Thursday, January 3, 2013

An Unforgettable Christmas in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a magical place.  Basked in a rich blend of Native American, Latino and Western cultures, it’s a city that has fascinated me since my first visit. 

It’s not just the abundance of arts, creativity, and intricate mixture of Southwestern (Mexican and Southern) cuisine that I love, but the endless possibilities of things to do that cater to every season of the year. 

I have been in Santa Fe during in the dog days of summer and cycled around the beautiful Old Town and Canyon Road taking refuge from the scorching sun in the picturesque parks and gardens.  Spring and fall are especially nice, as the days are perfectly sunny and warm for strolling around this beautiful town and exploring different markets and galleries, while the afternoon sun gives away to cooler evenings and mornings. 

However, I have to say, my favorite time of the year to visit Santa Fe is winter, when the colors of this gorgeous city, the brilliant shades of turquoise skies, the vibrant reds of the adobe buildings, and magnificent display of visual art and statues are accented and become even more exuberant by the clear crisp winter air and snow.
One of my absolute favorite events in the world is the Canyon Road Farolito Walk, a beloved holiday tradition in Santa Fe.  On Christmas Eve, thousands of holiday revelers come out to stroll, admire and sing carols around the displays of farolito lights, lovely little lights made out of paper bags with and tea candles that burn brightly into the night, and the entire neighborhood turns into a beautiful block party.  There are also bonfires on the streets where people gather around to warm themselves up, and plenty of vendors who sell hot chocolates and holiday treats.  It’s joyous event that I have always loved, and this year, it was even more special being there with my little boy.  He was so excited and told me that it was like being in a “winter wonderland”, and indeed, it was!  
Also, Santa Fe ski area (as well as Taos) is one of my favorite ski resorts in the world.  Although it's not the biggest, it has a great mixture of runs for experts as well as beginners, and what always impresses me is that for such a small ski area, how organized and efficient everything is and how warm and friendly everyone is.  Also, the best part of this ski area is that at the end of the day, you have the beautiful town of Santa Fe to enjoy and the access to all the conveniences of staying in a city.
Where to stay:
Where to eat:
What to do:
  • Definitely check out all the sites mentioned in the guidebooks; however, my favorite area is the Railyard District.  There’s a wonderful farmer’s market on weekends, and art galleries there tends to be less crowded.
  • See a performance at the Santa Fe Opera. It’s in a gorgeous outdoor open air setting against the backdrop of the mountains, and you can actually see the sunset in the background.  It’s one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had.
  • Walk or rent bicycles instead of driving around the city, which in my opinion is a better way of seeing and experiencing Santa Fe 
  • Ten Thousand Waves – It is one of the best spas in the world ... 'nuff said. 
  • Canyon Road Farolito Walk – one of the most magical experiences Santa Fe
  • Inner tubing and sledding – There are quite a lot of places where you can go inner tubing and sledding in/around Santa Fe.  I prefer to go up to the Hyde Memorial State Park, and along the route to the ski basin, there are plenty of well paved areas where you can go sledding.  Most people bring their own sleds, but you can rent inner tubes and sleds at Cottam's Ski Rental (740 Hyde Memorial State Park), which also has a great area for inner tubing and sledding.
  • Have bizcochitos, the official state cookie of New Mexico made out of a crisp butter or lard based cookie flavored with anise and cinnamon, with a cup of hot chocolate or latte at Chocolate Maven Bakery or one of the many wonderful little cafes in town.


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