Took off from Scottsdale on Monday with my friend Leslie for a road trip to Santa Fe. As an experienced art and cultural tour designer and guide in Arizona I am looking forward to getting to know the nuances of Santa Fe. Fortunately, I'm with an expert! Having lived here for 21 years, Leslie knows Santa Fe. It's "only" been about 4 1/2 years since I've been to Santa Fe as a tour coordinator. Driving up Route 25 I realized just how much Santa Fe had expanded, however once we got into old Santa Fe I assumed that I would be able to orient myself without too much difficulty. Ummm, not exactly. While old Santa Fe has not changed much, seeing it as the tourist is much different than "seeing it " while taking care of a tour group. Thank goodness for Leslie but I need a map to help me get my bearings.
When you travel how do you go about finding the great local eateries, shops, galleries that are the real soul of a city or town, especially if you don't know someone who lives there? When groups go to Scottsdale they can arrange with my company, Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours for in-depth tours and workshops but, to the best of my knowledge, most towns don't have anything like that. Fortunately I've got my own personal guide.
So here are some great local finds for the next time you travel to the lovely town of Santa Fe.
We got into town late Monday and opted for dinner at the Shed with Leslie's son. Very good Mexican food and margaritas! They were also very accommodating when I told them I was a sissy and didn't want it very spicy.
For good free wi fi and inexpensive, good casual breakfast, our first morning we went to the Santa Fe Baking Company. You can sit there as long as you'd like doing computer stuff. Due to multiple technological traumas of our own doing we were there for breakfast and by the time we left the lunch crowd was thinning out! Later that day I was given a private drive around town while we ran errands and such, best way in the world to really experience a town! Then we walked around the historic plaza, in the rain, checking out the best local clothing, shoe and antique shops. Leslie also showed me the historic La Fonda Hotel, where the "Santa Fe Trail Ends". This was a Harvey House was designed by Mary Coulter the same architect who designed the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon as well as other Harvey Houses. Downtown Santa Fe is very walker friendly. We walked from the square down to Del Charro at the historic Inn of the Governors where we "found" (Leslie knew about this) nicely priced, ok cheap, appetizers and drinks that were plenty for dinner. From there Leslie took me to another one of her favorite spots, Rio Chama Steakhouse for a night cap. This is definitely one place that unless you know about it, you're not going to easily find it. It is right on the Old Santa Fe Trail. There is a little sign over an arched opening which you walk through back to this restaurant and beautiful bar where it seems everyone knows the bartender, Rob. End day one.