When my parents first revealed to me that our family would be spending most of our winter vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I was admittedly less than pleased. A great deal of pre-conceived notions about the American Southwest plagued my mind and made it nearly impossible to be optimistic about this promised vacation. I envisioned a barren, desert ghost town. These premonitions, surely inspired by overly dramatic movies and television shows, were quickly refuted within moments of my arrival. In fact, it would be an understatement to say that Santa Fe is one of the most interesting and exciting cities that I have ever encountered.
Villas de Santa Fe ended up being a perfect hotel choice for us. The rooms and hotel itself were very nice, but the fact that our stay was so enjoyable was completely dependent upon the establishment’s location. Not only were we within walking distance of the Traveler’s Market (which I’ll delve into later), but we also found ourselves to be a short stroll from Santa Fe’s social and cultural center, better known as the Plaza.
The northern perimeter of the Plaza serves as a great place to acquire and watch the creation of handmade North American art and accessories. The remainder of the Plaza is populated by a medley of gift shops and art galleries, and I recommend allotting a day out of your vacation to fully experience this portion of the city.
One of the most interesting finds of my vacation in Santa Fe was the Traveler’s Market. This independent foreign art and antiques market is located within the DeVargas Center, which can be found on the northwest corner of Paseo de Peralta and Guadalupe Street. Don’t be fooled by the small, slightly interesting Traveler’s Market storefront that lies in plane sight within this mall. The actual Traveler’s Market is tucked away, deep within the mall’s crevices. To find it, simply walk down the hallway that is marked as the location of the mall’s restrooms. The Traveler’s Market will be on your left. If you find yourself brave enough to be hurled into another dimension of culture, enter the market and enjoy the vast array of authentic art items from the world over.
During our family’s venture to Santa Fe, I was pleasantly surprised by the food quality. For breakfast, we enjoyed an authentic New York City delicatessen, aptly named “New York Deli” and located a mere 3 blocks from our hotel. Everything there was delicious, and owner Jeffrey Schwartzberg is one of the nicest people that you will ever meet. For lunch and dinner, my favorite sites of gastronomic magic were Zia Diner and Tune-Up Café. Both establishments offer diner food with a Santa Fe quirk. The Salmon Quesadillas at Zia Diner were excellent and innovative, and Zia’s famous New Mexico-Style Meatloaf was also very good. Although Tune-Up Café’s menu tends to alternate from time to time, I can guarantee you that anything you order will be delicious. I had the Hangar Steak with Mole Sauce, which was incredible, especially when paired with Berry Crumble for dessert.
The pinnacle of this vacation for me was our day trip to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, located about an hour’s drive north of Santa Fe. The large range of pool variety here caters to most anyone’s desires, and you will unquestionably find that this destination will not disappoint. As I relaxed in my favorite pool, lost in the stars and pebbles between my feet, it was difficult not to forget where I was. Was this planet earth, or someplace better?
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