Our third stop on our epic road trip (first stop here, second stop here) was to Santa Fe, NM. The town itself was much smaller than I had realized, but it's very cute with a lot of character and killer food. The plaza is a great (albeit expensive) place to get SW gifts and jewelry, but what I really loved was everything there was to explore surrounding the city. Here is what we did:
We visited the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs about 50 miles north of Santa Fe. You can stay here (it's a hotel), but you can also visit for the day, which is what we did. They have 11 different pools (with 4 different minerals!) all of varying temperatures and they even have a mud pool, where you cover yourself in mud, let it bake on you in the sun and then soak in a mud pool. It's wonderful and relaxing
New Mexico is actually home to quite a few vineyards. We checked out the cute and quaint Estrella del Norte winery, where I fell in love with their dessert mole wine. It's spicy and pairs perfectly with chocolate.
We checked out Bandelier National Monument where you can see dwellings from the ancestral pueblo people dating back 11,000 years! It is truly incredible and can be easily seen with a short hike.
We hiked Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. This hike is fairly easy (it gets a little steep towards the end, but it's mostly flat) and takes your through unique slot canyons with views of the interesting cone-shaped rock formations. It's a must.
We visited the interactive art museum Meow Wolf. I don't even know how to explain this place. It's part art installations and part mystery solving and the whole thing is just a trip. The show changes from time to time, but regardless of what is currently there, I imagine it's worth a visit.
Take the Turquoise Trail south from Santa Fe to the cute town of Madrid. There is a small strip of road lined with the cutest art shops and restaurants. Check out Sugarman's Little Chocolate Shop for some amazing chocolate bark.
We ate at Jambo Café, a African restaurant by head chef, Ahmed Obo. The meal was one of the highlights of our whole trip, and we got to meet Ahmed that night who was so kind and humble and happy we were there. We bought his cookbook that night and have since made his chicken curry recipe, which turned out so flavorful! It is going on permanent rotation.
Our other favorite restaurant was Café Pasqual's located by all the fun plaza shopping. It's the best place to get your SW food fix!
I also have to mention that we had the best experience at the Santa Fe Motel and Inn. This motel was extremely affordable and walking distance from the plaza. The rooms were spacious and had so many cute details all over the property. The breakfast was free and plentiful and served in a little SW decorated space with a burning fireplace to keep you warm on cool desert mornings. We loved it and highly recommend staying here.
Roadside stop for a treat when driving into Santa Fe
Soaking in the Ojo Caliente hot springs
Try their mole wine!
Cute details at the Santa Fe Inn and Motel
Visiting Bandelier National Monument
Look closely. You can see a ancient parrot sketch (called a petroglyph)
These circular "huts" were called a Kiva and used for religious ceremonies, family gatherings and making important decisions
Hiking through the Tent Rocks National Monument
Always, always keep an eye out for rattlers
Ancient petroglyphs can be found all over New Mexico!
An original kokopelli! This area is known for the famous hunch backed flute player.
The weird and crazy Meow Wolf
Inside Sugarman's in Madrid, NM