Outside of Charleston, I was most excited to revisit Santa Fe on our road trip across America. The food, the colors, the people, the culture, the architecture, the turquoise jewelry being sold at the markets, it enchanted me on my first visit at just 9 years old in a way that I'd never forgotten. I'd been itching to go back for years and to introduce Mr. RC to place I felt so fondly about so we added it to our cross-country itinerary without hesitation.
While certain aspects weren't quite as I remembered them, there were many that I instantly reconnected with and that same Santa Fe magic was most certainly still in the air.
The Southwest is often, in my opinion, an overlooked part of the country, but it's truly one of the most beautiful, magical and enchanting places, and unlike any other area of the US. If you have not visited, do yourself a favor and at least spend 48 hours in Santa Fe. I promise you won't regret it and I couldn't think of a better place to acquaint yourself with this area of the country.
I decided to channel my inner Georgia O'Keefe with my outfit since we, sadly, didn't have time to make the drive to her home. But we did have time for a bit more exploring. But first, coffee. We stopped at 35 North where we also grabbed a light bite. We then went to check out the oldest church in the country, took more photos around town and grabbed a small lunch while we waited for Santa Fe Vintage Outpost to open. This store had only the highest recommendations and, until recently opening a small shop, it had only been open by appointment only. Being the vintage enthusiast I am, I insisted we had to stay until it opened at noon so I could check it out. Biggest mistake of the whole trip. First of all, it didn't open until closer to 12:15. Secondly, the person running the store was on the phone the whole time and never asked if I needed anything. And lastly, while the store was curated nicely, there was almost no merchandise in there, and what was available was priced at some of the most absurd prices I'd ever seen ($600 for vintage Levi's?! Ummm, yeah, I think I'll pass.). Trust me when I say that you're time can be better spent than waiting for this shop to open.
And on that disappointing note, we headed out of town to check out El Rancho de las Golondrinas, which was closed for school group tours (Fail!) before finally making our way to the Tent Rocks for some hiking. The drive out to the park was just so gorgeous, complete with horses running the wild and just some of the most beautiful landscapes. And arriving at the park felt like arriving to another planet. I was truly in awe of the landscape and still feel at a loss for words to explain what it felt like to see such a stunning place in person. As an added bonus, the trails weren't overly packed (We only saw a few other people) so we were really able to take the scenery in in all its wonder and glory.
And then on our drive out we saw a giant rattle snake in the middle of the road. Casual. Cool. No biggie!
After an all-day drive from Kansas City, we arrived late in the evening and immediately crashed, which meant we were up bright and early on our first full day in Santa Fe. We started with our usual routine of getting ready, grabbing food then wandering, exploring and picture taking.
For food we stopped by the infamous The Shed for lunch . Be prepared for a bit of a wait, but it's definitely worth it. The portions are huge (You can easily share!), the prices are reasonable and everything tastes delicious.
After eating, we strolled around the square, popping into a few stores, checking out the vendors in the main square (All the turquoise jewelry!!) and peeking into a few of the old churches.
Naturally, after walking and picture taking (for all of 30 minutes) it was time for a break so we headed to the highly recommended chocolate shop, Kakawa Chocolates. This place was dangerously, decadently deliciously but oh so worth it. They have a variety of different drinking chocolates (even non-dairy options), of which you can sample before buying, as well as cases full of handmade and unique chocolates. We settled on sharing one of the drinking chocolates as well as a few squares of chocolate, because, I mean, who can resist flavors like prickly pear and mezcal?!
After we had refueled on chocolate, we headed to Double Take, a vintage store to see if we could scope out any cool Southwestern treasures. The store was massive and had everything from furniture to clothes with relatively decent prices, but the only piece I picked up was a cute little bag.
Next, we made our way over to the train station and surrounding areas to snap a few pictures before making the drive to Santa Fe Scenic Overlook in Hyde State Park to catch the sunset from up high. Highly, highly recommend visiting the park (for sunset or otherwise), as the views are just breathtaking. Surprisingly, we also saw some stunning fall foliage. Just an FYI, if you’re going for sunset, I’d recommend giving yourself at least 30 minutes to get to the overlook, as it’s about an 18 mile drive.
Post-sunset, we headed back to our hotel, freshened up and got the scoop on where the locals go for dinner. We were craving fajitis so they suggested Maria's. It was another great meal, with great prices and, because it wasnot near the main square, it wasn't overly busy. Oh, and did I mention they have over 100 margaritas??! So, uh, yeah, you should probably go there.
We had planned to go out for a drink after dinner, but being a tourist is exhausting (or maybe we're just getting old), so we called it a night instead.