I spent New Years Eve 2018 weekend out in Nashville, TN but I’m too lazy to recap it! I was there for about four days, which felt a tad too long when it’s too cold to stay outside. Nashville was nice to visit; the highlights were eating fried chicken at Hattie B’s and getting amazing cocktails at speakeasy bar Patterson House. Otherwise Nashville seemed like a blend of Las Vegas/Charleston/New Orleans to me and every neighborhood is pretty spread out.
Over President’s Day weekend 2019 in February I took a mini trip out west to New Mexico and visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I loved driving out there, the sky is this brilliant blue that’s different from what I see on the East Coast and the landscape was breathtaking. Unfortunately I was the driver most of the time and unable to take pictures from the road though.
Getting to New Mexico from NYC
I booked this trip back in December and it was one of the cheapest direct flights I could find from NYC to anywhere in the U.S. for President’s Day weekend. I think the non stop Jet Blue flight was just around $300 or so, leaving Thursday evening 8 pm NYC and arriving in Albuquerque by 11 pm. As soon as we arrived, we picked up our car rental from Enterprise and spent the night at a low cost hotel by the airport. Stayed at Baymont by Wyndman, which has a 24 hour front desk and seemed like a ‘newer’ hotel. I’d definitely recommend it for a short stay, the place was clean, comfortable, and the hotel breakfast was the best of our weekend.
I thought New Mexico would be warmer than NYC but I was completely wrong! There was one day of 40-50 degree weather but otherwise it was just as cold as NYC (25-40 degrees Fahrenheit). It was a dry cold at least but it got pretty windy at times too.
Day 1 (Friday):
The first day was the warmest day of the weekend so we took the opportunity to check out Sandia Tram, which is one of the world’s longest tram ride up (about 15 minutes). The views are very scenic and it was pretty snowy and a bit icy at the top. It takes you up to Sandia Mountain, and skiers/snowboarders may be on your ride as well. When it’s warmer you could go on hiking trails around there but otherwise you’ll probably just spend about 20 minutes looking at the various lookout points before catching the tram back down.
After we finished the tram ride it was about 11 am and we drove up to Santa Fe but went to Tent Rocks National Monument first. It’s on the way and about an hour and change from Albuquerque. It’s an easy place to visit but you would definitely need to check the website to see if it’s open due to weather conditions. Luckily for us the easy 1 mile loop was open (but another trail further in was closed).
I love how you can see the cuts and colors of the rocks. No hiking shoes necessary if you’re doing this easy loop around the park. Afterwards we checked into our next hotel, the Homewood Suites Santa Fe, which is coincidentally next to a casino. The hotel was nice though, also clean and comfortable, but the breakfast wasn’t as good as the previous one. It’s also about a 15-20 min. drive from city center, but much more affordable.
Day 2 (Saturday)
The weather forecast was turning colder by the minute so we started the day heading out to Bandelier National Monument. We headed out there from the hotel around 9 am and it seemed like we were the only ones going as we hardly saw any other cars on the hour drive over. The drive into the park is also very nice, as you’re going through semi-twisty roads (safe though) but you should also check that the park/trails are open before heading over there. On the way, there is a pullout stop/parking to check out the canyon views.
I didn’t quite know what to expect of Bandelier but it was a fun visit. When you pull into the main parking lot, there will be a Visitor’s Center where you can get information on the trails. On the day we went, only the main trail was open but that’s the main attraction anyway!
Bandelier is a place that was abandoned 500 years ago by Native Americans. They basically create a community and homes within the mountains/caves and you can climb up through the ladders to have a look. It kind of felt like being in an episode of the Flintstones!
The trail loop is about 1.5 mile but some of it was covered in snow/water so we stuck to the main trail along the cave homes. Kids would definitely love playing and scrambling around, but adults will as well!
The forecast called for snow and just when we finished exploring the part of the cave homes, it started flurrying. The weather around here changes so fast!
After having some lunch, we then went to take a glass blowing sculpture class with Prairie Dog Glass. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it! You just have to call in advance and make an appointment for a private lesson. It was kind of expensive ($180 an hour) but then when I got back to NYC and saw how much more expensive it is NYC (like about $200+ and it’s not private class and you only get to make one thing) I think i got a good deal in New Mexico! At this class, it’s a one on one private session and you basically can make as many objects as you can within the allotted hour. I chose to do a vase, bowl (20 min each) and a paperweight (15 minutes). And you get to keep it all!
For the most part the instructor is helping and guiding you but you get to pick the colors, twirl the molted glass in the hotter-than-lava oven, and help shape your project. I really enjoyed it and would love to try it again sometime.
I always wondered how they make the ‘flower’ inside the paperweight. Basically they create the flower in a mold, and then they dip that flower shape mold into another layer of molten glass to encase/seal it in. After finishing these pieces, they’re placed in a sealed closet to cool down and then you return the next day (as early as 9 am; our class was at 2 pm) to pick up and take home with you. The instructor will pack it up in bubble wrap for travel as well.
Day 3 (Sunday)
Sunday Funday! We woke up to 26 degree weather but it didn’t matter as we planned to spend half the day at Japanese-inspired spa Ten Thousand Waves. This spa has been around forever and is about a 10-15 minute drive from city center of Santa Fe. Definitely make a private spa reservation in advance! I called maybe 3 weeks before the trip and there was only ONE time slot left for the private hot tub/sauna room I wanted to book.
As far as spas go, I’ve been to many around the world and this was a nice local one to visit. The prices compared to elsewhere in the world were fairly affordable! The cheapest would be to do the day spa admission, which is $28 for the day and you get to hang out in the communal areas like the Grand Bath. There are also public same-sex only hot tubs (women/men-only) which are also communal but smaller (holding maybe 6 people max at a time. And they have this lovely outdoor foot bath, where you can sit and soak your tired tootsies while wearing a bath robe and sipping complementary tea.
I ended up grabbing a private hot tub/sauna rsvp for 12:15 pm at the Ofuro hot tub. This was money WAY WELL SPENT. Oh my goodness for $59 per person we had this lovely hot tub and dry sauna with private shower/toilet/lounge area for a glorious 90 minutes!!! 90 doesn’t sound long but it was just enough. The water is really hot and full of minerals. I couldn’t really stay in more than 15 minutes at a time. Since the communal areas can be crowded (and kid friendly) it was nice to have this private space to ourselves. In addition, if you book a private spa the communal areas are ‘free’ for use. I loved this one too as it was shaded (we had a roof) but also ‘open windows’ to the outside. I wish I could come back here once a week!
There is an intercom that will tell you when you have 15 minutes left in your time slot. The doors are locked so no one will come in and bother you. It’s really an amazing way to relax and the bath area was super clean and had ice water to drink/refresh yourself with as well as plenty of towels and floor slippers.
We arrived at the spa at 9 am on Sunday. It was pretty quiet/empty but got fuller around 11 am. You can also book other appointments like massages but I would NOT recommend the private foot massage. Not worth it. Was less than half an hour and cost as much as the private hot tub.
After the spa, we went to pick up the glass work we made the previous day. Then we drove down to Albuquerque to visit the city but overall it was too cold to spend too much time outdoors there. On Monday (our fourth day) In Albuquerque we visited Old Town but it was pretty blah. The casino was ok to kill time in. The Petroglyph park was nice but too cold to walk outside. So I didn’t enjoy this area as much as we did Santa Fe!
Our flight back to NYC was supposed to leave at midnight but it ended up being delayed til 2:30 am! So the last day there wasn’t as ‘fun’ as the previous days but really enjoyed our time in Santa Fe.