The Land of Enchantment. New Mexico is strange. And yes, it is a part of the US. Many probably consider New Mexico a “nothing” State, while nothing could be further from the truth!
I’m going to divide this into at least two posts because I have a lot to say about my current home State!
I’ll start with one of the more well known places. Santa Fe, the capital, is a trendy city teeming with culture and amazing food and art and history. It has a richness to it’s culture few cities I’ve been to capture, and I’ve been to many.
While New Mexico is a relatively young State, Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the US. First settled in 1607 by the Spanish, it also holds some of the oldest buildings in the US. The Palace of the Governors, built in 1610, is a must see for history lovers. It’s now a museum, so you can wander around the 400+ year old building and look at artifacts that predate our country, and see how some of the first governors in North America lived!
If you’re more into food, there are top rated restaurants everywhere.
The Shed has delicious food and a cozy atmosphere that reflects the State so well. They serve New Mexican food, which is completely it’s own category. A staple of New Mexican cuisine is the chile, and you absolutely MUST try at least one dish that’s smothered in it to fully experience New Mexico. I prefer green chile, but there are many out there who prefer red. If you want to try both just ask for your burrito, enchilada, huevos rancheros, etc. “Christmas style.” You’ll get it with a bit of both kind of chiles and decide which you like best.
If you’re more into tea or coffee, this is the place to be. Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse is a must visit. On a perfect day, you could be browsing books, sipping on delicious cold brew, while live jazz is being performed, warm sunshine pouring in each of the windows and reflecting off copper accents. It’s a magical experience everyone needs to have, trust me! They have tea but if you’re looking for an eclectic loose leaf shop, ArtfulTea is your place. There are so many blends to smell and admire, and all kinds of lovely tea accessories for a true tea connoisseur. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the service is pleasant (yes, even after you spill coffee on their floor. I’m not speaking from experience or anything…)
There are plenty of places to shop and lots of souvenirs, but beware of fake souvenirs. Please make sure if you take something home that reflects Native American culture, it’s made right here in New Mexico by people who lovingly handcrafted something that represents their beautiful and enduring culture and history. Look for tags and signs that show authenticity. And don’t forget to pick up some postcards with photos taken or art made by New Mexicans. Trust me, the authentic stuff is much more special.
By far my favorite experience in Santa Fe is the Santa Fe Farmers Market, located right by the train station at the railyard. Overflowing with local grown and made fruits, vegetables, meat, honey, flowers, bread, and so much more, it’s the essence of my happy place. Here you could also pick up a breakfast burrito (a NM staple, you’ll soon learn), a cup of coffee, a pastry, and make a morning and early afternoon out of it! I guarantee you’ll see some adorable dogs too, and maybe enjoy some live music. What’s not to love?
It’s best to experience Santa Fe on foot. My family likes to come in on the Rail Runner Express, departing Albuquerque around 8:30 Saturday morning and arriving at the Santa Fe Depot around 10am. From there it’s a short walk to the Farmers Market, and a 10 minute walk to the downtown. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to walk back to the station and get on your train on time!
Now here are some things I recommend bringing with you on your Santa Fe trip.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses – the sun in New Mexico is intense. We’re at a higher elevation most of the time and you will feel and see a difference! Wear plenty of sunscreen (here’s my favorite kind) and reapply as the day progresses.
- A light jacket or long sleeve button up – even if you go in the summer, the temperatures drop considerably with the sun. My Santa Fe uniform in the summer is a tee shirt with a long sleeve collared button up and shorts. I start off with the shirt unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up and roll them down as the day progresses. It’s also helpful to protect my neck, shoulders, and back from the sun.
- Water – you can get free water at places like Starbucks but you will definitely want to bring your own refillable bottle. New Mexico is extremely dry and you will need all the hydration you can get.
- Lip balm – like I said, it’s dry here! Lip balm is a must have. (Read about my favorite brand here!) Reapply every few hours. This will also help protect your lips from the sun! Sunburnt lips are. the. worst. Prevent them!!!
- Hand purifier – it’s always a good idea to protect your immunity but especially when you’re traveling! Have hand purifier on you all the time (my favorite here – it’s non toxic!) so you don’t have to pause before eating an ice cream cone to find a public restroom and wash your hands.
- Thieves Roll-On – keep this lovely in your pocket or purse and roll it on your forearms and the back of your neck throughout the day for germ protection and an added immune boost, especially if you take public transportation!
Enjoy Santa Fe, the slow pace, the gorgeous architecture and surrounding nature, the delicious food, the unique buys, the delightful people, and the glorious sunshine!