Originally published in July 2018, updated July 2019
In collaboration with New Mexico True. Thank you for supporting the brands that support A Taste of Koko!
Welcome to the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico! Sometimes I have one of those trips that make me slow down, put my phone away, and just experience the destination. New Mexico was one of those trips. I spent 4 days in the American Southwest experiencing Albuquerque, Sante Fe, and Taos, to put together this guide on the top things to do in New Mexico.
Everything from walking alongside alpacas in the morning, standing in the organic lavender fields, eating authentic New Mexican cuisine, exploring all the art boutiques on Canyon Road, glamping under the stars, shopping for handmade jewelry from local Native Americans, and soaking in the natural hot springs was just simply magical.
SEE ALSO: Things To Do In Lake Tahoe
I’ve burned several piñon cones in this little teepee incense holder that I bought in New Mexico to put together this comprehensive blog post. Here’s my New Mexico travel guide to Albuquerque, Sante Fe, and Taos!
WHAT TO PACK FOR NEW MEXICO
- Lotion & heavy facial moisturizer & lip balm – the climate is so dry here
- Windbreaker / heavy sweater – the wind picked up randomly throughout the day and we encountered a spontaneous cold front during our trip. It even started snowing in Sante Fe!
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Water bottle – drink lots of water!
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
My first stop in New Mexico was Albuquerque to stay at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm. This darling little inn was such a relaxing and organic experience. Learning how the organic lavender is grown in the greenhouse, watching the guinea fowl gossip amongst themselves, trying to pet the alpacas, shopping in the farm shop, and field-to-fork dining at the restaurant on property, Campo, was truly unique and special.
Use promo code: NMTRUE for 15% off your stay at Los Poblanos!
LOS POBLANOS HISTORIC INN & ORGANIC FARM
Los Poblanos has 25 acres of land, six acres of formal gardens and walkways, fields of lavender and organic vegetables, and historic farm buildings. The land was originally inhabited by the Anasazi (ancient Pueblo Indians) in the 14th century. Designed in 1932, Los Poblanos now has 50 guest rooms designed in the classic New Mexican style, a working organic farm, organic lavender, honey bees, and an on-site restaurant. The lavender was planted in 1999, and then thousands and thousands were planted this past year with the growth of new rooms and the restaurant. We learned that each lavender plant is harvested for 10 years. The lavender blooms in mid-June through July so I highly recommend planning a visit then!
Campo, the restaurant on-site, is absolutely delicious. Rio Grande Valley Cuisine uses seasonal organic ingredients from Los Poblanos’ farm and from local farmers and herdsman. Be sure to order the 12 oz achiote grilled ribeye and Los Poblanos honey cake.
- Organic continental breakfast included with room rate
- Cruiser bicycles
- Salt water pool
- Fitness room
- Freshly stocked piñon wood for kiva fireplace during the winter season
- On-site restaurant serves breakfast and dinner
- Rooms are stocked with Los Poblanos organic lavender amenities
4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, NM, lospoblanos.com
The Albuquerque Museum preserves the art of the American Southwest and the history of Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 12 years old.
2000 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, cabq.gov/culturalservices/albuquerque-museum
SANTE FE, NEW MEXICO
Our next stop in New Mexico was Santa Fe, just a one-hour drive from Albuquerque.
SUNRISE SPRINGS SPA RESORT
Sunrise Springs is Santa Fe’s only destination spa with 70 acres of gardens, walking paths, and high desert landscape surrounding the historic spring-fed waters. Immerse yourself in the daily activities of yoga, meditation, fitness, hiking, puppy play, horticulture, culinary and expressive arts classes.
- 20 casitas with private courtyard and gas fireplace
- 30 garden-view guest rooms with balcony
- On-site spa
- Ojitos open-air soaking
- Blue Heron Restaurant and Sages Café
- Yoga and fitness studios and salt-water swimming pool
- Puppy studio
- Chicken coop – the silkie chickens are adorable and hilarious!
- Expressive arts studio
242 Los Pinos Rd, Santa Fe, NM, sunrisesprings.ojospa.com
HOTEL SANTA FE
Immerse yourself in the Pubelo spirit of Santa Fe at Hotel Santa Fe, the only Native American-owned hotel in downtown Santa Fe. Choose from traditional rooms furnished with handcrafted Southwestern-style furnishings or for the ultimate Santa Fe experience, choose The Hacienda. The Hacienda retreat features 35 lavish rooms and suites with an extensive collection of New American art, a daily continental breakfast, professional butler, and private key access.
The Amaya restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with local Pueblo and Northern New Mexican influences. You can even dine in the tepee on the patio so make sure to make reservations in advance.
- Complimentary downtown shuttle from 8am to 9pm
- Pet friendly
- Outdoor swimming pool & hot tub
- Fitness center
- Private Butler
- Private tepee dining
1501 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM, hotelsantafe.com
WHERE TO EAT IN SANTE FE, NEW MEXICO
This humble little cafe in downtown Sante Fe serves famous New Mexican food with fresh, seasonal, organic, and naturally raised foods. They were a recipient of James Beard America’s Regional Cooking Classics Award and featured on the Food Network. There can be a wait but it’s totally worth it! We came for breakfast and the food was absolutely delicious.
WHAT TO ORDER: Huevos barbacoa con chile d’arbol salsa, and corn pancakes.
121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM
*Modern General is also a cute spot to grab breakfast and coffee.
Kakawa Chocolate House
Even if you don’t typically like hot chocolate like me, you’ll be blown away by Kakawa Chocolate House’s hot chocolate. This Sante Fe chocolate house specializes in fine, hand-made drinking chocolates elixirs. The Aztec drinking chocolate was incredible but my favorite was the American with a dollop of organic whipped cream.
1050 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM, kakawachocolates.com
Hands down my favorite restaurant that I dined at in New Mexico and makes my top ten list of best meals. La Choza is a popular New Mexican restaurant so the wait can be very long (usually one hour). Just add your name to the hostess stand and head to the bar for one of their signature margaritas, my favorite was the Pasa de Oro, and order the queso and salsa duo. The queso is soo good and the salsa is spicy, hence the margarita to wash it all down. La Choza is known for the blue corn enchilada plate and I can see why because it’s SO good. Make sure to get it with the carne adovada chicken or pork (pork was better IMO). You’ll also want a basket (or two) of the sopaipillas – little pillows of heaven. Pro tip: pull apart the sopaipillas and pour the honey inside, eat, smile, and repeat.
What to order: margaritas, enchilada plate with carne adovada chicken or pork, sopaipillas for the table, and posole soup
905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM, lachozasf.com
La Reina Bar
For drinks, go to the tequila and mezcal La Reina bar at the El Rey Inn that was built in 1936.
1862 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM, elreycourt.com
THINGS TO DO IN SANTE FE, NEW MEXICO
- Palace of the Governors on the plaza – where all the Natives come down from reservations to sell their wares. Some things are really inexpensive and some aren’t. You can bargain here with them and find some gems. **Photo above is at the Palace of the Governors and I did buy a handmade gold and copper cuff for $15 and $20!
- Rainbow Man is great for good vintage turquoise and Edward S. Curtis photographs, he was a brilliant documentarian of Native Americans. The gray haired guy legit knows his stuff.
- Keshi across from the St. Francis Hotel for authentic Zuni art, jewelry and carvings. My favorite store in SF. Pick up a carved fetish of your spirit animal.
- Andrea Fischer fine pottery – THE BEST pottery from the working Pueblos. Fine art and gorgeous.
- Shiprock Santa Fe for out of this world vintage turquoise and the holy grail of Navajo rugs!
- Go to the Loretto Chapel and see the magical staircase. It’s a beautiful sight.
- Santa Fe Vintage on Palace. Best vintage ever. Scott Corey is the owner and he’s so cool.
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
- Sante Fe hat company
- Canyon Road for quirky art galleries and a store called La Boheme for gorgeous Mexican clothing. The Tea House on Canyon Road tea and great cookies.
If I had more time in Sante Fe, I would spend a solid 3 to 4 hours on Canyon Road exploring all the art galleries and local boutiques. There are over 250 art galleries in Sante Fe!
Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return
If you’re in Santa Fe, you must make a visit to Meow Wolf. Don’t be fooled by the strip mall disguise, inside is a psychedelic funhouse experience. Meow Wolf was impossible to photograph and that’s really the point of it – is to enjoy and experience the wild, sensory experience in person.
Tickets: $25, buy here
1352 Rufina Cir, Santa Fe, NM, meowwolf.com
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs
One of my favorite experience in New Mexico was soaking at the natural hot springs at Oja Caliente. It actually started snowing while we were soaking in the hot springs.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs is one of the oldest natural health resorts in the country. The sulfur-free, geothermal mineral waters have flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years. Over 100,000 gallons per day come to the surface, revitalizing those who soak in the long-believed, healing waters. Ojo Caliente is the only hot springs in the world with four different types of mineral water including lithia, iron, soda, and arsenic. There are twelve pools filled with different types and combinations of these waters, with temperatures ranging from 80 – 106 degrees.
Daily entry fee: $20 – $32 per person
50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM, ojocaliente.ojospa.com
TAOS, NEW MEXICO
Our third and final stop in New Mexico was Taos – a hour and half drive from Santa Fe.
HOTEL LUNA MYSTICA
Glamping under the stars at Hotel Luna Mystica in Taos was such an incredible experience to top off our New Mexico trip! Hotel Luna Mystica is a vintage trailer hotel and campground in the vast Mesa of Taos, one of the most mystical locations on the planet.
Each vintage trailer and airstream has been remodeled with modern amenities and decorated with a personality of its own. The temperature dropped to 20 degrees that evening but I was warm and toasty inside! If you go outside in the middle of the night, you can see the entire Milky Way in the sky and hear the coyotes howling in the distance.
Use promo code: GirlsGlamp for 10% off your stay at Hotel Luna Mystica!
25 ABC Mesa Road, El Prado, NM, hotellunamystica.com
THINGS TO DO IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO
When you first step into Earthship Biotecture, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another planet. An Earthship is a solar house that’s made of both natural, sustainable, and recycled materials. Even water is collected on the roofs and channeled down into the home and filtered for different usages. I was in awe of the unique architectural design of the homes using glass bottles and aluminum cans.
Earthship Way, 87549 Taos, earthshipglobal.com
Also known as the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the Gorge BRide is a steel deck arch bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge 10. Drive across it, or even walk across. I took the picture above with my drone.
El Prado, NM 87529
WHERE TO EAT IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO
Taos Cow – local ice cream shop in Taos that uses fresh cream and milk from a New Mexico dairy farm. They even serve piñon ice cream – it’s sweet cream ice cream with roasted piñons and caramel. I liked mine with a second scoop of lavender ice cream!
Taos Mesa Brewing – located right next to Hotel Luna Mystica, Taos Mesa Brewing serves 12 distinct house beers on draught at all times with tacos.
Medley – we had dinner catered by Medley at Hotel Luna Mystica and I loved the salmon with rice, and the Brussel sprouts!
Sol Food Market and Cafe – if you want a healthy bite, go to the Sol Food Market. We had sandwiches, salads, and smoothies for lunch and picked up a couple of snacks for the road.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN NEW MEXICO
- White Sands National Park – who knew there are sand dunes in New Mexico but 275 square miles of rare white gypsum sand dunes!? White Sands National Monument is high on my list. You can set up camp nearby in Alamogordo.
- Roswell – this city is renowned as the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash that’s located in the Pecos Valley. Visit the International UFO Museum And Research Center.
- Ride a hot air balloon – New Mexico is one of the best places for a hot air balloon ride because of the high-mountain meadows and rolling prairies. There are so many balloon festivals in Taos, White Sands, Gallup, Angel Fire, and Elephant Butte throughout the year but the biggest one is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta™. This is the largest ballooning event on earth and the most photographed event on earth. Rainbow Ryders is a popular hot air balloon booking website.
- Taos Pueblo – this ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking (Tiwa) Native American tribe of Puebloan people and is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The Pueblo is generally open to visitors daily from 8am to 4:30pm, except when tribal rituals require closing the Pueblo.
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park – this national park in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico features more than 100 caves. Admission is $15 for adults, and free for children under 15.
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park – the largest, best preserved and architecturally advanced of all ancient Southwestern villages that are located in San Juan County and McKinley County. If you go, visit the visitor center first and learn about the 9-mile loop road that accesses five major Chacoan sites.
- Petroglyph National Monument – this park protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. No entrance fees but there is a parking fee.
- Gila National Forest – rugged mountains, deep canyons, meadows, and semi-desert country tucked away in this southwestern New Mexico national forest.
- Bandelier National Monument – 33,000 acres of ancient ruins, cave dwellings, deep canyons, and volcanic mountains in Sandoval and Los Alamos.
- Sandia Peak – New Mexico is a popular spot to ski and nestled in the Cibola National Forest is Sandia Peak.
- Ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad – 64 miles of track between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico.