Among the mountains, rivers, and spectacular landscapes of New Mexico sits the town of Taos, one of the state’s most historic and culture-rich communities. People from all over the globe gather here to experience the age-old traditions, natural beauty, and flavorful cuisine that set Taos apart. It is undoubtedly a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure, but it’s also a haven for foodies and art-lovers.
There is so much to see and experience in this gorgeous mountain town that sometimes it can be difficult to decide what to try first! We gathered up the best activities, restaurants, and cultural hot spots to experience the next time you visit Taos (including the best places to stay). So enjoy, and get ready to make this a mountain getaway you will not soon forget.
What to Do
Hit the Trails
Taos is a mountain town, so while you’re here, make sure to take advantage of it. The trails here are second to none, offering an outdoor haven for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders alike.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, tackle Wheeler Peak just north of town. The mountain is the tallest in New Mexico and offers spectacular scenery you can only find 13,000+ feet above sea level. A 4-mile round trip will get you to the scenic Williams Lake — the perfect spot to set out a picnic and soak in the sunshine. If you still have some steam left, try to bag the peak, which sits just a little more than one mile farther up the trail. The extra mileage is well-worth the views you’ll find at the peak.
When you’re done, enjoy a hard-earned drink at the Bavarian Lodge, which is conveniently located at the trailhead.
Explore the Valley
When the weather outside gets frightful, the outskirts of Taos transform into a magical winter wonderland. Skiers and snowboarders from all over the world venture here to tackle the slopes at Taos Ski Valley.
Advanced skiers and snowboarders should definitely head to the Ridge at the top of the mountain for the best views and the best powder. The hike is short and steep through the snow, but the lack of lift service means that there will be far fewer tracks!
Take a Soak
For an off-the-beaten-path experience, consider Black Rock Hot Springs, located just north of Taos. Take a 10-minute walk on the trail from the parking lot to the two rock pools on the west side of the Rio Grande, and soak your tired muscles in the natural waters. The healing powers of these pools are known far and wide, and at a toasty 97 degrees year round, invite you to sink in and stay awhile. (Note: Even though the natural springs are off the beaten path, you may not be the only one enjoying this magical place! Clothing is also optional here.)
If you’re up for a drive, go 40 miles outside of town to Ojo Caliente, a local favorite. It’s worth the trip to soak your tired muscles in the healing mineral hot springs, enjoy a rejuvenating massage in the spa, and absorb the gorgeous desert views — it is truly an experience unlike any other.
Taos is filled with trendy boutiques, Southwestern-style shops, and art galleries like the [Wanderer Boutique](wanderertaos.com). This centrally located boutique features gorgeous Bohemian styles for women who love adventure, plus a few desert knick-knacks. Strike up a conversation with the owner, Ashley Arabian, who can tell you exactly why she chose to move from San Francisco to Taos two years ago.
After some shopping, stop by [Chokola](www.chokolabeantobar.com) for a sweet treat. This charming spot is located just off of the main plaza and features bean-to-bar chocolates that are lovingly made and beautifully presented.
Where to Eat & Drink
You may not know this, but New Mexicans take their breakfast burritos seriously. The tortillas must be fresh, warm, and soft; the egg-to-potato ratio must be perfectly balanced; and above all else, the green chile must be flavorful. Martin’s Breakfast Burrito at [Michael’s Kitchen](michaelskitchen.com/) achieves all of this and more — and is the perfect fuel for a long day of adventuring. The restaurant also offers eggs Benedict and omelets.
For something smaller, grab a coffee and a quick bite at Taos’ newest coffee shop, The Coffee Apothecary. Stop in for soul-warming, caffeinated bevvies alongside house-made pastries and quiches.
For a farm-to-table lunch in the plaza, try the Manzanita Market. This breakfast and lunch spot opened recently in the plaza, and serves up fresh bites using as many local products as possible. Grab a breakfast sandwich to go, or settle in for a cup of coffee and a conversation with a friendly local.
Get a little post-lunch dessert at The Taos Cow. This shop scoops organic, BHG-free ice cream in a variety of interesting Southwestern flavors, including piñon caramel, Mexican chocolate, and walnut maple.
You can’t visit New Mexico without tasting authentic and flavorful Mexican cuisine! Since 1995, Guadalajara Grill has been serving up hearty New Mexican classics like chile rellenos, enchiladas, and tacos with carnitas. It’s the perfect place for a hearty lunch or festive dinner. As a locally owned and operated restaurant, Guadalajara Grill prides itself on its friendly, approachable atmosphere.
If it’s a unique experience you’re after, try The Love Apple instead. Housed in an old Catholic chapel, The Love Apple is a must-visit location for visitors looking to soak in a bit of extra culture. The owners work with local farmers and artisans to provide fresh, seasonal fare that is guaranteed to wow you.
And finally, with its exciting, upscale cuisine and extensive wine menu, Common Fire stands apart from the rest when it comes to a fun night out. The majority of the food is prepared in the large wood-burning oven on display in the corner, and the owners can usually be found milling about the restaurant and sparking conversation with their guests.
Located in one of the oldest buildings in Taos, The Alley Cantina has a rich history that dates back nearly 400 years. Come by for Southwestern cuisine, fresh barbecue, and cold margaritas in a lively setting.
If you’re a craft-beer aficionado, try Taos Mesa Brewing, offering 12 beers on draft at all times, live music almost nightly, and an unparallelled community atmosphere. Sit outside on the patio to soak in the New Mexican sun or play a round of pool inside!
Conveniently located in the Taos plaza, pärCht Bottleshop + Bites offers a cozy haven for wine enthusiasts. Stop in for a glass (or two) after a day of shopping or pick up a bottle to enjoy back at the hotel. Also, make sure to explore the food menu for the appropriate pairings.
Where to Sleep
The Hotel Luna Mystica offers visitors the chance to soak up the natural beauty that makes Taos so special. You’ll enjoy sleeping in rustic, colorful trailers, each designed with a different theme. While each room tells a unique story, they are all absolutely adorable and Instagram-worthy, if we do say so ourselves. The hotel is also just steps away from Taos Mesa Brewing, so you can easily enjoy a nightcap before heading off to bed.
Get inspired by the Land of Enchantment at this luxury spa and resort. El Monte Sagrado is a popular destination for weddings, and it’s no wonder why! The hotel is absolutely bathed in the natural beauty of Taos and offers 4-star accommodations including cozy rooms, top-notch cuisine, and a heated indoor saltwater pool and hot tub.
To experience big-mountain adventure just steps from your front door, opt to stay at the Blake Hotel. This newly constructed hotel drew inspiration from a deeply embedded New Mexican culture, incorporating native textiles and materials into its walls, fabrics, and furniture. Most importantly, it offers top-notch amenities, a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and easy access to the magnificent slopes of the Taos Ski Valley that can be enjoyed any time of year.
Taos is one of the best destinations for adventure in the country, but also an excellent place to simply be. While you’re here, enjoy the attractions, galleries, and restaurants as much as possible, but also make sure to rest for a moment and bask in the New Mexican sun. Once you experience a colorful sunset or a conversation with a friendly local, you will truly understand why the state is called "The Land of Enchantment."
Originally written by RootsRated for New Mexico.