28 Oct 3 Days in Santa Fe
A couple of weeks before my birthday, Aidan told me to take the day (a Monday) off work but wouldn’t tell me why. An entire surprise weekend? I was in girlfriend heaven. So, naturally, I had to sabotage my own happiness by constantly asking him where we were going. He stayed strong for a week, until one night he was reading his travel calendar aloud while I was in the other room and let slip, “and then the weekend in Mexico…” Mexico for the weekend?! We lived in Austin so it wasn’t impossible, and we’d talked about how ashamed we were that we’d lived in Texas for years and never crossed the border. I unleashed a string of questions to try to understand where and how, and he burst out laughing. “New Mexico. We’re going to Santa Fe.” Ooooh. I’m so glad he took me to New Mexico; it was the best birthday weekend ever. I can’t take an ounce of credit for this itinerary, I am only recapping all the goodness he surprised me with.
Note: Santa Fe is home to an older, artsy crowd, so there isn’t that much nightlife and it isn’t very walkable if you want to stay somewhere funky and do the Bandelier trip, etc. like we did. It was a spectacular birthday adventure and would make an equally great any-old-weekend adventure for solo travelers, couples, or good friends, especially quirky, artsy types like me.
When to visit: We were there the first weekend in May and the weather was really nice (low 70’s) in the days and cool at night. Santa Fe never really gets hotter than 90 in summer or colder than 40 in winter, so you can time it based on your weather preferences.
Saturday: Land in Albuquerque
We flew into Albuquerque, rented a car, and drove the hour to Santa Fe because it’s a lot more expensive to fly into SAF directly. It was worth the extra trip to stop in Madrid for some really funky shops.
Once we landed in the Railyard Arts District we perused the delightful little farmers’ market next to Second Street Brewery before hunkering down for a serious lunch and great brews.
Then we checked in at Suitable Digs, which is high on the list of favorite places we’ve ever stayed. Lisa let us spend one night in her Pueblo home and one night in the Spartan trailer, and her property is a solar-powered wonderland complete with a natural pool and greenhouse.
Sunday: Bandelier National Park, Bradbury Science Museum
For night two, we moved our things into Lisa’s Spartan trailer, which is beautifully restored and decked out with authentic 1940’s dishware and decor. Then we set out on an hour drive to Bandelier National Monument. I didn’t know where we were going and was freaking out for most of this ride.
There are multiple hike options of different lengths at Bandelier, and you can climb wooden ladders into ancient pueblo homes. We spent the morning exploring and getting learnt on how brilliant those Native Americans were. Highly recommend buying picnic food at the farmers’ market on Day 1 to have for lunch at Bandelier on Day 2. We can’t remember his name, but there’s a man who sells fresh bread and homemade spreads that were amazing to gorge on between hikes.
Next, to the Bradbury Science Museum at the National Laboratory. If you’re interested in the Manhattan Project and all that’s gone on in Los Alamos, this museum is really fascinating and well done.
We returned for a quick airstream nap, followed by divine tapas at la boca and an evening of bar-hopping around the old town. Matador, Dragon Room, and Evangelo’s are the musts.
Monday: Canyon Road Galleries, Meow Wolf
On Monday morning we bid farewell to Lisa’s glorious sustainable kingdom, inhaled breakfast at Clafoutis, and strolled the stretch of art galleries along Canyon Road. We chilled out for a tea at Teahouse (which also has great food, but we were stuffed) before departing for Meow Wolf with no idea what we were in for. I refuse to explain what’s inside. No matter who you are, just go to Meow Wolf, and you will leave dumbfounded and inspired.
Post-Meow you will be glowing and in need of authentic Mexican food. Round the corner to El Parasol for a massive burrito or taco plate for pennies. We took ours to-go to the airport along with a sack of fresh tortillas. Adios, Santa Fe.