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24 Things a Woman Should Know Before Visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

Journeywoman Billie Frank lives and works in Santa Fe. She is co-owner of The Santa Fe Traveler, a travel consultant company specializing in customized Santa Fe experiences. She also blogs about her adopted city at Santa Fe Travelers and is currently updating a Santa Fe travel guide for a major publisher. Billie says...

Santa Fe is a small, intimate city that offers way more than you probably expect from a city this size. Nicknamed The City Different, it offers world-class music and art and a sophisticated dining scene. The shopping here - everything from funky cowgirl boots to wonderful pieces of art - will make your heart sing. Santa Fe is a perfectly comfortable place for solo women travelers and one that I recommend highly. As a local let me share with you what I know about this city...

 

Staying here: Pick lodging close to downtown. It's the area you will want to explore and dine in. There are a few more moderate and budget options close to town but also check rates the on-line discounters are offering. The Hotel Santa Fe, the city's only native-owned hotel sometimes offers bargains and has shuttle service to the Plaza area as does the basic and budget Santa Fe Sage Inn.

 

Acclimate: Take your time. Spend your first day in our city acclimating. In Santa Fe we're at 7,000 feet. It's very dry here in the high desert.

 

Hydrate: Drink lots of water. Minimize coffee and alcohol consumption until you have acclimated to the high and dry. And by the way, because of the altitude, alcohol affects you faster. One drink here is the equivalent of two at sea level.

 

Slather with a Capital S: Sunscreen and a hat are very important in Santa Fe. We are closer to the sun and the air is thin. Trust me; you will burn faster than you think.

 

Expect an interesting climate: Santa Fe is not Phoenix. People are often surprised that it gets cold here. In winter people arrive not realizing that, yes, we do get a real winter. While it feels warmer than it does in humid places, come prepared for cold and snow. In winter, we can get warm days and even if it's cold (unless it gets into the low 20s or the wind is blowing), it feels warmer than the thermometer leads you to believe. Since it's sunny and dry (over 300 sunny days a year) you don't get that bone-chilling cold that happens in places with humidity. And be prepared; it can snow into May.

 

What to bring: When packing for Santa Fe, think layers. Even in the summer, evenings can be chilly and you'll need a sweater. Anything goes in terms of dress. It's mostly a casual town, but many visitors (and locals) can be seen decked out in turquoise and silver and fabulous cowgirl boots.

 

Relax in a spa or hot spring: If you want to soak in a Japanese-style hot tub, check out Ten Thousand Waves. Splurge on a private tub if you can. The public, clothing optional pool, is not for everyone and neither is the women's pool. Like natural hot springs? Check out the mineral pools at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs about an hour and a half drive from Santa Fe. Treat yourself to one of their private (and huge) soaking pools with kiva fireplace.

 

Explore the historic downtown: Santa Fe is a great walking city. Check out the historic downtown Plaza area. The city is compact and full of history; there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore on your own. Want some company? You can take an organized historic walking tour with Historic Walks of Santa Fe. From April through October, there are also open-air tram tours such as Loretto Lines. The Santa Fe Traveler offers historic tours by appointment and will also design a custom tour for you either to do on your own or with a knowledgable (and fun) guide.

 

Free history, art and culture: Santa Fe has great museums. The state run New Mexico History Museum and New Mexico Museum of Art are free on Friday evenings from 5 to 8pm. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Art and Culture, both on Museum Hill, are also free on Friday nights. There's a bus from town if you don't have a car. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is free the first Friday of the month from 5 to 7pm.

 

There are galleries galore: Santa Fe has over 200 galleries; you can see 'free' art every day. Friday night gallery openings are a great way to get a glass of wine, a nibble and a look at what's new on the Santa Fe art scene. There's a First Friday Walk shared by the West Palace and Lincoln Avenue Galleries and Canyon Road has a Fourth Friday Walk. Pasatiempo, the Friday weekend magazine insert in the Santa Fe New Mexican, our daily paper, lists the openings and other happenings throughout the week.

 

Georgia O'Keeffe: If you are coming here because you are a Georgia O'Keeffe fan, here are a few tips: The museum closes several times a year for about two weeks to mount new shows. Plan your trip accordingly. The Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio and Ghost Ranch are both in Abiquiu, over an hour's ride from Santa Fe. You will need a car to get there. The home tour and the O'Keeffe landscape tours at the ranch are offered seasonally and tend to book up. Make arrangements well in advance.

 

Go back in time: Take a trip to one of the cliff dwelling or other Pueblo archeological sites. Visit one of the two historic Pueblos (Acoma Sky City, southwest of Albuquerque, or Taos Pueblo, north of Santa Fe) where people live today much as they did before the Spanish arrived.

 

 

 

 

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