A VISIT TO // NEW MEXICO

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As a Wisconsin-bred, California-living woman, my fantasy of New Mexico — particularly Santa Fe and Taos — is painted desert, adobe-style casitas with blue doors and garlands of dried chilies hanging from arched doorways, local artisans peddling turquoise jewelry on sidewalks, and a tangible sense of spirituality in the air. On a recent road trip to these two cities I realized that, to my delight, not only are these fantasies are real, but that this part of the world is so, so much more.

The New Mexico that inspired so many abstracted landscapes from Georgia O’Keeffe decades ago still exists, but today Santa Fe and Taos’s value as a destination for creative souls has only evolved. Both cities have remained true to their native roots, honoring the history of their surroundings, but have also welcomed modernization both in terms of art and lifestyle, making these places an ideal location to eat, drink, shop, sightsee, and generally get completely inspired.

Such inspiration from my recent trip led me to create the a “greatest hits” list for anyone planning a visit to this area. And if you aren’t yet, I trust the following influences you to so.  After all, I can confidently say that New Mexico lives up to its title of “The Land of Enchantment.”

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The Love Apple, Taos, NM. For my first meal upon arriving into Taos, after a geographically stunning drive from Santa Fe, I enjoyed a lovely farm-to-table dinner at this romantic adobe church-turned-restaurant owned by Jennifer Hart. The menu here stays true to its Southwestern roots while emphasizing fresh, local ingredients. Think housemade flour tortillas with harissa, crème fraiche, and cilantro-lime relish, a pear and warm goat cheese salad with locally sourced pecans and honey, and fried avocado tacos with orange-cabbage slaw and pepitas.

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Casa Gallina, Taos, NM. Richard Spera, the host at this stunning artisan inn located quietly off the main drag of Taos’ bustling plaza, made all my New Mexico fantasies real. The perfectly decorated casita where I stayed was complete with fresh eggs from the few dozen hens living on the property, a claw foot tub, a fireplace, an adjacent garden to pick fresh greens and herbs, and a perfectly stocked kitchen fit for a domestic goddess. Spera was also an incredible guide to his beloved city and graciously directed me to the Rio Grande River Gorge for sightseeing in the morning, and — since he is a local arts aficionado (his husband had just wrapped up The Paseo, a fall arts festival featuring installation and performance art) the Harwood Museum which had both an impressive permanent collection of Hispanic art, as well as a meditative, contemporary gallery of white-on-white Agnes Martin paintings and Donald Judd benches.

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Earthship Biotecture, Taos, NM. This compound of sustainably build structures (recycled materials, reused water, solar power) is as ecologically impressive as it is visually amazing. Drop in for a self-guided tour at how it all works, or arrange for a nightly rental as an alternative lodging option.

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Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe, NM. This beautiful, world-renowned Japanese-style spa has both communal and private options. I enjoyed the latter, complete with my own hot tub, cold tub, and sauna to sweat and soak away my troubles with a scenic view as the sun set.

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Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM. This museum is small, but completely filled with treasures. Beyond the standard “giant flower” paintings are lesser known O’Keeffe treats like some small, delicate, watercolors, abstracted desert views, and some incredible photographs of the artist taken by a number of her acclaimed creative friends.

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Santa Fe Vintage, Santa Fe, NM. Scott Corey has a labor of love in this warehouse filled to the brim with a perfectly edited variety of vintage Americana pieces that includes exquisitely weathered denim and leather, boots, cowboy hats, and delicate slips — to name just a few. Though this appointment-only location is geared toward designers, dealers, and serious collectors, Corey has thankfully opened the more accessible and affordable Santa Fe Vintage Outpost in downtown Santa Fe that features such trademark Southwest pieces, as well as unique pieces by local jeweler Julienne Barth.

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A Visit To is a play on our recurring series, A Visit With. Meant to serve as a visual journal, A Visit With, is a trip to an inspiring space with an emerging and/or established creative. A Visit To // New Mexico is the first entry in this installment dedicated to the places that inspire creativity and passion in a particular city.

Photography and words by Ashley Tibbits.