Part of the joy of traveling is experiencing change.
Not only in one’s surroundings, but also in oneself; gifting you with perspective, clarity as well as a new point of view.
Conversing with people who live where you are visiting can be an eye opening experience and here in Taos, I think that’s especially true. Where the layers of our community resemble nothing less than those of an onion; myriad, unique and diverse communities within communities. People who visit for the first time and engage with locals, leave enchanted by the synchronistic connections and seeming coincidences.
Taos is in many ways (and I hate to sound New Agey), a vortex of sorts. Apart from it’s majestic beauty, it is and has long been, an Art Colony. And artists are, for the most part, an interesting lot. Even the business people in Taos seem to have a slightly eccentric bent, as if upon arrival, magical dust was sprinkled over them, changing them and their lives forever.
Of course not all feel that way. And neither it seems, does Taos feel that way about them! There’s a saying here that tells us the Mountain decides who stays and who gets “spit out.” Perhaps that’s only the case if one decides to settle here, but another little maxim informs that if you see the face in the Mountain the first time you look at it, you’ll return.I did and I did and here, after four decades ( off and on), I am. Dare I say New Mexico is enchanting?
So if you are in the mood for an adventure in the High Desert (alpine lovers rejoice – we have you covered too.) Whether you come for a week or a day, here are a few things to do in during 24 hours in Taos.
In the Town of Taos, everything is located on one main road that travels through town and ends in the ski valley. There are big skies with views of the mountains in every direction. The center of town (Historic District), is a warren of streets and alleyways dating back in parts to the 17th century. Here you’ll find a cluster of shops, galleries and restaurants.
Except for a few big box stores on the strip south of town, big industry has not (yet) touched Taos, and the town is made up of locally owned shops, restaurants, and even grocery stores. And no, there is not a real Starbucks. An outpost at Albertsons sells Starbucks coffee but you’d be advised to stay clear and try one of our local cafes instead. Not just for the better brew, but for people watching opportunities as well. Here, as well as in the shops and galleries, is where you are most likely to engage in conversation with a few locals.
Keeping with the old tradition of keeping evil spirits away, doorways in the Historic District of often painted “Taos Blue” and this time of year, dried chile ristras hang from both sides. The shops open between 9-11. There is a very relaxed vibe here re/ opening and closing. You will even see signs saying, “We open at 10, but it’s a miracle if I’m here at 10.”
Some of us call it “Taos Time.”
You’ll find that most of these proprietors are transplants who visited Taos and never left. Some grew up in Taos, moved away, traveled and came back. You’ll meet people from London, Hawaii, Colorado, L.A., Minnesota, and New York. After years here, they are a million miles from their former homes; their relaxed manner and artsy/bohemian laissez faire, is exotic and often quite foreign, to those visiting from more urban locals. But mostly you be delighted by the treasures you’ll discover in these little shops and galleries that will remind you of Taos once you return home.
The World Cup Cafe is the epicenter of Taos; here you will get plugged in to what’s going on in our little town. The flyers and posters that paper the windows of this local hub , will tell you all you need to know about what’s happening while you are here!
Michael’s Kitchen is one tried and true breakfast spot for visitors, but for more local flavor, head straight to the Northside Diner for friendly service, good portions and a delicious breakfast of Huevos Rancheros topped with chile. Order “Christmas” for both red and green. If it’s too hot for your palate, request a side of sour cream.
Manzanita Market on the Plaza is a local go to these days. Farm to Table, local produce and understated but very chic ambiance make it my number one. The bone broth based soups are out of this world. And if ice cream is not your jam (it might be once you try theirs’ – the vegan variety as well), you can walk across the alley to Chokola for some sipping chocolate topped with white chocolate mousse,
Lots of choices here; Lamberts, Love Apple, The Ranchos Trading Post or the Taos Inn’s Doc Martin’s. If casual and relaxed appeals, sit in the Adobe Bar and order the award winning green chile. Orlando’s is fab for traditional fare and is a casual dining spot and family friendly as well.
Cid’s Food Market – is a bit like Whole foods, but better. You can stock up on some healthy hiking snacks here, as well as picnic bites for once you reach your destination. There’s a hot and cold bar, as we;ll as pre packaged deli items.
Wine, Beer & Spirits
Need a nightcap in your room before bed? After you’ve done the grocery shopping head to the Cellar for a huge selection of wines, craft beers and hard to find liquors. You’ll sleep like a baby.
Exploring Taos Ski Valley is a must do at any time of year. After a beautiful 15 minute scenic, drive from the center of town you’ll arrive at the end of the road, at the Taos Ski Valley Resort. Along the way to the resort, there are multiple trailheads from two mile long Williams Lake trail #62, to a challenging Wheeler Peak Trail #90 – 7 miles long (one way). The trails’ elevation climb up to 13,131 feet. For easier going, hike the Gavilan trail #60, 2.4 miles to the top, for the beautiful turning aspens, three meadows, and the feeling of being 11,200 feet above sea level. This is a gorgeous fall hike. My advice is to wear layers, it becomes colder at the top and if you are paranoid about bears like I am, purchase some bear spray from Mudd N Flood on Bent street, before you go!
The Rio Grand Gorge Bridge spans a massive slice in the earth, above the river at the very bottom, banked by steep rocky sides, where herds of Big Horned Sheep roam.
Remember to take water and sunscreen on all outdoor excursions. We are high and dry up here.
There’s live music everywhere. Check the World Cup, Live Taos and the Taos News for deets.
The Alley Cantina is a local fave with live music every night. The food is decent and the joint is always packed.
Taos Mesa Brewery Tap Room is the place to go if you need a break from all the chili. Handmade artisan pizzas and their selection of craft beers will make you feel as if you are back in America.
Friendly service along with the industrial-modern atmosphere make it a great place to hang out for the night.
If you really want to step out of your normal life and comfort zone, head directly to the Mesa Brewing’s Mothership for music and more beer on the edge of Taos Mesa. For a real trip out of time, book a night’s stay at Hotel Luna Mystica for a fullon Taos experience.
For much more on how to plan your trip, where to stay and what to do once you get here, please visit Taos.org linked below.
All images Stock Files