Taos, New Mexico, is one of the most unique American cities that can be enjoyed year-round, not just during ski season. About 10 hours by car from Tulsa and 8.5 hours from Oklahoma City, Taos offers outdoor beauty from its central Taos Plaza to the 83-mile Enchanted Circle scenic byway. Whether you’re inspired to buy roadside art or paint the sunset yourself, Taos will bring out the artist and adventurer in you.
If you’re renting something larger than a room, and you want to be able to enjoy a leisurely stroll to the beautiful historic district, Bella Villa (through Premier Properties) fits the bill. Stay in to cook meals in your upscale home-away-from-home using interesting local ingredients, such as authentic chiles from Smith’s Grocery Store on Paseo Del Pueblo Sur. To enjoy a more historical feel during your visit, consider the Taos Inn, which provides historic lodging in the town center.
Taos Mercantile, Weaving Southwest and Dreamlivers Gallery are delightful sources of antiques, rugs and art, and Taos Plaza, in the heart of Taos, is a must-visit for everyone.
Take the time to explore the outskirts of Taos for interesting shopping trips, too. Seven miles north of Taos is enchanting and diverse Arroyo Seco. Francesca’s Clothing carries distinct apparel from India, Nepal and Thailand. Taos Cow, famous for its coriander-lavender ice cream, is a great place in Arroyo Seco to kick up your tired feet and have a sweet, creamy snack.
If you’re looking for a distinctly local flavor, eat at Michael’s Kitchen and Taos Diner, both loved by locals and visitors alike.
For a fancier affair, Lambert’s is one of the best places for fine dining with its “delicious food, wine and hand crafted cocktails in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.”
Inside the Taos Inn, Doc Martin’s Restaurant and Entertainment provides belly dancers and a sitar player for a memorable experience.
Or you can enjoy mimosas on the patio of Gutiz, a Latin-French fusion restaurant where brunch is popular, with breads made from scratch with a sugar caramelization. The Alley Cantina, the oldest building in Taos, is kid-friendly with music, shuffleboard and a patio and an excellent homemade chicken tortilla soup.
Abe’s Cantina has delicious tamales. Make sure to get the Christmas sauce.
About 2.5 hours from Taos, Capulin Volcano National Monument will interest science lovers. You can park near the rim and hike down into the mouth of the extinct cinder cone volcano. Winter hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., so plan to start early.
Or travel the 83-mile Enchanted Circle through Taos, Red River, Eagle Nest, Questa and Angel Fire. These earthy places impress upon you the feeling often used to describe Taos – spiritual.
The highly rated Angel Fire has world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter and top-flight mountain biking from late spring through fall.
Pros come from all over for the biggest challenges, while adults and kids can find courses with various degrees of difficulty.
Taos Ski Valley’s steep slopes are well-known by advanced skiers, so try those at your own risk.
The bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge is stupefying, with an altitude that can viscerally affect you. There are switchbacks all the way down to the river and big boulder hiking.
If you’re traveling with babies, take an easy nature walk instead on Taos Ski Mountain, and Columbine Canyon, closer to Red River, offers beautiful vistas of wildflowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, or miles of snow and packed campgrounds.
Hike around Questa for its unique river access into the Rio Grande Gorge, and check out Ghost Ranch, acclaimed as the home of painter Georgia O’Keeffe.
In Taos Plaza, stroll past shops, galleries and museums and absorb the occasional carnival and weekly farmers market in the summer.
Explore Earthship Village, a community made from totally recycled materials. A self-guided tour ($7 per person) teaches about fully sustainable homes that leave zero carbon footprints.
Cooking Studio Taos offers classes to equip you with skills that will dazzle your dinner guests back home, and Twirl, a play and discovery toy store, enthralls families with its wishing well, tree houses, puppet shows and “mommy yoga.”
No matter what you hope to get out of your New Mexico vacation, Taos and surrounding areas will most certain deliver the time of your life.