Here you are in Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta. You got up early and went to the balloon glow, walked among the balloons, oohed and aahed over the mass ascension and posted enough photos on Facebook and Instagram that your friends are not only no longer “liking” them, they’re on the verge of blocking all further posts from you. You look at your watch at 9 a.m. and think, “What now?” You could stick around for the chainsaw carving (do you really want to?); you could go visit the other attractions in Albuquerque, of which there are many, but the other 100,000 people you were rubbing elbows with this morning will be crowding the Bio Park and the museums; or you could just go to your hotel and spend the day at the pool, thereby missing anything that the Land of Enchantment has to offer.
The United States is the most vacation poor country in the world. Do you really want to spend your few, precious days away from the office fighting the masses or wasting the day emulating the vultures from “The Jungle Book”? If it’s further amusement you’re seeking, there’s an option: hop in your car and travel the fifty miles up I-25 to Santa Fe.
HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU
With museums dedicated to everything from bugs (Harrell House of Natural Oddities) to folk art (Museum of International Folk Art) to fine art (New Mexico Museum of Art), there is bound to be something for everyone. Unsettled Landscapes, the current exhibit at SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary art space in the Railyard District, is a choice that can satisfy almost all comers. “Memorial to the Acadia Woodlands Clear Cut (Green, Violet and Brown),” by Andrea Bowers, is the first piece you see upon entering the exhibit. Made of paracord, metal, rope and wood, it hangs from the ceiling like a giant green and purple jellyfish. This piece practically begs the viewer the touch it, to stick an arm through the outer layer and set the whole thing swinging. A sign nearby saying “please don’t touch” discourages this, but the temptation is there. Round the corner is a tree trunk that rises from floor to ceiling, by Miler Lagos. The placard says that it is made from paper and wire, but it has the texture and color of wood. This is a mystery until a docent comes over and asks, “Would you like to see how it’s made?” She takes her gloved hand and ruffles a few inches of bark. The effect is similar to ruffling the edges of a book—you can see the newsprint before it all settles back together. The rest of the exhibit continues with photos, paintings, sculptures, videos and even a truck.
(SITE Santa Fe, Paseo de Peralta, 505.989.1199)
If trying local beers is your thing, Santa Fe has got you covered! Santa Fe Brewing Company, on the south side of town, is New Mexico’s oldest brewery. Duel Brewing specializes in Belgian Style beers and also offers life drawing sessions (beer and nudity being a time honored go-together). If you’re looking for a meal with your IPA, you can’t miss at either of Second Street Brewery’s locations. Both feature great patios. The Second Street location is a good place to while away a pleasant hour or two under some trees and wave at the folks on the train. The Railyard location is great spot to sit and people watch while enjoying traditional pub fare. All of the Santa Fe breweries keep a few favorites on tap year round while challenging themselves, and each other, with fabulous seasonal specials. You could look up what’s currently on tap at any of their websites, but why bother when you can walk into any one of them and drink a beer rather than reading about one?
(Santa Fe Brewing, 35 Fire Place, 505.424.3333; Duel Brewing, 1228 Parkway Drive, 505.474.5301; Second Street Brewery, 1814 Second Street, 505.982.3030, and 1607 Paseo de Peralta, 505.989.3278)
GET INTO THE SPIRITS
If trying a local adult beverage is appealing to you but you aren’t much of a beer drinker, not to worry. Santa Fe Spirits, a distillery making single malt whiskey, apple brandy, gin (described as smelling like New Mexico after a rainfall) and vodka, all with a local flavor, has two tasting rooms in Santa Fe. The Read Street tasting room offers cocktails that highlight the spirits. There is also a tasting room at the distillery itself, on the south side of town, where you can get a bit of education with your spirits in the form of a distillery tour. And if your skin is feeling a bit dehydrated from the arid desert air, a few minutes in the humid, aromatic barrel aging room will plump your pores right up.
Editor’s note: There are actually five distilleries in Santa Fe––who would have guessed! To learn more about our local hand-crafted spirits and the wonderful folks who make them go to localflavor.com.
(Santa Fe Spirits, 308 Read Street, 505.780.5906, and 7505 Mallard Way, 505.467.8892)
IS IT TIME TO EAT YET?
Of course it would be remiss to try to lure you to Santa Fe without mentioning the food. If you are looking for a true New Mexican meal, if you’ve read about red and green chile and have never tried it, if you’ve been to New Mexico in the past and find yourself dreaming of chile that the local taco shop just can’t deliver, if you’re just happy to be on vacation in a state that doesn’t have a Hard Rock Cafe, Santa Fe is here for you.
There was talk of putting up a sign at the city line that said “Welcome to Santa Fe, we’ve got great food,” but the city elders couldn’t decide if should be “good food,” “great food” or “the BEST food” so they decided to table the discussion while they went out for lunch. The first staffer sent to retrieve them went to Tune Up Cafe, thinking that they would have opted for this funky, unpretentious favorite among locals. They weren’t there, but as it was lunch time the staffer sat down to enjoy a plate of banana leaf wrapped tamales. The second staffer thought perhaps since it was such a beautiful fall day, perfect for a walk around the Plaza, she would try The Shed, a restaurant tucked in an old adobe building on Palace Avenue, just off the plaza. Few restaurants in Santa Fe have such a picturesque southwestern feel. The vivacious atmosphere and the scent of chile in the air was too much for her, she succumbed to a bowl of chile con carne with a side of garlic bread.
Heard of green chile burgers and want to try one of the best? Santa Fe Bite on Old Santa Fe Trail won’t disappoint—this is the new home of the original Santa Fe green chile burger, formerly found at Bobcat Bite. This is the burger that wins awards.
(Tune Up Cafe, 1115 Hickox Street, 505.983.7060; The Shed, 113½ E. Palace Avenue, 505.982.9030; Santa Fe Bite, 311 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505.982.0544)
Post a few of these on Facebook and see the “likes” pile up. “You got to see an Angry Bird balloon, cool art and a distillery?” “You drank amazing beer? Jealous.” “OMG—green chile burgers? LOVE!” “Dude—wasn’t there a chainsaw art demonstration?”
Story by Caitlin Richards