Destination: Albuquerque

New Mexico firmly stands by its state slogan as being the Land of Enchantment. Many have mixed opinions about Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, but it has certainly grown on me. Each time that I visit, a new experience awaits my arrival. The city’s expressive personality keeps its culture “New Mexico True.”

Albuquerque is impressively artsy. One of my favorite places to find inspiration is at Meltdown Studio. Lauren Tobey is the boss lady behind it all. She has been making jewelry and teaching others her craft for the past 15 years. The studio offers a variety of classes and hosts events where artists can showcase their work. My own mother just attended her first trade show and sold a few of her own handcrafted pieces! We had a great time at Meltdown Studio’s Holiday Sale at Factory on 5. The factory offers 35 studios for rent, ongoing exhibitions, and collaborative events. Their new restaurant, Kosmos, is set to open early next year; I can’t wait to try their menu!

Looking for inspiration outside of the city? Consider spending the day in Santa Fe, which is only an hour from Albuquerque. On the way, be sure to stop by Madrid and have lunch at The Hollar or at the Mine Shaft Tavern. I highly recommend the Beef Chili at The Hollar or the Wagyu burger at Mine Shaft. Your taste buds will not be disappointed. Interesting fact: the Mine Shaft Tavern is also Henry Standing Bear’s bar (named “The Red Pony”) in the hit television series Longmire! After fueling up, stretch your legs and walk around the tiny town of Madrid (population: 149 people). It’s worth taking the time to check out their quirky arts scene. Shop local and pick up some great pieces to add to your home decor.

Once in Santa Fe, continue tapping into your creative side by spending a few hours at the Museum of International Folk Art. The “Multiple Visions: A Common Bond” exhibit is incredible. It features thousands of figurines that come together in unique dioramas that depict traditional holidays and celebrations from around the world. Some other highlights include their collection of quilts from Southwest China and their exhibit on Tramp woodwork. After you’ve had your fill at the museum, motor over to Santa Fe Plaza and explore the historic buildings. The Loretto Chapel is particularly awe-inspiring. Finally, grab dinner at Amaya in the Hotel Santa Fe before heading back to Albuquerque.

As a travel writer and an editor, I am always appreciative of places that break the mold. New Mexico is certainly a vibrant state and it challenges one’s definition of what it means to be an artist. Whether you are a jeweler, painter, carpenter, or writer…Albuquerque and Santa Fe cater to everyone. No judgement is passed based on your choice of medium. I see the Land of Enchantment as also the Land of Opportunity. I am looking forward to returning and refreshing my creative state of mind!

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