Boho art colony, cultural heritage site, nature lover’s dream – you’d never think a town as tiny as Taos could pack in so much personality. We visited this outpost in New Mexico’s gorgeous high desert and fell in love with Taos’ unique blend of quirk and chic. Bring an appetite (you need more calories at high altitudes), fill up your water bottle and enjoy an enchanting Taos weekend with the itinerary below.
When to visit: Everything in New Mexico is better during chili season, which hits in September. Fall weather is perfect for exploring the area’s natural beauty, enjoying autumn evenings outdoors and soaking up area hot springs. Taos winters are also straight up magical. We’re talking postcard snowscapes, glowing luminaria, skiing (or, in our case, apres skiing) and a great excuse to cozy up to the area’s indigenous kiva fireplaces.
Where to stay: Hotel Luna Mystica just outside of town is a southwest boho paradise made up of a fleet of vintage campers with porches perfect for soaking in the incredible views of the high desert. (Plus, it’s next to a brewery aka one of Taos’ main weekend hotspots.) And, in the center of town, the historic Taos Inn – nicknamed “Taos’ living room” – boasts 45 boutique rooms in a 19th Century adobe building, including many with those kivas we just told you about.
Getting around: Most visitors fly into Albuquerque International Sunport (2.5 hours drive from Taos). Santa Fe has a region airport (1.5 hours drive from Taos), but there are fewer flight options. Either way, you’ll want a rental car when you arrive in Taos. The town plaza area is very walkable, but some of the main attractions are a few minutes drive from town.
Taos Weekend Itinerary
Dinner: You must be starving! Drop into local fave Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe for chile rellenos so good, you’ll be dreaming about weeks later. Inside the casual dining room, papel picado and Frida Kahlo pop art add to the vibrant decor. Outside, plenty of patio seating and a firepit greet guests during nice weather.
Evening: Settle into Hotel Luna Mystica, and head next door to Taos Mesa Brewing’s massive DIY-ed Quonset hut brewery and event space. Grab a beer from one of 12 rotating taps, check out some live entertainment and watch the sunset light up the face of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. (SUNSET: https://sunrise-sunset.org/us/taos-nm)
Breakfast: Half restaurant, half bakery Michael’s Kitchen is another Taos institution loved by locals. Get in early for a diner-style brekky. (By 9 a.m., the line’s out the door.) And good luck resisting fresh-baked pastries the size of your head peeking out from the display case by the register. We couldn’t!
Hot springs: Soak in one of the natural hot springs along the Rio Grande. Blackrock Hot Springs is the easiest to reach, both for your car and for the 10-minute round trip hike. Temps hover around 93 degrees in the hottest of the silt-bottomed pools. A second, which juts out into the river, is more of a warm pool in the right season. (Note: When the river is high in spring and summer, the pools frequently wash out. Pools are generally clothing optional.) A second option, Manby Hot Springs is also about a 20-minute drive from Taos, though it’s more of a physical hike down and back.
Gorge Bridge: Take the long way back to Taos to appreciate the Rio Grande from a bird’s eye view. Park at the public pavilion on the west side for the best pictures of the span over the gorge (and a public bathroom). The brave can walk out over the bridge along two pedestrian paths and look straight down, 650 feet to the river below.
Lunch: At the Manzanita Market, everything on your plate – and in your glass – likely came from a local producer. All organic and unprocessed, the menu may be health-focused, but you’re not likely to notice tucking into the signature Chicken Tinola soup (made with 24-hour broth) or the delicious beef banh mi. We tried the golden milk latte with turmeric and a blue majik tonic with immortal minerals, so we’ll probably live forever now. We were so full, we didn’t have room for the house-churned ice cream. Guess we need another Taos weekend 😉
Wander Taos Plaza: Iconic adobe architecture and back-to-back boutiques make this picturesque square a fantastic place to stroll, take a break or shop your face off. (I think you know which one we opted for 😉 Made in New Mexico is a clearinghouse for local-made goods from dark roast pinon coffee to saucy stickers from Taos-based Guerrilla Graphix. At Smoke Signals, a Native American artist creates unique pipes and showcases other indigenous makers. And just off the square, Chokola Bean to Bar – winner of New Mexico’s only two Good Food Awards – turns out single-source, small batch chocolate. Take a few bars home or treat yourself to a dish of their uber-rich French-style mousse.
More shopping? Wow! You’re a maniac 😉 There are even more boutiques, antiques, art galleries and vintage shops off the square. Try Paso del Pueblo, the main drag that runs through Taos, or John Dunn Pathway, a pedestrian trail nearby.
Happy Hour: Chic as hell with the cocktail chops to back it up, The Lounge at Rolling Still both produces stellar vodka and infuses their spirits with interesting native flavors like oregano-honey or local pecans. Don’t miss the Honey Badger with infused vodka, ginger liqueur and carrot. (If vodka’s not your thing, the Lounge carries several other spirits from New Mexico distillers as well as local craft beers.) Among our favorite of the small plates were the beet tinged deviled eggs with chile relish.
Dinner: Looking for your next green chile fix and a great spot to chat up a few locals? Eske’s brewpub in the heart of town has offered just that for more than 25 years. And they put chiles in everything – stew, cheeseburgers, burritos and even beer. Grab a spot in the cozy dining room or in the biergarten.
Evening: Two very different spots offer live music on Saturdays. About 10 minutes out of town, KTAOS Solar Center is both a radio station and entertainment venue featuring indie bands and a big backyard with killer mountain views. Closer in, the intimate Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn – known as the living room of Taos – offers a slightly chiller, more sophisticated vibe. Arrive early for the best seats.
Taos Pueblo: Before Taos was a ski destination or artists’ colony, it was Indigenous land settled by the Tiwa people. Today, their pueblo of unique multi-story adobe structures is considered one of the longest continuously inhabited communities in the United States, as well as a UNESCO world heritage site a short drive from the town of Taos. Visit early for horno-baked pastries like chokecherry and pinon nut turnovers or savory Tiwa tacos. (If you want a sit-down meal, Tiwa Kitchen just outside the pueblo serves Native comfort food.) Don’t miss a volunteer-led tour (every 15 minutes) by a member of the community. And, while just 150 people still live at Taos Pueblo full time, many families use their ancestral homes to sell gorgeous, mica-flecked pottery and signature leatherwork. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for a festival day, don’t miss it.
Museum stop: Nearby, the Millicent Rogers Museum offers a peek at mid-20th Century Taos through the eyes of the museum’s namesake socialite and art collector. Twenty galleries show off a variety of pretty things, but the fashionista’s turquoise jewelry collection and the work of Maria Martinez, the foremost Native American potter of her day, are don’t-miss stops.
Lunch: Fuel up for your journey home at Common Fire, which bakes all its bread in house and offers gourmet, wood-fired flatbreads alongside a curated wine list. It’s the perfect way to end your Taos weekend.
Where to next? If it’s Albuquerque you MUST stop lavender wonderland Los Poblanos for dinner or the night.