SANTA FE | Are you looking for a place in the Southwest United States that is teeming with natural beauty, culture, and great food? New Mexico could be for you.

Although spring and autumn are touted as the best months to visit New Mexico, we recommend heading south off-season, in the winter, to reconnect with nature and escape the crowds of the city. January through March brings high temperatures of over 50°F and lows in the 20s – a bit chilly but comfortable for hiking and exploring.

The diversity of terrain and preserved historical sites make for unique hiking throughout the state. New Mexico, specifically the capital of Santa Fe, also offers upscale spas, a vivacious art scene, and local “New Mex” cuisine which is not to be missed.

Fitting in all that New Mexico has to offer is impossible in a four-day trip, so we focused on the North Central and Central regions of the state. Below are suggestions on what to eat, drink, and do while on a weekend trip to New Mexico.

weekend guide new mexico

Stay

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe is located on 57 acres, a 10-minute drive north of Santa Fe. The property has 65 casitas, each with a wood burning fireplace and heated floors to beat the cold, as well as private terraces to view the clear ski filled with stars after dark. The hotel offers complimentary guided morning hikes around the property, an on-site spa, and a year-round heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. The hotel’s restaurant Terra offers locally produced seasonal dishes with a view of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo foothills as a backdrop.

We booked using hotels.com, and scored a third night free for booking in January.

weekend guide new mexico

weekend guide new mexico

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

198 State Road 592
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87506

Eat

Flying Star Café

Flying Star Café in the Nob Hill district of Albuquerque is a great place to grab lunch when heading to or from the airport. The crowd is eclectic and the atmosphere is casual. Nob Hill’s Central Avenue, on which the restaurant is located, became part of Route 66 in 1937. The area is scattered with locally owned shops and galleries and is just west of the University of New Mexico.

We recommend ordering The Bird, a handmade grilled spicy chicken sausage patty with pepper jack and house made pickles on potato brioche. Also try the NM Chile, a bowl of seasoned beef with spicy pinto beans in a green stew along with requested fixings, and a side of queso fries with roasted green chilies.

weekend guide new mexico

weekend guide new mexico

Flying Star Café

3416 Central Avenue Southeast
Albuquerque
New Mexico 87106

Pasqual’s Café

Pasqual’s Café in downtown Santa Fe is named after the patron saint of Mexican and New Mexican kitchens and cooks, San Pasqual. “Panza llena, corazon content” meaning “full stomach, happy heart” rings true after a meal at Pasqual’s. The café has been open for more than thirty-seven years and for good reason. Pasqual’s restaurant sources ingredients from certified organic farmers and producers, and the menu combines Mexican, New Mexican, and Asian influences. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the café seats only 50; reservations are recommended to avoid a long wait.

Pasqual’s Café

121 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

Geronimo

Geronimo is an upscale restaurant located on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, amongst more that 100 art galleries. The restaurant takes its name from Geronimo Lopez, a Spanish settler who built the adobe home in 1756 in which the restaurant now resides.

Choosing what to order is not an easy task. The Wasabi Caesar, with organic romaine, crispy rice croutons, and a Japanese horseradish infused Caesar dressing is a flavorful start to a meal. Next, the Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Sashimi and Tartare makes for a light appetizer to share. If you brought an appetite, the Mushroom Tasting Menu, which can be shared, brings a unique take on some traditional favorites: the wedge salad with oven-dried shiitake mushrooms in place of bacon, bisque soup incorporating wild shiitake and oyster mushrooms, house-made gnocchi with fresh wild mushrooms and truffles, and a dessert of fresh Meyer lemon crepe.

Geronimo

724 Canyon Road
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

The French Pastry Shop and Creperie

The French Pastry Shop and Creperie attached to the historical La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza of Santa Fe, is a family-owned business that has been operating for more than 40 years.

Grab brunch at the French Pastry Shop before exploring the city. Everything on the menu is made fresh in the bakery including a delicious selection of crepes, quiches, sandwiches, and pastries. They also make personalized cakes and breads, with French breads specially baked to be in the shape of almost any animal.

The French Pastry Shop and Creperie

100 East San Francisco Street
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

Drink

Coyote Café and Rooftop Cantina

Coyote Café and Rooftop Cantina is a great place to kick-off a night out in Santa Fe. Known for their margaritas and signature cocktails, grab a seat at the bar and enjoy along with live music most nights. We’re partial to the ‘Gentleman’s Vice’ –  Makers Mark Bourbon Manhattan smoked with cherry wood in a decanter and poured over an ice globe, as well as the Samurai –  flaming Saigon Cinnamon extinguished with mandarin vodka and blood orange, served with a sterling silver samurai cocktail sword.

In summer months, the Rooftop Cantina is open from 11.30am daily, offering a beautiful view of the city and evening sunset.

Coyote Café and Rooftop Cantina

132 West Water Street
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

El Farol

El Farol, meaning “warmth” and “light” is a Spanish tapas restaurant offering live music and entertainment nightly. El Farol was established in 1835, making it the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe.

The bar at El Farol has a lively atmosphere with music and dancing, and the cocktail menu is a mile long. If you are looking for a margarita, there are 13 options – try the local favorite Prickly Pear Margarita with Silver Coin Tequila, O3 Orange Liqueur, and prickly pear puree. Also not to be missed is the Cinn-Full Old Fashioned with cinnamon whiskey, muddled fruit and angostura bitters. For those with a a sweet tooth, order the Faroleche with coconut rum, Stoli Vanil Vodka, and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur.

El Farol

808 Canyon Road
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

Do

Albuquerque Historic Old Town

Albuquerque Historic Old Town is a must-see while visiting Albuquerque. The historic old town district is known for its many restaurants, shops, and museums. Stop at the visitor’s center in the plaza to pick up a tour of the area, or check out the ghost tour; Old Town Albuquerque is believed by many to be one of the most haunted places in the United States.

Old Town encompasses ten blocks of historic adobe buildings and has been a focal point of the city since it was founded in 1706. The San Felipe de Neri Church is the oldest building in Albuquerque, built in 1793. Start with a stroll at the church and then wander through the many alleyways, plazas, and hidden gardens that make this neighborhood so unique.

weekend guide new mexico

Albuquerque Historic Old Town

Old Town begins on the Northwest corner of Rio Grande Boulevard and Mountain Road
Albuquerque
New Mexico 87194

Sandia Peak

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, located at the northeast corner of Albuquerque, is the longest aerial tram in the United States. The tramway ascends from base elevation of 6,559 feet to 10,378 feet at the top of the Sandia Mountains.

The tramway has two cars, holding up to 50 people each. The view is beyond spectacular, covering all of Albuquerque and up to 11,000 square miles on a clear day. Time your tram ride to coincide with the sunset for a beautiful view. Once the peak is reached visitors can ride the tram back down at their leisure or spend a day on top, skiing Sandia Peak Ski Area or mountain biking more than 26 miles of trails in the warm months.

weekend guide new mexico

Sandia Peak

30 Tramway NE
Albuquerque
New Mexico 87122

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum opened in July of 1997, 11 years after the death of the famous artist. Georgia O’Keeffe painted, among other subjects, the shapes and colors of the architecture and landscape of New Mexico. The museum has a collection of more than 3,000 of her works, with a changing showcase of her pieces throughout the year.

We did the audio tour while exploring the museum, which provides the incredibly interesting story of her life and art, in an approximately 45-minute audio. The museum has a mission to advance the legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe through preservation, education, and research.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

Canyon Road Galleries

Canyon Road Galleries, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe, is a half-mile-long historic district stretching from Paseo de Peralta to Palace Avenue. Canyon Road boasts more than 100 art galleries, art studios, and sculpture gardens. Galleries include a diverse collection of art, including oil painting, watercolor, lithographs, photography, sculpture and more. Canyon Road is also the place to shop for jewelry, apparel, antiques, and home furnishings.

Various events and festivals are held along Canyon Road throughout the year, drawing art collectors and tourists from across the country.

Canyon Road Galleries

Canyon Road begins off of intersection of Paseo De Peralta and East Alameda Street
Santa Fe
New Mexico 87501

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument encompasses 33,000 acres of land just over 40 miles west of Santa Fe. This breathtaking canyon and mesa land takes about 2.5 hours to hike, and includes much history as there is evidence of human presence dating back more than 11,000 years.

The hike includes a path through the park and along the cliffs which have preserved petroglyphs and dwellings carved into the rocks. There are ladders strategically placed along the cliffs to allow hikers to climb up to get a close-up view of the dwellings and ancient artwork carved into the stone. Several herd of deer live in the area – they are not afraid of humans and are known to follow along as you stroll the trails.

Visiting Bandelier National Monument during the off season is a great way to experience nature without being surrounded by tourists. When we visited in January, there were 22 hikers that had been in the park that day versus an average of 700 per day in the summer months.

weekend guide new mexico

weekend guide new mexico

weekend guide new mexico

Bandelier National Monument

15 Entrance Road
Los Alamos
New Mexico 87544

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, approximately halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, was created by volcanic eruptions more than six million years ago, creating cone-like tent formations. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the Pueblo language. Erosion has weathered the cliffs over time, creating the “tent rocks” which range from white to grey to light red in color.

The hike includes two trails: a 1.2-mile trail leading through Slot Canyon to a lookout point where the tent rocks can be viewed from above, and a 1.3 mile loop trail at the base of the canyon with views of caves historically occupied by the Cochiti Pueblo people.

weekend guide new mexico

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Exit 259 off I-25 to NM 22, then follow signs
Cochiti Pueblo
New Mexico 87072

Have you been to New Mexico? What would you add to our recommendations for a weekend trip?