A weekend in Santa Fe, N.M.

Weekend in Santa Fe, N.M., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.

Trip tips: At 400 years old, Santa Fe is the nation's oldest capital city. Explore neighborhoods with intriguing adobe homes built more than a century ago. Admire or purchase authentic Southwest Native American arts and crafts at the Palace of the Governors portal. Stroll the mile-long Canyon Road, one of the most densely concentrated areas of art galleries in the world. Visit Loretto Chapel (circa 1878) to see the intriguing staircase, considered to be a miracle by the Sisters of the Chapel. It completes two 360-degree turns with no visible means of support.

The best months to visit are September-November for fewer tourists, cool evenings and average daytime temperatures of 60-70 degrees. For more information on what to see, do and experience in Santa Fe, visit http://santafe.org.

Getting there: Connecting flight service on American or United from $294 round-trip to Santa Fe. Nonstop round-trip rates on Delta to Albuquerque average $368. Drive the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (N.M. 14) linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe (54 miles).


Stay: Rates on the "Fall of Modernism" package (through January) at the Lodge at Santa Fe start from $99 and include two tickets to the New Mexico Museum of Art; Georgia O'Keeffe notecards and discounts at local galleries, shops, restaurants and attractions. The property features authentic Southwest design and views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Complimentary shuttle service is offered to historic Santa Fe Plaza, five minutes away. 750 N. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe. 505-992-5800, www.lodgeatsantafe.com.

Eat: Palacio Cafe serves typical breakfast to brunch options, but tacos are the mainstay here. Veg and gluten-free choices available. If you question the spiciness of a dish, order "Christmas (red and green peppers) on the side." Under $10. 209 E. Palace Ave., Santa Fe. 505-989-3505.

Experience: Plan a 30-minute drive west of Santa Fe to the spectacular Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The area is for foot traffic only with two trails (two to three hours each), both beginning at the parking area. The steepest 1.5-mile trek (630-foot) takes you to a narrow canyon before a climb to the top of a mesa for views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande Valley. Otherworldly cone-shaped rock peaks, formed by water and wind over millions of years, range in height from a few feet to 90 feet. The Cave Loop Trail of 1.2 miles is rated as easy. Entry: $5 per vehicle. www.blm.gov.


Stay: The "Santa Fe History & Cultural Museum" package at the Native American-style Hotel Santa Fe, Hacienda & Spa includes accommodations in the Picuris Junior Suite, continental breakfast, and two museum passes to 14 New Mexico museums. The suite features a separate living area and king bedroom, Taos-style furnishings, robes and slippers. A two-night stay for two is $327 (Nov. 21-Dec. 21). Add $100 for a room with a fireplace and the personal service of a professional butler in the Hacienda. Amenities include an outdoor pool, a fitness room, a spa, a restaurant with a terrace and private teepee dining (Memorial Day-Labor Day). 1501 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe. 505-982-1200, http://hotelsantafe.com.

Eat: Family-owned Dinner for Two offers classic dishes such as chateaubriand, and Caesar salad and bananas Foster prepared table side. This charming restaurant was named "Top 10 in the Southwest" by Wine Spectator. Live music on Saturday evenings. Starters, $7-$10; $21-$28 entrees. 106 N. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe. 505-820-2075, http://dinnerfortwonm.com.

Experience: At the day's end, get out and look up. This part of New Mexico has some of the darkest skies in the country to admire stars and planets. Head 15 miles south to a location near the village of Cerrillos situated along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway for a guided stargazing event. The site offers chairs and a warming hut. Adults, $40; $20 age 12-20; $10 ages 6-11. www.astronomyadventures.com.


Stay: Guest rooms at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear are named after literary greats and musicians. The Witter Bynner Room is a spacious room with a fireplace, beam ceiling, windows on all four sides, a sitting area with a sofa and overstuffed chairs, luxury linens, and a private balcony. From $215-$320 a night, including gourmet breakfast, fresh-baked treats, wine reception, continuous tea service, free Wi-Fi and parking. 342 E. Buena Vista St., Santa Fe. 505-983-0798, www.turquoisebear.com.

Eat: The romantic Geronimo restaurant occupies a 1756 adobe house and successfully fuses traditional American cuisine with French and Asian. It's Santa Fe's only Mobil 4 Star and AAA 4 Diamond-rated restaurant. Entrees, $30-$50. Four-course tasting menu, $60. 724 Canyon Road, Santa Fe. 505-982-1500, www.geronimorestaurant.com.

Experience: Take a trail walking tour of the archaeological treasure, Bandelier National Monument. The ruins and cliff dwellings of the Anasazi are perched at the edge of one of the largest inactive volcanoes in the world. Guides interpret what life was like for the early Pueblo Indians in the 1300s. The half-day tour also includes scenic stops and interpretation of the sites to and from Bandelier. $90, including hotel pickup. www.swadventures.com.

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