16 Wellness Experiences in New Mexico to Reset Yourself

Last year, I spent a lot of time in New Mexico. From watching the stars at White Sands National Park, hiking in the ancient ruins of Chaco Canyon, visiting Native American Pueblos near Gallup, attending the largest balloon festival in the world in Albuquerque, to soaking in the healing waters of Ojo Santa Fe and staying at the newly renovated Bishops Lodge, I experienced a lot of what The Land of Enchantment has to offer. After traveling to almost the entire United States, New Mexico remains one of my favorite states. I feel it has a magical air about it, perhaps attributing to the ancient lands, spirits and cultures. Each time I visit New Mexico, I feel relaxed, amazed, and rejuvenated. So it is obvious that New Mexico should be the place for you to reset yourself.

experience history in Chaco Canyon
Hiking in Chaco Canyon.

Yes, there are ski slopes, mountains for hiking and biking, hot air balloon rides, water rafting and more. But New Mexico is also an ideal respite for wellness and zen seekers. With deep roots in Native American traditions, some of the most beautiful natural terrain found in North America, and renowned healing practices across the state, you can find plenty of unique health and wellness experiences in New Mexico. 

Here are a few you can start with:

Soak in the healing waters at Riverbend Hot Springs, (Truth or Consequences) 

The natural, mineral-rich water from the hot springs has long been considered sacred by tribes of New Mexico. Their relaxing and rejuvenating abilities melt stress away and recharge the mind and body. This location is located right along the Rio Grande, providing the perfect ambiance and beautiful views.

Practice meditation at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center, (Jemez Springs)

This center offers a wide range of activities, from morning meditations to weekend retreats, all with the common goal of spiritual growth. They are based on a monastic system that has evolved over centuries in India, China, and Japan, offering you an authentic, meaningful experience with experts. 

reset under the 2022 starry skies
Bandelier Star Trails

Reflect under the Dark Skies at Bandelier National Monument, (Los Alamos)

New Mexico is unique for many reasons, one of them being the dark skies. It is like seeing a portal to heaven. New Mexico has better star gazing than almost any other state. The site protects over 33,000 acres of gorgeous rugged canyon and mesa country, and was home to Ancestral Pueblo people hundreds of years ago. 

experience wellness in hot springs
Ojo’s hot springs

Enjoy a luxurious spa day at Ojo Spa Resorts, (Santa Fe and Taos)

Ojo Spa Resorts has two locations in New Mexico, Ojo Santa Fe in the heart of Santa Fe and Ojo Caliente, 20 minutes north of Taos. Both locations offer you an extensive spa menu, featuring wraps, facials, massages, hair therapies, and more. The resorts offer all-day access to communal pools or the option of a private soaking session. Soaking is an ancient ritual that, to this day, continues to be a revered healing practice. Every pool flows with pure mineral water straight from their hot springs and naturally rich in iron, lithia, arsenic, and soda.

Float through the Rio Chama with this wellness retreat, (Abiquiu)

You will get the chance to tap into the adventurous spirit of New Mexico while also experiencing the healing properties of yoga. This 3 day retreat features healthy, fresh meals prepared by the guides, daily riverside yoga sessions, running through the Rio Chama rapids, and exploring the nearby canyons. 

Start 2022 off with a juice cleanse from Verde Juice, (Ordered online)

Cleanse the body with a rejuvenating juice cleanse from this all natural, zero waste juice that can be delivered to the main cities in New Mexico, and even shipped to neighboring states. They offer all sorts of cold pressed juices, along with the popular adaptogenic juice shots, featuring ones for immunity, allergies, and endurance. 

Go glamping with KitFox, (Santa Fe)

This high desert glamping experience is the perfect space for reconnection with nature and friends this year. KitFox opened in 2021 just 20 minutes outside of Santa Fe, and offers you a remote location with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. You can partake in a range of activities or can choose to stay in the tent and take in the natural landscape around them. 

Experience Genesis Sound Bath Healing, (Rio Arriba County)

Sound bath healing is what some would describe as an “internal massage”, as this workshop works to relieve stress and recalibrate your entire being through the power of sound. It begins with guided meditation and essential oils, followed by sound waves of the crystal singing bowls by a professional. Beyond workshops, they also host retreats and events all throughout the year in their yurt. 

Sign up for a yoga retreat with Yoga Source, (Taos)

In the high desert mountain town of Taos over 3 acres of nature, Blue Sky Retreat and Bed & Breakfast is the perfect place for a wellness retreat. They offer a 5-day yoga retreat in which you can choose to experiential learning sessions to fully immersive yogic lifestyle. Beyond the teachings, they serve delicious healthy meals and personal attention from professionals to maximize the experience. 

relax with lavender
Lavender fields at Los Poblanos

 Join Los Poblanos Organic Farm for their Winter Wellness Retreat, (Albuquerque)

Los Poblanos is a beautiful property located on 25 acres of lavender fields, surrounded by cottonwood trees and lush gardens. Debuting in 2021, the property’s spa features treatments that incorporate botanicals and their own lavender products. These directly connect you with the regenerative farming practices while providing a true sense of relaxation. Additionally, you can participate in a Winter Wellness Retreat in February which is designed to enlighten four areas: physical, mental, social and personal growth. It is led by experts from numerous professions, all teaching their ways to incorporate wellness into your daily life.

Try out a traditional herbal medicine course, healing session, or wellness class with Native Roots, (Taos)

Native Roots is an Ancestral Folk and Herbal Medicine Collective & School in Taos created to honor the elders and to hold space for traditional medicine. Learn from experienced mentors that work to help you learn how to incorporate ancient practices into your wellness routine. From reaching sobriety, to coping with grief, to art therapy, to astrology readings and more, Native Roots will help you transform your life for the better. 

Explore primitive hot springs in Jemez Springs, (Jemez Springs)

Located an hour outside of both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Jemez Springs is a popular tourist destination known for its natural mineral hot springs. This charming town offers a large variety of hot springs, some are located on public land and accessible with a hike surrounded by nature, some are day spas offering treatments and massages. 

visit New Mexico in 2022
Main square of Santa Fe

Visit Inn at The Five Graces for a restorative treatment, (Santa Fe)

Located in Santa Fe, The Inn at the Five Graces is a luxury hotel and spa with earthy, traditional adobe and stone exterior. The Tibetan-inspired spa matches this theme with rich colors and detailed tiles throughout the rejuvenating facilities and amenities. They incorporate herbal compresses, Himalayan salt stones, aromatic towels steeped in Santa Fe herbs and flowers in their treatments to really go the extra mile in comfort. 

nature wellness in Santa Fe
Fall in Santa Fe National Forest

Expand awareness in outdoor mindfulness sessions at Bishop’s Lodge, (Santa Fe)

Bishops’s Lodge is a newly renovated hotel located less than 4 miles from Santa Fe, on 317 secluded acres bordering the Santa Fe National Forest. Furnished by talented local artisans from Santa Fe, the hotel features quality restaurants, a stable, a pool, a trout stream, and a healing arts studio. They offer a series of movement and meditation rituals, as well as an extensive spa treatment list. One of the featured treatments include the Antara CBD massage, which begins with a dry brushing to stimulate the lymphatic system. It is followed by a full body CBD massage with a soothing oil, warming CBD balm applications, and intentional turquoise stone placement.

Learn about Curanderismo, the traditional healing of the mind, energy and spirit, (Albuquerque)

Through the University of New Mexico, learn from a series of four courses all focused on Curanderismo from basic principles of healing properties of plants, to the global and cultural influences of traditional healing. Gain knowledge of the history of traditional medicine and healing practices around the world, as well as how it is used today. These courses are free and accessible online through Coursera for all to enjoy. 

Experience the healing vibes of the Salt Cave, (Santa Fe)

Lie back in a room lined with Himalayan pink salt crystals to promote respiratory, mental, and skin health. Surrounded by gentle soothing music and relaxing atmosphere, leave the cares of the world behind as you breathe in the natural disinfectant. A local favorite, this location has won awards for its effective alternative healing practices.

Text and Photo Credit: New Mexico TRUE

The 5 Best Meals of 2021

The best restaurants from around the U.S. you need to go to right now.

This year, I had the opportunity to travel all around the United States, and to Mexico and the Caribbean. As always, one of my main goals while traveling, is to sample the local food, and review the best places to eat. So, here I am sharing with you some of my best meals that I ate in 2021.

Now, there were a LOT of wonderful meals to choose from, so this was a tough pick. I want to recognize all the amazing chefs, restauranteurs and kitchen staff that are trying to make it in the business during this tough pandemic year. Across the country, I heard the same story again and again. Labor shortage, supply chain issues, low inventory, higher prices, and struggling establishments. Still, these five restaurants managed to create the most memorable dining experiences that I would cherish forever. And I hope you get to check them out for yourself too.

The Grey, Savannah

You may have seen it on Netflix (Chef’s Table), you may have read the new book (Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant), but until you have dined at The Grey, you haven’t really experienced chef Mashama Bailey’s culinary passion. Located at what was once a segregated Greyhound bus terminal in historic downtown Savannah, this modern American restaurant is a testament of the new south. Of course, there is great upscale southern cuisine to go along.

Their winter village outdoor yurt made a nice alternate to indoor dining, allowing for safe distant dining (each yurt seated one party). These were decorated with colorful quotes by famous Black artists. The Sunday brunch included a high tea with tea sandwiches, fresh baked pastries (my favorite was the cardamom French cruller), champagne and tea, each served in beautiful floral ceramics. All that followed by 3-course lunch options. I had chilled shrimp cocktail and whole fried flounder with collard greens and southern grits. Menu changes daily.

Tip: Make sure to reserve your table at The Grey months in advance, as they tend to sell out.

Ardovino’s Desert Crossing, New Mexico

This may be one of the most unusual locations for a fine dining restaurant. Once I crossed over the border from El Paso, Texas into the sleepy small town of Sunland Park in New Mexico, there was Ardovino’s Desert Crossing. Overlooking the Mexico border, the historic estate has been in the same Italian family since 1949. It has been an inn, restaurant, gambling parlor, event venue, farm, and more. On Saturdays, there’s a Farmers Market selling organic and pesticide-free produce, beef, pork, lamb and goat, fresh-baked breads and salsas fair trade coffee, and fresh-squeezed juices. During the day, they have food literacy, cooking demos, kid’s activities and gardening tips. You can eat outside under the shade of pecan trees and feel the warm desert breeze.

And for dinner, there is made-from-scratch Italian meatballs, risotto, pizza, pasta, and juicy steaks, made with locally sourced and organically grown ingredients. The menu changes weekly, but every dish is delectable. The 40-day dry aged ribeye got applauds from even a non meat eater like me.

Insider Tip: Stay the night at a refurbished vintage trailer at Ardovino’s Roadside Inn’s 35-acre resort for the ultimate glamping experience.

Octagon, Bluffton

Located at the luxurious Montage Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina, Octagon is known for its contemporary Carolina cuisine. Chef de Cuisine Daniel Vesey created a 11-course “Taste of the South” menu, and director of beverage Robert L. Smith carefully paired wines and beers to match. Some highlights from the menu included: May River oysters with green apple sorbet, hot honey glazed quail pops, shrimp and grits, deconstructed Lowcountry boil, and melt-in-your mouth chicken and dumplings.

Black truffles in dessert changed my entire perspective!

The dessert was a white chocolate mousse covered with black truffle (and made to look like one), with layers of caramel and blackberry. Earthy, sweet and savory – it was like nothing I have ever tasted before. Live music by Alan Price in the background also made it a memorable evening.

Travel Tip: Book a weekend getaway at the vibrant 20,000-acre Montage Palmetto Bluff community. 

red fish best seafood

Redfish Grill, New Orleans

I don’t typically consider Bourbon Street area of New Orleans to be the city’s epicurean center. Sure, its great for a daiquiri, a slice of pizza, and a bustling nightlife. But for a good meal, I would advise walking a few blocks away to a nice chef-driven restaurant. On Thanksgiving day, though, I had a feast at the Red Fish Grill in the French Quarter.

Serving Thanksgiving lunch buffet, the very casual and friendly restaurant offered one of the most delectable seafood spreads I have ever had – almost 35 dishes to choose from! There was a chill bar with fresh oysters on the half shell, peeled shrimp with housemate cocktail sauce, and tuna ceviche served in mini ice cream cones. For entrees, there were stations serving whole turkey, carved ham, redfish and grits, a variety of salads, and all the fixings. And the desserts were aptly placed in a separate room (they needed their own special display). New Orleans bread pudding, pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate cake, and lemon tarts, were all worth being thankful for!

Other notable mentions in New Orleans: Asian-fusion tapas at Mister Mao and Chef Nina Compton Compere Lapin.

Garden Room, Atlanta 

II found this bar/ restaurant to be the most fun atmosphere to celebrate with friends or family. The Garden Room is located at the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. The ambiance is colorful and cherrie, with a greenhouse-like enclosure adorned with twinkling lights and floral-themed art. And the fun food and drink selections also go with the enchanted garden theme. My husband and I had a delectable spread of The Fruits of the Sea (chilled seafood tower), with New England oysters, king crab and Maine lobster, paired with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne. We also ordered sharable small plates, and went back at another time for their black truffle pillows with wild mushrooms.

For dessert, the forbidden green apple mousse is a must! There’s also has a great selection of caviar and cocktails, so its definitely worth visiting for a special occasion.

Tip: Reserve a table at The Garden Room at least 3 months in advance, but if you show up early, you can also get a seat at the bar.

7 Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque, New Mexico

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Albuquerque boasts a unique multicultural history and heritage. There’s a fun mix of Native American, Hispanic and Latino cultures blending together, to create a hip and vibrant city. For visitors, there is nature, history, architecture and good food. The city has also grown over the past few years to expand its culinary focus. Want another reason to visit – how about 310 days of sunshine? No matter what your interest is, you can find a lot of fun things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Here are just my top seven…

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Dawn patrol at 49th Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Be Part of Balloon History

The number one reason to go to Albuquerque in October is to see the fun and adventure brought by hundreds of hot air balloons flying in the desert sky. This year the theme of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was – Time Flies. And indeed, time does fly by when you are having fun! I woke up at 4am each morning to go to the Balloon Fiesta Park to watch these enchanting balloons. They surfaced with hot air, glowed in the dark, and the lights synchronized at dawn. There were hot air balloon flying competitions among pilots from around the world. Food vendors, merchandise and spectators filled up the 78-acre grassed field (the size of 56 football fields), making it the biggest balloon festival in the world.

Make sure to book your tickets in advance for the 50th Balloon Fiesta in 2022. Over a million people are expected to attend over the nine-day celebration next year.

In case you are interested in fun ballooning historical facts – the first gathering to watch a flying machine was in France in the year 1783. The spectators were the King and Queen of Versailles, along with a crowd of 40,000 people. The passengers were a duck, a rooster and a lamb. The first human passengers went up some 3,000 feet in the first manned, untethered balloon flight ever recorded on November 21, 1783.

Still afraid of flying in a hot air balloon?

things to do in ABQ
Burque Brunch at Electric Playhouse

Interact With Your Food and Surroundings

Take a fun trip through Albuquerque with an immersive dining experience at Electric Playhouse. This very unique chef-driven event includes a delicious 4-course brunch, accompanied by 360-degree changing landscapes from around New Mexico. The constantly changing scenery and movement responses engrossing the interactive tabletop projections make you feel like a kid again. You can do a champagne toast with a background of flying hot air balloons and wave away a kaleidoscope of artists colors across your chile relleno crostini. How fun is that?

After your Burque Brunch (available until Dec 31, 2021), check out the projection-based digital gameplay arena where the building itself responds to your movement and the content changes constantly. The 24,000 square foot facility has space for you to run, jump, move, test your agility, and explore. 

watch sunset in Albuquerque
Sunset from Sandia Peak Tramway

Watch The Sunset From The Top of a Mountain

If you enjoy nature, make sure to ride the Sandia Peak Tramway to the 10,378-foot crest of the Sandia Mountains. During the 15 minute ascension, you can see miles of Sandia Mountains, surrounding fir and aspen forests, hiking trails, wildlife, and the city unfold below you. On the peak, there is a panoramic viewing area, ski slopes, and a casual and fine dining bar and restaurant. Grab a cleverly named cocktail at restaurant TEN 3 (Tram Car, Lady and the Tram, Sandia Pink) and enjoy the views through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Time your visit so you can see the sunset from the tram. The mountains appear more white in the shade and glow red in the sun, so the scene is always changing.

Make sure to bring warm clothing as the top of the mountain can be 20-30 degrees cooler and windier than in Albuquerque.

watch live native american dances
White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Learn About Native American Culture

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque is one of the best places to learn about the 19 pueblos of New Mexico. The museum offers a broad understanding of the ancient traditions of the Native American tribes in the area up until the current time. There are murals, pottery, and paintings by local artists. There are also fun and interactive experiences, including active narrations, artist demos, cultural dances, lecture series, and indigenous dinners. The cultural dance programs are typically coordinated by Zuni, Hopi, Acoma and Laguna pueblos. I got to see the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers, who blessed the audience through vibrant prayer, song and dance in the courtyard on Indigenous People’s Day.

One of my best meals in Albuquerque was at the cultural center’s onsite restaurant – the Indian Pueblo Kitchen. The traditional New Mexican fare is cooked using ingredients sourced from the pueblos. My favorites were Jemez enchilada with housemate red and green chiles, Tewa Tacos with Native American fry bread, and warm pumpkin Pueblo oven pie (very different from your traditional pies). The Indian Pueblo Kitchen also host cooking classes and tasting menus, so make sure to check their calendar before your visit.

stroll around old town
Old Town Albuquerque

Stroll Around an Old Spanish Town

All travelers visiting Albuquerque have a must stop in ABQ Old Town. Shop for jewelry, t-shirts, and souvenirs at the 300-year-old historic pedestrian-friendly streets with adobe facades. There is always live music, weekend markets, and food vendors at the main square, and in front of San Felipe church. You can spend an entire day exploring art and culture at one of the museums in Old Town, such as the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. In June, attend the famed Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque to experience traditional Spanish flamenco dance performances.

The new and renovated Plaza Don Luis (PDLABQ) is home to several thoughtful locally owned retailers and art galleries. Hydrate at the wine-tasting rooms at Ruidoso-based Noisy Water Winery, Sheehan Winery, and Outpost Brewery and Taproom.

eat Albuquerque
Green chili donuts at Sawmill Market

Taste The Local Fare

Sawmill Market is one of the best places in Albuquerque to taste affordable and good quality food from upcoming chefs and entrepreneurs. Housed in a former lumber warehouse, there are 20+ restaurants serving a variety of food. From freshly baked green chili donuts to homemade pasta and lobster Po’boy, you will be surprised by the diverse flavors at the market.

One of my favorite places to eat at in Albuquerque is Los Poblanos historic inn and organic farm. Known for their lavender products, they also have an organic garden, farm-to-table restaurant, and a beautiful kitchen shop.

P.S. Everything I ate at Los Poblanos was excellent!

dining in New Mexico
Lunch at Campo restaurant at Los Poblanos

If you like salsa, nachos, live music and a festive ambiance, you will have a lot of fun at the iconic El Pinto New Mexican restaurant. You may recognize their salsa bottles in your neighborhood grocery store. This is where they make and bottle their famous chipotle salsa, Hatch roasted hot green, and sun dried red chile sauces.

The nachos at El Pinto were rated #1 in America by The Wall Street Journal, and I can vouch for them!

lodging in Albuquerque
Hotel Chaco Lobby

Stay at an Architectural Marvel

If you are looking for a unique place to stay in Albuquerque, book a room at Hotel Chaco. The architectural elements are inspired by Chaco Canyon (one of the most historic sites for Native Americans). Even if you don’t stay there, go take a look at the lobby and entrance of the hotel. There is also a great collection of contemporary Native American New Mexican art on display. The rooms are warm, expansive and have large balconies. The pale stone masonry facade and wooden accents set the tone for a welcoming stay in New Mexico. 

Celebrate your BODY in Santa Fe

The city of Santa Fe is aptly known for high spiritual energy that stems from its unique landscapes and Native American history. It is home to a number of spas, yoga and meditation centers, spiritual healers and alternative medicine practitioners. While the choices are endless, many locals pick BODY of Santa Fe as their daily destination for a complete inner and outer retreat. Continue reading “Celebrate your BODY in Santa Fe”

Agave Way

Chris Milligan is the Bar Manager and Mixologist at Secreto Lounge in the Historic Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has won many awards for his creative concoctions and loves to write about wine and cocktails. Below, he shares with us his famous recipe for “Agave Way” a refreshing sweet and spicy tequila based drink. Also, check out his blog, The Santa Fe Barman where he writes about latest cocktail trends, recipes and the nightlife in Santa Fe. Continue reading “Agave Way”

“Best of Santa Fe” Dining Guide

Santa Fe is rates as one of the top 10 places to eat in the United States. With over 200 restaurants, it can be arduous to make a decision of which places to try during your visit. Here are some of the best dishes I ate in Santa Fe, New Mexico and a list of where you can find them. Continue reading ““Best of Santa Fe” Dining Guide”

Introduction to New Mexican cuisine

Although New Mexico is one of the oldest states in the continent United States, its cuisine is very different from the rest of the country. Influenced by Spanish and Mexican settlers, the modern day New Mexican cuisine sits in a league of its own. Continue reading “Introduction to New Mexican cuisine”