Not every girlfriend getaway begins or ends in Las Vegas. Not that you can’t have a lot of fun there, but instead of the traditional shopping and cocktails, we sent Fit Globetrotter Dena Roché to New Mexico for a Southwestern alternative to the typical getaway. Think natural spas, galleries and outdoor opera in and around Santa Fe.
An ancient Native American proverb reads, “Don’t allow the grass to grow on the path of friendship.”
While girlfriend getaways are a dime a dozen, Santa Fe offers something different. The city weaves adventure, culinary treats, culture and the requisite pampering with a memorable landscape and unpretentious locals.
Heart the Art
Santa Fe has more than 250 art galleries and the best place to see them is on the famous Canyon Road. But before you begin to browse through the eclectic galleries, fuel up for the day at The Teahouse. This funky cafe is a local’s favorite owned by Dionne Christian who blends her experiences living all over Asia and South Africa with her Creole Grandma’s recipes to deliver an East meets West culinary experience. Christian is a master chai blender, but the teahouse also brews up over 150 different teas from around the world. For breakfast enjoy the intriguing concoctions of savory and sweet in dishes like oatmeal made with black sticky rice, or black sesame pear tea cake. And for the picky eater in your group, everything is gluten free!
Fortified, walk down Canyon Road and pop into whatever gallery catches your eye. Native American, Hispanic, Folk and Contemporary art are all represented on this famous mile. Some top picks include the Adobe Gallery, Beals & Abbate Fine Art, Alan Kessler, or Edward Larson Studio.
While this small city of 75,000 doesn’t lack for art, it also doesn’t go hungry. With more than 300 restaurants how can a girl know where to dine? Simple, turn lunch into an adventure (and a way to work off the calories as you go) with the Santa Fe Cooking School’s Restaurant Tours. You’ll be led by the School’s own resident chef, Michelle Roetzer, and given VIP access to some of the top tables in town. Each chef puts his own spin on the tour and pairs signature dishes with wine. On a recent outing I sampled Spanish tapas prepared by four-time James Beard nominee Chef James Campbell Caruso at his La Boca, was led on a tour of the kitchen at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi by Chef Juan Bochenski before sampling his luscious ahi tacos, and was wowed by the passion and personality of Chef Matt Yohalem at his Il Piatto where he explained his extensive use of local ingredients while plying us with course-after-course of lightned-up Italian cuisine.
After a full day spent bonding, your reward is dinner at Compound Restaurant, arguably Santa Fe’s top table. Over four decades old, this famous eatery on Canyon Road is helmed by James Beard Best Chef of the Southwest (2005) Mark Kiffin. His menu features a blend of Spanish and Mediterranean influences and signature dishes include made to order pea soup, tuna tartare topped with Ostera caviar and preserved lemon and a warm bittersweet liquid chocolate cake that will have all the ladies in your group melting.