The Magic of New Mexico Part 1

Jared Tarbell
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Editor's Note: In this three part special feature, we’ll explore three of New Mexico’s most magical cities:  Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. First up is Albuquerque, a town where a lot of people pass through on their way to Santa Fe and Taos, but a place with plenty of gems that make it worth hanging around for a few days.

In the last few years Albuquerque has become a destination in itself thanks to the city’s growth and, weirdly, because fans of the TV show, Breaking Bad, are drawn to its filming location sites. There are museums, markets, and New Mexican food galore, but perhaps the most wonderful thing you can do in Albuquerque is visit the nearby and enchanting organic farm known as Los Poblanos. Unbelievably, it’s just 15 minutes from the airport and in the heart of the city, but it feels secluded and far away.

“Los Poblanos” is not a reference to chili peppers, but a word meaning citizen , or the people , and it’s about nourishing the community. Los Poblanos is a soul feeding blend of old school farmhouse and modern luxury.  From the second you make your way down the tree-shaded driveway into the historic property, you’re transported to a rustic haven.

Check in through a hacienda style courtyard adorned with ristras (strands of chili peppers), a soothing turquoise blue fountain shaped like a star, and cozy places to sit and enjoy a drink. You’ll probably even see a peacock walk by at some point, as there are two males living on site; one is pure white and both are unfazed by people and will saunter by within a couple feet of you.

Walking into your farm suite, your heart swells as you take in the surroundings of a tall-whitewashed wood ceiling, a seating area with a couch and leather chairs, an adobe fireplace, and fresh white barn doors that open to a fridge. There are plenty of homey amenities, including ample French press coffee and tea, a large inviting bathtub, and non-toxic body products like lavender-infused soap made with lavender from the farm. Every last detail, from the light fixtures (all on dimmer switches) to the choice of fabrics and hardware, has been chosen with great care and lends to the atmosphere.

The grounds are full of comforting surprises like little mosaics, stunning views, and a porch swing. Next to two silos is the Farm Shop, a charming little boutique full of earthy stuff like wooden cutting boards, cedar soap, shaving brushes, craft chocolates, and things made from the farm, like the lavender soaps.

There are plenty of places to picnic at sunset and catch the show that the Sandia Mountains put on each night. “Sandia” means watermelon in Spanish, and the mountains are named for their pinkish red glow that occurs during sunset from the light bouncing off the granite faces. Wednesday through Saturday you can have a farm to fork dinner at the restaurant, but the rest of the week you’re on your own. But no need to worry; there’s a co-op right up the street filled with delicious organic foods perfect for a picnic. Be sure to pick up some of their fresh pesto, local cheese and bread, veggies, fruit, organic brownies and chocolate pecan chip cookies from the bakery. The farm also offers complimentary bicycles—and not just any bikes, but ultra comfortable Electra Townie cruisers that you can use whenever you like. They also offer helmets and locks so you can take the bikes off the property grounds. The co-op and other places to grab a bite are well within range.

In the morning, swim some laps in the hotel’s salt-water pool, and then grab breakfast out on the patio. You’ll get home cooked farm to table deliciousness in a beautiful southwestern atmosphere. Everything is organic and excellent, the coffee, the cream, the free-range eggs and cornbread... it’s an organic foodie’s dream. This is a place that hurts to leave, so allow at least two days there to soak in the magic.

One thing you can’t miss while you’re in Albuquerque is a bike tour hosted by Routes Bike Shop. If you are staying at Los Poblanos, they will meet you there with bicycles and you can get a picnic lunch to take along from the hotel. The owners of Routes, also a bicycle repair shop, wanted to showcase Albuquerque as a worthwhile destination, and as such, they began offering themed tours of some of the city’s most interesting and fun attractions, like the Balloon Fiesta and the craft brewpubs.

When you’re in a new city that’s unfamiliar, it’s really nice to have a guide show you around. You’ll get a customized tour of the city and realize what an ultra bike friendly place Albuquerque can be. For instance, they have designated “bike boulevards” whereby traffic has to defer to cyclists. The speed limit is 18 MPH, and you know you’re on a bike boulevard by the purple cross street signs. Routes is located right in Old Town. It’s a cute little adobe bike shop that does repairs, rentals, and tours.

From Los Poblanos, you are just a quick cab ride from the train station. You can rent a car, but if you’re staying at the farm, you don’t actually need one between the taxi from the airport, bicycles, and the Rail Runner, which you can hop all the way to Santa Fe. Stay tuned for part two of our New Mexican adventure.

Three Things to Pack for Albuquerque, New Mexico:

1. Eagle Creek’s Tarmac 22” AWD. Like other Eagle Creek gear, it’s a rugged bag, but with the sleek and shiny polycarbonate back, it’s also gorgeous. Its carry-on size allows for easy schlepping, but if you’re driving, there is a large version of this bag worth checking. The four wheels make it easy on your lower back and it glides along beside you on smooth surfaces as though it were floating. The carryon holds a lot of stuff (the 28” is cavernous) and also expands for things you pick up along the way. If something should go wrong with the bag en route, Eagle Creek will fix it or replace it and that makes for some great peace of mind.

2. Chacos Sandals: You need these for the versatility they offer. Wear them hiking, biking, river rafting or horseback riding—all the things you’ll want to do in New Mexico. They’re beefier than regular sandals, help keep your feet cool in warm weather, and will stay on your feet providing support and comfort.

3. Beyond Coastal Sunscreen: You’ll want to wear some sunscreen in Albuquerque. Beyond Coastal has cleaner ingredients than mainstream sunscreen, is water resistant, and comes in TSA friendly sizes so you can carry it on the plane.

To read Part 2 of "The Magic of New Mexico — Exploring Santa Fe," click here. For Part 3, "Taos: The Most Enchanting of All," click here

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