New Mexico Travel Diary

At the end of June I went on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico with some of my family. It was such a blast and I definitely fell in love with the city. If you have never been I highly recommend it, the food is amazing and the art is definitely beyond words. Here is our daily itinerary! I will also add some other recommendations I received from friends even though we weren’t able to fit everything in.

Day 1: Drove down from Colorado and arrived at our hotel, La Posada around 2:30pm. The drive from the Denver area takes about six hours. We spent time just exploring the hotel and hanging out at the pool before heading to diner. We went to Mucho Gusto for diner which was recommended by a friend. The restaurant was just a five minute walk from our hotel and the New Mexican food was delicious. Before heading to bed we enjoyed some hot tub time.

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Day 2: It was Saturday so we took La Posada’s shuttle to the Farmer’s Market at the Santa Fe Railyard. There was an artisan market going on as well with fairly affordable jewelry and art. The Farmer’s Market was definitely one of the biggest I have been to with amazing vendors. The Railyard in general is definitely a must! After some cider slushies and delicious bread we walked down Guadalupe Street which has incredible shops and some really great thrift stores (Double Take on Guadalupe and Aztec has a great selection). We were walking towards the Georgia O’Keefe museum when we found the Terracotta Wine Bistro just in time for lunch. The food was amazing! I had the best bruschetta with all sorts of spreads and their cold cucumber soup of the day. The wine was also incredible. From here we went to the Georgia O’Keefe museum which is definitely a museum worth the money. Her paintings are just so inspiring and I learned a lot about how she struggled with conforming to the current standard for artists and in order to keep her passion alive she needed to do something different (hence her unique style). On the way back to our hotel we walked through the plaza which is a great shopping location. Music was playing and there is also a lot of art here. For dinner we ended up eating at our hotel’s restaurant, Julia’s however we did have reservations at Restaurant Martin because some friends recommended it to us. Both are on the more expensive side but the food was amazing. We ate dessert first (not sure that was the best idea) but we were psyched about the cheesecake and chili chocolate mousse We jumped in the hotel pool to finish our day.

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Day 3: Just after we started walking into town we found the French Crêperie which we spotted the day before se we decided on crepes for breakfast. This place was delicious but very crowded, we were really lucky to get a table. It is definitely worth it though, I shared one sweet and one savory crepe with my sister and both were delicious ( I think the savory-chorizo was my favorite though). We spent most of the day walking around the center of town, shopping and enjoying all the art. There are great open markets all around downtown, which are very affordable. The boutiques around the plaza are expensive and high end but they have some great art, jewelry and clothing (we mostly window shopped here). There are some great places with extensive hat collections and really pretty dresses and skirts. Walking around in the heat definitely took the energy out of us but we made a stop at the Kakáwa Chocolate House for an energy boost. This place was highly recommend by friends who live in Santa Fe and it definitely met the mark. They were great about samples so even though I didn’t want to order an entire cup of the drinking chocolate (their specialty) I was able to try several different flavors. The rose infused chocolate was my favorite but the chili was good as well. It is dark chocolate so its not as sweet as I expected which I really liked. Most of us ended up ordering ice cream because it was so hot out. If you get ice cream get hot fudge on top, it was the best hot fudge I have ever had. Our final adventure was a trip to Meow Wolf. This ‘exhibit’ is gaining popularity but if you are unfamiliar it is an interactive art exhibit in Santa Fe. It is so hard to explain but it is built in an old bowling alley and you are trying to figure out a mystery and at the same time the entire thing is an art exhibit.  It was also recommended by friends and is so worth the experience. We ate dinner at Rooftop Pizza which is in the plaza. Another friend gave me this recommendation and I am so glad we went. The are more options than just pizza but the pizza itself is all really unique and delicious. We sat outside and got to enjoy a gorgeous view and sunset. IMG_7385IMG_7389IMG_7408IMG_7434IMG_7435IMG_7436IMG_7472

Day 4: Our last day was mostly the drive home however we did stop in Taos to visit the Taos Pueblo village. This was definitely an interesting stop and I am glad we went. It is very interesting because there is so much history involved in this town but it is also currently inhabited so it was so important to be respectful. We ate lunch at a restaurant just at the edge of town before driving the rest of the way back.

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To do next time: Visit The Santa Fe Lavender Farm. This didn’t work out for us this time because we had limited time and the days they are open didn’t match up well for us. Make sure you check their hours first.

Other food recommendations: We really wanted to go to Tomasita’s for dinner because it was highly recommended but they closed on Sunday which we were pretty bummed about (three people recommended it separately). I was told to order a “swirl.” Tia Sophia’s was recommended to me for breakfast/brunch and we did pass it while walking, it is right downtown. Coyote Cantina apparently has great food and amazing views of downtown. Jambo is a really good African restaurant but it isn’t right downtown. I have also heard that the Tea House is a great lunch place (or coffee/tea).

Erin

Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Most people would not think of Nebraska as a destination. It is more often that long state you drive through to get to places like Colorado, Tetons, Utah etc… Cornfields line the roads for hundreds of miles great a flat and uniform landscape. It is generally a predictable place that is not known to be necessarily exciting and fun. In Nebraska’s far west just before reaching Wyoming are the Nebraska sand hills. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge is about 30 miles north of the small town, Oshkosh and south of Alliance. Although it is not a sublime place is is rather picturesque and serene. There is so much incredible wildlife and so many adventures to be had. Although many may still not chose this as a destination I highly recommend stopping by if you are driving through.

We were up there helping a professor with some research but regardless of who you go with, there is lots of wildlife to see. We took several drives around the refuge and found lots of mud turtles, painted turtles, several species of lizards and lots of birds. The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful! I didn’t get any pictures but here is the link to a previous post I did with pictures from the last trip I did.

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Erin

Florida Roadtrip

This was my first trip to Florida and it was incredible!

Most nights we camped at state parks or other camp grounds, so if you are not into camping there are definitely hotel options not far away and going to all the springs as day trips is definitely a possibility. Also, our first day was technically the drive down to Chattanooga but for this I am starting in Chattanooga.

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Day 1: Drive from Chattanooga to Hart Springs. We stayed in a hotel in Chattanooga and started driving early in order to get to Hart Springs in time for some snorkeling. Hart springs is a pretty area in north Florida with lots of opportunity for swimming, canoeing and walking along the boardwalk. We arrived in the heat of the afternoon and chose to go straight to the cool water. Bringing some snorkel gear (or at least goggles) is definitely a must in this area. We saw some amazing wildlife including Swanee River Cooters, Loggerhead Musk Turtles and many fish. The boardwalk here is incredibly beautiful when the sun is setting right over the water.

Day 2: The next day is a drive from Hart Springs to Kelly Park. This time instead of leaving early, we spent the morning walking along some of Hart Spring’s trails listening to birds and spotting frogs. We stopped several times along the drive to Kelly Park to see wildlife.

Day 3: Kelly Park & Wekiwa Springs. We spent almost the whole day at Wekiwa Springs which is about 30 minutes from Kelly Park. This is a definite must visit destination if you are in the Orlando area. The water is a little chilly but there is a nice place to sun bathe, there are lots of trails and you can rent canoes to paddle down the creek. We were with the North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group for the morning, helping them catch, process and release turtles which was a very fun experience! We also walked along the boardwalk and some of the trails. There is lots to see and do here. The evening was spent at Kelly Park which is a great place for picnicking and also swimming. I actually liked the swim set up better here. You walk up the path a little ways to the top of the lazy river and can tube or just swim down. The water is crystal clear and there are turtles and other fun things to see! There are also many nice trails here.

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Day 4: Drive from Kelly Park to the National Seashore and then Manatee Hammock for the night. This was our big beach day and it was amazing! We spent almost the whole day on Cape Canaveral seeing lots of wildlife and walking along the National Seashore. I highly recommend visiting this area. It is one of the few places to see the Florida Scrub Jay and Roseate Spoonbills which was very cool. This beach is also so pretty and not too crowded. We drove a little ways to Manatee Hammock to camp for the night and this was probably my favorite place we stayed the whole trip. It was right on Indian River Lagoon which is so beautiful (make sure to get a campsite right on the shore). This sunset was absolutely gorgeous!

Day 5: Manatee Hammock to Alexander Spring State Park. We went to Blue Springs on the way to Alexander Springs in order to see manatees. There were many of them just laying in the water right in the springs (even some calves). We also saw lots of other wildlife. Seeing manatees is seasonal here so definitely check before you go but it was incredibly to see them. Also swimming is not quite as great here (or not open depending on when you go). We drove on to Alexander Springs State Park (in Ocala National Forrest) which was one of my favorite swimming locations. There were so many turtles and fish so it was perfect for snorkeling and the water was not too cold. I also just really liked this campground because you can walk to the springs and it is very pretty.

Day 6: Stay in Alexander Spring State Park for the night and spend the day canoeing Juniper Springs Run. This canoe trip was so fun! The river starts off very narrow but it is slow moving and just very picturesque and it opens up as you go. It took us about four hours so it is pretty long but it was so worth it (you can definitely do it faster if you are paddling fast and do not take stops). We saw several alligators along the way which was pretty cool as well.

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Day 7: Alexander State Park to Otter Spring State Park. This was, sadly, our last full day in Florida. We visited a long-leaf pine forest and saw the rare Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. These types of forest are so interesting because there are really tall pine trees with not many understory plants. From here we drove to Otter Spring State Park and spent the rest of the day snorkeling in the spring and swimming in the pool (which was heated). This spring is also a great place to go especially if you have kids with you.

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Day 8: Drive from Otter Spring State Park out of Florida all the way to High Falls State Park in Georgia. The morning was all driving but the was enough time once we arrived to enjoy the walking the trails. The sunset here was gorgeous and the camp hosts were so friendly.

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Day 9: This final day was technically just driving from High Falls all the way back home, which took the entire day.

Overall this trip was amazing! It is a great circle if you are interested in seeing northern Florida especially visiting the many springs Florida offers. It can definitely also be modified depending on the amount of time you have and how much time you want to spend in certain places. I would definitely spend more time in the Cape Canaveral area (more beaches) and I would want to spend a little bit of time in Orlando (we avoided the city for the most part but it was very close to several of the locations we visited).

 

Erin

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