6 Ideal Places To Stay, Eat, And Have Fun In New Mexico
From vast deserts and mesas to national forests and towering snow-capped mountains, New Mexico provides an ideal setting for lovers of the American West. In addition to its sweeping beauty and abundant opportunities for recreation, the state is home to a wide array of historic sites and cultural destinations, informed by centuries of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican traditions. In no particular order, here are some can't-miss places and activities to consider when vacationing to the aptly nicknamed Land of Enchantment.
For #1 we have The Grove Cafe & Market, located in Albuquerque's Edo neighborhood. Owned and operated by Jason and Lauren Greene, the establishment serves brunch, lunch, and all-day breakfast, sourcing its food from growers and producers from throughout New Mexico and the Southwest region. Patrons can also treat themselves to a full line of espresso, coffee, and tea, as well as beer, wine, and mimosas.
Among the cafe's menu items are smoked salmon, sweet potato hash, and a classic egg breakfast, plus lunch options including various sandwiches and soups and salads. There are also Family Meals with both breakfast and dinner offerings, and classic sweets such as cupcakes, muffins, and cookies. Meanwhile, customers can shop The Grove's market for cookbooks, boutique groceries, and an assortment of chocolates, journals, candles, and other life necessities.
Coming in at #2 is Taos, long considered one of America's foremost artists' colonies. The northern New Mexico town is also home to several landmark sites, museums, and a majestic landscape encompassing the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge. Visitors will find rich spiritual traditions, fine art, distinctive cuisine, and a thriving music scene, as well as an assortment of outdoor recreational opportunities and indoor activities including pottery workshops and yoga.
One of the city's major attractions is the multi-storied Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. Other must-see sites include the 18th-century St. Francisco de Asis Church, the 650-foot-high Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and Historic Taos Plaza, where old mercantile stores house galleries, restaurants, and shops. For outdoor adventurers, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument comprises over 200,000 acres to explore.
For #3 we find Hotel Chaco in Old Town Albuquerque. It's managed by Heritage Hotels & Resorts, a New Mexico-based, minority-owned company that draws from the Native American, Mexican, Spanish, and American Western influences of the Southwest. Inspired by the ancient pueblo culture of Chaco Canyon, this luxury resort was built with traditional masonry techniques, and features unique room layouts designed by famed architecture firm Gensler.
In addition to a fitness studio and a pool, Hotel Chaco is home to Gallery Hozho, which displays the works of Indigenous, non-Indigenous, and Latinx artists associated with New Mexico. For dining and nightlife, the hotel's Level 5 restaurant serves seasonal, regionally-sourced cuisine, while Crafted Cafe features New Mexico-made wines and spirits. Nearby, guests can check out Historic Old Town Plaza, the Rio Grande Bosque, and the Sawmill District, which has shops, art, and entertainment.
At #4 is Red River, situated in Taos County. Once a boomtown centered around hundreds of gold, silver, and copper mines, the city eventually became a mountain retreat after homesteaders began outnumbering the prospectors. Today, Red River is a resort town offering a wide assortment of year-round recreation, entertainment, and shopping, as well as diverse lodging and dining options.
The town is home to a handful of sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Little Red School House Museum, Orin Mallette Cabin, and Pierce Fuller House. Outdoor enthusiasts, meanwhile, can take advantage of numerous hiking and biking trails, fishing spots, and opportunities for rafting and horseback riding. Red River is equally accommodating of winter weather, offering skiing and snowboarding terrain for those of all skill levels and abilities.
For #5 we get La Fonda on the Plaza, the only hotel situated on the historic Santa Fe Plaza. City records indicate that it sits on the site of the town's first inn, established when the city was founded by the Spanish in 1607, making the property the oldest hotel corner in America. It features authentic New Mexican architecture, as well as amenities including concierge services, a business center, a spa, and complimentary art and history tours, which survey the hotel's extensive art collection.
Each of La Fonda's guest rooms and suites features real New Mexican craftsmanship, with hand-painted headboards, handcrafted furnishings, and original artwork. The hotel also boasts three unique Santa Fe dining options, including a rooftop cocktail bar and a patio-level restaurant serving updated twists on Southwestern cuisine. Thanks to the hotel's central location, guests have easy access to nearby attractions such as the New Mexico History Museum and the Loretto Chapel.
Finally, arriving at #6 is the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. The mission of its parent non-profit organization is to create economic opportunities for, and with, folk artists worldwide, and to celebrate and preserve their traditions. Every year, more than 150 artists participate, trekking to the United States from 60 different nations. IFAM claims that when the creators return to their native countries, their earnings often help sustain their entire communities.
The Market also plays host to the International Food Bazaar, which features a selection of global foods from over a dozen vendors. Beyond the Market, guests can attend year-round Folk Art Matters events, consisting of lectures, films, and workshops that explore the cultural influences of folk art. Educational opportunities, as well as special sales events, are also available throughout the year at the IFAM Center and Shop.