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Greetings from state #47! If you’ve been keeping up with my blog for the past few years you would know that I am almost done with my #50stateschallenge, a goal a set for myself in 2021 to visit all 50 states ASAP. Almost two years, a move, and a Master’s degree later, I am ALMOST done! This past week I crossed #47 off the list with my mom — New Mexico! My mom is an artist and has always dreamed of visiting the Santa Fe area, so it was the perfect mother-daughter trip for us. I am especially proud of this post because I think we did this 6 day New Mexico itinerary really well! God bless this little corner of the internet, because now can I share it with all 10,000+ of you with one click. Well, it’s a lot more work than just one click, but here you go… without further ado, here’s the perfect 6 day New Mexico itinerary.
When To Visit New Mexico
Just like the rest of the states in the southwest, New Mexico experiences extremes in temperature depending on the season. The summer sun can be sweltering in the deserts here, reaching well over 100° F. Winter brings along numerous storms and dumps several feet of snow throughout the state. In the northern portion of the state, snowstorms can hit through late April!
Planning your perfect 6 day New Mexico itinerary also depends on what you hope to see and do. If you’re an avid skier, don’t miss Taos Ski Valley. The ski season here starts in mid-November and wraps up in April. If you’re planning a winter trip, there’s also snowmobiling in the area.
April – October is perfect for all other activities, including hiking, fishing, hunting, enjoying arts festivals, and wine tasting. I just did this trip in late April / early May and thought the weather was PERFECT, except for a few hours one morning when we experienced a freak snow storm. Shoulder seasons are usually the way to go when traveling for cheaper prices and less crowds.
What To Pack
I’m going to keep this section brief because the detailed packing list will depend heavily on what you plan on doing in New Mexico, but no matter the season — layer up! The sun is STRONG in the southwest, so bring layers. The mornings tend to be cooler than the afternoons. Also, sunscreen and lotion here are a must to protect and hydrate your skin, no matter what activities you choose to work into your 6 day New Mexico itinerary.
How To Get To / Around New Mexico
New Mexico can easily be tacked onto a southwest road trip, or driven down into from Colorado. If you’re flying, there are airports in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, but I recommend using the Albuquerque International Sunport. It’s larger and is the state’s main airport. Once you’re in New Mexico, you’re going to need a rental car to travel around on these popular routes:
- Albuquerque to Santa Fe: 1 hour in the car
- Santa Fe to Taos via the High Road: 2.5 hours in the car
- Santa Fe to Taos via the Low Road: 1.5 hours in the car
- Albuquerque to Taos: 2.5 hours in the car
6 Day New Mexico Itinerary
Day 1: Travel Day + Albuquerque
Now for the itinerary! As mentioned above, I highly recommend beginning your trip in Albuquerque. Since most of you will probably be flying to New Mexico, let’s start here! Once you land, grab your rental car, and head to the Old Town!
Pro-tip: The rental car center is about a mile down the road from the airport terminals. There’s a free shuttle that runs continuously here, but just keep this in mind when timing your drop-off!
Albuquerque is a modern city with a charming Old Town. I recommend spending some time in the Old Town. There’s metered street parking and a few public parking lots in the area. Just note — you’ll definitely want to lock your car here and put any valuables in the trunk. ABQ is a lovely place to visit, but also has the highest crime rate of any city in the US. Old Town is full of tourists though, so don’t let this deter you!
In the Old Town, I recommend checking out the center gazebo and the shops that surround it. San Felipe de Neri Church is a historic Catholic church located on the north side of Old Town Plaza. Built in 1793, it’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city. There’s some fascinating art right outside of the church you’ll want to see too (this will be a theme of this guide).
Noisy Water Winery has a second level that looks out onto a city square and is a great place to people watch. New Mexico has a booming winery industry due to its arid climate, and this is one of the best ones for wine tasting in the city. For lunch or dinner I recommend checking out Church Street Café. It’s located right behind the church and has a fantastic patio. This restaurant doubles as Casa de Ruiz, the oldest residence in Albuquerque and one of the oldest structures in the state of New Mexico. The inside still has the character of a historic home.
Drive 1 hour to Santa Fe…
After exploring Old Town, head to Santa Fe. My mom and I chose not to stay in Albuquerque at all for this trip, and honestly, you don’t need to. You’ll still get to see a few highlights with this 6 day New Mexico itinerary! Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico, is safer, and is a better base for the rest of the trip. See you tomorrow!
Day 2: Santa Fe
Begin your morning at one of Santa Fe’s numerous museums. I love visiting museums in the morning with a coffee in hand. There’s quite a few located right off the main plaza, including the Art Museum, the New Mexico History Museum, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. If you’re an art fanatic like my mom, head to the Georgia O’Keeffe or the New Mexico art museum. Both are less than $20 for entry. For the history buffs, you’ll want to see the New Mexico History Museum, which will also grant you entry to the Palace of Governors. This building is right off the main plaza, but the inside can only be explored with this museum ticket. The actual museum is 3 floors, but you can see the highlights in an hour or so.
For the artists….
Did you know? Santa Fe is home to over 280 galleries! 280! It’s definitely one of the art capitals of the US. Thus, you should try your hand at an art medium! Whether you’re a gifted artists or not, taking a class in Santa Fe is the perfect way to spend an afternoon and is a fun way to try something new. My mom and I have done our fair share of art projects over the years, so we tried something totally different — glassblowing! If this interests you (which it should… you get to sculpt molten glass in your hands and cook it in a 2000° oven!), check out Prairie Dog Glass. They charge by the hour (not per person) and allow you to make up to 2 pieces: such as some glasses, a bowl, ornament, etc. The owner, Patrick, is a hoot and has been doing this for over 45 years so he’s the best! You can either ship your pieces or pick up the next day, so plan accordingly.
Where to Eat in Santa Fe
For dinner tonight, I recommend heading back to the Santa Fe Plaza. Plaza Café is the oldest restaurant in the city — it’s been in operation for 75 years!!! The downtown location is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but we loved it for dinner. Try the queso!
Day 3: Santa Fe
Day 3 of our trip was a Saturday, which comes with a can’t-miss to-do on this 6 day New Mexico itinerary… the Santa Fe Farmers Market! Located in the Railroad District, the Santa Fe Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm. There are about 80 local artists in the network that rotate among the 25 spots here. Aside from the artisan market, there is also an indoor food + farmers market that shouldn’t be missed. Inside you’ll find bushels of lavender, spices, fresh produce, and baked goods. There’s also a few quaint shops and breweries in this area.
Pro-tip: This farmers market is a popular activity for both locals and tourists alike, so you may struggle to find parking. Luckily, there’s a public parking garage located right under to the REI in the Railroad District.
Grab a coffee at nearby Iconik Coffee Roasters too!
Whether you choose to do this after the farmers market or on a separate day, it needs a full afternoon. Strolling through the galleries on Canyon Road is a MUST! Canyon Road is only ½ mile long, but there’s SO much to see here, you’ll need a few hours. Start at the north end, near the Teahouse Restaurant. There’s a public parking lot here (one of the only ones in the area), and work your way down to the plaza of shops at 225 Canyon Road.
There are all mediums on display here, ranging from $40,000 paintings to pottery to jewelry stores to sculpture gardens. Whether art is your jam or not, this area is worth seeing. About half way down Canyon Road is the Ahmyo Wine Garden. This is my number one recommendation for Santa Fe!
Ahmyo Wine Garden looks like an unassuming gallery from the road, but has an oasis in the back. If you walk through the gallery, you’ll hit a bar, patio, and sculpture garden out back. I highly recommend ordering a flight of wine here and eating lunch. They have sandwiches and salads, along with more basic picnic snack items. The highlight for us was the live music we listened to here! There was a guitarist performing as we enjoyed our wine.
Where to Eat in Santa Fe
For dinner this evening I highly recommend Esquina Pizza. Esquina Pizza is located near the Railroad District and was a great switch-up from all the (delicious) southwest food this trip. Esquina serves brick-oven pizza and has a cozy back patio, complete with string lights and colorful murals. Their menu is basic but scrumptious. Try their sparkling wine, Caesar salad, and split a pizza or two!
Day 4: Taos
It’s time to DAY TRIP! If you’re not skiing Taos or spending a few days in the area, I highly recommend visiting for the day from Santa Fe. If you’re looking for the most direct road, you’ll want to drive on the Low Road, which takes about 1.5 hours along the highway. The High Road, which takes about 2.5 hours to drive from Santa Fe, is the more scenic route.
The High Road: Santa Fe to Taos Road Trip
Along the way to Taos from Santa Fe, plug these spots into your GPS. Be sure to load maps ahead of time as you will likely lose service throughout the 2.5 hour drive in the mountains. Your first stop should be the Santuario de Chimayo, a Roman Catholic Church from the 1800s. It’s famous for being a pilgrimage site for healing and sees over 300,000 visitors from the southwest and around the world each year. Rancho de Chimayo is a fantastic farm-to-table, authentic southwest restaurant located in the area in an old abode. We stopped here on the way back to Santa Fe for dinner — highly recommend adding this into your 6 day New Mexico itinerary.
On the High Road, you’ll also pass the town of Truchas, located high in the mountains and full of galleries. The views here are amazing! About 15 minutes down the road is the Las Trampas Historic Marker, which is worth pulling over at. The church here is one of the finest surviving 18th-century churches in New Mexico. After this stop, you’ll be in Taos before you know it!
What to see in Taos, New Mexico: Taos Pueblo
Once you reach Taos, you’ll want to spend the rest of the day exploring the main Plaza area and the Taos Pueblo. From the Plaza, the Taos ski resort is about 30 minutes away, so if you’re not skiing there, I don’t recommend trying to squeeze it in.
Pro-tip: The Taos Pueblo has unique hours depending on the day of the week and the season. For example, we visited on a Sunday and they were only open from 12-3 pm that day. Research before you go!
The Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States and has been lived in by native peoples for over 1,000 years. There are free tours of the Pueblo that I HIGHLY recommend hopping on to learn about the history. It will BLOW your mind that the people here aren’t reinacting their history for tourists, but rather still live day-to-day in adobe mud huts, using oronos to bake bread and fetching drinking water from the nearby river. The tour will cover the history of the area, the language, the Pueblo school system, government, and so much more. Plus, the tours are given by locals in the community, so it’s a great way to support.
Pro-tip: Photos are allowed outside of buildings, but please be mindful that this is a lively neighborhood and to not film people or the inside of their homes! This is not a tourist site, they really do open up their homes to tourists a few hours of the day.
What to see in Taos, New Mexico: Lunch, the Gorge, Taos Plaza
By now you’re probably starving for lunch. There’s a ton of options to choose from in Taos, but I recommend the Gutiz restaurant! It’s a Latin-French café with local Taos dishes. Guy Fieri even came here with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to review one of their dishes! We loved it.
After lunch, drive 15 minutes to the Rio Grande Gorge. The “Grand River” runs from Colorado down to the Mexico border, with an impressive gorge in the Taos area. There’s a bridge you can walk across to get a amazing view of the valley with Taos ski resort in the back drop!
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Taos Plaza. This is the main part of the city and is full of historic hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. My mom and I spent a few hours around here before hitting the Low Road back to Santa Fe, with a full pull over stops for photos of course (see below)!
Day 5: Santa Fe
Today is your last full day in New Mexico if you’ve been following this 6 day New Mexico itinerary. For us, it was a Monday. We started the day at another highly recommended spot in Santa Fe — Meow Wolf!
Never heard of it? Meow Wolf is an immersive, interactive art installation located in Santa Fe. It’s run by an arts production company that also has exhibits in Denver, Texas, and Las Vegas, so keep an eye out for a Meow Wolf near you! The one in Santa Fe opened in 2016 and is a top activity to do. There’s over 70 rooms to explore here, including one with a full sized bus and house! My mom and I spent about an hour here, but I would set aside 1.5 hours for this. If you’re traveling with kids (which BTW—this is perfect), I would set aside 2-3 hours of fun.
Pro-tip: Definitely buy tickets online and in advance for Meow Wolf! I also recommend going first thing in the morning so it’s less crowded. When my mom and I left around 11:30 am, the fieldtrips were starting to arrive.
Santa Fe Plaza
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring downtown Santa Fe. For a light lunch and coffee, head to Downtown Subscription. It’s a cute coffee shop and news stand with a relaxing back patio. We soaked up the sun here for awhile!
In the plaza, I recommend checking out the shops in the area, along with these nearby highlights:
- New Mexico State Capitol (it’s the only round one in the US!)
- Loretto Hotel for photos
- Loretto Chapel (right next door)
- San Miguel Chapel (the oldest church in the US!!!)
- La Fonda on the Plaza
A special shout out needs to go out to La Fonda on the Plaza for having one of the best happy hour spots I’ve ever experienced. Whether you’re a guest or not, head up to the Bell Tower roof top in the evening for happy hour! This roof top offers sweeping 360° views of the mountains and city below, has amazing drinks, and the best guac. This place was also an amazing experience because I met a blog subscriber in the wild up here!
Honorable Mention: This is niche, but if you’re looking to get your nails or toes done while in Santa Fe, head to One Fine Day. It’s a tiny boutique spa owned by the sweetest women, Nong. She books by appointment only, but I couldn’t recommend her more. My mom and I loved our treatments here!
Day 6: Albuquerque + Travel Day
If you’ve been following this 6 day New Mexico itinerary, then you would leave New Mexico today. My mom and I got up early today and checked out our hotel and drove the hour back down into Albuquerque. At the beginning of this post I mentioned that you don’t have to stay in ABQ. Before your flight today is your chance to see some more of it! My mom and I both had flights in the afternoon, so we spent the entire morning seeing more of the city.
My number one recommendation for the ABQ area is definitely Los Poblanos! Los Poblanos is an organic lavender farm, luxury inn, wellness center and spa, and farm-to-table restaurant all wrapped into one. We didn’t stay here, but I couldn’t recommend brunch or dinner at the restaurant Campo here more. My mom and I grabbed brunch here before heading to the airport and LOVED IT! The restaurant books up quickly and is by reservation only, so be sure to reserve a table in advance. We got the first reservation of the day at 8:30 am, leaving us some time to explore the farm store and grounds afterwards. There’s alpacas here, a peacock, and all guests can wander through the lavender fields, so make sure you leave time to explore! This place was highly recommended by a few, and now I’m recommending it to you, so don’t miss it before returning to the ABQ airport to conclude your New Mexico trip.
That brings us to the end of my 6 day New Mexico itinerary! I hope this blog post provided you with all the information you need to plan your dream trip. As always, my comments and DMs on Insta (@nicole.rosania) are always open for questions! If you’re looking to explore more of the southwest, check out THIS ultimate southwest road trip itinerary — one of my most detailed posts.
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