Last week I packed up Ruby the Rubicon and took a solo road trip to New Mexico.
It was, in a word, awesome.
I love traveling with H and my family, but there’s something special about solo adventures that I cherish. Traveling alone sharpens my senses, strengthens my independence and gives me time to reconnect with my truest self. Plus it’s pretty great to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want without having to meet the desires of a whole group or even just one other person.
My first destination was Santa Fe, which is one of the most unique cities I have visited so far. The buildings are a beautiful red adobe with incredible, colorful doors and strings of chile ristra hanging everywhere.
During my first day in Santa Fe I hit up all the touristy spots. I went to see the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which was absolutely stunning inside and out. I walked through the shops in the center of town and visited both the Plaza and the Palace of Governors.
The number one thing I learned about buying souvenirs in Santa Fe is that, if you want something authentic, you are better off buying from the artisans in the Plaza or the native people who sell jewelry at the Palace. Many, many of the items available in the stores are imported from Mexico, and I even found a few things with “Made in Pakistan” stickers that had been partially scraped off. At the plaza I bought some beautiful tassels made by native women, and I loved the look of the ristra so much that I bought a string from a man who was making them on the side of the road. He gave me a better deal than I had seen at any of the stores in town, and I felt better about supporting a local artisan directly.
The second day was Easter, and many of the local businesses were closed. So, I started my morning with a beautiful hike at Chamisa, which was just a short 15 minute drive from the center of town. Then I walked down Palace St. to look at the beautiful homes. If you walk down Palace St. from the center of town, it eventually meets up with the renowned Canyon Rd, which is home to world famous art galleries and is truly a place worth visiting.
Things to know about Santa Fe:
- It is an extremely walkable city, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare to explore on foot!
- The food is expensive. The cheapest options at even the more affordable restaurants I looked at hovered around $13, and nice restaurants can be much more. However, the food is excellent. So when you are looking at your budget for your visit, be prepared to devote more $$$ to food than you might in a different city.
- Many local businesses observe Sunday as a day of rest, and are therefore closed.
My additional recommendations:
- Sazón on Shelby St. was easily the most exquisite meal of my entire trip. I had a cocktail called the “Latin Lover,” which was topped with an edible orchid. The queso fundido was out of this world, and there was a special soup of the day with crab so good that I could have happily died swimming in a vat of it. It is one of the more expensive restaurants around, but the experience was worth every penny. Definitely make a reservation, or plan to eat in the intimate, well-decorated bar.
- Kakawa Chocolate House on Paseo de Peralta had a wide variety of chocolate elixirs, truffles and bars. I tried their Rose Almond elixir, Chili elixir and Champagne Berry truffle. All 3 were incredible. Their hand-painted cup sets were so beautiful that I bought some to bring home, along with the Chili elixir mix. Kakawa has decent traffic in and out but it’s not loud, and it’s a place where you can linger over your treats without feeling like you need to rush out.
- The Teahouse on Canyon Rd. is one of the more affordable restaurants in town. They have food available for breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to excellent coffee/tea beverages and wine. Their Matcha Chai is incredible. I tried the roasted pears with pecorino toscana and truffle honey, which were an excellent complement to a glass of Fontanafredda Briccontondo Piemonte Barbera (the wine is as delicious as the name is long).
- Cafe des Artistes on Canyon Rd. is the perfect place to stop for a snack while perusing the art galleries and sculpture gardens. Their Amaretto Cake is incredible, and they have a New Mexico Brut on the wine list that was crisp and refreshing.
Have you ever been to Santa Fe? Are there any other spots the rest of us should check out the next time we’re around? Share in the comments!