contemporary American restaurants.
While the two are hangouts for Santa Fe celebrities,
but you don’t have to be famous to be seduced
by the food at either restaurant. Try the sea scallops
in saffron cream at Santacafé or the elk tenderloin
at Geronimo. If you eat at the latter, save some time
to have a digestive stroll along Canyon Road, a street
filled with galleries, shops and sculpture gardens.
to Day 2
SANTA FE INFORMATION
(Updated: 06/14/11 CT)