Santa Fe is a destination to visit year-round. If you plan to go after the New Year this winter, seek out activities that include seasonal highlights. The city is known for its unique Hispanic, Anglo and Native American heritage, and its wealth of galleries, museums and crafts make it a cultural lure worldwide. The dreamy southwestern landscape is intoxicating—the outline of the mountains against the kaleidoscope sky and setting sun, magical. From January through March, enjoy all of this plus peak winter sports excursions and more. Here are a few ideas to take you through a long weekend, winter getaway.
Ski and Snowboard
Ski Santa Fe is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains just 16 miles from downtown Santa Fe. It offers a sporty winter wonderland experience 10,000 feet above the desert. The diversity of climates is one of the beautiful and fun advantages of road tripping through the region. According to the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, the city has an average of 325 sunny days per year. So no matter the season, you’ll still need to bring sunscreen for the slopes and getting out and about around town. Not driving? No worries. Free and low-cost public transportation is available from downtown Santa Fe to the ski area. Look for schedules and routes on the “Blue Bus” aka RTD North Central Regional Transit.
Hike And Snowshoe
There is so much to explore! Public lands in Santa Fe include arid canyons, volcanic plateaus, subalpine forests and meadows. You’ll also find Ancestral Puebloans archaeological sites. Ancestral Puebloans were a group of people who lived in the present-day Four Corners region (northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona and southwestern Colorado) about 1,400 years ago. Consider hiring a guide to get the most out of your winter hiking and snowshoeing. For example Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing leads private and group hikes. They tailor the day to your experience level, special needs and desires. They’ll even meet you at your hotel in downtown Santa Fe. There’s often enough snow to begin snowshoeing in late December. Call beforehand to confirm. Want to travel light? Outspire provides a daypack, poles, snowshoes, snacks and cozy, warm beverages; you bring the boots, warm clothing and a craving for adventure.
Pamper Yourself At The Legendary Spa, Ten Thousand Waves
It’s time to pamper your muscles after a long day of winter activity. Relax and rejuvenate. You’ve earned it. Ten Thousand Waves is ensconced in the surrounding Santa Fe National Forest. Take a long soak in the steamy, outdoor Japanese-style wooden hot tub. There are also private hot tubs. Signature treatments include Japanese Shiatsu Massage and the Yasuragi Head & Neck Treatment. For those of us who spend too much time craning down at iPhones and computers, the latter is bliss. Guests who receive spa services of 50 minutes or longer can take a complimentary soak in the Grand Bath and women’s communal tub. The lodging here is the closest available to the Ski Santa Fe area. It’s also less than 4 miles to downtown Santa Fe.
Indulge Your Appetite
Santa Fe offers a unique blend of Native American, Mexican and Spanish cuisine. There are myriad fusion food options in the city. Café Pasqual opened nearly 40 years ago and remains a favorite, using certified organic and local ingredients. The restaurant’s colorful interior features murals by Mexican painter Leovigildo Martinez.
Hot chocolate is a good drink to snuggle up to on a cold, winter night in the desert. Indulge your sweet tooth at Kakawa Chocolate House. It specializes in historic, drinking chocolate elixirs. Recipes include pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican, Mayan, Aztec, 1600’s European, Colonial American and Colonial Mexican. Sip ingredients such as native herbs, flowers and chilis. It’s like exploring history with your taste buds.
Explore Historic Santa Fe Plaza
Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark, central to the city since it was founded in 1610. Even in winter it’s buzzing, thanks to the surrounding shops, restaurants and galleries. The plaza is near the city’s top attractions. These include the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Santa Fe Discovery Walking Tours start at 10 a.m. year-round. Meet in the La Fonda on the Plaza lobby. Too chilly? The free Santa Fe Shuttle takes you to points of interest.
Santa Fe is a famous destination for art lovers. It’s home to well over 100 museums and galleries. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Museum of International Folk Art and galleries along Canyon Road are must-sees.
Day Trip to Taos
Taos, rich in its own culture, is located just an hour and a half from Santa Fe. Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Pueblo Dances are open to the public, as is the Taos Winter Wine Festival (Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 2019). Depending on the weather, you may even be able to take a hot air balloon ride over the Rio Grande Gorge. For winter-sports lovers, there’s also Taos Ski Valley, located on the Rocky Mountains’ southern edge. You just may need to extend your long, winter weekend by one beautiful Southwestern day—or more.