Famed for arts and food, New Mexico’s chill capital city also has one of the best trail systems in the country. If you want a mountain bike escape that delivers plenty of culture when you are out of the saddle, point it south and prepare your tastebuds for Southwestern treats.
Santa Fe rates as one of the best foodie cities in the U.S. Let’s get the obligatory chili reference out of the way first: Order it Christmas style (a.k.a. red and green), because you can’t pass on the green and the outstanding red gets passed by far too often. You’ll find plenty of both when you fuel up on the huevos El Salvedorenos (crispy chile rellenos topped with eggs and roasted tomato salsa) at the Tune-Up Cafe (tuneupsantafe.com). The spot may be a bit off Santa Fe’s main plaza but it wowed diner denizen Guy Fieri when he hit town and keeps us coming back. Another breakfast and lunch joint on the rise and just off the plaza, Palacio Cafe (palaciosantafe.com) plates a massive club sandwich stacked with turkey, ham, bacon, cheese and green chili as well as smothered burritos that you should probably wait to eat until after you ride or run. For dinner and margs, find El Callejon (elcallejonsantafe.com), also just off the plaza. This unpretentious bar and grill specializes in fresh tacos that run the gamut from juicy marinated pork to melt-in-your mouth calabacitas (that’s squash, gringo) for vegetarians. Cap it off with cocktails and pool at the just-sleazy-enough-to-be-hipster Crowbar (505-982-0663).
Set on the road up to Ski Santa Fe and practically at the trailheads for the Dale Ball system, Ten Thousand Waves (tenthousandwaves.com) tempts with a luxe Japanese-style bath house complete with private hot pots and tea. Stay the night, book a massage and take advantage of morning pool hours for guests only (rooms run $215-$299 per night). If you want to go a bit more low key, book at Garret’s Desert Inn (garretsdesertinn.com), within walking distance of all the museums, shops and eateries on the plaza. Clean, basic rooms here go for about $90 per night. If you are looking to do it right head to Sunrise Springs Spa Resort (sunrisesprings.ojospa.com), which features spacious, airy casitas and guest rooms (rates start at $205 per night) on 70 acres just southeast of town. Here, you can enjoy spa treatments and 104-degree, private outdoor soaking pools.
This is one of the best bike towns in the West. If it’s not too hot, start at the La Tierra trails (sfct.org/trails/la-tierra-trails) just north of town, with 25 miles of flowy singletrack (and a bike park). It’s a complicated series of loops, so be sure to pick up a map and ideas on how to piece together a ride at Mellow Velo (mellowvelo.com), where you’ll also find repairs and demos. Higher up in the foothills, the Dale Ball Trails are the big standout thanks to 24 miles of singletrack here—it’s another, more technical, system where you can cobble together rides from easy to epic. In summer head further up to the ski area and bomb the Winsor Trail 9.3 miles down to the town of Tesuque. And no trip to Santa Fe is complete without some Meow Wolf (meowwolf.com), the art collective funhouse. It’s a winner with kids, but adults will be just as captivated and may want to chill with drinks at the bar or return when it morphs into a nighttime concert venue with artists such as Martin Sexton playing the space-adelic dance hall.