Friday, April 13, 2018

A Day Trip to Taos, What to do in Taos in One Day, A Visit to Two Graces Plaza Gallery in Ranchos de Taos is a Must. Along with 16 Places to eat in Taos.


An image of the Lawrence Tree painted by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1929 at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch in Taos

About a third of the visitors to Taos are driving up from Santa Fe for a ‘Day Trip’. Many of whom know that Taos is a must visit destination for their vacation agenda. Most of the time visitors don’t know exactly what to do once they get here. We hear from a great deal of those day trip visitors ‘that they wish they’d chosen to spend more time in Taos’, that they had no idea there is so much to do here. If only they had spent more time here. We suggest that rather than take a day trip from Santa Fe to Taos that you instead stay in Taos and take a day trip to Santa Fe. *Nonetheless, here's a rundown on a day trip to Taos from Santa Fe from my perspective.

Leaving Santa Fe and hitting the road to Taos

A drive from Santa Fe requires 1 hour 20 minutes of drive time on the "Low Road" aka the "River Road". If you were to choose the High Road route, it will take anywhere from 1 hour 40 minutes to 3 hours driving and stopping for photo-ops. Most of the little village Churches along the High Road are closed to visitors. Occasionally (rarely) there’ll be a few that will be open, but not many, unless destiny prevails. Start your trip from Santa Fe early in the morning, leaving by 7AM to take the High Road route, or 8:30AM by the River Road (the more direct route), which will put your arrival to Taos at about 10AM, just about the right time for most of the shops, galleries & museums to be open. 

Taos Mountain with Penitente Morada in the foreground 

Getting a late start from Santa Fe will cause you to rush around and not see much other than three or four highlights. Those highlights include: the San Francisco de Asis Church on the southern end of Taos at the gateway of Ranchos de Taos, the Taos Pueblo (4.7 miles from Ranchos), the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (15 miles from Ranchos) and perhaps a Museum, along with lunch or dinner at one of the area restaurants, but that’s it. The Church in Ranchos and Taos Pueblo close at around 4PM. Taos Pueblo is closed each year from Late Winter to Early Spring for up to 10 weeks, please check their website for closings. As for the bridge, it is open to traffic, please be careful not to step into the highway, if you plan your timing just right, try to go at sunset.

The magnificence of Taos Pueblo, north side

Rushing into a shop or gallery is not the right approach for any vacation trip. Slow down, interact with the shop-owners. More than half the time you’ll be speaking with the owners and the artists of these businesses. Some of the nicest people in Taos are the gallery and shopowners, when you engage with them in a non-invasive manner, you'll hear first hand their suggestions and what to experience straight from the horses mouth.

Blue Spruce Standing Deer of Taos Pueblo, to listen to his songs and stories is a special moment in time here

Let’s put it this way, when you plan a vacation, what is the first thing you do after you’ve decided a time frame and destination? First you book that trip for the best and most convenient rates for your transportation (airfare, car rental) and you book your lodging. That is about where most people leave it. Vacationers don’t always think about or research what else they want to do on vacation. Take the time to do the research before you arrive. Make a realistic list of what you want to do with a bit of time left for spontaneity. Plan your trip, especially when visiting a small town like Taos which primarily caters to tourism. In Taos businesses come and go, during your last visit here you may have discovered a wonderful gallery. The next time you visit you’re left wondering why that gallery no longer exists. 

Rainbow over Taos Blue Mountain as you drive up the Paseo

Most day trips to Taos require knowledge of three essentials: a Public Bathroom, Food & Beverage, and an Experience

Where to find a Public Restroom in Taos, follow the signs from Juan Largo Lane

Bathroom Problems: Most buildings in Taos have ancient plumbing, which leads to very few small businesses able or willing to let visitors (non-shoppers) use the bathroom. If you are absolutely desperate, first make a purchase in a shop or gallery, then ask if there is a toilet available. Ask this way: "Do you have a restroom available for customers?" Be a Customer. Shop owners themselves are actually sensitive to this dilemma. Normally restaurants (including fast food chains) are your best bet for finding a bathroom. A good tip on the way up from Santa Fe is to stop at a fast food restaurant in Espanola to use the bathroom, or stop at the Rio Grande del Norte Visitor Center in Pilar to use the bathroom there. Trust me you’ll thank me later for these tips. Once in Taos, the Taos County Visitor Center and the Public Restrooms on Teresina Lane and the John Dunn Shops also have well maintained bathrooms, as do all hotels.

Sushi being prepared in the High Desert of Taos at Sushi a La Hattori

Food & Beverage: Using a website such as Yelp or Trip Advisor can be the biggest mistake for google searches of where to eat in Taos. Four out of the top ten places are often closed (that goes for businesses as well, the closed ones do not get taken down and remain on the lists). Google the type of food you’re interested in eating and go directly to a few restaurant websites. Instagram hashtags are also more helpful than you would think. Photos and posts of where people are eating in Taos on that social media site can entice you to try something you would not have found on your own. Often the most up to date information will be on a Facebook business page, hours, photos, menus and general information. Lastly, ask a small business owner, not someone randomly if possible, let them know what you’re looking for, such as atmosphere, type of food, price range and what you actually enjoy eating. Fair warning: Ask ten people in Taos where to eat and you’ll get ten different answers. Also, please note the aforementioned bathroom problems, no one wants to eat something that will later upset their digestion and send you running for the non-existent where’s the nearest bathroom? Included at the bottom of this page is a listing of our suggested 16 Taos Restaurants that won’t disappoint.

Taking Photographs in Taos with Holly Sievers

Experience: What sort of experience you’re after is what counts, because on vacation it truly is all about you. On vacation many of us take lots of photos. Taos is a photo-op destination beyond your wildest dreams, especially at the three main highlights previously listed. All museums allow photography, (unless posted). Fair warning: shop and gallery owners should always be asked before you begin snapping away inside their businesses. Engage with the people here. Take the time to sit down and draw, write about or photograph what you’re seeing and doing even if it’s during a lunch break. The people, the visuals, the light, landscape and the art here have been inspiring visitors to Taos for generations. Let it all inspire you. In Taos one of the best experiences you can have is to meet an artist and purchase their art.  

Two Graces Plaza Gallery in Ranchos de Taos by the San Francisco de Asis Church

Two Graces Plaza Gallery: If you’ve driven north along the ‘River Road’ or 'Low Road' the first stop you’ll make will be at the San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos. There are two restaurants here and (currently) three shops, one of which is Two Graces Plaza Gallery (established in 2003). Two Graces is an Art Gallery featuring paintings and drawing by proprietors Holly Sievers and Robert Cafazzo. The Bookstore section specializes in used books primarily about the Southwest, New Mexico, Taos, Art and Photography. As for Curios the store carries vintage Hopi Kachinas primarily 1950-1960, vintage Fred Harvey Jewelry, Pueblo Pottery, including examples by Maria Martinez, vintage Religious Santero Items (Retablos & Bultos), Signage, License Plates, WPA era New Mexico Furniture, Mid-Century Modern, Vintage Postcards and various vintage Curios. The store also caters to assemblage and found object artists with a variety of rusty gold, ephemera, antique bottles, antlers, and an assortment of bleached bones and skulls. 
This is not the place to find a t-shirt or a shot glass. 
It is a shop full of carefully chosen and curated objects for the discerning eye. As visitors tell us, TGPG is a one stop shop, a place that has a great range of what Taos is all about. 
Cafazzo & Sievers share responsibilities and work at their store on a rotating calendar, hours are consistently 10-5 (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) seven days a week. 
If you are running late and would like to stop in please give us a call at 575-758-4101.

Magnificent sunset in Taos, NM

There are many things to do and see in Taos, a day trip won’t be enough time to soak it all in. As you make plans to visit Taos please refer to the many posts on the www.twograces.blogpsot.com about Taos and the things to do here. These links may help convince you to spend more time in Taos as you plan your vacation.






Last Days of Autumn on the way to Taos

Conclusion: One of the best reasons to visit Taos is that the aura and essence of Georgia O’Keeffe is still present to this day. The flora, landscape, buildings, and colors are all still a part of Taos. 
As O’Keeffe would say, “Take time to look.”

Inside view of Parch Bottleshop & Bites

16 Taos Restaurants for Lunch or Dinner to Satisfy All:
Adobe Cafe
Puebloan Southwestern, Taos Pueblo North Side Open Varies Hours 11-4PM 575-770-5064
Parcht Bottleship & Bites
Cheese & Charcuterie,103 East Taos Plaza Tues-Sat. 4-9PM 575-758-1994
192 at the Blake Hotel
American Southwestern Ski Resort, 107 Sutton Pl, Taos Ski Valley Hours Sun.-Sat. 11-9PM 575-776-5335
Koko Coffee Deli Carry Out
American Southwest pre-prepared assortment, 1033 Paseo del Pueblo Sur Mon.-Sat. 7-6PM 575-758-9448
Martyr’s Steakhouse
American Southwestern Steakhouse, 146 Paseo del Pueblo Norte Sun.-Sat. 11-9PM 575-751-3020
Sushi A La Hattori
Japanese, 1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte at Overland Wed.-Sat. 11:30-8:30PM 575-737-5123
Taos Mesa Brewing Tap Room
Hip Burgers & Beer, 201 Paseo del pueblo Sur Sun.-Sat. 12-11PM 575-758-1900
Burger Stand at Taos Ale House
Hip Burgers & Beer, 401 Paseo del Pueblo Norte Sun.-Sat. 11-11PM 575-758-5522
Pizanos
Pizza, 23 NM 150, Sun.-Sat. 11-9PM 575-776-1050
Manzanita Market
Hip Social Southwestern, 103 North Taos Plaza, Tue.-Sun. 7-4PM 575-613-4088
Love Apple
Hip Romantic Southwestern, 803 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Tue.-Sun. 5-9PM 575-751-0050
Lambert’s & Martini Tree Bar
Hip Southwestern, 123 Bent St., Sun.-Sat. 11:30-9PM 575-758-1009
Bella’s Mexican Grill
Northern New Mexican, 122 Dona Luz St. Mon.-Sat. 11-9PM 575-751-3130
La Cueva
Northern New Mexican, 135 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Mon.-Sat. 10-9PM 575-758-7001
Chokola Bean to Bar,  
Boutique Handmade Chocolates, 100/198 Juan Largo North Taos Plaza, Tue.-Sun. 11-6PM 575-779-6163 or 6174
World Cup Cafe
Coffee Shop, 102 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Sun.-Sat. 7-7PM 575-737-5299

*Please note: As with each of my blog post stories, none are pay to play, they are from my own personal point of view. I strive to give real information on what visitors can do and what the best bang for your buck (and time) will get you. I don't know everything, but I know what I personally like here in Taos. I also do not get to eat at restaurants all that often and have not visited some of the newer ones. Again, this post is strictly for casual day-trippers to Taos.


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