Santa Fe, New Mexico holds a special place in my heart. It’s the city, where my fiancé popped the question, thus beginning an incredible new adventure in our lives! A little backstory as to why Santa Fe… A few years ago, my then-boyfriend and I completed a cross-country road trip from Delaware to California after spending the Christmas holiday with family on the East Coast. As we mapped out our stops from East to West, we choose destinations that would get us far enough along in our journey but would also allow for a bit of fun. We experienced the Bourbon Trail in Lexington, visited friends in St. Louis, and enjoyed authentic steak in Tulsa before arriving to Santa Fe. We chose Santa Fe based on its distance in the trip, but also because of the charm and authenticity that this Southwest city offered. As we continued onward in our drive home, we marveled at our 2-day stay and gushed about wanting to visit again!
14 months later, my boyfriend and I returned to Santa Fe for a romantic weekend getaway. Busting with excitement we began planning our hotel accommodations, dining reservations and daily activities. During the drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, he pulled off to scenic overlook and right then and there asked me to marry him! Thus, the extra specialness of this city!
During the midst of wedding planning, we decided that a getaway weekend to Santa Fe would be the perfect early mini-moon as our honeymoon would actually be 2 months post-nuptials. Hardly an official expert on Santa Fe, I wanted to share my favorites of this charming and authentic city!
Sleep Santa Fe:
There are many options for accommodations in Santa Fe. During our first two visits to the city, we stayed at a charming Bed & Breakfast Inn, El Farolito. A short walk from the main square, El Farolito offered private, spacious casitas with Kiva fireplaces in the rooms. Some casitas even had private patios to enjoy your morning coffee. Each morning we were greeted by the owner, Wayne, who started our day with a home-cooked breakfast in property’s main dining room. This is a truly delightful and service-oriented spot; the type of place where tea and cookies are always available in the afternoons and an owner who will regale you with Santa Fe stories and hike suggestions (but only if you ask).
Wanting to expand our horizons a bit, we decided this time to stay in the hustle and bustle of the plaza at La Fonda on the Plaza. This charming boutique hotel was beautifully decorated with Southwestern charm, but up-to-date with all the modern amenities. Our room was spacious, and even had a balcony that overlooked that plaza square and a Kiva fireplace. Located in the heart of plaza, we were just steps away from the shops, galleries and restaurants. We loved being able to walk outside and experience
Dine Santa Fe:
Coming from Los Angeles, a mecca for foodies, we weren’t sure what to expect from Santa Fe’s eating scene. With each visit though, we have returned to our favorites and discovered new gems.
Probably the most visited, is the Kakawa Hot Chocolate House, a local, charming spot with specialty chocolate for drinking and eating. From unsweetened dark, chili infused, and spiced–filled, Kakawa Hot Chocolate House houses the best when it comes to a unique warm cup of cocoa.
If you are looking for a fancy night out, I suggest Geronimo. This meal promises to be one for the books! Geronimo has an inviting and warm atmosphere—an adobe-style building lined with traditional Kiva fireplaces inside. The menu is elegant and sophisticated—I recommend Geronimo’s signature dish of Elk Tenderloin—it’s like no other!
A few other notable favorites… The Shed offers authentic Southwestern cuisine that is bold and filled with flavor. A dining institution since 1953, this neighborhood gem is located just off the plaza and is packed nightly with locals and visitors in search of family hospitality and cooking. The Plaza Café is Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant (since 1905!), located in the heart of the main plaza square. This historic diner features authentic, local favorites, as well as global dishes, that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Explore Santa Fe:
Santa Fe is full of adventure! During previous visits, we explored Tent Rocks National Monument and Bandolier National Monument. Both parks offer great hiking and scenic views, but each has unique differences. Tent Rocks National Monument, approximately an hour West of Santa Fe, features impressive rock formations, which stand up to 90 feet tall. There is also a striking slot canyon that shows the layers of the volcanic rock. Approximately an hour Northwest of Santa Fe, gorgeous views greet you on the mile entrance drive into Bandolier National Monument. For the casual hiker, there is a very manageable trail, which leads from the “Welcome Center” up the cliffs to well-preserved ancient Indian pueblos.
Last year, we made the two hour drive North to Taos Ski Valley. Although I have been skiing for most of my life, I found myself exercising a bit more caution in the recent years. Initially a bit intimated by this mountain, I ended up loving the open space and small crowd. And epic and breathtaking views from the top made the steep slopes down worth it. This year, we decided to stay local and hit Ski Santa Fe. Although not as expansive as Taos Ski Valley, my fiancé and I really enjoyed this mountain. There were gorgeous views at the top, challenging (but not unmanageable) run downs and even an Adventure Park with a few small moguls and jumps!
For the adventurer who desires a bit of relaxation post-skiing, I definitely recommend Ten Thousand Waves. This Japanese-themed Spa is nestled in forest, just 10 minutes outside of downtown Santa Fe. My fiancé and I booked the Ichiban spa suite for the indoor/outdoor hot tub soaking experience. As we soaked in the tubs, we marveled at the peace and tranquility we felt. It was a perfect breath of luxurious relaxation, as a must-do-again for a future visit!
Santa Fe will always be one of my favorite places—not just for the personal significance, but also for the food, culture, and adventure. My fiancé and I have promised each other that we’ll be back again soon!