Soaking up all that Taos has to offer in a single day
By Stephanie Noll
Winter may be a drag elsewhere, but its abundant sunshine, mild temperatures, and usually just the right amount of snow make Taos a great place to be between fall and spring. Taoseños, and those who want to get lost in the town’s enchanting ways, know these words by poet and artist William Blake to be true: “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” Whether you’re a local seeking an in-town adventure or an out-of-towner in search of the best Taos has to offer, it’s easy to live one of your best days ever in this magical high desert mountain town.
$50/day Taos Like a Local
While the charming plazas with shops full of unique gifts are hard to resist, if you’re looking for a lowkey Taos day to satisfy your mind, body and belly, you might choose an itinerary that highlights gems loved by locals.
Trailhead/parking south of Ranchos de Taos, NM 68
While premier skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding can be found in Taos County, hikers and mountain bikers can still get their trail fix at the Rift Valley Loop Trails. Consider recent/current weather before you go, as trails can get quite muddy, but with dry or snow-packed conditions, they offer expansive views of the Sangre de Cristo and the Rio Grande Gorge, one of the only rift valleys in the world. Whether you’re looking for a serious workout or a leisurely walk/ride, this is a great place to kick off a day.
616 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
Head north into town from the trails and hit up Mary Jane’s Homecooking, a food truck nestled in a parking lot just off Paseo del Pueblo. With a simple but satisfying breakfast menu offering handheld burritos–veggie or with meat ($6-7), breakfast tortas ($7.50), and huevos rancheros ($9), Mary Jane’s is classic Northern New Mexican goodness.
616 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
Simple, unassuming, cozy and quaint — with topnotch coffee and delightful pastries as well — The Coffee Apothecary is a favorite south side spot. Grab a caffeinated or decaffeinated beverage ($2-4) to go with your handheld, and select a sweet treat like a vanilla lavender scone ($4) to further fuel your day. There’s no indoor seating, but on a warming, winter morning, the patio tables offer space for sipping and people watching. The Coffee Apothecary is also a specialty coffee roaster, so grab a bag of beans to go ($17.50).
616 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
If you skipped the morning hike or feel like you need more movement, downward dog your way over to Taos Yoga Rhythms. With a full schedule of daily classes for all yogis, this studio is a place where visitors can leave with a “calm body, open heart, and quiet mind.” (Single class, $10-15).
124 Bent St. (in the John Dunn Shops)
Sneak away from the bustle of Taos Plaza and browse this gorgeous two-story book lovers’ utopia. Choose something from your favorite genre — they have everything from new arrivals to rare books to a children’s section — and head upstairs to the reading room of your dreams. Overstuffed sofas and armchairs sit under a vaulted ceiling decorated with dozens of black and white Taos portraits by photographer Paul O’Connor. If you’re a local or happen to be around on the third Wednesday of the month, head to Stella’s Italian Restaurant (112 Cam de La Placita) and enjoy op.cit’s Mystery Book Club that hosts a different mystery book author every month (free).
$200/day Taos Like a Daytripper
Burqueños and Santa Feans might challenge each other on whose city is better, but both likely agree that 24 hours in Taos offers a vibe one can’t get from our vecinos to the south.
McCarthy Plaza Southwest edge of Taos Plaza
Tucked away from Taos Plaza, this small square of shops is inviting for both art browsers and unique gift finders. Check out Sage Fine Art and take home an original piece from many of Taos’s most celebrated artists, or visit At Home In Taos for an eclectic selection of furnishings, tchotchkes and locally made pottery perfect for everyday use.
The menu at The Gorge Bar and Grill has something for everyone at reasonable prices. A weekday happy hour offers chips and queso ($4), red chile pork sliders ($5), and Gorge-aritas or housemade sangria ($4). Catch a game on the TVs in the bar, or warm up while enjoying the view on the heated patio. Just west of Taos Plaza, Azteca Mexican Grill has a full selection of Mexican favorites, as well as plenty of red and green for those who can’t get enough. Get cozy inside the hacienda-reminiscent dining room and enjoy a plate of huaraches with carne al pastor ($13) and a traditional michelada ($7).
A quick stroll from the plaza brings visitors and locals to the doorstep of museums rivaling those in bigger cities. The Harwood Museum of Art (238 Ledoux Street, $10 adult admission) boasts extensive collections, including a stunning mid-century/Taos moderns collection as well as more than 4,000 works on paper with drawings by John Collier and photos by Ansel Adams. Upcoming exhibits include “Outriders: Legacy of the Black Cowboy,” which will be shown until late spring. The Taos Historic Museums/Blumenschein Home and Museum/Hacienda de los Martinez (222 Ledoux St., $10 adult admission) give visitors a window into the life and times of Blumenschein, early 20th century Taos artist, as well as the early 19th century pivotal trade center along the Camino Real built by Severino Martinez.
Cocktails and Sweet Dreams
End your day by choosing one of 12 unique housemade margaritas at Doc Martin’s Restaurant and Adobe Bar (125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte). Share some queso fundido ($15) while sipping on a paloma classic ($14). Enjoy a night at the luxurious yet rustic Hotel Luna Mystica (25 ABC Mesa Rd., El Prado), where a stay in the vintage 1958 trailer known as “Frida” (with a heating system for winter stays!) costs just under $200 and is the perfect spot to swap stories around an outdoor fire pit.
$500/day Taos Like an Out-of-Towner
Paint the town red — or turquoise — and live 24 hours in Taos as if you won’t be back (don’t worry, we know you will.)
Stay at The Blake Taos (116 Sutton Pl, Taos Ski Valley), a luxury ski in/ski out resort where registered guests receive up to four free ski passes (King room, $320). Non-skiers can enjoy the various spa services offered, including an earth elements massage ($180-$220) or a native herbal hydration wrap ($180).
From the mountain, head south into the village of Arroyo Seco and grab a scoop or two from the Taos Cow (485 NM 150) — flavors like cinnamon and lavender are fan favorites ($5-7).
After a long day of winter sports, Seco Yoga (482a NM 150) offers restorative classes to nurture muscles that have been hibernating. A day on the mountain deserves a proper meal, and ACEQ (480 NM 150) offers a sumptuous dining experience with an evolving menu centered around locally-sourced ingredients.
La Doña Luz Inn (114c Kit Carson Rd.) gives guests a special lodging experience, especially in The Rainbow Room ($200-260), complete with a private deck and hot tub with mountain views. Steps away from the inn, stop in at The Little Shop (114 Kit Carson) where proprietor Patricia Jimenez has thoughtfully curated a selection of high-end goods and gifts while offering simple necessities for travelers like individual Band-Aids, drinks and snacks. For more decadent shopping, check out Chocolate + Cashmere TAOS (130 Bent St.) for the softest panchos, wraps, gloves and more, as well as hand-crafted chocolates like earl gray shortbread and Mexican mocha. Finally, Lambert’s of Taos is the place to end an indulgent day. Chef James Crowther III designs a menu meant to satiate diners from first course to dessert ($29-48 entrees), complimented by a wine list where every selection is either sustainably, organically or biodynamically farmed.
No matter your budget or length of stay, visiting the Taos Pueblo (120 Veterans Hwy), a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an absolute must. Take a guided tour to truly appreciate and honor this living Native American community that has been continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years. Admission is $16, but bring extra cash and visit the Taos Pueblo Collective at the visitor center to support pueblo artists and take home something more than a souvenir. Be sure to check updated Covid protocols, and be sure to respect rules and regulations, particularly with regard to photographs.
A day in Taos is never enough, but locals and visitors alike can make the most of their time no matter their budget; just be sure to start saving up for your return trip as you’ll definitely want to come back again and again.