When artist Georgia O’Keeffe first visited the Santa Fe area in 1917, it was a revelation. “As soon as I saw it, that was my country,” the painter once said. “I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly. There’s something that’s in the air. It’s just different. The sky is different, the stars are different, the wind is different.” One hundred years later, many visitors feel the same. In fact, the city has even dubbed itself “the city different.” After an easy six-hour drive from Denver, set your boots down at La Posada, the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi or the Native American-owned Hotel Santa Fe, and enjoy a weekend away.
Enter a fantasy world.
Leave your preconceptions about art at the door. (And make sure to open that refrigerator.) Trust us—you’ll never have experienced anything like Meow Wolf, the city’s immersive, interactive art experience. (And, in 2020, Denver is getting a Meow Wolf of its own!).
Work the kinks out.
Japanese bathing in the mountains of New Mexico: That’s what Ten Thousand Waves, high above Santa Fe, is all about. Go for a soak, a massage or a spa treatment. Stay the night or just visit for an hour or afternoon. Believe us, there will be 10,000 reasons you won’t want to leave.
Stretch your legs (and your artistic muscles) on a walk up and down Canyon Road. There are more than 100 art galleries and studios—photography, painting, lithographs, sculpture and jewelry—in a half-mile stretch, as well as restaurants and cafés where you can take a load off if the shopping gets to be too much for your legs (or your pocketbook).
Feel the rhythm.
Complex, disciplined and sexy, flamenco dancing is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. And the nonprofit Entreflamenco Company, founded in Madrid in 1998, is the most prolific American flamenco company, producing more than 70 performances a year. (Daring? Take a class.).
Delve into history.
Explore the four museums on Museum Hill (on Spanish Colonial Art, International Folk Art, Indian Arts and Culture and the American Indian) and top it off with lunch at the Museum Hill Café (the patio has killer views). For a change of pace, visit the 13-acre Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill, which offers tours and concerts, as well as yoga, tai chi and garden photography classes. (Want more flora? Tour the separate 35-acre Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve.).
Walk till you drop.
Take a walking tour of Santa Fe’s historic downtown (including the historic Palace of the Governors) or drive the High Road to Taos with Tom Gallegos tours.
Channel Jimmy Buffett.
Santa Fe lays claim to a Margarita Trail unlike any other. Pick up a $3 “passport” at any of three Tourism Santa Fe visitor centers (or directly from any of 30-plus bars), then see how many pages you can get stamped (enjoying a $1 discount per drink if you show your passport). Remember: Santa Fe is 2,000 feet higher in elevation than Denver, so drink slooooowly.
Get very hot. If you love chiles, tacos, rellenos, tamales and salsas, learn how to cook them back home. The Santa Fe School of Cooking offers hands-on and demonstration classes, as well as culinary tours of restaurants; there’s even a five-day tour in August that will take you to pick produce, bake bread and learn about local ingredients.
The food in Santa Fe is muy amazing, but here are a few of our faves: the unpretentious and always busy Pasquals for breakfast or lunch (for fun, share a table with strangers); Il Piatto, an Italian farmhouse kitchen; the casual Blue Corn Café & Brewery (bluecorn- cafe.com); Tomasita’s for classic Northern New Mexican fare, and the elegant Anasazi restaurant in the Rosewood Inn. And, when your sweet tooth is calling, stop for a chocolate elixir at Kakawa Chocolate House.
Go all artisan on us.
The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, open Saturday mornings, has everything from herbalists and shepherds to weavers, potters, bakers and other artisans. And produce, too. Ah, yes, the produce.
And get Georgia on your mind.
As in Georgia O’Keeffe, of course. For the uninitiated, make a stop at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, right off the plaza and open daily. (Make sure to watch the short but amazing film on her life, including videos of her at work.) If you still can’t get enough, visit her adobe home and studio in Abiquiu, about a 90-minute drive away, or tour the Ghost Ranch where she painted (reservations needed).