Sun, May 6: Fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico and transfer by deluxe motorcoach to Madrid via the scenic Turquoise Trail, nestled in a narrow canyon in the Ortiz Mountains. Once a historic coal mining town and later a ghost town, Madrid is now a creative community with shops and galleries representing hundreds of artists. Here, you’ll have free time to explore the shops and enjoy lunch on your own before continuing to Santa Fe. Check in to La Fonda on the Plaza and enjoy a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers at the hotel. (Meal: Dinner)
Mon, May 7: In the morning, explore Santa Fe with a guided tour. The city, though much smaller than Albuquerque, is New Mexico’s State Capital. Meet your local guide and begin the tour with a historic walk in the Plaza and a visit to the Loretto Chapel before continuing by bus down the Old Santa Fe Trail, passing museum hill, Canyon Road galleries and the capitol building. Next, take a docent-led tour of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. O’Keeffe’s paintings reflected her love of the New Mexican high desert – animal bones, dramatic cliffs and badlands; other paintings at the museum include some of her large-scale flowers and New York cityscapes as well as art of some of her contemporaries. Enjoy the rest of the day on your own exploring more of Santa Fe.
Tues, May 8: Enjoy the entire day on your own to see Museum Hill and Canyon Road. Shop in boutiques, visit specialty cafes, historic churches, etc. An optional trip will take you to the Puye Cliff Dwellers for a side dwellings and Mesa Top Tour.
Wed, May 9: Check out of the hotel and depart for Taos, located 70 miles north of Santa Fe. Take the High Road and stop in Chimayo, a small village that is famous for the weavings of the Ortega and Trujillo families. It is also known as the home of the famous Santuario de Chimayo, an early 19th-century church that has been the destination of countless pilgrims who attribute it with miraculous powers of healing. Transfer to downtown Taos with lunch and free time on your own. Culturally rich and yet a small town, Taos was the site of the original Taos Ten artists (which included Shelbyville, Indiana native Victor Higgins,) who made it an artists’ colony back in the late 1800s. Visit Taos Pueblo on the northern outskirts of town. These two amazing five-story adobe structures, in the shadow of Taos Mountain, were built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. and have been inhabited for over 1,000 years. Approximately 150 people still live within the Pueblo full time, and privately owned shops and galleries throughout the village support the numerous local artists. Take a short jaunt to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, located just outside Taos. The river runs 650 feet below the bridge in a spectacular, immense, steep rock canyon. Late afternoon, return to Taos and check in to El Monte Sagrado Resort in Taos.
Thurs, May 10: In the morning, load your coach and depart for St. Francis of Assisi Church for a chance to explore its history. This historic church, four miles south of Taos in Rancho de Taos, dates from 1772. Artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams have memorialized this famous church because of its unique massive adobe and masonry architecture. This edifice is ideally entered through the garden on the west side to fully appreciate its enormous structure and authentic adobe construction. After your visit at the church, it’s time to depart for Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu. After lunch at the ranch (included), travel by bus (several miles out and back) to a restricted area of Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted many of her best-known landscapes. Stops are made to take in the fresh air, beauty and perspectives that O’Keeffe found so inspiring. Your guide provides stories of O’Keeffe and her life at the Ranch as well as history of Ghost Ranch. Return to Taos this evening to cook, eat, laugh and learn in a “hands on” cooking class with Chef Chris Maher, past recipient of six 4-Diamond Culinary Awards and a James Beard recognized chef. Following the instruction, enjoy feasting on your delectable creations! (L, D)
Fri, May 11: Transfer to Albuquerque and fly home.
La Fonda On the Plaza, Santa Fe
Famed Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem and celebrated Southwest designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter collaborated on the hotel’s distinctive appearance which had once been a Harvey House, creating the friendly ambiance that has made La Fonda on the Plaza a beloved landmark for generations. Santa Fe was the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail, and there has been an inn or fonda on this corner for the past 400 years, making this historic location the oldest hotel corner in America. Highlights: plush guest rooms with handcrafted furniture and original artwork • in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • restaurant, lounge and bar • room service • fitness center • outdoor hot tub • spa.
El Monte Sagrado Resort, Taos
Mountains and desert surround this modern pueblo-style resort that prides itself on eco-conscious luxury. Rooms are spacious with Native American influences artfully represented in hand-painted walls, local art, and gas fireplaces. Highlights: guest rooms with unique decors • flat screen TVs • iPod docking station • high-speed Internet access (fees apply) • two restaurants • bar/lounge • room service • 24-hour fitness center • indoor splash pool and sauna • spa • art gallery.