Snowy in Santa Fe

Enjoy world-class galleries, museums, historic sites ― and bargains ― in winter

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DAY TWO: HISTORY AND CULTURE

Heading downtown after breakfast at our hotel, we came upon San Miguel Mission, which dates to the early 1600s and is notable for its 18th-century reredos (altar screens). After strolling beneath the bare cottonwoods edging the Santa Fe River, we headed north to more galleries on Palace Avenue, then stopped at the colorful Paul's Restaurant of Santa Fe for lunch: grilled fish tacos and a salmon and avocado quesadilla, both with salads.

After eating, we explored the 1610 Palace of the Governors, the nation's oldest public building. We picked up passes ($15 each; valid for four days) that covered admission here and, planning ahead, at four other Santa Fe museums, including the nearby Museum of Fine Arts. Further rambling took us to Owings-Dewey Fine Art for its annual American prints exhibition (the most expensive work was $250,000, a definite budget breaker). At the Santa Fe Village Mall, a collection of craft stores, we particularly enjoyed traditional tinsmith Fred Ray Lopez's pieces.

Clear weather pushed us to Upper Canyon Road and nature trails at the Randall Davey Audubon Center, named for the artist whose historic home and studio are now a museum.

That night we splurged. At Maria's New Mexican Kitchen, Becky had the blue-corn beef enchiladas, I savored a nicely marinated pollo asado, and we both sipped the restaurant's famous margaritas. Then we caught Atlan, one of the world's most well-known Celtic music groups, at the restored Lensic Performing Arts Center.

DAY THREE: MUSEUMS AND A SOAK

After breakfast, we drove to Museum Hill, site of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art (all included with museum pass, available at all five participating museums), and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Taken together, they offer a comprehensive look at New Mexico's art and culture.

Hungry, we split a hearty sandwich at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a homey spot in an old grocery store. We then surrendered to owner Meryle Geraghty's reputation for desserts by ordering a carrot-cake tart.

From there we went to Guadalupe Street, where we found the late-18th-century Santuario de Guadalupe, the country's oldest shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Back on the street, we spotted an old Ford with a bumper sticker that read, "In Guad We Trust." We then returned to the Plaza area for the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (free Friday evenings) and its excellent collection.

We decided to break our budget with a final splurge at Ten Thousand Waves, Japanese Health Spa, where we soaked in a private, open-air Japanese bath in a piñon and juniper forest. As the snow fell into the 104° tub, we finally chilled out after a busy few days in a wintry Santa Fe.

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