I’m a planner by heart, and spending months outlining every day of my drive along Route 66 was almost as much fun as the trip itself. Almost. Although our pace was speedy, there were a few spots along the way where I knew I wanted some extra time to explore, like Santa Fe. I had never been to New Mexico before and I was excited to explore its many quirky spots, including its capital city. Thankfully, I was correct in my assumptions about Santa Fe, and my time there quickly became a highlight of the entire drive, for these reasons and more.
Spending extra time in the idyllic community of Santa Fe was one of the best decisions I made long Route 66, and my time there was just as incredible as I had hoped. Staying at the incomparable La Posada de Santa Fe, the luxury hotel’s service and location in the city made exploration easy and fun. With a history that goes back more than 400 years, Santa Fe is totally unlike any other city I’ve visited. Every building seems to be made out of adobe and there’s a certain international flair that shines just out of sight. It’s a famously artistic and liberal enclave in the state, most of which is rural and somewhat disconnected. Santa Fe though felt more like an expat community in Mexico or elsewhere, its Spanish heritage also embraced and on full display. Walking through the center of town, the weather was perfect and the crowds of people out and about reflected that. A small stage was set up in the town square, and scores of people were camped out with picnic baskets enjoying the afternoon. This ease of living is what I remember most about Santa Fe, and I immediately saw it as a place where I could spend a lot more time and even live. It’s just that special. It’s not the only highlight though of the Santa Fe Loop, and on my second day in the region I left Route 66 in order to visit another famous community, Taos.
Long known as the capital of counter-culture cool, Taos is simultaneously one of the most physically beautiful places I’ve been, but also the strangest. Since time was short, the organized small-group tour I joined wasn’t just nice, it was essential to make the most of our limited time. Meeting our guide in downtown Taos, we climbed into her truck and set out to see the best of the region. Stunning landscapes, adobe churches and quirky homes were all included, but without a doubt the highlight was spending time in the UNESCO-recognized Taos Pueblo. One of the country’s most photographed buildings, this 1,000 year-old dwelling is also the oldest continuously inhabited dwelling in the USA. Standing there in the community, chatting with the fine people who call it home and looking up at this impressive monument to a way of life and culture, it was all nearly overwhelming. I didn’t expect that on this trip, to be so completely impressed and wowed by places like this, but then again, that’s why I decided to tackle Route 66. To see – to really see – my country and to allow those amazing moments to happen, whenever and wherever that may be.
La Posada de Santa Fe
Located on six historically rich acres in downtown Santa Fe, the luxury hotel started life as an 1880s brick mansion, built by prosperous German immigrants to the city. In the 1930s, new owners started the process of converting the entire property to a resort, building adobe casitas and enhancing the services. Over the years this enhancement continued to create the historic but modern, stylish but incredibly comfortable luxury hotel that La Posada is today. La Posada de Santa Fe has everything I look for in any great luxury hotel. Outstanding service, food and style but also an interesting and unique history. This is as far from a cookie cutter experience as you could hope for and since it’s a 2-minute walk from historic Santa Fe, La Posada truly is the ideal place to not only enjoy the best the city has to offer, but to do so in comfort and peace.
The best part of being in Santa Fe is just being in Santa Fe. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it and most of the time there I had to keep reminding myself that I was indeed still in the US. Even as an outsider there’s an incredible feeling of community and inclusiveness that is honestly hard to explain, it just has to be felt. While wandering around town, I stopped in at a café that was off of the main tourist trail and soon found myself surrounded by mostly locals. Everyone was chatting with each other, dogs were playing and it was just nice. Sometimes that’s enough in the travel experience and that afternoon more than anything endeared Santa Fe to my heart forever.