Sandwiched by the Rio Grande and towering peaks, Taos serves up a bounty of art, solitude, and hot springs.
Taos, New Mexico, may be small but it manages to attract the attention of travelers of all types. The raw beauty of the New Mexican high desert, from the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the gaping gorges of the Rio Grande, captivates and entices a diverse array of visitors, from artists and skiers to mountain bikers and art collectors. While there are endless opportunities for wild, outdoor adventure, there is something about the landscape that also inspires quiet reflection and relaxation. There is space, not much traffic, and the endless stretches of desert plains quiet the mind. Read on for a detailed 2-day itinerary for a relaxing winter weekend in Taos. Whether you're looking for a getaway with your gal pals, your partner, or just yourself, this itinerary is for you.
"There is something about the landscape that inspires quiet reflection and relaxation."
When to Visit:
Taos is absolutely stunning in the winter. It's cold but not biting, bustling but not crowded, and most of the area's best activities are accessible year-round. For a relaxing, low-key winter weekend getaway, I recommend visiting in mid-December. The historic downtown is aglow with thousands of Christmas lights and luminaria but the Christmas crowds are yet to arrive.
How to Get There:
If you're flying in, your best bet will be to fly to Albuquerque, NM, where you can rent a car and make the 2 hour 20 minute drive to Taos. Yes, it's a bit of a drive but the mountains and vistas along the way will keep you entertained. Check Southwest Airlines for good deals on flights in and out of Albuquerque.
If you live nearby in Colorado, Texas, or New Mexico, you can easily add an extra day to this itinerary and drive to Taos.
The Perfect 2-Day Itinerary for a Relaxing Winter Weekend:
5:00pm: Drive from the Albuquerque Airport to Taos, NM (driving time: 2 hours 20 minutes).
7:30pm: Arrive in Taos and check into your hotel or Airbnb.
8:00pm: Drop by The Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn for a late drink and dinner at the bar. Kick off your trip with the Queso Fundido with Hongos, Chile Rellenos, and a spicy margarita. Plus, the cozy Adobe Bar offers live music nearly every night of the year, so you'll enjoy some tunes while you eat.
Day One: Saturday
9:00am: Drive from Taos to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa (driving time: 50 minutes). Kick off your relaxing winter weekend with a scenic drive and a day at Ojo Caliente. It is truly the ultimate relaxation, rejuvenation, spa day experience. The spa sits atop an incredible subterranean aquifer that pumps more than 100,000 gallons of warm water to the surface every day. With twelve soaking pools plus a steam room and sauna, you can easily spend hours moving from pool to pool. The pools are all a bit different, so make sure to try them all. The iron pool, the mud pool, and the lithia pool were my personal favorites.
After a couple of hours of soaking, dry off and pop over to the onsite restaurant for lunch. The Artesian Restaurant offers a cozy, relaxed atmosphere and dishes highlighting herbs, vegetables, and fruit from the 2-acre Ojo Farm down the road. Following lunch, take a short hike in the peaceful hills above the springs. As you meander through the high desert country, keep an eye out for pottery shards strewn beside the path. These remnants are leftover from the four pueblo communities that sprung up around the springs and served as powerful centers of commerce and activity until the 15th century. Finish your day with a final visit to the springs and a late-afternoon soak. A day pass costs $30.00 (Monday-Thursday) or $45.00 (Friday-Sunday) and gives you in and out privileges and access to all amenities until 10:00pm.
5:00pm: Drive from Ojo Caliente to Taos (driving time: 50 minutes).
6:30pm: Indulge in a leisurely dinner at The Love Apple. This romantic, airy adobe restaurant is housed in an old chapel built in the 1800s and tucked away on the side of the road heading north out of town. Their cooking is superb, highlighting local, organic produce and offering refined versions of New Mexico's favorite dishes. Order a glass of wine from their list featuring organic, natural, or biodynamic wines from small producers and a serving of the Buttermilk Yellow & Blue Cornbread to start.
Day Two: Sunday
10:00am: The key to a relaxing weekend is a little bit of extra sleep, amiright? Sleep in, then hop in the car and head over to the quirky, activisty World Cup Cafe for a GMO-free latte and pastry.
10:30am: A short 10-minute drive out of town on Hwy 64 will land you in Carson National Forest. Carson National Forest is a massive, 6,000+ square kilometer area in Northern New Mexico. Park at the Devisadero Loop Trail trailhead, cross the road, and follow the path up and around the edge of the hill. The 5.6 mile loop trail is steep in sections, so be prepared to feel the altitude. As you climb, you'll be rewarded with expansive views of Taos, the surrounding mountains, and the flat meandering plains beyond.
1:30pm: After working up an appetite on your hike, head back into town for a bite to eat at Donabe Asian Kitchen. Ask for a Ginger Hot Toddy to toast your hands around or peruse their unique tea offerings. If you're into spicy foods, try the Veggie Báhn Mí with Sambal Sweet & Sour Fries on the side. The sandwich is a serious flavor explosion and will keep you satisfied for the rest of the afternoon.
3:00pm: Drive from Taos to the Albuquerque Airport (driving time: 2 hours 20 minutes).
7:00pm: Fly home!
Responsible Travel in New Mexico:
Where to Stay: As always, Airbnb can be a wonderful option when visiting a new place. If possible, look for Airbnbs where the owner lives onsite to avoid supporting foreign landlords and local displacement. I stayed in a beautiful Airbnb walking distance to downtown Taos which reduces the need for a car!
Indigenous Tribes & Communities: Long before New Mexico was 'New Mexico,' numerous indigenous tribes called the area home. Today, indigenous citizens make up approximately 10.5% of the state's population and 23 tribes are formally recognized as sovereign nations within the boundaries of the state. These communities have and continue to play unique and essential roles in history, politics, culture, art, religion, activism, and more. The history of indigenous people in the United States too often goes untold and many visitors, myself included, know little about the tribes and Pueblos of New Mexico. A visit to New Mexico is an excellent opportunity to begin to educate oneself about the current state of indigenous life in the United States. As a traveler and visitor in other peoples' homes, remember to move with respect, ask questions, acknowledge the limitations of your knowledge, support indigenous creators and business owners, and seek out opportunities to learn more. See below for a list of resources to start you on your journey:
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (provides links to each Pueblo's website)
Environmental Consciousness: Taos is located in the remote high desert, meaning an environmental consciousness is important for locals and visitors alike. When you visit, be mindful of water consumption, reduce your use of single-use items (recycling options aren't great), and eat locally when possible to reduce transportation and cultivation impacts. When hiking or exploring, practice Leave No Trace and stay on trails so as not to damage the fragile desert habitat.