There’s a popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, back in 1963, called “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Now, the holiday season may have drawn to a close, but in many places (especially in the Southwest) the most wonderful time of the year is here. Temperate weather and a rather robust list of seasonal offerings make Taos, New Mexico the place to be as colder months give way to spring. In March, outdoor activities like skiing, snowshoeing or relaxing in a local hot springs continue to top the charts. But for families visiting the area, outdoor recreation is just the tip of the iceberg. Ballooning, golf, tennis – landmark sites, destination dining, shopping and art galleries – even guided tours on horseback are all accessible from Taos’ historical downtown.
Put the family up in award-winning accommodations while you explore the mystical wonders of the region’s favorite artisan escapes. Situated in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, El Monte Sagrado (ElMonteSagrado.com) offers a serene setting surrounded by waterfalls, ponds and towering cottonwood trees. The guest experience at this culturally distinctive, minority-owned local resort is chock full of the Southwest’s Native American, Mexican, Spanish and American Western cultural and historical influences. For our part, our family loved its locale – the perfectly manicured grounds and luxury accommodations made the El Monte Sagrado feel like a true mountain oasis, but walk only a few blocks from the property and you’re right in the heart of Tao’s historic plaza.
Once a Spanish fortified walled plaza and settled over 400 years ago by Spanish colonists, a stroll through the streets today reveals a popular tourist destination defined by unique boutiques, cafes and art galleries and plays host to many cultural events, farmers markets and live music. The plaza itself is hemmed in by scores of superb Spanish Colonial-style structures and Mission Revival homes harkening back to its roots in the late 18th century.
Accommodation of distinction
Any one of El Monte Sagrado’s 48 Mountain rooms, 18 Native American suites, 6 historic Casitas, or 12 Premiere suites provide seamless service and luxury appointments. From en suite hot tubs to private patios or balconies with lovely garden views, the resort serves as an unforgettable “home base” whether you are in town to explore the historic environs like our family or experience world class skiing a mere 20 miles away at Taos Ski Valley. Our Taos Mountain Room was the ideal retreat replete with thoughtful features including a cozy fireplace and large soaking tub. On-property amenities include a full-service fitness center (peloton bike, treadmills, elliptical trainers, free weights), an indoor saltwater pool and spa and The Living Spa, an eco-conscious, world class rejuvenation center showcasing a variety of signature healing treatments and massage therapy).
Dine in at De La Tierra for a delicious blend of regional and seasonal dishes created by Executive Chef Cristina Martinez (a popular starter that was distinctly different and highly recommended – the New Mexico green Chile and fresh mozzarella flatbread). In the early evening, my husband and I headed to the Anaconda Bar for a post-adventure aperitif – its libations and custom craft cocktails made a quick date night possible even with the kids in tow. Aptly named for the giant sculpture winding its way through the venue, the upscale lounge offers live entertainment, seasonal patio seating and a lovely light refreshment menu (the Green Chile Smash Burger on brioche was perfect for sharing – yes, you are sensing a theme – Green chile appears to be a uniquely New Mexico menu ingredient).
While in town for a long weekend, we also took to the road a bit – stretching all the way from Santa Fe, the “High Road to Taos” winds its way through the scenic Sangre de Cristo Mountains – with scores of interesting historic sites (think Spanish colonial towns and Pueblo Indian villages) and vistas along the way – passing through vast valleys, verdant forests and high deserts. Nestled just to the northwest of town is the otherworldly-looking Earthships – a community of 70-odd sustainable homes made entirely from recycled materials.
A particular highlight of the trip was the “pedestrian thrills” atop the steel-deck Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – an absolutely phenomenal feat of engineering with epic views of the yawning chasm and wild waters. I am terribly afraid of heights – so suffice to say it was quite outside my comfort zone to walk along the “sidewalk” designed with tourists in mind and step out onto the little “porches” that jut out over the void with only a chest-high guardrail between me and the Rio Grande 650 feet below.
Take the kids to a leisurely brunch at De La Tierra and give everyone the chance to sleep in a bit – or opt for a tasty grab + go breakfast so you can hit first chair on the mountain or embark on an early walking tour. Whatever you choose to do – listen to Andy Williams, and take advantage of the most wonderful time of the year in Taos.