Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

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Travel guide to New Mexico’s beauty, Santa Fe

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Santa Fe New Mexico is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway at any age. Known for its unique architecture & art scene, Santa Fe will keep your eyes & stomach full. The city combines modern healthy lifestyle with historic spanish charm, which makes it feel like something out of this world.

Included in this post:

  • Best time to visit Santa Fe
  • How to get around the city
  • Top Things to do in Santa Fe
  • Excursions outside of the city
  • The best places to eat & more!

Travel guide for a Weekend Getaway in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Time to Go

Santa Fe is a perfect weekend destination year-round! Depending on what you want to do while visiting will help to decide when to go. In the winter months, Santa Fe is chilly and dry, with snow in the nearby mountains, so is a great time to visit for skiers. Where as in the summer, the days are hot and the nights are warm. Personally, I prefer fall & spring, as the weather will be warm without the heat.

 

 

Weather in Santa Fe

A great thing about Santa Fe is the 350+ days of sunshine each year. There is a monsoon season towards the end of summer but visitors will most likely only see rain for an hour or two in the afternoons. With temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 85 degrees in the summer, travelers are almost guaranteed to experience a wonderful mild weather setting no matter when they visit.

 

 

Transportation/Getting Around Santa Fe

Downtown Santa Fe is very walkable, however if you stay outside of town you will need a car or need to use a ride share service. Luckily there is plenty of parking in the downtown area. There is a bus system in place for public transportation but with most of the major sites being within walking distance you may not even need it.

Top things to do in Santa Fe:

There is no shortage of unique things to do in Santa Fe. Here is a list of places to see and things to do that I wouldn’t miss when visiting Santa Fe:

 

 

Stroll along The Plaza

The Plaza is the central historic district of Santa Fe. It’s the hub of the city, and on weekends there are often events in the streets. This 400 years old center is where you’ll spend most of your time, so go slow and soak it all up.

Purchase turquoise jewelry along the Palace of the Governors

The Palace of the Governors is the historic building where Spain ruled over the American Southwest in the early 17th century. While you can pay $12 to enter the building, I think it’s more fun to spend your time underneath the outdoor arches of the building. You’ll find beautiful turquoise jewelry pieces handmade by locals here. These outdoor vendors typically have better prices and you can barter with them.

 

 

Walk through the Loretto Chapel

While I can’t claim this to be the coolest church I’ve ever been into, the Loretto Chapel holds quite a bit of history for the Santa Fe area & is worth a visit.

Enjoy a tasting at Santa Fe Spirits

Known for their barrel aged whiskey’s this distillery creates delicious spirits that embrace the spirit of the Southwest region.

*Santa Fe Spirits is a short drive outside of the historic district & opens at 3pm daily

 

 

Mesmerize your senses at Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf is an immersive and interactive experience that embraces weirdness & challenges societal norms. For $30 you can spend an afternoon in this multi-sensory exhibit and be delighted for hours by the designs.

Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm

Fri & Sat 10am-10pm

Cost: $30 general admission

Noisy Water Winery; green Chile wine

New Mexico has a thing with green chiles. And by ‘thing’, I mean they’re obsessed with them. You’ll find green chiles (and red too) in almost every dish. Noisy Water Winery took it a step further by creating Green Chile Wine! Stop in to their tasting room in Santa Fe and enjoy a sample of this spicy wine, along with their other delicious options.

Kakawa Chocolate House

This specialty chocolate house just outside of The Plaza is a chocolate lovers dream come true. Kakawa Chocolate House makes chocolate elixirs dating back to Mayan & Aztec times. Stop in for a tasting and order yourself a cup of your favorite elixir. Don’t worry the staff here are extremely friendly and offer plenty of samples so you can find your favorite – mine was the Jeffersonian flavor made with nutmeg. There are more unique flavors like coconut hibiscus and french lavender. And if you like it purchase a bag to bring home with you or for your friends.

Santa fe Railyard Arts District

The Santa Fe Railyard Arts District houses many of the art galleries that travelers come to explore in the area. It’s well worth a walk through, and houses a brewery and delicious coffee shop too. The last friday of each month the area hosts an Art Walk where artists display their work, musicians play and more.

Visit the Santa Fe Opera & Tailgate beforehand

There is a local known tradition of tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera before the performance begins. It’s like a combination of class with cowboys, so don’t feel as if you need to pack your gown or tuxedo, come dressed in what you’re comfortable wearing and enjoy the performance.

The parking lot opens about three hours before the start of the shows, so you have plenty of time to enjoy your dinner and sunset from your tailgate.

Where to eat in Santa Fe

Here are the places that we tried and where locals suggested we dine in Santa Fe:

Outside of Santa Fe

New Mexico is home to so many unique & hidden gem spots. Here are the places around the area that we took time to explore during our weekend trip to Santa Fe:

 

Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument:

An hour outside of Santa Fe lies this 1.5 mile (one-way) hike. It’s best known for its tent rocks, which are unique cone shaped rock formations. The landscape here reminds me of Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatoowein in Star Wars. My advice, go when it opens so you can enjoy the hike & views without the crowds. *Check if the trail is open as it often closes during the winter months due to weather and snow.

Taos, New Mexico:

If you’re visiting Santa Fe in the winter and are a fan of skiing and snowboarding, I would suggest scheduling time to visit Taos, New Mexico. Travelers take the high road to Taos from Santa Fe and will be greeted by a town with charm similar to Santa Fe’s but on a smaller scale. This area has access to great mountain sport slopes, and a quintessential plaza area. *Be warned, the restaurants in this area are lacking in existence and in healthy food fares, so plan accordingly.

*On your way to Taos you’ll pass the El Santuario de Chimayo. This is a Catholic pilgrimage site on road to Taos, and worth a quick stop to explore.

 

Classical Gas Museum:

Probably one of the bizarrest and yet coolest places to see, the Classical Gas Museum is a great stop on your way back to Santa Fe from Taos. This ‘museum’ is free to enter and features classic gas pumps, neon signs and so much more from times throughout American history.

Fun Facts about visiting Santa Fe, Nex Mexico:

-Sopapillas should come for FREE at the end of your meal. If you see otherwise the food may not be traditionally made New Mexican food.

-Northern New Mexico is known for blue corn, southern New Mexico for white corn. So be sure to try blue corn tortillas with your meals.

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Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

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Visit White Sands National Monument

Visit White Sands National Monument

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A New Mexican Gem- what to expect & how to plan your visit

Last Updated December 4th, 2019

White Sands National Monument is a hidden gem in the state of New Mexico. It’s best known for it’s beautiful dunes of, you guessed it, white, soft sand. Located in between the towns of Alamogordo and Las Cruces White Sands is a must see destination in South-Central New Mexico.

While planning a road trip can be difficult work, this guide will help alleviate the stress of planning your visit to White Sands.

If you ever find yourself on a road trip through the ‘Land of Enchantment’ be sure to add White Sands National Monument as one of your stops.  Beautiful & serene, it was a stunning place hidden in the desert.

        As an east coast girl, I knew little to nothing about New Mexico prior to my visit… apart from Walter White’s fictional take over and an assumption that there must be tumbleweeds everywhere.  So, when I ventured there for a family visit with my boyfriend I was intrigued as to what he would have planned for us.

So, what exactly is White Sands?

It’s a nationally preserved destination in the Tularosa Basin of New Mexico. Known for its white sand dunes that extend for miles. Every year the dunes shift and change with the wind making it a special place to visit every year.

Where to stay near White Sands National Monument

I would suggest staying in Las Cruces, New Mexico. While it’s an hour away from the dunes, it has the better hotel options compared to Alamogordo and is closer than El Paso, Texas.

How to get to White Sands National Monument

Driving from Las Cruces: take US-70 E for 50 miles, then turn LEFT onto Dunes Drive.

Driving from Alamogordo: take US-70 W for 8 miles, then turn RIGHT onto Dunes Drive.

Driving from El Paso: take I-10 W for 40 miles, then US-70 W for 7 miles, turn LEFT onto Dunes Drive.

My experience: After an evening in Las Cruces, we woke up early to reach this great natural wonder.  Driving through the desert was stunning for sunrise; with little vegetation and vast open lands there isn’t much to hide the sun peaking over the horizon of the mountains west of Alamogordo.

As the terrain began to be hilly towards the end our drive we were able to see the tops of the white sand dunes in the distance. This sneak peek will definitely have you stoked to enter the park!

Check for road closures BEFORE you go

White Sands National Monument is close to the White Sands Missile Range. If you’re driving from Las Cruces or El Paso you’ll want to check if there are any scheduled missile tests prior to leaving. If so, the road leading to White Sands may be closed for over three hours

You can check the National Park Service website for closures. 

 

Entering White Sands National Monument Park

Upon pulling into the parking lot you’ll find a visitor center with a small shop and museum displaying the importance of desert life and its wildlife.

Opens at 8:00am

Entrance Fee: only $5

*White Sands Travel Tip: I would suggest getting there in the early morning when it opens OR in the evening for sunset.  Remember, it’s in a desert, so midday will be extremely hot.

What to do inside of White Sands:

As tempted as you might be to park at the first available spot within the park, don’t! Instead, drive as far back as you can to find solitude away from the other visitors. The park is quite large so drive to the back (before the road curves back towards the entrance).

The road in the park at the base of and in between the dunes. It’s quite scenic with over eight miles of glistening white, cascading dunes

Once parked get out of your car and walk around. Once you’re away from the crowds you’ll easily be able to secure an area for serene solitude.

 *White Sands Travel Tip: We visited in the morning and were easily able to walk around barefoot. Unlike sand you find at most beaches, the sane here is cool to the touch and much easier to walk along than a coastal beach sand.

Be sure to bring a sled with you, or rent one at the visitors center. Call ahead of time to ask about sled rentals, as sometimes they run out. And don’t bother trying to sled with cardboard boxes like we did… they don’t slide (haha!)

What is the sand at White Sands made of & where did it come from?

The sand here made of gypsum – a solft, sulfate mineral -that’s been eroded from the nearby San Andreas and Sacramento mountains. Within the mountains are ephemeral lakes (lakes that fill up with precipitation & then evaporate), and when they evaporate the minerals left behind are transported by the wind and is what forms the dunes.

FUN FACT: gypsum is water soluble, so typically eroded gypsum would runoff to the ocean from rainfall, but White Sands is situated in a mountain basin with no access to leave. This is why it’s built up over time to create the white sands dunes we’ve come to cherish.

Top Tips for visiting White Sands National Monument

  • Go early in the morning or at sunset; it’s in the desert, so the sun will be beaming.  Best to avoid high afternoon sun
  • DON’T leave trash behind
  • Wear whatever you like! Since the sand is easy to walk around on & the dunes are easy to climb, ladies can comfortably wear dresses.
  • Bring your own sled to slide down the dunes. (*we thought a broken down box would work…. It didn’t.) Or you can rent sleds at the guest center
  • Bring a water bottle with you. There is only water at the visitor center, so bring your own out on the dunes if you plan to spend a few hours there.

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