I decided to break up my food and hotel recap into two parts because I really thought of the trip that way – the first being less traditional tourists stops and the second being what everyone thinks of when you mention New Mexico – Santa Fe and Taos. (That said, Durango is certainly a tourist town, but not usually part of a New Mexico visit.)
We landed in Albuquerque at about 4 pm. We didn’t want to drive all the way to Farmington that evening so we booked a stay at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm just outside of ABQ for our first night. The Inn was recommended in an American Express magazine review. Their recommendations are sometimes a disappointment, but this time they were spot on. The Inn and grounds are lovely, and the food was delicious – very local, fresh and imaginative.
The area around the Inn was originally inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans then became a ranch owned by Ambrosio Cristobal Armijo and his brother. In 1932 John Gaw Meem, a renowned New Mexican architect, and other local artists, renovated the ranch. We’d see more of Meem’s work on our travels. We stayed in the Alexander Girard suite, which as Jim already noted reflects Girard’s love of New Mexico folk art. We didn’t see the other rooms, but I think the ones overlooking the Inn’s gardens would also be lovely.
Next up was Casa Blanca Inn & Suites in Farmington. Farmington is definitely not on the standard tourist trail, but it was a good base for our excursions to the Bisti Wilderness and Chaco Canyon. I was actually pretty excited to stay somewhere that wouldn’t be loaded with tourists. The Inn was lovely – the outdoor setting was even nicer than I expected, and the room had a comfortable bed and a kitchen area that came in very handy for our early morning excursions.
The restaurant options are limited in Farmington, especially over a holiday weekend, but luckily a local mogul established 3 Rivers Brewery Block, which consists of three restaurants in a brewery, distillery and pizza parlor, all with distinct characters. We ate three of our four meals in each of these establishments. Thank goodness for Three Rivers!
The last stop before heading to Taos was the Strater Hotel in Durango, CO. We made this detour to ride the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge train, which was a lot of fun. The Strater Hotel is Victorian era, and they really play it up. Our room had heavy velvet curtains which I loved because they blocked out the light. (Unlike the pretty by sheer linen curtains at the Casa Blanca Inn.)
I don’t have any photos of the hotel or the town, but we did stop in the El Rancho bar before checking in. In a town of tourists, it was definitely a locals spot.