Taos, NM


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Taos, New Mexico, was one of the first art colonies in the United States, and for good reason. The technicolor landscape surrounding this city, located on a mesa at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, inspired the likes of Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Henri, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips. Taos is quite small, with a population of 5,700, but it packs a huge artistic and cultural punch.

Many of the buildings are adobe structures, conferring on the city a true southwestern style. In fact, one of the favorite tourist spots in the area is the adobe Taos Pueblo. This National Historic Landmark, located 10 minutes northeast of the city center, is actually an inhabited community. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seeing this 1,000-year-old village is one of the great things to do with kids in Taos, especially since children under 10 are admitted free of charge.

Taos visitors also enjoy skiing in Carson National Forest, about an hour and a half drive away from downtown. Taos Ski Valley, Red River and Sipapu Ski all offer opportunities to participate in a variety of winter sports, including cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowshoeing. Skiing on the beginner or intermediate slopes at the Angel Fire Resort is one of the best things to do with kids.

Tourists in Taos interested in its rich arts history should plan a visit to the Blumenschein Home and Museum on Ledoux Street. This museum, named for artist Earnest Blumenschein, features not only his works, but also the works of his wife, Mary Blumenschein, and other members of the Taos Society of artists, the art colony he helped form. The home is another National Historic Landmark in this little city. One other historic home no one visiting Taos should miss is the Hacienda de los Martinez, a 21-room adobe fortress-style house built in 1804.

Visitors who drive 10 minutes south of downtown discover the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church. This church, constructed in the late 1700s in the Spanish Colonial adobe style, is another National Historic Landmark and one of the top tourist spots around Taos.

Around the block and north of the church is the Ranchos Plaza Grill. The restaurant, occupying an old adobe hacienda, serves authentic New Mexican food. One key ingredient is chili caribe, a specially ground chili. Favorite plates here include the Plato de Chile Rellenos and the Enchilades de Carne Adovada. Locals recommend the sopapillas.

The Adobe Bar is the place to see and be seen in Taos. Live music, a friendly staff and a range of cocktails draw visitors as well as locals to this drinking hole, located within the Historic Taos Inn. Patrons may sip on a "Baby Buddha" or "Fire on the Mountain" margarita while listening to the likes of Susan Gibson, The Monkey Feeders and The Old Way. Embracing genres from flamenco to jazz, and from gospel to native folk music, the "Living Room of Taos" places no limits on fun.