We bet some of you have been in this place before: Injured. And tired of sitting on the sofa.
Maybe it happened to you mid-ski season. Maybe you had a gnarly mountain bike accident toward the end of the summer season. Maybe you just tweaked your knee by not being quite fit enough to take a run down the mogul field in early December. Or maybe you just tripped, going down a flight of stairs.
Either way it happened, you’re probably looking for a place to go that has something to offer besides the endless trails, snow and adventure that drew us to the mountains in the first place.
When we considered a location for this piece, we looked at Denver, but we wanted to offer something a bit different, new and exciting. We landed on Santa Fe, just a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Vail. It’s a pretty, easy drive, and we found that we were able to literally leave behind the falling snow once we passed Leadville and headed to Santa Fe, just 7,260 feet above sea level.
Here’s what we loved most about Santa Fe as a place to be when injured:
While Summit County has endless recreation opportunities, Santa Fe has endless free art gawking opportunities.
It’s a largely flat city, so it’s easy to navigate if you’re on crutches.
History abounds. Museums, historical buildings and plenty of landmarks are within a short walk or drive.
It’s the hub of delicious New Mexican food.
You don’t necessarily need something to do, as there is plenty to see just by meandering around. Architecture, southwestern culture — just bring your camera and wait for the magic hour to hit the adobe buildings or for the artisan market to open at the plaza.
Scenic drives. The High Road to Taos is not only incredible to drive, it also has art along the way – and chances to interact with the artists themselves, in their own homes, no less.
It’s perfect for any type of budget, from shoestring to those who want pampering.
A cultural adventure
We started our art and culture adventure by checking into Fort Marcy Hotel Suites, where we were greeted with delightful New Mexican decor, an open living area adjacent to two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was like a home away from home, including a full kitchen and cooking island. The full kitchen and the ability to have multiple people in one space makes Fort Marcy an affordable option for those looking to enjoy Santa Fe on a smaller budget.
Upon recommendation, we decided to head into town to enjoy happy hour at Taberna at La Boca, a Spanish tapas restaurant just down the street and adjacent to the historic plaza. At half price, we enjoyed unique twists on sangria and a parade of flavors in our tapas selection.
Every Friday, at least during high season and shoulder season, the galleries on Canyon Road host openings and meet-and-greets with the artists in the late evening. Canyon Road itself is a must-visit, so we meandered toward the narrow street lined with art of all kinds and began our evening tour. Toward the end of the evening, we happened upon William & Joseph Gallery and Chalk Farm Gallery, both of which quickly became our favorites. We were entranced by Robert Bissell’s fanstastical bears and Dario Campanile’s ability to create characters out of a fiery abstract or a serene seascape.
After being on our feet for the day, we departed Canyon Road for Del Charro, a Fort Marcy recommendation, for reasonably-priced post-gallery beverages. Though we didn’t eat, the menu lends itself to a well-priced option to enjoy New Mexican fare.
A perfect Santa Fe Saturday
A Saturday in Santa Fe is perfection. Waking up to the sun rising above the low mountains to the east and a juniper-strewn and sage brush-dotted landscape with a home-made cup of coffee in hand is an ideal way to start the day — all before heading to the Railyard Farmer’s Market for fresh breads, green chiles and short, nubby carrots all created or grown at the vendor’s homes. The Railyard is also home to a few galleries, such as Mark White’s kinetic and modern art displays — a must-see for anyone visiting Santa Fe.
The Artisans Market at the historic plaza is another sight to see. Artists from nearby pueblo villages come to town to peddle their wares displayed on cloth sheets on the brick sidewalk, seated side-by-side — an art display on many levels.
We visited the artisans on our way to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, where a special exhibit displayed her time at Lake George, a New England retreat. A great influence on O’Keefe’s early career, we found the earthy watercolors a significant insight into the famed artist’s persona.
To relax after a day of walking and viewing art, we took the elevator at the La Fonda hotel to the top, where The Bell Tower bar greeted us. Sipping on wine overlooking the city — and the sunset — we leaned back and did what visitors do best — we people watched. The colors changed on the horizon and the adobe homes glowed in the fading sunlight as the orb began to creep toward the horizon.
Night life in Santa Fe is delightful. The Cowgirl offers live music most weekend nights, but we found ourselves at the Marble Brewing Tap Room, where college football games aired on screen and teams played shuffleboard in the corner. Rooftop Pizza, a spectacular outlet for unique pizza creations, supplied our dinner.
The next day, it was off to Ojo Caliente, an all-seasons stop for those traveling to Santa Fe and its surrounding areas — be it as a destination, a stop along the way, an eatery on the road, or just to soak while visiting Angel Fire Resort, Ski Santa Fe or Taos Ski Valley in winter.