Warm weather is creeping back into Texas and for many of us that means packing up the snow boots and goggles and heading out for one last jaunt on the slopes. Santa Fe, New Mexico, our closest neighbor to the west is a short plane ride from anywhere in Texas and home to not only great spring skiing, but also fantastic food, a vibrant art scene and over 400 years of culture to explore. It is easy to see why Santa Fe is on every top 10 list from Top 10 Cities for Art Lovers (#1) to Top Ten Foodie Cities in America and everything in between.
Santa Fe has great accommodations at every price point, but spring is a great time to visit, not just because of the weather, but also because the city offers great promotions during Spring Break. During Kids Free Fest, which runs from the beginning of March until Mid-April, children ages 12 and under can take advantage of complimentary lodging, meals, spa and culturally immersive activities like skiing, skateboard school, cooking and art classes. Finding something to do for the whole family is easy in Santa Fe.
Ski Santa Fe is a short distance from the center of town and you don’t even have to worry about getting there, because both the city and many hotels provide transportation to the ski area. Take advantage of the viewing areas and overlooks as you drive up the mountain – the views are spectacular and not something you get to see in Texas (ever). Ski Santa Fe has a combination of challenging runs, but is also a great place for first time skiers or those more comfortable with easier runs. Chipmunk Corner has classes for kids and there is also one of the largest Adaptive Skiing Programs in the country for those who might need extra assistance. The crowds are small, the lift tickets and rentals are reasonable and the staff and instructors are great, too.
Santa Fe is a foodie’s paradise and you will immediately take notice of the fact that Santa Fe chefs and natives love their red and green chile. The peppers have historical and cultural significance in New Mexico and you will be reminded of that no matter where you eat or what you order. If you develop an affinity for the chili while you are there, you can have it for for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even in your drinks – green chile infused margarita anyone? Don’t worry though, even if you don’t want it for every meal, you can still eat well and often at many of the award winning restaurants all over town. La Choza is famous for their simple and flavorful New Mexican cooking. Although the restaurant is a crowded and lively place most nights, you will still feel like you stopped in for a homemade meal.
Cowgirl BBQ, Del Charro and El Nido are all great dining options, but if you are feeling like something a little different, try Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen. This restaurant offers a variety of local and organic menu items and was awarded the Green Concierge Certification because of its environmentally conscious business practices. You will likely be greeted by one of the owners, Soma Franks or Fiona Wong who started the restaurant to create nourishing food.
You can not only eat your way through Santa Fe, but drink your way through, as well. Of the 31 restaurants on the city’s Margarita Trail, try Santa Fe Spirits for artisanal distilled spirits or if you want to warm up after a day on the slopes, stop by Kakawa Chocolate House for some of their soul-tingling hot chocolate.
Now that you have satisfied your inner foodie, why not walk it off on Canyon Road which is the 3rd largest art market in the country behind New York and Los Angeles. The half mile stretch of road is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and is home to fine art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants – make sure to leave yourself enough time to browse, you won’t want to rush through this one-of-a-kind destination.
The downtown plaza, which is also very walkable, is a gateway to the rich historical culture of Santa Fe. The Palace of the Governors is worth a visit, where you can buy hand crafted items from Native American artisans themselves. There are several museums within walking distance of the plaza; you can visit the oldest church in America, San Miguel Chapel, and the Miraculous Staircase at the Loretto Chapel or pop into one of the many shops that line the plaza. One of my favorites was Chocolate and Cashmere – who doesn’t love such a decadent combination?
Santa Fe will give you a taste of the good life: food, art, history and spectacular mountain views in a quiet setting where you can unplug and unwind. After a few days in this southwest oasis, believe me, you’ll be planning your next trip back.