A Santa Fe summer brings the art-hungry hordes, but its winter can feel a bit lonely—all the better, then, for the skier. The grayer season is a good time to join in the everlasting locals’ argument over which outpost has the best red chile (The Shed, naturally) or the best green chile (Tia Sophia) without feeling like just another interloper. And with new light-rail service from Albuquerque and its airport, a new passel of contemporary art galleries more concerned with sharp angles and corrugated metal than the rounded corners of adobes (check out the Railyard, off Cerrillos Road), and a new chairlift serving the sweet, soft hills of Ski Santa Fe just 40 minutes outside of town, there’s never been a better time to visit the old Spanish colonial town.
Ski Santa Fe Little Ski Santa Fe may not be as burly as its northern cousin Taos, but it packs
a lot into 660 acres—including the new-in-2006 Millennium triple, adding faster access to the steeps and glades along the northern side. Camp Robber, a natural terrain park, is a sweet spot for young (or youthful) rippers. The trees to skier’s right of the Tesuque Chair offer rock drops and tight turns best addressed in fresh snow, while the cocktails (in glasses!) and tamales at Totemoff’s are best addressed on its sundeck. http://www.skisantafe.com
El Farolito B&B Snug in Santa Fe’s center, El Farolito is well-situated between the city’s historic Plaza—a seven-minute walk—and the modish new Railyard art district, six minutes west. Each of the rooms has a wood-burning fireplace stocked with fragrant piñon wood. Breakfast is buffet-style with rich quiche and other dishes, plus oatmeal, fruit, juices and coffee or tea. http://www.farolito.com
¡A La Mesa! While working as a chef in Wilmington, N.C., the food-serious but friendly Jacob Hilbert moonlighted as dishwasher and prep cook at that town’s innumerable ethnic eateries: Thai, Turkish, etc. That sideliner’s education pays delicious dividends at Mesa, where Hilbert is head chef, adding global inflections to a classic bistro menu. Get there early and sit for a spell with engaging barman John Strand, who has a knack for pulling the perfect wine off Mesa’s list, including Gruet, sparkling white bottled in Albuquerque. 505-988-2836
Kowboyz Good Ole Western Wear You’d be remiss to skip the Southwestern rugs and pottery of the Plaza shops. But Kowboyz, on South Guadalupe, features the cowpoke side of Santa Fe, with a warehouse worth of Western apparel and boots. Lots of boots. Leather, snakeskin, alligator and at least one pair of boar-hide boots. Giddy-up. 505-984-1256
10,000 Waves After 28 years in the New Mexico hills, this Japanese-style bathhouse 20
minutes from the resort is as Santa Fe as a tortilla. Book a private hot tub: Waterfall’s is big enough to float in; Ichiban’s tubs look like giant teacups. Warning: Clothing’s optional in the two public baths; most folks will be au naturel. http://www.tenthousandwaves.com