Santa Fe is a perfect couple’s getaway. If you are a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe and love the desert, this trip is a must. I would suggest visiting in the Spring or Fall season due to the summer heat. We traveled in May and the weather was perfect. Santa Fe is a small town, easily walkable, great restaurants, galleries, and shopping. I fell in love with the history and charm of this town. This guide should help you with your visit and enjoy every little bit of Santa Fe.
We took a short flight from Santa Barbara airport and had a rental car booked prior to arrival. The airport is tiny and very similar to Santa Barbara’s airport. We loved having a rental car because it allowed us to explore the outlying areas as well as day trips form our hotel. We spent a total of four days on our trip to Santa Fe: two nights in Santa Fe and two nights at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs & Spa. Both of us felt it was the perfect amount of time away.
We booked the El Rey Court based upon the hipster vibe and hotel photos online. Once we arrived, we were disappointed. The hotel wasn’t kept up as we had hoped and the pool was closed for cleaning. The El Rey Court was on the outskirts of town, so we would have to drive if we wanted to go out for an evening dinner. It is great for a photo op though, and a drink in their bar La Reina. We quickly started hunting for places available and came upon the Inn and Spa at Lorretto. It is in in a great location, nice rooms with a balcony, pool, lounging areas, and beautiful fireplaces throughout. A few others I loved while exploring: Hotel St. Francis, Rosewood Inn of Anasazi, and the La Posada de Santa Fe hotel.
We loved the food in Santa Fe! Start with a morning walk around town to get your bearings. Pop into the French Pastry Shop & Creperie for a savory crepe and coffee. Café Pasquals was a favorite spot we went back to twice. Everything on the menu is delicious and mostly locally sourced and organic. It is small, but worth the wait. Prices are very affordable, and the ambiance is fun. If you would like a bird’s eye view of Water Street, go to Coyote Café. Step upstairs for some nachos and their delicious Hatch Green Chili Margarita. We ate on the cantina side, a bit more casual, and sat right at the edge of the rooftop bar. We stopped in at the infamous, The Shed for lunch. A family operated business since 1953, and Georgia O’Keeffe has been known to dine on the patio. Good casual Mexican food and yummy drinks under the shaded trumpet vines. Our favorite drink by far, was the smoked sage margarita at the St. Francis Hotel in the Secreto Bar. We may have stopped there more than once, because watching the mixologist alone was worth the experience. For a finer dining experience in a historic adobe home, make a reservation at Geronimo. It is an eclectic menu that changes seasonally and has the awards to show for it.
The shopping in Santa Fe exceeded my expectations. I am not a huge fan of South Western wear, so my expectation was set low before we arrived. The town is full of unique boutiques and knocked my socks off with galleries, antiques, and artisan crafts. My favorite shop of all time was Shiprock Santa Fe. It has a gallery feel, but everything is for sale. The price tags are high, but the items are worth it. The staff are extremely polite and willing to share history and stories on any piece. The store is curated amazingly, and I wanted everything in it! My second favorite shop was Montecristi Custom Hat Works. It is very close to the Georgia O’keeffe Museum. This is a talented milliner shop that forms custom hats. It is a true art, and the craftsmanship is worth seeing. I didn’t mortgage our house to purchase one, but I did appreciate the craft and artisanship. If you love vintage Americana, do stop at Santa Fe Vintage Outpost.
Make sure you don’t miss the hidden alley ways around Santa Fe’s main square. Lots of local artisans selling woven baskets, hats (that’s where I bought mine), jewelry, beautiful rocks, rugs, and cow skulls. Lastly, Canyon Road is a bout a half of a mile outside of the Plaza. It is its own unique street full of galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
WHAT TO SEE
There are so many amazing sights to see in Santa Fe alone. First and foremost, the Geogia O’Keeffe Museum is a must! Make sure you watch the documentary as you enter the museum, it gives you a better sense of who she is and why she created. The International Folk Art Museum is also right in the heart of downtown, and worth a visit. Stop off at the Loretto Chapel. The chapel is a Gothic Style, helix-shaped spiral staircase completely made of wood. There is a small fee to enter but worth seeing the staircase and the beauty of the chapel.
A perfect day trip if you enjoy a beautiful drive, hiking, and a soak in some hot springs. In the morning head to Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier National Monument is 33K acres of canyons and mesa country. There are petroglyphs, wild flowers, and you will hike along the stream until you find the rock dwellings. You can explore inside the dwellings, so it is worth the hike. There is a visitor’s center that has everything well marked and mapped. Make sure to bring a hat, water, sunscreen, and a picnic lunch. It is a treat to eat by the creek.
After a nice hike, enjoy the beautiful drive towards Giggling Springs Hot Springs (also called Jemez Hot Springs, (signage is slightly confusing). It is privately owned, so you can enjoy the springs by paying $25 per hour and has a rushing creek right alongside the pools. Please make note to check the hours and seasonal schedule before making the drive. Giggling Springs offers: multiple pools at different temperatures, restrooms, changing rooms, lounge chairs, sunscreen, and cold drinks. It is rustic but clean, and the staff is very friendly. After a long soak, head back towards Santa Fe for a nice nap and dinner.
If you have come all the way to Santa Fe, you must see Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio. At this point in the trip, we checked out of our hotel in Santa Fe. Before we left, we grabbed groceries at the local Trader Joes. We knew the next location might be a bit remote, make sure to do this if you are following this guide. We headed out early to our reservation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Abiquiu. This is about an hour outside of Santa Fe and a stunning drive. You will arrive at the Welcome Center in Abiquiu where you will check in, then take a small shuttle bus up to her home. Adjacent to the museum is the Abiquiu Inn, lovely and has a nice restaurant if you are inclined. The tour of Georgia’s home is $45 but worth every penny. They have done an amazing job persevering her home, gardens, and studio as it was left. The views are amazing, and it is no wonder she made such beautiful art in that location.
Once we left Georgia O’Keefe’s home, we headed on a stunning drive to Ghost Ranch. I had pre-booked us a late afternoon horse trail ride though the land that captured Georgia’s heart. It was $95 and worth every cent. The guide gave us so much information on her life and the landscape, and the views were magnificent. We walked around the Ghost Ranch after our ride and realized how much there is to experience a the Retreat Center: painting classes, yoga, photography classes. It is worth checking their calendar of events www.ghostranch.com.
Our stay for the night was booked at the historic Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs & Spa. This is a unique resort destination in Northern New Mexico. It is one of the oldest natural health resorts in the United States. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs has been a gather place of the Native American, Tewa tribe for centuries. Legend has it that warring tribesmen would set their weapons down, and soak without conflict. The location is stunning, and the grounds offer a little bit for everyone.
We chose a Posi Suite, which included its own private soaking pool, full access to the mud bath, and public soaking baths. We stayed two nights and splurged with massages. I didn’t love the restaurant, so skip that and make a nice meal by the fire in your room or order the food to go. Our room included a kitchenette, loaded with everything we needed. My one criticism was the check in experience, however I have heard they have made a redesign. I highly recommend our experience at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Inn & Spa.
There are so many other restaurants, hotels, and excursions, but this trip was a gem of a getaway and worth sharing with all of you!