As part of a vacation to New Mexico we visited Cloudcroft, Ruidoso, and then spent 5 days in Santa Fe and had a blast at each one. We left the fun times and the cool weather in Ruidoso and after a 191 mile drive through the "land of enchantment" and some interesting scenery, we finally arrived in Santa Fe, which is the capital of New Mexico
Santa Fe was founded in 1610 which makes it the oldest capital city in the United States and the oldest city in New Mexico. Santa Fe (meaning "holy faith" in Spanish) had a population of 69,204 in 2012 and today Santa Fe is a major tourist attraction and best know for it's art and culture, historical attractions, restaurants, unique lodging, and wide variety of fun things to see and do including skiing in the winter.
Santa Fe is 7199' above sea level and the temperatures were pleasant but not as cool as we were hoping we would find during our escape from the Texas heat - in the low 90s, which is much better the the 105 we left in Austin! And after 10 days in the mountains it felt strange to be back in a major city with stop lights and traffic and a lack of tall towering trees, but it was good to be in place loaded with lots to see and do. We love Santa Fe.
We pulled the RV into it's pull through site at Los Suenos de Santa Fe RV Park and Campground which is about 5 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza and a perfect location to explore Santa Fe. This park is one of the closest RV parks to the Plaza and it was easy to get to the restaurants, golf courses, and music from the RV park. Here is a link to our review of Los Suenos de Santa Fe RV Park.
After parking the RV we immediately headed to the Plaza for some live music and craft beer. The Plaza is a National Historic Landmark and has been known as "the heart of Santa Fe" for over 400 years. The center point of the Plaza is a 2 or 3 block square with trees, park benches, and grass and it's home to music festivals, car shows, art displays, Native Americans displaying jewelry and art on native blankets on the sidewalks, tourists resting on park benches with their shopping bags, a dance floor that's packed during the music, and lots of locals and tourists enjoying several other events and activities through out the year.
Surrounding the Plaza and for several blocks in any direction are historic monuments, excellent restaurants, tons of art galleries, local businesses, and other attractions including the Palace of the Governors (the oldest public building in the U.S.), the New Mexico Museum of Art, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the Loretto Chapel. All of the architecture is pueblo fashion.
During our stay there was live music in the Plaza every night from around 5 to 10 PM. We listened to 4 very good bands and musicians over the course of our stay including a set from one of our favorites, Michael Hearne, who now lives around Austin and has been described as an "Acoustic Southwestern Americana Musical Guitar Genius." One night was particularly enjoyable as we sat on the second story balcony at the Draft Station playing dominos, sipping a flight of local brewed beer, and listing to the music in the Plaza. It just doesn't get much better than that?
We spent a lot of time biking around the Plaza, enjoying live music, ducking into and out of some very exclusive shops, looking at antique cars that surrounded the Plaza one day, watching the tourists and locals dancing and having fun, dining on some delicious Mexican food, and sipping some local beer and several margaritas! What a great place to hang out! Everywhere we went in Santa Fe we found music - at the Plaza, at restaurants, or at the Railway station.
When we could drag ourselves away from the Plaza, we played golf at Black Mesa, Quail Run, and Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe. Black Mesa is rated as one of the best courses in New Mexico and it is a blast to play - dirt cart paths twist and turn up and down towering sandstone hills (it's like riding an ATV in the desert) and the fairways do the same thing. Plus there are over 100 sand traps, a fantastic and challenging layout, plus beautiful scenery of the desert, mountains, and foothills - read our review of Black Mesa Golf Club.
Located close to the heart of Santa Fe we played Quail Run which is a private club but does have a unique stay and play option. It was completely different than Black Mesa as it's lush green fairways played through a variety of homes and a wide variety of different trees lining the fairways plus views of Santa Fe. Quail Run is a nine hole course with tight, twisting and near perfect conditions. Here is a link to our review of Quail Run.
Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe is somewhat of a cross between the other two courses we played. It was carved out of relatively flat New Mexico desert on the outskirts of Santa Fe and it's a links style layout with some wide forgiving fairways, berms and bunkers to contend with, as well as challenging green complexes, desert scrub brush, and snakes if you miss the fairway. Check our our review of Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe.
All of that golf will make a man hungry and thirsty which means that after golf we typically went somewhere for appetizers and craft beer or margaritas followed by live music and dinner. Having grown up in New Mexico, I love New Mexican food and I die for hatch green chilies on anything - eggs, hamburgers, enchiladas, burritos, steaks, etc. and now I have a six pack of New Mexico brewed Pancho Verde Green Chile Cerveza!
I'm also addicted to sopapillas, particularly with honey, cinnamon, and ice cream - and Santa Fe is loaded with lots of great restaurants serving green chili and sopapillas - I was in heaven for a week. There are lots of excellent restaurants and some of them that were consistently recommended to us included: Cowgirls, Tomasitas, Cafe Pasqual's, Blue Corn, Coyote Cafe, The Shed, Grabriels, La Choza, Santa Fe Bar & Grill, La Fonda, and Tortilla Flats. We tried several of them and one night we even had Indian (not Native American Indian) food at Raaga - a refreshing break!.
On Sunday after riding bikes along the railroad track trail, we stopped at the Water Tower in the Santa Fe Railyard Plaza to listen to Martin Sexton. What a voice and his signature American music which was influenced by soul, gospel, country, and rock. A pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
All too soon we were out of time and missed a lot of other fun things we wanted to see and do in Santa Fe like visiting Taos, the Rio Grande Gorge, rafting the river, hiking some trails in the Santa Fe Mountains. Here is just a sampling of other things to see and do in Santa Fe:
Return to the rest of the article about our vacation to Cloudcroft, Ruidoso, and Santa Fe.