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What to See in Santa Fe

Planning a Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico?

By 2013, I visited (or at least passed through) 42 of the 50 U.S. states. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that Mr. Excitement and I finally traveled to New Mexico, the state whose license plate proclaims it the Land of Enchantment. We started with a visit to Santa Fe, only the fourth largest New Mexico city, but a capital for over 400 years!

My trip planning for our New Mexico trip was greatly enhanced because I met Santa Fe travel blogger Billie Frank. Billie and her husband, Steve Collins, publish Santa Fe Travelers, a website and blog covering Santa Fe and beyond.

Billie agreed to answer a few questions for Midlife Boulevard readers who are contemplating a visit to Santa Fe and New Mexico.

Interview with Santa Fe Travel Blogger Billie FrankSanta Fe points of interest. Where to stay and what to eat during your trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Travel.

Q.1) I know you grew up in New York City? How did you end up in New Mexico?

A.1) It’s a long story which appears in the first post on our blog in December of 2010. The very short story is we both fell in love with Santa Fe and decided we wanted to live here. It took 20 years, but we finally made our dream a reality.

Q.2) During our visit, we enjoyed the multi-cultural vibe of Santa Fe. Can you share with us a little about the history of Santa Fe?

A.2) There are three distinct cultures in Santa Fe: the indigenous Pueblo people, the Spanish, and the Anglos. These three influences give the city its distinct personality. The Puebloans have lived here in permanent settlements for over 1,000 years. The Spanish founded Santa Fe in 1610 (some say 1607) and controlled it until Mexican independence from Spain in 1821 when it became part of Mexico. Mexican independence saw the opening of the Santa Fe trail from Independence, Missouri and increased trade with the United States. At the end of the Mexican-American War in 1846, New Mexico became a US territory, gaining statehood in 1912.

Q.3) How did Santa Fe earn its nickname as “The City Different”?

A.3) I don’t know the official origin of the name, but Santa Fe is unique. It has a distinct Old World feeling characterized by the mix of Pueblo, Hispanic and Anglo cultures with a well-established artistic community. When artists arrived in the early 20th century they put their mark on the city, followed by intellectuals, writers and “free thinkers”. This unique mix still attracts people here.

Q.4) In your opinion, when is the best time of year to visit Santa Fe?

Fall wildflowers on the way up Museum Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico

We came across these fall wildflowers walking up to Museum Hill in Santa Fe. (Photo credit: Suzanne Fluhr).

A.4) It depends on what you’re looking for. Early April, when spring is arriving, is one of my two favorite times in Santa Fe. It’s still off-season, so there are usually good lodging deals.

Fall is my other favorite season here, but it’s still a busy tourist time.

Some really like summer as it’s packed with things to do such as the Santa Fe Opera, three major art markets (Folk Art, Spanish and Native American) and a host of other activities. In winter there are still things to do, including skiing, with low season accommodation rates.

In my opinion, Santa Fe is great to visit year-round!

Q.5) When we visited Santa Fe, we stayed in an atmospheric Bed and Breakfast, the Inn of the Turquoise Bear which I see is now rated #2 on TripAdvisor for B&Bs in Santa Fe. What other types of accommodations are available for Santa Fe visitors?

Inn of the Turquoise Bear - Santa Fe

The  Inn of the Turquoise Bear in Santa Fe (Photo credit: Suzanne Fluhr)

A.5) Visitors will find hotels, motels and small bed and breakfast inns. House and apartment rentals are available through local rental companies, direct from owners or via Airbnb. My recommendation is to find a place near the downtown Plaza area or walking distance from there. That area is where you’ll experience the history and ambiance of the city.

Q.6) Do you recommend that visitors to Santa Fe have a car at their disposal or are there other ways to get around?

A.6) There is the Santa Fe Pick-up, a free shuttle service for areas of interest to visitors in the city, such as the Historic Plaza, Railyard, the Canyon Road galleries and Museum Hill,  For areas of the city that are farther afield, Santa Fe Trails offers reasonably-priced local bus service. Much of the central core of the city is walkable.

To explore areas outside the city, you will need a car.

Q.7) As you know, Santa Fe cuisine was pretty much wasted on me because I can’t eat spicy food and it seemed that almost everything in restaurants had chile in it. (Thanks for finding us an Italian restaurant.) For people with a less wimpy palate than I have, is Santa Fe a good destination for “foodies”? What’s your favorite Santa Fe restaurant?

Santa Fe drying chiles

Chiles are omnipresent in New Mexican cuisine and could be seen drying outside many Santa Fe Homes. (Photo credit: Suzanne Fluhr)

A.7) It depends on my mood and budget. For an amazing high-end meal, my current favorite is Sazón which serves Chef Fernando Olea’s “New World Cuisine.” He is a master of moles and there are always at least four on offer each evening. The food is well-executed, service is good and you’ll have a memorable evening.

If you want American fusion, there is a host of really good restaurants to choose from, including Geronimo, Restaurant Martin, 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. El Nido in Tesuque is unique, offering a Italian-influenced menu, most of which is cooking using wood. Other more moderately-priced places we love include Jambo for African food, Paper Dosa for Southern Indian cuisine, La Boca for tapas and Del Charro for a good burger and other well-priced pub food. I could recommend dozens of restaurants where you’ll have a great meal.

Q.8) What are your top 5 Santa Fe points of interest? 

Sculpture garden, Canyon Road, Santa Fe

A Canyon Road sculpture garden gallery in Santa Fe. (Photo credit: Suzanne Fluhr)

  1. The Santa Fe museums are well-worth a visit and there are a lot to choose from depending on your interests.
  2. Walk around the downtown Plaza area and the historic east side, including Canyon Road where the city’s largest concentration of art galleries is located.
  3. Explore the Railyard/Guadalupe District which is home to many contemporary art galleries, SITE Santa Fe (a cutting-edge art museum), shops, restaurants, and the vibrant Santa Fe Farmers Market.
  4. Shop! Santa Fe is THE place for American Indian art. The downtown area is made up of independently-owned shops offering a wide array of interesting goods. There are also shops in the Railyard District as well as a smattering along Canyon Road.
  5. Take a day trip. My favorites are Georgia O’Keeffe Country, Las Vegas (the original, in New Mexico), and the High Road to Taos.

There are many more!

Q.9) If Midlife Boulevard readers want to hire you and Steve to help with Santa Fe trip planning, is that a possibility?

A.9) Absolutely! We also provide guides for private tours. You can contact us here and via our Santa Fe Travelers website.

Thanks for sharing The City Different with us.

My pleasure!

If you’ve been to Santa Fe, what was your favorite place? If not, would you consider a visit to The City Different?

Flying? Here’s our TSAPreCheck guide.

Traveling without your pets? Here are our dog boarding solutions.

Suzanne Fluhr, Travel Editor

Suzanne Fluhr, Midlife Boulevard's travel editor, is a recovering Philadelphia lawyer, empty nester, wanderer, dog person and Zentangle® enthusiast. She also writes about Baby Boomer travels for the body and mind on her personal blog, Boomeresque. Instagram: Boomeresque2

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Wednesday 14th of June 2017

The pictures and wonderful information (especially the food and art) are propelling me to Santa Fe. I can't wait to go. I will use Suzanne and Biy as my travel guides any day.

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