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Santa Fe itinerary - Restaurants, hiking, spa

Race to the Mountains: 24 Hours in Santa Fe

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One of the drawbacks of living in a state as vast as Texas is that it takes forever to get anywhere. If you don’t feel like getting on a plane, there are only a handful of destinations within a day’s drive, especially if you are like me and yearn for the mountains. Santa Fe is a mere 11 hours away by car, and during our last Spring Break road trip to New Mexico, we managed to drive through this great city for one day.

Santa Fe is a beautiful city and worth a longer stay, but we only had 24 hours to make our mark before we had to face the long drive home to Austin. Here’s a recap of our family’s day in this special place.

Santa Fe One-Day Itinerary: Restaurants, Hiking & Spa

9 AM:

In the morning, we left Taos for our drive to Santa Fe. We enjoyed the gorgeous scenery, and there were abundant opportunities to stop and hike near the river. If casinos are more your thing, you can also find places to do a little gambling.

10:30 AM:

We arrived in Santa Fe just in time for brunch at one of the most authentic French bakeries outside of France, Clafoutis (402 North Guadalupe Street). We entered at just the right moment when we could choose between breakfast and lunch.

My husband and daughter indulged in crepes. The baguette served with french butter caused a turf war at our table of carb addicts. My roast beef sandwich on a baguette with spicy Dijon mustard served with a green salad and homemade vinaigrette was outstanding. I would seriously consider driving 11 hours just for the baguettes. (If you know me well enough, you know I am completely serious.)

Santa Fe itinerary, Santa Fe restaurants - crepes from Clafoutis

Start your one-day Santa Fe itinerary with crepes from Clafoutis!

11:45 AM:

We then drove a few minutes from the bakery and found a metered parking spot near the main square. We spent an hour or so walking around the market, admiring the shops and taking in the scenery and fresh air. This area is definitely worth a return visit, but we had places to go!

1:30 PM:

Our main destination, the Japanese-inspired Ten Thousand Waves Spa, was located about 15 minutes outside Santa Fe in an idyllic area full of adobe homes that blend beautifully with the landscape. Since the spa did not open until 2 pm that day, we decided to head into the Santa Fe National Forest and take a short, three-mile hike. The Chamisa trailhead is just a few miles north of Ten Thousand Waves with a good map. I can still smell the pine from this excellent, quiet and refreshing hike!

Santa Fe itinerary, Santa Fe hiking

Go hiking in Santa Fe National Forest. A three-mile hike is just a few miles away from the spa.

3:00 PM:

When we returned to Ten Thousand Waves, we parked our car and packed up our day bag. After climbing 91 steps (and burning 47 calories per the signage), we checked in, put away our belongings and changed into our kimonos in the dressing rooms.

We soaked in the newly built communal pool for a while and rested in the lounge chairs under the bright blue sky. The pool was smaller and warmer than I expected but in a lovely setting. In addition to the pool, there was a cold plunge pool and a unisex sauna where people take sweating pretty seriously so no loud conversations are allowed.

A note for families: Swim bottoms are required at the communal pool, but a handful of women were topless. Clothing is optional at the women-only pool, so we stayed away since it made my daughter uncomfortable. Photos are discouraged in the pool area, which was great because no one was taking annoying selfies.

5:00-7:00 PM:

Knowing that it was Spring Break, I booked spa treatments at Ten Thousand Waves for the three of us about two weeks in advance. My husband enjoyed the Nose to Toes 80-minute luxury package which included several treatments, including a body scrub and several types of massage techniques. I reserved a 50-minute massage and a 25 minute special Japanese foot treatment in one of the best spa rooms ever: a bungalow surrounded by windows that was full of natural light and the sounds of birds and wind. My daughter was treated to her very first massage. Seeing her in her robe and slippers waiting for her therapist, I was struck by how grown up she has become and the importance of creating and cherishing moments like these.

7:30 PM:

After a final dip in the pool, we changed into our civilian clothes and headed back to Santa Fe for a dinner at Raaga, a tiny Indian restaurant that is a favorite among locals and top rated on Trip Advisor (544 B Aqua Fria). We had an endearing, quirky server and a tasty meal of traditional Indian food with a nice New Mexican flair. Try the sesame garlic naan. It was a great way to end the day.

9:30 PM:

We checked into our room at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder. Although the hotel is outside of the city, the drive was only about 15 minutes. Parking was ample and the rooms were large and nicely appointed.

7:30 AM:

We woke up early for the long drive home. Hilton Honors Diamond members can choose between two continental breakfasts or a $10 credit at Starbucks. Since we planned on making another pit spot at the French bakery in Santa Fe on the way, our decision was an easy one!

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A self-proclaimed Jersey Girl (with a soft spot for Jon Bon Jovi), Amy currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and 11-year old daughter. She picked…

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