Santa Fe, NM
So the way the 4th of July holiday fell this summer, we ended up with a four day weekend. And what better way to spend a long weekend than with a road trip? So Jeff and I looked up places that were within a certain distance and landed on Santa Fe, New Mexico. Another state that I had never visited and only about 6 or 8 hours away (I say 6 or 8 because it depends on how many places you stop along the way!). So we made our reservation, packed up our little SUV and were on our way!
To mix it up a bit, we drove alongside the mountain range instead of on the main highway. Much better views, if a bit slower traffic. On the plus side, we drove right by the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is a strange collection of sand dunes on the side of the Rocky Mountain Range. Apparently it's very cool to see and you can even surf the dunes, however we decided to skip it for this particular trip. We were eager to get to Santa Fe and besides, having grown up in Florida, I've seen plenty of sand dunes! I didn't get any good pictures of the dunes, because the road was just a little too far away, but here's a couple of the views along the drive.
Once we got to Santa Fe, we checked into our hotel. We had picked the Drury Inn, which ended up being a great choice - it was located right behind the cathedral on the main street, and offered the extra perks of free breakfast and evening happy hour... amazing, right? I mean, who doesn't like free food and booze? But we also love to enjoy the local cuisine anywhere we visit, so we headed out to explore.
We had a few beers and something called a Frito Pie at the Coyote Cantina, a colorful little rooftop bar overlooking the street. I highly recommend the pie, it was delicious! Not actually a pie though, more a bowl of chili-esque meat with Fritos and cheese. Yum! Then we wandered across the street to another rooftop bar (really, every city should have more rooftop bars) for some tacos and margaritas. This one was called Blue Corn Café and actually had their own brewery, although we chose to indulge in the margaritas - hey, when you're this close to Mexico, you gotta drink some tequila!
With full bellies and a slight buzz, we wandered around the rest of the old downtown area. We saw the "Oldest House in the U.S.", the De Vargas Street House, and walked around inside - if you're claustrophobic you might want to avoid this one. It was tiny inside! I almost filled the doorway and I'm a pretty average size. The pictures below show the oldest section of the building on De Vargas street, built on an Indian Pueblo foundation from 1200 AD, followed by a picture of the De Vargas house in 1879 and a shot of the interior.
Then we checked out some of the local historic churches. The Loretto Chapel has a beautiful staircase that defies gravity by having no interior support - read the full legend here, it's fascinating! It also says there's no nails holding it together, only wooden pegs. Oh and the original staircase had no handrail... Not sure I'd feel safe walking up that thing, but apparently it's withstood the test of time!
Even though I love historical places and find it interesting, Jeff is more interested in art. So our next stop was something we could both enjoy: the Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return. Okay, it's a bit confusing, so stay with me here... it's a bowling alley that a group of artists turned into an interactive funhouse that you can explore. So, so much fun! You start off in this replica of a normal Victorian house, then there are "portals" throughout the rooms inside - you can walk into the fireplace, kitchen fridge, bedroom closet, and even slide down a tunnel through the dryer door! Once through the portals, there were tons of rooms to explore. You could purchase 3D glasses, which was kind of fun with some of the rooms that had neon patterns and colors.
After exploring so much, we got a little hungry, so we had dinner at the restaurant in the hotel, called ELOISA. I highly recommend it! The chef's grandmother taught him traditional New Mexican dishes and he's won some chefy awards for being so good. We had the scallops and the enchiladas and they were delicious.
After a whirlwind weekend enjoying Santa Fe, it was back on the road to head home. We stopped in Taos for lunch on a recommendation from my cousin, and ended up having the best stuffed green chiles EVER at the Historic Taos Inn. The waitress told us people travel from all over just for that dish, and after eating it, I believed her! To make it interesting, we took a different route home through the Santa Fe National Forest, which had some really pretty views. So I'll leave you with a few shots of the ride home, and hope you enjoyed reading about our Santa Fe experience!