Road Trip: Santa Fe to LA
Our trip from Santa Fe to Los Angeles was full of vintage Route 66 remnants, a last minute stop in Flagstaff, and an afternoon in Sedona. Starting in alluring Santa Fe, continuing along Route 66, stopping in the Petrified Forest and Painted hills (Stay tuned for an upcoming Meg's gems about the national park), and on to Flagstaff and Sedona. Making our way across New Mexico and Arizona, I came to appreciate the states I never really thought much about. They contain so much natural beauty and left me yearning to visit again.
We pulled up to Santa Fe around midnight and checked into the Hotel St. Francis, a historic hotel built in the early 1900s originally used as a monastery. It has a quaint mission style bar, called the Secreto Bar that is a hotspot with visitors come happy hour. The rooms were petite and creaky with age. Each room had wooden floors and old wooden cabinets, the beds were extremely fluffy and felt like you were sleeping on a cloud. The bathrooms were brand new, with shiny tile and silver trimmings.
One of the reasons I was extremely excited to visit Sante Fe was because of the Native American history and it's influence in art and jewelry. I heard about Tesuque flea market which is known to have discounted turquoise jewelry and woven textiles. It's a bit out of town, but we headed over there one afternoon and wandered through the dirt lot looking at the stalls for a while before meeting an adorable, little man from New York who moved to Santa Fe and now sells Native American inspired jewelry created by local artists. I picked up a gorgeous Navajo ring that one of his artist friends made by hand. There were so many other treasured I wish I could have walked away with!
We had breakfast at Cafe Pasqual which offers traditional Mexican dishes as well as gluten free, and healthy options. All ingredients are fresh and it practices a farm to table approach. Another great spot for a morning feast is Tia Sophia's, serving up christmas colored dishes all around (green and red salsa combination!). A great spot for a casual rooftop drink is Coyote Rooftop Cantina, right around the corner from Hotel St. Francis, you can see the adobe rooftops across town. We had heard Maria's Kitchen was a fabulous Mexican restaurant for dinner, but we walked to Pink Adobe for their infamous steak, just 10 minutes outside of the main town area. The quaint dinner area is located in a pink adobe as well as outside of the building in a courtyard with twinkly lights hanging overhead. The neighboring bar, Dragon Room, is owned by the same people and is a quirky, comfy space with TVs and bright pillows under very dim lighting.
Santa Fe is a historic town, with an interesting history that is revealed through it's adobe architecture. Throughout the years it has been a haven for artists, most notable Georgia O'keefe. When visiting the Georgia O'keefe Museum you can completely understand why she was moved and influenced by the natural surroundings of Santa Fe. The Loretto chapel is also a unique slice of history in the town because it houses the famous spiral staircase (which I had heard nothing about until my boyfriend's father told me repeatedly that we HAD to see it!). The helix shaped staircase is unusual because the builder was never identified, but he locked himself in the chapel for 3 months and made the staircase out of non-native wood and once he was finished he disappeared. It's definitely worth a quick stop by to see it for yourself and hear the full story. You can also visit Georgia O'keefe's home where she painted and lived the remainder of her life after she left her career in New York City. The Native American village of Taos is a great activity along with wandering in the city's main square which has a market every weekend and the well known Santa Fe Indian Market which occurs the weekend after the third Thursday in August.
Retro, weird and still cool, Route 66 is definitely a drive worth doing. I would love to follow it all the way to the East Coast if I had time, but now that I'm no longer funemployed, I'll have to wait until I can use vacation days! We discovered that there are a few Apps that will tell you all the historic sites along Route 66. Sometimes they are hard to spot, or off the beaten path a bit, some don't have signs and some are no longer there (such as the cool vintage signs that announce when you are entering a new state). We used Road Trip 66 to help guide us. For the most part it helped us accurately navigate the sites we were looking for or interested in. We hit a few of the more popular sites between Santa Fe and Flagstaff, Arizona. We stopped at the WigWam Motel, where cement teepees surround a semi circular lot with vintage cars parked in front of each teepee in their lot. the Indian Rock Shop is a store that sells rocks and petrified wood with the famous dinosaur sculptures located outside their gates. Richardson Cash Pawn was supposed to have great deals on Native American vintage turquoise jewelry and crafts, but was unfortunately closed when we drove by. The Route 66 mural on a random wall in an empty lot was a very cool siting we stopped to take photos at. Don't forget to experience some retro diners along the route as well!
Flagstaff & Sedona
From the low desert we climbed elevation into the night sky and ended up in Flagstaff, Arizona which is surrounded by the Kaibob National Forest. We got out of the car and for the first time our entire trip felt cold! After searching for a place to eat we ended up putting our name in at Pizzicletta, an Italian pizzeria, that ended up being one of the best pizzas I have ever had (and I lived in Rome for 4 months, so I really know what I'm talking about). There were two families sitting next to us on either side of the communal table and were speaking fluent Italian, so even more reason to believe it's amazing wood fired pizza! While we were waiting, we headed over to Mother Road Brewing Co., the restaurants sister brewery and sat next to the large stills tasting their different pilsners and IPAs. The next morning we got up early and drove from the pine forest into the famous red rock area of Sedona. The drive from Flagstaff into Sedona along the small 89 highway was spectacular and one of the most interesting and impressive drives I have ever taken.
Once we arrived in Sedona, we hit up Local Juicery for some sustenance before finding a quick, local hike and watering hole. We used the app, AllTrails to find the kind of hike we were looking for. The app is amazing! It's basically like yelp for trails and hiking. It gives you elevation climb, route, mileage, type of trail and more. You can also read reviews about the trail from fellow hikers in the area.
Sedona is on our list of places to return to, it's a haven for hikers, backpackers and nature lovers taking dips in rivers and watering holes along the way. If you've driven on Route 66, or visited Santa Fe, Flagstaff or Sedona, let us know you're favorite local spots!