Picture this: You have a long weekend, or a week’s vacation free to step out of your hectic life and recharge. You consider a staycation – until you imagine being stuck in traffic for half your time off. You can almost smell the sweat of the tourists who will share the oppressive August heat with you. As you cringe, recalling the outrageous food, entertainment and lodging costs from your last local trip, you wonder if there’s something, somewhere better.
Luckily, just a short drive south — not far across the border – there is. Pack the car, load the kids and the dog (optional), and head to Taos, New Mexico. Taos is the escape. Uncrowded, inexpensive, and graced by architecture, art, culture, food, hotels and landscapes that you won’t find anywhere else, Taos is the place to be this summer.
For a glimpse of the past, visit the picturesque, centuries-old San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos, whose adobe contours have made it one of the most photographed and painted churches out there. For a look into the future, head west on US-64 past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – which spans 650 feet above the river – and tour the remarkable, self-sustaining structures at Earthship Biotecture.
Wander Historic Ledoux Street, just off of Taos Plaza, for dozens of galleries and museums that could keep you busy for hours. The Harwood Museum of Art holds permanent Agnes Martin and Taos Moderns collections, along with visiting exhibits. There, view the works of icons like R.C. Gorman and Judy Chicago. Also, take in The PASEO, an interactive art festival that transforms the town with out-of-this-world performance, projection and installation art, on September 13 and 14.
Stroll around downtown Taos and enjoy more than 20 sites within the Historic District. La Hacienda de los Martinez, a rare “Great House” built in 1804, gives tours Friday through Tuesday. Just outside of town, experience the Taos Pueblo, the over 1,000-year-old handcrafted home of the Red Willow people and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fall means fresh roasted New Mexico chile in Taos. Get your green, red or Christmas (red and green) fix at La Cueva Cafe, Michael’s Kitchen and Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe. (Five best chile hotspots in Taos.)
The Historic Taos Inn and the Sagebrush Inn & Suites offer unique lodging that won’t empty your wallet, while Hotel Luna Mystica’s classic Airstreams and campground are a perfect way to experience the vast Taos mesa.
Climb: Mountains Skills provides rock climbing instruction and guided climbs for beginners to experts.
En plein air: There are numerous instructors and workshop opportunities in Taos to take you into nature to paint. Get creative with the Taos Art School.
Hike: Easy — The West Rim Trail, located in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, is an easy out and back with intimate views of the adjacent 800 feet deep gorge.
Moderate — Close to town, the Devisadero Loop Trail can also be hiked as an up and back. Or, drive to Taos Ski Valley and walk the Williams Lake Trail, located in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness.
Strenuous — All of the trails on the way to Taos Ski Valley eventually reach a ridge line with canyon views. To get your heart pounding and summit Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 feet, opt for the route above Williams Lake or take the Bull of the Woods Trail
Mountain Bike: Rent a bike or find gear and trail information at Gearing Up or Taos Cyclery. Book a shuttle with Turquoise Tours to access the lightly trafficked yet top-rated South Boundary Trail. Looking for a mellower ride? Try the Rift Valley Trail, with miles of single track.
Boat: Experience the Rio Grande by raft, inflatable kayak or paddle board with one of our professional raft companies: Far Flung, Los Rios River Runners or New Mexico Rafting Adventures.
Your escape awaits! Come relax and recharge in a unique town that will have you counting the days until your next chunk of time off. It’s that something, somewhere better.