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Santa Fe NM Trip--Need Advice
Old 06-04-2015, 10:08 AM   #1
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Santa Fe NM Trip--Need Advice

DW and DD are putting together a 4/5 day July visit to Santa Fe (I may join them if the plan sounds good) primarily to take in the art exhibits that take place then.
It has been many years since any of us traveled there, so the slate is quite blank. Would like advice on local attractions (primarily in the art/nature categories) as well as lodging recommendations.
Travel will be by air and rental car.
Any thoughts and ideas greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:54 AM   #2
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When you say 'nature' categories, are you also looking for 'outside' activities like a scenic drive & hike?


My folks live in Santa Fe and we would take trips out to see them for Thanksgiving, so we've done some pretty neat 'nature' stuff (that and I used to live in Albuquerque, but that was in the 70's).
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Old 06-04-2015, 12:04 PM   #3
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When you say 'nature' categories, are you also looking for 'outside' activities like a scenic drive & hike?

.
Sure, scenic drives and "moderate" hiking are good ideas, although the main theme of the trip is to take in the art festivals and exhibits.
I should add, they are both big time into landscaping and such. Therefore, attractions like botanical gardens would be enjoyed.
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Old 06-04-2015, 12:28 PM   #4
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Couple of ideas for daily outings:

1) Take the Turquoise Scenic Byway drive from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.
Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (New Mexico) - The Perfect Day Trip between Santa Fe and Albuquerque

There are some stops on the way to quirky art shops, plus it is a very nice scenic drive. Non-stop its just over an hour's drive, so you can still have time to spend in Albuquerque. Go to Old Town and stroll the Plaza shops and museums, have lunch.
Then a relatively short drive to the Sandia Tram and take the tram to the top of Sandia Crest and behold the vista!
Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway - Sandia Peak Tramway

2) Another day trip out and back would be to drive out of Santa Fe to Bandolier National Monument.
Bandelier National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Do the park and ride into the National Monument area and walk the grounds, visit the Museum there - I think they have art on sale too. Have a bite to eat, then finish the drive along Highway 4 past Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Valles Caldera National Preserve - Homepage

Stop and take in the vista. There is a trail called Coyote Call outside of the park and 'free'. Or enter the park, I believe there is an access fee and check out the visitor center and trails in the park.

Depending on the day remaining, head back to Santa Fe or continue driving the 4 and pass thru Jemez Springs to stop at the little shops there, maybe get some coffee or a bite to eat. It is a pretty drive from there to the 550 that connects you back to I-25 and Santa Fe.

3) Straight down the I-25 South from Santa Fe about 1/2 hour away is Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rock National Monument
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

There is a very cool slot trail the winds its way in a narrow canyon up to the mesa top and more gorgeous views.

You could make it a 1/2 day out and back trip or connect to Albuquerque for the rest of the day. Maybe make a reservation before leaving Santa Fe to eat dinner at the upscale but yummy El Pinto restaurant in the Albuquerque Valley area.

It will be July - stay hydrated!
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Old 06-04-2015, 12:48 PM   #5
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If after a good hike you're looking for a really nice relaxing afternoon, head up the road from Santa Fe (just a few miles) on Hyde Park Rd to a spa called "Ten Thousand Waves".

Very restful and cool. Japanese in feel and style.

Hot tubs, massage etc in a wilderness setting.

http://www.tenthousandwaves.com/
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Old 06-04-2015, 04:44 PM   #6
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I avoid Santa Fe for the most part, even though it is approx 1.5 hours from me. Just think of it as Berkeley, NM. Some good restaurants and the old town square with some art stuff and the tourist type shops.

Besides the other recommendations provided, Albuquerque has the BioPark:
https://www.cabq.gov/culturalservices/biopark

Albuquerque Old Town area is another good choice, but basically tourist shops and some more art stores. The tram is certainly recommended, outstanding views and some nice hiking trails around the top. Sandia Peak is just over 10,000 ft, and ABQ city is approx 5200-5300 ft. Evening is best so you can watch the sunset from the top. There is a restaurant up there, called High Finance (ironic name for the forum here) that is OK food, obviously paying for the view.

Hwy 14 which is the Turquoise Trail goes through a small town called Madrid, which is a good stop for half a day. Drive there from Santa Fe or ABQ, it's a bit closer to SF. Just park and then walk the main drag. Has many art shops and stores.

There are numerous Indian casinos just outside Santa Fe if you like gambling.

Los Alamos is about 30-45 minutes away from Santa Fe and has the Bradbury Museum:
Bradbury Science Museum

ABQ has the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History:
The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

There area lot of great Microbrew beer places in ABQ, most have a pub area to have a beer on-site. Some have restaurants with them or food trucks so you can get something to eat.
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Old 06-04-2015, 07:35 PM   #7
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All good stuff folks, I appreciate it.
Would also like to get ideas on lodging in Santa Fe, probably as close to the center of the action as possible (if that is practical.)
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:28 PM   #8
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We can wholeheartedly recommend Inn on the Alameda in Santa Fe. Great breakfast and afternoon wine/cheese reception is included. Also second the recommendation for Tent Rocks and Bandelier National Monument. Don't miss museum hill in Santa Fe, especially the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.
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Old 06-04-2015, 09:17 PM   #9
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We really like the Sandia Tramway. Also, the hot springs at http://www.ojospa.com are fantastic.
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:01 AM   #10
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I subscribe to New Mexico Magazine (gotta get my fix for the Land of Enchantment) and they have an on-line website with lots of good travel planning info.


Here is a link to the Santa Fe region:
North Central - New Mexico Tourism - Vacation Destination Spots - New Mexico Tourism - Travel & Vacation Guide


I don't have any specific hotel recommendations, cuz we stay at my folks house, but if your goal is to be close to the art scene, then the densest area would be on/near the plaza - and there are lots of hotels that border the plaza area.
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:12 AM   #11
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We have stayed at several hotels in Santa Fe. The one we liked best was the Hotel Chimayo Boutique Santa Fe Hotel, Explore Chimayo, Cultural New Mexico Destinations

Also one of my favorite restaurants in the USA is the Los Potrillos Mexican Restaurant in Santa Fe.
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Old 06-05-2015, 05:13 PM   #12
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Ditto the recommendation to treat yourself at Ten Thousand Waves.
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Old 06-06-2015, 01:04 AM   #13
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The Santa Fe Botanical Garden is at Museum Hill, mostly native plants. There is also a larger botanical garden in Albuquerque next to the aquarium with a Mediterranean plant conservatory, desert plant conservatory, Japanese garden, etc. Taos is about 1 1/2 hours from Santa Fe and has art galleries and several art museums. Taos Pueblo is always interesting. The Santa Fe Garden Club is offering a Home and Garden Tour on July 21 and July 28.
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Old 06-07-2015, 11:41 AM   #14
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The Santa Fe Botanical Garden is at Museum Hill, mostly native plants. There is also a larger botanical garden in Albuquerque next to the aquarium with a Mediterranean plant conservatory, desert plant conservatory, Japanese garden, etc. Taos is about 1 1/2 hours from Santa Fe and has art galleries and several art museums. Taos Pueblo is always interesting. The Santa Fe Garden Club is offering a Home and Garden Tour on July 21 and July 28.
+1 on Taos Pueblo
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Old 06-08-2015, 02:50 PM   #15
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Very helpful stuff folks.. I'm passing it all to the planning committee (DW and DD) I'm sure they will come up with something good using your input.
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Old 06-08-2015, 02:54 PM   #16
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Adding my thanks as well. I will be in Santa Fe in August (exploring the area as a possible retirement location) but we'll do a lot of sightseeing as well.
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Old 06-08-2015, 06:29 PM   #17
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Photo guy, at least housing prices are down a bit now. My brother lives there and so we keep up with things in the area. We grew up in ABQ.


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Old 06-08-2015, 08:31 PM   #18
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For scenic drives some of these folks have you driving all over New Mexico when the most scenic drive and trials by far are just out the back door up to Hyde Park and the Santa Fe ski basin. Just take NM475 from downtown and drive right straight up the hill, beautiful scenery, really so in the fall. Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway - New Mexico Tourism - Travel & Vacation Guide
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Old 06-09-2015, 08:55 AM   #19
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Photo guy, at least housing prices are down a bit now
That's good to know (I haven't yet started following local real estate trends). I did notice that overall housing prices seem pretty reasonable despite its reputation as a tourist location, but my frame of reference is california
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Old 06-09-2015, 09:27 AM   #20
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Photoguy: my parents moved to SF for a few years, but ultimately left. The cold and the ice in the winter were tough, so make sure you visit in the off season too.

Finding primary care doctors is easy, but SF is one of those enclaves of isolated rich people that often results in poor specialist access for Medicare patients. My mom had to drive to ABQ to see a dermatologist.

It is a small town. My parents found that there was a big population of very poor people and a big population of very rich and often part-time people and very, very few in the middle. My mother got tired of playing golf by herself much of the time. My father, OTOH, enjoyed the artsy people and had a grand old time coaxing money out of rich people for his favorite charity.

JPatrick: if you aren't used to the altitude, you'll want to keep your hiking plans modest.
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