Christmas charm and Christmas chiles – there’s only one place to get both. Read on to learn all about Christmas in Santa Fe from our Midwest TravelingMom.
“Red, green or Christmas?” That’s what you’re asked each time you sit down for a meal in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although it is the time of year for festive conversation, this question has nothing to do with holiday decor. It’s all about the chiles, the ubiquitous culinary symbol of this Southwestern town.
Chiles are served with breakfast, roasted and served alone as appetizers, they’re even dipped in chocolate. Every restaurant offers you the choice of red chile sauce, green or a combination of the two. To opt out of the chile would be sacrilege, and why would you? The chile is part of this town’s flavor, and why not spice it up on vacation?
From the adobe houses to the smell of the pinon trees burning in the kiva fireplaces, Santa Fe makes you feel like you’ve really gotten away. But being just an hour from Albuquerque Airport means feeling far away on vacation is within easy reach.
Christmas in Santa Fe
Santa Fe is particularly charming during the holidays. The city’s unique blend of Native American and Hispanic cultures adds to the seasonal traditions so different from most in the U.S..
Farolitos, candles placed in paper bags, light up the night as they line the walkways and rooftops of the adobe homes, giving the city an even more spiritual quality than it normally has. New age is old school in this town, where generations have embraced everything from meditation to holistic medicine. But during the holidays, the spirit of Christmas takes over town, and long-held catholic traditions are still embraced.
Santa Fe may not seem like the perfect choice for kids. Gallery hopping and shopping? Most kids would rather take a pass. But that’s just some of what this city of different, as it calls itself, has to offer. Here are the best family-friendly recommendations for a spectacular Southwestern adventure.
Where to Stay
A great choice for families is Bishop’s Lodge, a sprawling resort three miles north of downtown Santa Fe with on-site horseback riding and hiking at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Adobe villas feature southwestern decor and fireplaces.
If you want to stay in the heart of Santa Fe, directly on the Plaza, choose La Fonda, a historic hotel with a fun outdoor pool and jacuzzi.
Where to Eat
If you want to start your day like a local, head over to Tia Sofia’s. Local leaders and politicians gather each morning at this iconic favorite, home to the breakfast burrito.
Consider lunch at another Santa Fe insitution, Cowgirl BBQ, a budget-friendly stop for burgers, and, you guessed it, barbeque. Parents will not only love the western- themed decor, but the outdoor enclosed play area for kids… yeehaw!
Looking for a romantic night out? Head a block north of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza to Il Piatto, where rustic Italian is fused with New Mexican cuisine. Chef and owner Matt Yohalem showcases local produce throughout the menu. Ever thought you’d enjoy eating straight chile peppers? You’ll have fun finding out just how delicious they are, if you order the pan roasted chiles appetizer.
What to Do
Teens might enjoy an art gallery stroll along farolito-lined Canyon Road. If you do attempt these artistic pursuits with your older kids, the Nedra Matteucci Gallery is a must. It features more traditional art, including pieces by Georgia O’Keefe, along with western and Native American themes. There’s also a bucolic outdoor sculpture garden at this gallery, that really feels more like a museum inside a lovely southwestern home.
Afterwards, make a sweet stop at Kakawa Chocolate House, a kid-friendly cafe featuring a rich menu of hot chocolates and treats, including chocolate covered chiles. Kids will enjoy sitting at the child-sized table and chairs.
If your kids aren’t up for gallery hopping, consider getting your hands dirty at Green River Pottery, where you can actually make your own pottery. The owner offers single ceramics classes where you get to use the pottery wheel. This would be fun for kids at least 9 or 10 years old.
Ski Santa Fe, a half hour north of downtown, is home to some great ski slopes. There’s no on-site lodging, but it makes for a great day trip. The mountains of Santa Fe are also home to some amazing petroglyphs. Take a hike and see for yourself. Better yet, consider hiring a guide like Karen Denison, of Outspire Hiking, who’ll lead your family right to them.
Consider celebrating the season with Southwest traditions this year, in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.