The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, November 21, 2008, Columns

New Mexican hotels offer a wide variety of amenities and comforts. With the holiday vacation season coming up quickly, you'll want to make reservations soon. Here is a list of some of my favorite finds.

Santa Fe means eating Frito pie from the Five & Dime on the plaza across from the Palace of the Governors. Centrally located in the state, this is a good city to start a visit to New Mexico. The Frito pie included, this is a world-class culinary city.

El Rey Inn is my personal favorite lodging in Santa Fe. Built in 1935, this is the kind of Route 66 holdover that you dream of finding. It's laid out in the old motor-motel fashion with parking outside your door. The well-maintained rooms are small but roomy, and some have kitchens and fireplaces. The free breakfasts are not to be missed. $-$$,, 800/521-1349.

The Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa is a self-contained recreation area with shuttle service to the plaza and the ski slopes. Rumor has it that James Taylor and Diane Keaton are regulars. Originally a retreat for the first bishop of Santa Fe, many of the unusually large rooms have fireplaces. The restaurant and bar are fine places to end a day of exploring. $$$,, 800/419-0492.

Sunrise Springs is hidden away on the southern edge of Santa Fe. This eco-friendly resort has a variety of rooms, from hotel-style to cabins, with private courtyards. The restaurant and spa overlook a spring-fed pond. $$-$$$,, 800/955-0028.

Taos is one of those cities where everyone who has ever been there reminisces about how it was in the good old days. It's a great place for those who enjoy skiing, hiking, and other year-round outdoor activities.

El Monte Sagrado resort in Taos is remembered by old-timers as a set of tourist casitas on the edge of town. The little cabins have grown up with private hot tubs and patios featuring views of the mountains. Additional rooms were completed this year, expanding the hotel's price range. The restaurant and bar are top-notch. $$-$$$,, 800/828-8267.

Espanola is often overshadowed by its better-known neighbor cities, but it makes a great base camp for the north-central pueblos and ski resorts.

Inn at the Delta is a family-run operation that includes the inn, a florist, a restaurant, a day-care center, and a bar. The rooms are spacious, with Kiva fireplaces, and decorated in Mexican tile. The hearty free breakfast is a good way to start the day. $$,, 800/995-8599.

Visiting the Rancho de Chimayo Hacienda is like staying at a ranch house in the mountains. The rooms are small, but each one has a fireplace. It's a long drive to anywhere from here, especially since the neighboring Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante will be closed until April 2009 because of a fire that destroyed the kitchen. $,, 888/270-2320.

907th in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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