Last month, my family of four had the opportunity to travel to New Mexico to help my father-in-law celebrate a significant birthday (I won’t tell you which one, to protect his privacy . Besides meeting up with aunts, uncles and cousins, we also managed to pack in a great weekend getaway on a trip I would recommend…
We flew into Albuquerque on Friday afternoon, leaving the Bay Area around lunchtime. Hopping into our rented Prius (from Hertz, no less), we made our way up to Santa Fe for the evening. Our family group met at Tomasitas for an authentic New Mexican meal, which included lots of green and red chili (ask for Christmas if you want both) and great options for the kids including quesadillas and burritos. Plus, every order comes with sopapillas, a reason in itself to travel to New Mexico. Pillowy, fried doughy goodness, served hot with honey. Wow!
After dinner, we checked into our hotel, Inn of the Governors, where the rest of our family was staying. The location right off the Plaza made it an ideal spot for adventuring in the morning and their complimentary breakfast was a great start to the day. The only downside was that the rooms were on the small side for a family of four, with two queen beds and no space to bring in a rollaway. Worked ok for our young kids (age 5 and 7), but if we had teenagers, we probably would have wanted a second room.
Early December was a great time to visit, as the Plaza and surrounding stores were all decorated with holiday lights. We found beautiful hand carved gourd ornaments, as well as brass golf ball markers made on local Indian reservations. Favorite shopping finds included Susan’s Christmas Shop and The Shop, A Christmas Store, located across the street from each other. Both had wonderful examples of local decorations for my home, including luminarias, chili pepper lights and New Mexican nativity scenes. When it started to snow, we headed over to the New Mexico Museum of Art, with a nice collection of Georgia O’Keefe work. Other museums that looked interesting included Palace of the Governors and Santa Fe Children’s Museum. A quick lunch at The Shed (more green chili) and we were off to Los Alamos.
In addition to being the childhood home of my husband, Los Alamos is also home to world class scientists and Bandalier National Monument. Our hotel for the evening was the Best Western Hilltop House, and while the place is ancient, the room set up for our family of four was definitely comfortable. The big excitement for us was visiting Bandalier which has ancestral Pueblo dwellings, or as my kids call them, caves! You can walk along Main Loop Trail which takes you up to the cave area, where there are ladders to actually climb up in the caves. My kids loved this national monument, and the funny looking Abert’s squirrels.
After our trip to Bandalier, we left Los Alamos and on the way back to Albuquerque, stopped off at Rancho de Chimayo for one last New Mexican fiesta. A great spot for groups, this old hacienda-turned restaurant serves local cuisine in a comfortable and warm atmosphere. Wonderful way to end our short visit to New Mexico!
Looking for more ideas for New Mexico? Check out what these bloggers have to share:
And have you been to New Mexico recently? Do you have any favorite stories to share, or great places to find sopapillas? I would love to hear about it!