This whole season I’ve been thinking of taking a Winter road trip. You know, one of those cozy cabin vacations where you hot tub in the snow and go skiing. I never really thought about visiting Santa Fe but recently I’ve been looking up pictures on Instagram and Pinterest. It wasn’t exactly the cabin ski trip I was looking for but it looked like a dream in the snow so I had to squeeze in a quick road trip.
When driving into Santa Fe I noticed I started to get a slight headache. At first I thought it was because we’d be on the road so long and I hadn’t eaten in a few hours. After I had been there a while I noticed the headache was still lingering and I was so tired, again I thought it was because I had been on the road for so long. I took Tylenol and drank a coke like I would normally do to try to get rid of a headache and it just was not going away. The next day I woke up and decided to start googling if altitude headaches were a thing in New Mexico (I got sick when I went to Denver because of the altitude.) When I looked it up even though it said it wasn’t common, it could happen. It also mentioned that you shouldn’t take drink caffeine, oops. Instead it said drink lots of water and eat a banana. My headache went away pretty quickly after that. So, stay hydrated!
Things I read help with altitude sickness or altitude headaches:
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and exercise
- Eat foods that are rich in potassium (bananas, greens, avocados, etc)
I’ve been wanting to visit a hot spring for a while now so I knew if I was going to Santa Fe I had to go to one. I was hoping that it’d be snowing so I could get the full winter hot spring experience. There were quite a few options online and they all looked amazing in their own way. I decided to wait until I got to Santa Fe to check them out even though I knew there was a possibility that they would not be taking walk-ins due to COVID. I decided to wait to see them in person because I wanted to actually see how they looked, what the social distancing was like, and because I read lots of reviews about hot springs having weird smells or not being clean. So, I didn’t want to take any chances.
The first hot springs I went to visit was Ten Thousand Waves. When you first arrive you’ll see a sign that says it’s 91 steps, 60 vertical feet, and 47 calories burned to the front desk. Can I just say LOL? Imagine walking up that many stairs to get to the front desk. It seemed like you had to walk up stairs to get to a lot of places in Santa Fe. When you get to the front desk they will provide water if you need it. The altitude mixed with the stairs had me out of breath. Turned out they don’t do tours and they were all booked. They do have an option to book next available but you don’t know which tub you are actually going to get. From what I could see Ten Thousand Waves looked nice. The price was around $100 per person per hour.
The next hot spring on my list was Ojo Santa Fe. One of the first things I noticed when walking to the Spa was that there was an outdoor dining area that over looked a pond and on the other side of the water were thermal pools that sat right on the pond. They were able to give us a slight “tour’ from the window and explained what a day pass was. The day Pass was $55 and allows re-entry all day until they close. I found this to be a much more affordable deal than Ten Thousand Waves. They also provide you with a robe, locker and you can purchase slippers for an additional $5. There was also an option to order food and drinks down at the pools but you do have to have your card on you or cash at the time of your order or delivery.
I had a slight inconvenience when booking my day pass because the staff seemed to be on completely different pages when it came to their booking policy. As I mentioned one lady gave me a “tour” and told me all the information about the day pass. When I finally decided on getting one for the following day I was told they were completely booked. After they discussed it amongst themselves and decided there was availability I was told I couldn’t book in advance and was asked to put my information down on a sticky note. The next day I went in right when they opened because I wanted to get in the hot springs before it got crowded. There was a different set of staff members and they asked me if I already had a reservation. I told her I was in yesterday and was told I couldn’t make a reservation and pointed at the sticky note on her computer with my name on it. The information she told me about the amount of people allowed per pool was different than what the lady told me the day before. When I let her know that she told me to book in advance for future reference. As if I didn’t ask to book in advance the day before? Nonetheless, I was able to get in and found the day pass to be completely worth it even though I didn’t stay the whole day. And, I took the BEST nap after leaving the hot springs. If you visit I would suggest going first thing in the morning, it starts your day on a refreshing note and you pretty much have the pools to yourself.
Opuntia was a restaurant that was recommended to us at the spa. It was such a cute little cafe that’s great for breakfast or lunch spot. Their drink menu is limited unless you’re a coffee drinker (which I am not.) They have fresh squeezed orange juice but it comes in a small sized mason jar. If you’re looking for mimosas, they do not have a liquor license but they will allow you to grab a drink downstairs and they will bring your food down to you. I would not order a pastry from the selection on the counter. I ordered one thinking they were just on display and they had some behind the counter and the lady just picked it up from the display. When I sat down to eat it I noticed there was a hair on it. The pastries on display are sitting out for everyone to just lean over when ordering. Other than that, the food was really good. We ordered the French toast and a breakfast hash. The French toast was covered in corn flakes or Frosted Flakes (still unsure) but it was so good. I will definitely try to make it at home. The breakfast hash was a bowl that had potatoes, avocados, toast, poached eggs, salsa and kale.
Hyde Memorial State Park was the closest place to go snowing tubing near the Airbnb. Before our trip I tried to order snow tubes but my order got canceled right before I was about to pick it up. When we got to Hyde Memorial State Park snow tubing was closed due to Covid. There were still people tubing with their own tubes. They sell small snow sleds but they are a bit pricey and you can go farther up the mountain with them. I enjoyed just playing in the snow, doing a small hiking trail, drinking the warm cider and driving through the snowy mountains. But, next time I’ll be sure to bring my own tube.
I am pretty convinced that I had the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in Santa Fe. I found a restaurant called The Shed about an hour before they were going to close so I didn’t think they would even seat us, but when we got there they didn’t make it apparent that they were closing anytime soon. They put me on a wait and called be way before the wait time was up. The portion size was great for the amount you pay and the food was so good. My least favorite thing that I tried was the flan but aside from that I loved the food.
If you’re taking a trip during COVID and know that things may be closed consider bringing a game. I was gifted the game Convo and Chill. For two nights in a row we played it with the fire lit, music playing, wine, and some take-out. I made it through the entire deck of cards and there are 100 cards. This game is fun baecations or girls trips. It’s a good way to spend some quality time, have meaningful conversations, and have some good laughs. It sparks really good conversations.
There were a few food places that I didn’t prefer but I’ll share in case you want to skip these and save your coin.
I found Ras Rody Vegan Jamaican food truck on Instagram that sold Vegan Jamaican patties. I’ve been wanting to try a vegan Jamaican Patty for a long time but haven’t found a place that sold them so I was excited to try it. A lot of the reviews also mentioned that this food truck was a must try. When I got there they didn’t even have the Jamaican patties on their menu. They were really convincing that the food was good and gave us soup to try. The soup was good so I decided to give it a chance and order their plate option (which was the only option aside from the soup). They said a little bit of everything came on it. The food was good for vegan food but it did not taste like Jamaican food one bit to me and I’ve been eating Jamaican food for a looooong time. So, if you like Vegan food it’s worth a try but I wouldn’t compare it to authentic Jamaican food. Also, the portions are not big.
Capitol Grill Santa Fe opened up for in door seating the weekend we were there. This is another place I found on Instagram. I was drawn to them because their sushi looked different. A lot of their instagram was filled with sushi options. When I got there and pulled up the menu I noticed there was no sushi on the menu, there was only a small portion of sushi on their happy hour menu for Thursdays. When I asked about it, the server said they only serve sushi on Thursdays. I understand having a special menu for certain days but then why advertise sushi so much on your social media? I tried the shrimp scampi which was pretty good, but if you’re going there expecting sushi you’ll be pretty disappointed.
It took me a day or so to get acclimated but I ended up having a really good time and would love to go back next winter. I have a few things in mind that I would like to do on my next trip. I will definitely bring a tube and go snow tubing. I will also plan to take a farther drive to Red River and go on a snowmobile. Hopefully next time I can go to the hot springs while it’s snowing, I just know it would’ve been an even better experience.
A note for my black travelers: I saw a veeeeery small amount of black people. If you’re traveling there and hoping for diversity you may not find that.