It isn’t often that you wind up with 24 hours to spare in a city that you’ve always wanted to explore. That’s what happened to me recently when I was in Santa Fe for a business trip. I was thrilled, because before I flew in, I thought that there would never be time for me to spend some time looking around and learning what it’s like to live there. When I found out about the extra time I had, I also found out that I wouldn’t be able to just keep my Santa Fe hotel room. Luckily, I discovered HotelTonight. I had never heard of it, but within seconds I saw all sorts of options for Santa Fe hotels. That was fine, but I assumed that like many other interfaces I’d have to spend a lot of time digging through red tape in order to book a room I wanted. That was not the case with HotelTonight – I had a room booked and secured within a couple of minutes. All I needed now was a plan for places to see while spending a day exploring the area. I was excited to get rolling.
As soon as you step into this wondrous city, you realize that you’re seeing the remnants of a time long passed. It’s almost as if the Spanish explorers still lived here or at least still dictated how things were built and organized. Walking through downtown, you see the Santa Fe Plaza, which looks like an old-fashioned square you’d see in almost any of the big cities in Europe. This is an historic landmark, and it’s still a central gathering place for the people who live here. One person told me that I should see it during the holiday season, as its decorations light up the sky.
Within walking distance of downtown, you’ll run into the East Side. This is another historic area where you can see that the buildings have been here for quite a long time, preserved with what was likely a lot of effort. It seems as though every home has an extremely large flowerbed of some sort decorating the front of the building, and that each of these homes also has some sort of courtyard inside that only adds to the overall vibe of the area. This is a unique area, even when you compare it with the rest of what you see in Santa Fe.
My next stop was also within walking distance of downtown. The South Capitol neighborhood is about as close as you’re going to get to a traditional residential neighborhood in the city. It’s not quite the same as the rest of the country, because you don’t see many adobe houses in other places. However, the streets are residential, there are families out and about and there are also restaurants, which is a good thing because I’m ravenous. I ask someone for a tip and find out that there’s a good Mexican place just up the road a bit. I go there and am very glad I did so, as the food was delicious and extremely filling. I was ready for my afternoon.
For the first time today, I needed my car to get to a stop. I headed out of town for a bit and stopped on El Dorado, a neighborhood that’s another view on what residential living is like in this unique city. The area dates back about 50 years, and it was and is extremely popular with younger families. It’s built much like a suburb would be now, but the difference is the amazing views of the surrounding areas that you truly have to see to understand. I took my time and tried to take photos that would do the scene justice, but it just didn’t happen that way.
My final stop of the day was also outside of town, in a village known as Tesuque. It’s a short drive north of Santa Fe, and fewer than 1,000 people live here. The homes are large and so are the lots, and this is truly country living for those who can afford to do so in this manner. Tesuque is also home to many eating options. Obviously, I needed to have a southwestern dinner, and I was told about a place that specializes in local recipes and ingredients. If you haven’t eaten this style of food, you need to do so and you need to do so here, where everything is fresh and incredibly flavorful.
As I made the short drive back to my hotel, I thought about what a great day it had been. I had seen a truly amazing place, unlike anywhere else I had ever experienced. The food was fantastic, the people were extremely friendly and the scenery was breathtaking. I owe a large part of this experience to HotelTonight. Their choices for Santa Fe hotels were plentiful, but just as importantly their booking process and ability to help you find a hotel at the last minute is remarkable. I’d be back here someday, and I told myself to come back with the help of HotelTonight.