A Different City – Santa Fe, New Mexico

The capital city of New Mexico, Santa Fe is known as ‘The City Different’ and it truly is! It is higher (elevation 7,199 feet) and older than any capital city in the country (founded circa 1610). Even the way the slogan reads is different, like it’s out of order or something, or it has a European flair.  Other cities can claim to be be ‘different’ but Santa Fe is truly unique for many different reasons, as you might discover should you decide to visit for yourself.  I find that there are a many things that combine to perfect effect: art, food, culture, history, and architecture. So there really is something here for just about everyone.

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Photo by Kimberly Wallace 

So let’s look at the truly most unique aspect of life is Santa Fe, architecture.  There are a number of different styles of architecture in the city, but the most prominent is the Pueblo style with its earth colored adobe, flat roofs, exposed wooden beams, and kiva style fireplaces. From the second you arrive is Santa Fe and see these beautiful buildings, you know you’re somewhere different, almost like being transported back in time.  The unique buildings set the stage for what is truly a different city experience.  It isn’t just the older buildings that have this style, the Inn and Spa at Loretto (see image) is perhaps one of the finest examples of how the style of Old Santa Fe can still be achieved in a modern setting.

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The Inn and Spa at Loretto

Santa Fe is a very walkable city and most strolls usually begin in the historic central Plaza. The Plaza has been an integral part of the city since around the year 1610 and has changed very little since.  Today, you can shop for authentic Native American art and handicrafts directly from the artists that make it.  You can find great deals on silver, turquoise, pottery, and carvings. The artists are required by law to have identification to be permitted to sell “Native American” art so you can buy with confidence knowing you’re getting authentic wares.  As you continue to stroll throughout the town, you can’t help but notice the sweet smell of piñon pine smoke.  Piñon is the most common tree/wood in the area and it gives off a sweet aroma that smells like incense, only better.

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Santa Fe Plaza

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Santa Fe Plaza at Night 
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Even an alley looks beautiful 

All of that walking around is sure to work up an appetite, and you couldn’t find yourself in a better place to be hungry.  Our personal favorite is Tomasita’s (https://tomasitas.com) located in the Railyard District, a redevelopment site that has taken off in recent years with shops, breweries and even weekend farmers markets. Something unique and tasty at Tomasita’s is the roast beef burrito, which I have not seen on a menu anywhere outside of Santa Fe.  Another nice touch is the honey butter sopapillas that come with the meal, but it means that you’ll be tempted to eat dessert before you eat the main entree (I have always managed to eat my sopapilla first, burrito second). If you’re looking to eat before you start burning calories, try the Tecolote Cafe (www.tecolotecafe.com) a great breakfast stop, and be sure to get a homemade bread basket with your meal.

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Adobe Buildings

Santa Fe is not New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles! Santa Fe is a place to go when you want to slow down a little, and want to experience new tastes, smells, cultures, and of course southwestern art and architecture.  It’s definitely the ‘City Different’.

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San Miguel Mission
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Hike: Tsankawi Trail – Bandelier National Monument

Hiking the Tsankawi Trail in Bandelier National Monument is truly a unique trek.  It is located in the high desert of New Mexico near the city of Los Alamos in the Tsankawi section of the park.  This is a less traveled area than the more famous section of the park proper and it made for an interesting, unexpected side trip.

Part of the appeal of this area of the park, to be honest, is that there are far fewer people here.  This means that you can really take your time exploring this relatively short 1.5 mile hiking trail.  Not long after you leave the trailhead, you get to climb a wooden ladder (fun) to get up onto a ridge that leads you to the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. There isn’t much left of the village itself but the area is littered with pottery shards, one of the very few places left where you can actually touch history. The pieces are small but you can clearly see the colored lines that were painted onto the pots.

After leaving the pottery shards of the village behind, it was onto some of the most unique aspects of any hike anywhere in the world. The Ancestral Pueblo villagers walked the same paths so often that they ended up wearing out the rocks to the point where it looks like a bobsled course winding its way through an Olympic venue. I can’t describe how totally awestruck I was by this and by the fact that the National Park Service still allows people to hike on it (thank you NPS).

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I’m just going to keep the words at a minimum here and let all of the photographs speak.  If you’re ever in Northern New Mexico and want a truly unique hike, without many people, some Native American history, and stunning high desert scenery, check this place out.  It is such an interesting, and very easy walk.

If you’re looking for a great place to eat après hike, Tomasitas in Santa Fe is the perfect locale to refuel. The food is consistently outstanding and the location at the Railyard District is just minutes away from the famous plaza. Try the roast beef burrito and be sure to eat the sopapillas with honey butter.  After that, consider finishing off the evening with a cold one at the Second Street Brewery, just right around the corner.

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Editor in Chief, Kimberly, posing with a strawberry quark at the Second Street Brewery