I have always wanted to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. More and more of my friends have been heading to Sante Fe lately. It perfect for both a girls’ trip or a retreat with your honey. So, I asked Nashville-based artist Ann Cowden, who has been going to Sante Fe each year for over 20 years, to give us the low-down today on why and how to make a great Santa Fe trip. We’ve included her own fabulous art at the end of the post as well!
Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of my favorite destinations. It is America’s oldest capital city, a 400-year old community. Creativity and inspiration are part of its identity – from architecture and design to world class dining and galleries, to views of serene mountains and endless skies. It is a high desert town situated at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has 300 days of sunshine a year. There is no off-season for being outdoors!
It sits 7,000 feet above sea level, so adapting to the thinner air takes several days. I have been going there for almost 20 years to study art, shop and enjoy the rich Spanish and Native American heritage. Take the train from Albuquerque or rent a car and drive up the old road, Highway 14, through the little town of Madrid, full of art galleries and shops less expensive than Santa Fe’s.
Hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking and skiing are among the outdoor activities, as well as fly fishing and golf:
The next three pictures are courtesy of Wiff Harmer: www.wiffharmer.com
There are wonderful spas, such as Ten Thousand Waves, a beautiful place to relax and be pampered in the hills outside of town, and hotel spas in town with gardens and restful environments. Whatever you choose, a few hours or a full day at a Santa Fe spa is sure to transport you to a place where ringing cell phones and multi-tasking are but distant memories.
Downtown’s many shops and boutiques are centered around the Plaza where Indians come daily to display and sell their wares. I have bought gorgeous silver earrings there for as little as $15. Bracelets, necklaces, rings, etc. are all handmade.
Downtown shops deal primarily in luxury items such as jewelry, leather belts, boots and hats, Native crafts, and high–end clothing. Just southeast of downtown, Canyon Road is lined with even more high–end options. A game trail in ancient times and an art colony in the 1920’s, this street is now internationally famous for its art galleries. The city’s new Railroad Park and Plaza, within walking distance of downtown, opened in 2008. Once an historic depot, it has become a lively, casual community meeting place, much like the original plaza, and is a great place to shop and to dine. It houses a wonderful Farmers Market. One of the quirkiest shopping spots in the area is about six miles north of town on Highway 84/285: the Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market, where you can find creative items such as African imports, oriental rugs, textiles, silver jewelry and handmade clothing all at really good prices. It is a must for everyone who goes to Santa Fe and is only open on Fridays and Saturdays in spring, summer and fall.
Art is everywhere. Artists began coming to Santa Fe in the 1920’s, attracted by the magnificent landscape and famous golden light. It is the third largest art market in the country. There are more than 250 art galleries and one sixth of the residents make their living in art – as painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, curators, framers, foundry workers and more. There is a wealth of museums as well.
The Santa Fe Opera was established in 1957 in a simple, open air theatre on a hillside north of town. It is fabulous. There is a Chamber Music Festival with a host of renowned musicians, a symphony, ballet, film festival and theatre to enjoy.
Day trips in five directions:
- West on the Jemez Mountain trail…..Los Alamos (home of the first Atomic bomb), Santa Clara Pueblo (pottery studios), Bandelier National Monument (extensive ancestral pueblo ruins), sweeping views of the Rio Grande far below, dramatic rock monoliths at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
- Northwest at Georgia O’Keefe Country.
- North to Taos on the high road…incredible scenery! (Chimayo and Truchas are must sees on the way).
- East to Las Vegas.
- South to the Turquoise Trail….a National Scenic Byway with mining towns.
Places to stay in Santa Fe:
Less expensive stays: Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Days Inn, etc.
****VRBO…Vacation Rentals By Owner website has wonderful casitas and houses in town to rent and in this economy they are negotiable! VBRO provides virtual tours and location descriptions. If you stay in town, you do not need to rent a car. http://www.vrbo.com/
B&B’s: El Paradero is a really nice B&B with an eight-minute walk into town and great breakfasts…..very reasonable!
Café Pasqual’s is my favorite….not expensive and has wonderful breakfasts, lunches and evening meals. Reservations are required as it is small, but you can walk in and sit at the group table in the middle without calling ahead if you are one or two people and do not mind sharing space. They have great T-shirts and cookbooks to take home.
The Compound (expensive), La Casa Sena and La Casa Sena Cantina (has singing waiters….fun), Santacafe (another of my favorites!), Maria’s (best margaritas), Inn of the Anasazi (delicious and expensive breakfast, lunch and dinner), Pinon Grill and Julian’s…..all good. Coyote Café is good but expensive and touristy.
Bars: Coyote Café rooftop bar and Pink Adobe Bar.
If you are considering a trip to Santa Fe go online and request a 2011 Visitors Guide from the Chamber of Commerce. It has all of the information you need and includes ratings and pricing of places to stay and to dine, as well as maps, history and calendar of events! I recommend going for no less than four days and, really, a week is best to take advantage of everything you want to see and do.
It’s Liza writing now: I hope you got a feeling for the special person Ann is by reading through this post about Santa Fe. Her passion for her friends, her family, her art and Sante Fe are apparent when talking with her. Now that you’ve had an introduction of sorts, I want to show off her paintings as I think they are lovely and her prices are really fabulous. On top of that, they are 20% off if you contact Ann during the month of November and mention StyleBlueprint. While I love the portrait I have of my kids, I do kick myself that I didn’t use someone local, like Ann, where I could be a part of the process and progress. And, I wish I had paid Ann’s prices…. do a little homework on oil portraits and you will instantly realize what a deal she is. For more information on her pricing, see StyleBlueprint’s THIS WEEK.
Ann Cowden’s website is www.anncowden.com. Forget about the new couch, do a portrait instead! It will last for generations….
email: [email protected]
For more information on our sponsors who are giving 20% off discounts, see THIS WEEK.