Taos, New Mexico
While Santa Fe has a mature, affluent, and somewhat conservative feel, Taos, New Mexico is wide open to all sorts of influences. It’s an artists commune, spa, spiritual retreat, and bargain shopper’s paradise. Not only are there Spanish and Native American influences, but you also have New Age disciples, pseudo-hippies, communal artists, healers and adventurers making up a diverse community of 5,000 in this tiny town. Because of that, Taos, New Mexico has a rawness and diversity to it that is every bit as charming as the refinement of Santa Fe, making it a delightful day trip from Albuquerque.
If you want to make a day trip of a visit to Taos, focus on the very walkable downtown around the Plaza. It is worth an overnight stay in one of the charming bed & breakfasts or local hotels, which are quite reasonable in cost outside of peak ski season.
I occasionally escape to Taos for a day trip for a change of scenery, and it never disappoints. It has a hand-hewed Adobe charm, lots of “nooks and crannies” to explore, and a good selection of inexpensive eateries.
Be sure to check out Taos Pueblo when you visit. The Taos Pueblo’s multi-storied adobe pueblo buildings have been continually inhabited for over 1000 years. This is a fascinating historic attraction and also one of the best places in New Mexico to purchase authentic Native American artwork.
Amazingly, for such a small town, Taos has seven world-class museums and over 100 art galleries. This is a town that loves art, and it literally oozes from the pores of this endlessly creative destination. The photo below shows a scene from a home-grown museum that features automotive memorabilia in a converted old gas station on the outskirts of Taos. Expect the quirky and unusual.
The best way to visit Taos is by car. The trip to Taos is as fascinating as the destination! Take the “High Road” into Taos for stunning mountain scenery sprinkled with charming small towns. The High Road is a trip through New Mexico’s Spanish heritage with Chimayo (you must stop at the Santuario de Chimayo) and other charming mountain towns along the way. The “Low Road” back to Albuquerque offers a taste of attractions along the Rio Grande, including beautiful farm country, wineries and quaint cafes worth a stop on your way back. I will soon have a post dedicated to each of these excursions as they are attractions within themselves.
You do not want to rush any part of your visit to Taos! A trip to this charming town from Santa Fe or Albuquerque is richly rewarding, and one of the best ways to sample the culture and heritage of New Mexico.