By Billie Frank
The welcome mat is out. Santa Fe loves boomer women travelers and the feeling is mutual.
The City Different has a lot to offer women of a certain age whether they’re traveling solo, with their significant other, a friend or their ten closest BFFs. There’s history, cultural diversity, interesting architecture, art and culture, delicious food, the great outdoors and more unique boutiques than you could ever get to in one visit.
I’m a boomer woman and I love Santa Fe. In most ways it’s the perfect spot for me. The one thing I really miss here is the ocean. If we had one here, I might never leave. Here are some of the things I love doing and you may too.
Santa Fe is a great walking city. There’s a lot to see. It’s the oldest capital city in the country (and second oldest city), and it’s loaded with history and charm. My favorite places to walk are around the downtown side streets and on the East Side where some of the oldest streets in town can be found. I never get tired of walking around and looking at the adobe houses, the walls with painted gates and the tall fences. Treasures are hidden behind these. I love going on house tours when they’re offered. You get to go behind these walls and see secluded courtyards and secret gardens.
There’s a lot of history to take in while walking Santa Fe. Both the oldest house and the oldest church in the U.S. are here. The Palace of the Governors, the oldest government building in continuous use in the nation, is where the book Ben Hur was written. Lew Wallace, the author was also the territorial governor. Take your time and take a lot of photos.
Santa Fe is one of the top three art markets in the United States with over 200 galleries and a handful of museums. There’s a long list of artists, dead and alive, famous and unknown, who have called the area home. I love visiting galleries and museums. One of our favorite Friday night activities in warmer weather is attending gallery openings on Canyon Road, one of the oldest streets in town and home to over half the city’s galleries. Sometimes we just pick a spot for people watching. It’s an interesting show.
There is art for all tastes from the expected Native American and southwest genres to contemporary and everything in between. Name a medium and it’s probably represented. Pick up a free Collector’s Guide (they’re all over town) and scope out which galleries speak to you.
If you want to do some hands-on art, there are classes in drawing, painting, pottery, photography and more available. You can plan a trip around an art workshop or spend part of a day with an artist.
Santa Fe has a diverse music scene. You’ll find anything from classical to jazz to blues to Texas swing and lots in between. In summer there’s the world-class Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the New Mexico Jazz Festival to look forward to. There are other annual summer music events. Just about any night, you have a choice of where to hear good music. Year round, we have groups like the Santa Fe Symphony, the Santa Fe Pro Musica and others. A lot of professional musicians call Santa Fe home and the pool these groups can pull from is impressive. A number of singer/songwriters call the city home or love to visit and there are a few concert promoters who bring an interesting mix of music to town. There are also bars and restaurants that have music on a regular basis.
Santa Fe is a mix of three cultures; the Pueblo Indians who came first, the Spanish who arrived in 1598 and the “Anglos” who arrived after New Mexico became a U.S. territory in 1846. The two original cultures, created a slow pace, which remains. It feels more Mexico than United States in many ways. The There are three main cultural influences at play here and each has impacted the city’s culture. There is no place else on earth quite like it.
The food scene
One of the things I love most about Santa Fe is the diverse food. There’s a bounty of fresh and sustainable foods grown and produced locally available at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and specialty markets around town. I love the small shops that specialize in spices, oils, chocolates or ethnic foods. And for dining out, you can choose between high-end restaurants offering fusion cuisines, local New Mexican food, Mexican, Salvadoran, French, Spanish, Asian and even African food. There are stands and trucks tucked in parking lots around the city. Discovering them is half the fun.
Santa Fe is one of THE places to buy Native American art from silver and turquoise jewelry to pottery to rugs and more. Look for shops and galleries that specialize in this, but be careful, there are a lot of reproductions out there.
Always wanted a great pair of cowboy boots? Look no further. From vintage and broken in to custom made with lots in-between, the selection is vast.
There is art to wear, flowing clothing, more conservative garb and all sorts of adornments for the body and the home to be found in the city’s many boutiques.
Insider tip: You can buy directly from the Native American artisans selling their wares under the portal (overhang) at the Place of the Governors. A state-run program with strict standards guarantees authenticity. Or check out the museum shops, they have great selections and you know it’s authentic.
The great outdoors:
I’m not a real outdoors person, but even I get outdoors in Santa Fe I’ve hiked, gone horseback riding, rafting and llama trekking. Whether you want an adventure-based trip or to get outside for part of your time in Santa Fe, you’ll find an outdoor lover’s paradise. Besides what I’ve tried, there’s fishing, camping, ballooning, biking, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing and more. When you’re done working your body, you can relax in a hot tub or pamper yourself at one of the city’s many spas.
Whether you’re an active boomer woman, a couch potato or somewhere in between, you’ll fall in love with The City Different as I did. And if you don’t, well… it’s another item off that bucket list.
About the Author:
Billie Frank is a travel blogger, freelance writer and owner of a travel and tourism business who has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for nine years. Her work has appeared in Colorado and New Mexico print publications and on the web. Billie also shared her Santa Fe favorites in our “Ask the Locals” series.
Photos courtesy of Steve Collins and Billie Frank