Santa Fe is pretty great spot in terms of culture, climate and community--but Santa Fe is also a terrific jumping off point. Last summer, I did a few girl's trips with my daughter and I will forever cherish the adventures we had.
We started out small, with one-day in Albuquerque. The botanical gardens and acquarium--yes, hard to believe, but there are live sharks living in Albuquerque--are in a complex near the Rio Grande just before you get to mid-town. The gardens were awe-inspiring and the acquarium, while small, was enjoyable. From there you can take a train, although we opted to drive to the zoo. Even if you are a zoo snob, you won't be disappointed. We especially enjoyed the wolves as they loped around their habitat. The grounds are lovely with many large trees and expanses of grass to lounge around on. After lunch, we got in some retail therapy at ABQ Uptown, the newish and upscale mall off of Louisiana, east of town.
Our second outing was to Pagosa Springs and Durango. We left late in the day and arrived in Pagosa Springs around dinner after a spectacular 3-hour drive. After enjoying some local brew, we checked in to the Springs Hotel which is where the action in. And by action, I mean the 22 pools of spring fed water with temperatures ranging from 90 degrees in the large pool to 114 degrees in the "lobster pot." The water is so hot as it comes up from these springs that they maintain the temperatures posted by mixing in cold water. The large pool plays first run movies on a giant screen and the young cowboys from the surrounding areas are there looking for pretty girls. They wear their swim trunks and their hats in the pools. Enough said. The next day we did a leisurely raft trip down the Animas and explored the town--before driving the one-hour to Durango.
Durango is a really neat town. We rented bicycles and explored the paved river paths which are extensive. There is a lot of good shopping along the one main street and no kidding, we had some of the best sushi we've ever had in one of the two sushi joints in town.
Our third trip for the summer was Boulder. It is a little over five hours to Denver and then another 45 minutes northwest to Boulder. I graduated from UC but had not been back for a visit. Pearl Street is the main drag and it has not lost it's charm. There are still the colorful street entertainers and the restaurants are varied and enjoyable with their outdoor patios. The flat irons are awesome as they loom over the southwest side of town. Marriott has a very nice hotel in a new retail district which includes all the standbys like Macy's.
Next summer we may be trading in the car for a Southwest Airlines 737, because San Diego and San Franciso are close enough for weekend trips.