Day trip: ToCa, Santa Fe

Explore a hidden locals' neighborhood on the east side unofficially known as ToCa (Top of Canyon Road)

Katie Arnold

1. Fuel up
You wouldn¹t think that a minimalist tea shop (with more than 200 varieties from around the world) would also serve Santa Fe's best BLT, but there you have it. Grab a shaded table in the Zen gravel garden at the Teahouse, and order the Usual‹made with perfectly crispy Canadian bacon and tangy chipotle dressing, and served with a generous side salad. $; 821 Canyon Rd.; 505/992-0972.

2. Hoof it
Just east of ToCa, Canyon Road crosses Camino Cabra and becomes Upper Canyon Road, a residential street that dead-ends in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There you can access the Dale Ball Trails, more than 30 miles of single-track hiking and biking trails. Explore the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, or tackle the steep but popular 4-mile hike to the summit of Picacho Peak for views of downtown and the desert. 505/955-2103.

3. Meet the artist
Every square inch of space is spoken for at the Ed Larson Studio, the ramshackle epicenter of Santa Fe's folk art scene. Cowboy oil paintings crowd the walls; toothy wooden fish dangle from the ceiling; and whittled horses seem to fly through the air (we love the wooden birds too). Even the artist is on display, carving creations in the sawdusty back room. 821 Canyon Rd.;

4. Eat alfresco
Johnnie Armijo was 16 when his father opened Johnnie's Cash Store. Sixty-three years later, this mom-and-pop grocery is a local institution, stocked with no-frills staples and, in a warming oven beside the register, the best homemade green-chile tamales in town ($2). Buy a couple and head two blocks north to Monsignor Patrick Smith Park, right on the Santa Fe River, for a picnic. Closed Sun; 420 Camino Don Miguel; 505/982-9506.

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