Most visitors whiz through Taos on a day trip from Santa Fe, spending a few hours poking around trinket shops on the downtown plaza, never getting a feel for the real village. But northern New Mexico’s artsy, eclectic, outdoorsy outpost reveals its true self slowly.
To skip the awkward getting-to-know-you phase and explore Taos like a local, we enlisted the help of Cody West, a green developer and Carmel, California, native who’s made Taos his home for the past 15 years. Cody lives with his wife, Maija, a land-use lawyer, and their 6-year-old daughter, Eva, a couple of blocks off the plaza, in Central Station, Taos’s first sustainable live/work compound (complete with electric car plug-ins). “Our life is pretty simple,” says Cody, whose company, Group 3, will start building micro homes this summer. “We hike and bike in summer, ride to the market, go to concerts, hang out at the river, eat good food with friends, and play with our kids.”
Sounds good to us. Here, then, are Cody West’s four paths to a perfect weekend in Taos.
1. Eat like a locavore
On Saturday mornings all summer, the Taos Farmers Market (8 a.m.–1 p.m.; 575/751-7575) buzzes with northern New Mexico growers and ranchers. Rent a bike at Gearing Up (from $25 for a half-day; 129 Paseo del Pueblo Sur; 575/751-0365) and ride to the market, located in the town hall parking lot next to the library. Cody and Co. head straight for Tina Leonard’s stand for homemade carne asada breakfast burritos, then pick up organic grass-fed beef from Colorado rancher Lucas Salazar. Once you’ve been to the source, you’ll want to go to the school: Chef Chris Maher’s Cooking Studio Taos (from $98; cookingstudiotaos.com) offers private and group classes in northern New Mexican cuisine. The longtime Taos restaurateur will school you in the fine art of wrapping sticky masa dough in cornhusks for tamales and in baking bizcochitos, anise-flavored cookies.
2. Head for the hills
Get an alpine start to beat the afternoon thunderstorms on the gradual 2-mile hike to Williams Lake, at 11,300 feet in the high country above Taos Ski Valley. (Says Cody, “Eva can make it to the lake, no problem.”) The trail parallels the Rio Hondo upstream to the lake. From there you can look up at New Mexico’s highest point, Wheeler Peak; if you’re feeling ambitious, follow the faint goat path that scrambles up the scree field on the north side of the tarn to the summit above, with views 60 miles north to Colorado. Afterward, lounge your legs on the cushy chaises outside the Bavarian Lodge ($$; 100 Kachina Rd., Taos Ski Valley; 575/776-8020), at the base of the trail. “Stay for a pint of hefeweizen wheat beer and the sausage platter,” says Cody. They’re served—in a scene straight out of Austria—by waiters in lederhosen.