What to Do in Santa Fe

Robert Godwin

A local chef, a classic resort and a thriving art scene are helping to reinvent New Mexico's capital city.

Stay: A former Auberge resort, this collection of 65 casitas reopened in 2012 as the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. The midcentury feel of the architecture is a welcome departure from the unrelenting Southwesterness of the inns in town, and the interiors—equal parts O’Keeffe and Pendleton—have an appealing rustic modernism. It’s a 15-minute drive from Santa Fe proper, in the greener mountain township of Tesuque; the resort provides a small fleet of Mercedes to ferry guests back and forth. And Terra, the revamped in-house restaurant, is home to the best outdoor fire-pit-side dining in the region—the perfect place for a dinner of seasonal southwestern cuisine and a view of one of New Mexico’s signature psychedelic sunsets. member of Fine Hotels & Resorts Rooms start at $575; 198 State Rd. 592; 505-946-5700; fourseasons.com.

See: Opera season in Santa Fe (June 28 to August 24 for 2013) coincides with monsoon season, which adds to the drama of a performance at the open-air (but well-protected) Santa Fe Opera House, as wild desert lightning competes with the spectacle onstage. Opera season also means tailgate picnics in the surrounding canyon country, with patrons in black tie and evening gowns sprawled in lawn chairs sipping Champagne. Part-time local and Santa Fe native Tom Ford has contributed his sartorial savvy to the costume design, and this year general director Charles MacKay announced a repertory that includes the world première of Oscar, a two-act work depicting the life of Oscar Wilde; a new production of Offenbach’s comedy The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein; as well as Rossini’s La Donna Del Lago and revivals of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Verdi’s La Traviata. At 301 Opera Dr.; santafeopera.org.

Eat: Late-night drinking and dining is not Santa Fe’s strong suit, which is part of the reason that Taberna, the tapas bar from chef James Campbell Caruso, has been packed since it opened last year. The bar, with its deep Spanish wine list and riffs on sangria, is a favorite of the city’s art-scene stars, and the authentic Spanish cooking that put Caruso on the map at nearby La Boca is on full display here, with the entire menu available until 11 p.m. for those in need of a post-opera bite. At 125 Lincoln Ave.; 505-988-7102; labocasf.com.

Experience: The brainchild of experimental Santa Fe visual artist, color theorist and inventor Stephen Auger, Cloud 5 Projects opened in June in the up-and-coming Second Street strip of Santa Fe’s vibrant Railyard district. Auger transformed a former restaurant into a 2,500-square-foot studio and project space, which is home to art from New Mexico and beyond, lectures by everyone from novelists to scientists, film screenings and salon discussions. Much of Auger’s own fascinating work is on display, and his signature mix—local and international, class and quirk—is exactly what was lacking in Santa Fe’s art-market establishment. At 1805 Second St.; cloud5project.com.

And Coming Soon… The only thing missing at the Japanese hot spring–style Ten Thousand Waves—which offers hot-stone massages, private outdoor baths and plunge pools, and holistic spa treatments just ten minutes from the city—is a restaurant. But that will change this fall with the opening of Nama, which will focus on Japanese-style tapas and artisan sake, but not on sushi. This is the desert, after all. At 3451 Hyde Park Rd.; 505-982-9304; tenthousandwaves.com.

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