This year three of us college friends (Go Big Red!) celebrated a milestone birthday. We couldn’t think of a better reason to plan a trip to somewhere interesting so we got out the atlas and scheduled a Zoom call. We settled on a town we all wanted to get to know better, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Planning: What we did right
Flew into Albuquerque and rented a car
It’s a lot cheaper to fly into Albuquerque International Sunport than Santa Fe. The airport is on the smaller side, clean, and very manageable. After picking up our rental, we drove up the more scenic Turquoise Trail, making a stop to check out the shops in the old coal mining town of Madrid (aka A Hidden Gem).
Once in the city, having a car allowed us to visit attractions out of town without having to rely on public transportation. Another perk was that it gave us a place to store food, water, extra clothes, and the souvenirs we bought, rather than having to lug everything around in purses or backpacks.
Stayed in an Airbnb close to town
Where to stay might have been one of our most difficult decisions. Everyone agreed that we wanted a place with lots of “together” space, both inside and outdoors. But we also wanted our own quiet space-Carla meditates, I journal, and Judi has a network of family and friends she keeps in touch with. We looked at many styles of accommodations within a thirty-mile radius before choosing a three bedroom, two bath Airbnb. Located on a hill above Santa Fe, it had spectacular views of the sunrise and night skies and you could hear more bird calls than sounds of the city. Downtown was only a short drive away and our visitor-friendly house had garage parking for the car, as well as an indoor fireplace, outdoor patio and courtyard, and many other amenities.
Stocked up before checking into our rental
Although we all love to eat, we were on the go so much that it was helpful to have snacks and drinks at the Airbnb to supplement our restaurant meals. We hit up a Whole Foods but there’s also Sprouts and various other stores and markets around. At the grocery, we stocked up on fruit, vegetables, baked goods, grilled chicken, cheese and crackers, wine, and champagne. And, of course, I had brought some Halloween chocolate. After all it was a birthday getaway!
Checked the weather before packing
As you may have noticed, I’m a fan of “shoulder season” travel. I especially don’t like vacationing in extreme heat so traveling to the Southwest in the fall sounded ideal. A few things managed to surprise me. First of all, the weather was nearly perfect. Though I’d read that Santa Fe is sunny 325 days of the year; I figured that might be a slight exaggeration. However, most of our vacation days were sunny, with the most incredibly blue sky! All that sun made me think of shorts, sandals, and sundresses but luckily, I checked the weather and discovered that, though temperatures were in the high 50’s, low 60’s during the day, nights were much cooler (30-40 degrees). Which sounded a lot like the layers I’d worn in Iceland so that’s what I stuffed into my suitcases. Along with a hat, sweaters, and gloves. Good thing because Thursday was cold, blustery, with a few snowflakes. Yikes! New Mexico has seasons similar to ours in New York, which meant the October foliage was incredible! Vibrant yellow cottonwood trees were everywhere we looked contrasting stunningly with the sky and neutral desert colors. Easy to understand why creatives in all mediums have been drawn to “The Land of Enchantment” for centuries.
Next up-New Mexico’s incredible art scene.