Last Updated on March 31, 2023

D. H. Lawrence once described Taos as a “state of mind” and this transcendental place had been on my travel wish list for years. When I finally visited, I understood why the pull had been so strong. What is there to do in Taos, New Mexico? Plenty!

Taos is a kaleidoscope of diverse cultures, ancient history, and world-class art all set amid awe-inspiring landscapes. Nature’s life forces flow down from its high peaks and well up from its deep canyons. Blessed with clean air, rich spiritual traditions, and immense natural beauty, Taos’ magic draws visitors like moths to a flame.  

t’s no wonder that New Mexico is known as the land of enchantment and that Taos, surrounded by the picturesque Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is its most charming town. 

A Native American proverb says “certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart”. Taos is one of those places guaranteed to capture your heart. It certainly did mine.

Zen at El Monte Sagrado

El Monte Sagrado (The Sacred Mountain) is a luxury pueblo-style retreat that embodies the very best of the culture, spirit, and tradition of New Mexico.

Featuring world-class relaxation, meditation, and rejuvenation experiences, El Monte Sagrado isn’t just a place to stay. Rather, it’s a place to escape, unplug, and reconnect with both nature and oneself. It’s a uniquely special venue that has stories of its own to tell. Yes, it’s luxurious, but it’s also unassuming and unforgettable.

The grounds are peaceful, and the rooms are globally-themed and inspired. Every aspect of the resort was thoughtfully planned and designed with special meaning, respectfully paying homage to the great cultures of the world. 

Sacred Taos Pueblo

One of the most unforgettable tourist experiences in America is a visit to Taos Pueblo. Ringed by the soaring peaks and sagebrush plains of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this sacred, living Native American community with no electricity or running water has been inhabited for over 1,000 years.

Designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark, Taos Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. It is best experienced by private tour. 

Guests can even share in the ancient art of breadmaking using hornos, outdoor wood-fired ovens made of adobe mud (a mix of local dirt, straw, and water). The bread, topped with butter and chiles roasted over hot coals from the oven, was incredibly tasteful.   

Amazing Art Scene

© Noreen Kompanik

Taos is widely recognized for its art scene. The Taos Art Colony was founded by artists drawn to the rich culture of Taos Pueblo and the area’s natural beauty. Their works capture the area’s rugged mountains, deep gorges, landscape, and light. The artists work together and find inspiration in the rustic, unique way of life.

For a small community, Taos has over 70 galleries, most located in the heart of its historic town, sporting traditional, folk, and modern abstract art. I also loved the sculptures, pottery, glasswork, and other spectacular pieces.

Many artists can be found in their studios diligently working on their next impressive pieces as they interact with visitors who come into their shops. 

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

A landmark must-see site in Taos, the three-span Rio Grande Bridge is the fifth highest bridge in the United States. This impressive steel-constructed structure spans 1,280 feet across and 650 feet above the Rio Grande River.

Visitors can park and walk across the bridge to enjoy incredible views of the river and colorful canyons or take one of the paths that run alongside the gorge itself for more up-close-and-personal views. 

Saint Francisco de Asís

© Noreen Kompanik

An 18th-century adobe National Historic Monument, San Francisco de Asís sits in the main plaza of Ranchos de Taos and is one of the few remaining original buildings.

Constructed of mud, straw, and sun-dried adobe bricks, this iconic Spanish Colonial church’s unique architecture includes twin bell towers, an arched portal entrance, hand-hewed ceiling beams, and hand-carved corbels.

An active church even today, it has been the subject of several paintings by renowned artist Georgia O’Keefe and the famous photographer Ansel Adams.

Zapotec Weaving

© Noreen Kompanik

Located in one of Taos’ oldest galleries, Starr Interiors carries the finest of Zapotec Indian hand-loomed contemporary, tribal, and Southwest rugs, pillows, and wall-hangings. Owner Susanna Starr first discovered the incredible art form on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and introduced New Mexico to the magnificent pieces when she opened her shop in 1974. 

Visitors to her boutique shop can also learn about the natural fabric dyes used to create the fine products, and the fascinating hand-weaving demonstrations in the colorful courtyard are not to be missed.

Ski at Taos Ski Valley

© Noreen Kompanik

This quaint village just 18 miles from the heart of Taos was originally settled by a group of miners in the 1800s, but in 1955, Ernie and Rhoda Blake re-established the area as a ski mountain.

Winter enthusiasts love the charming village and alpine ski resort, complete with 110 trails; half of the trails are for beginner to intermediate skiers and the remainder for the advanced. The Ernie Blake Snowsports School is one of the top-rated ski schools in North America.

If you’re hungry after a long day on the slopes, there are several dining options nearby in the historic village.

Horseback Ride to Dinner

© Noreen Kompanik

Southwest cuisine in Taos is amazing, and nothing can beat the experience of arriving to dinner…by horse.

At sunset, I, along with a group of riders, saddled up and headed to one of New Mexico’s most fascinating dining experiences—The Stakeout on Outlaw Hill. Once a legendary Taos hideout for desperados and outlaws like Billy the Kid, the Stakeout has been transformed into a community dining venue that hosts groups from 10 to 100.

The breathtaking setting overlooks the Rio Grande Gorge with sweeping views of the mesas and mountains. French Chef Antoine Bardoulet prepares multi-course candlelit dinners utilizing ingredients from local sustainability-committed farmers, brewers, winemakers, bread makers, beekeepers, and tea and coffee makers. 

Chocolate Making

Who doesn’t love chocolate? So how about a journey of discovery about the chocolate-making process? It’s amazing.

Chokola Bean to Bar is a small-batch, organic, and hand-crafted chocolate maker in historic Taos. Owners Deborah Vincent and Javier Abad love introducing visitors to the art of top-quality chocolate making. 

Guests can also marvel over Chokola’s fine pour-over coffee, pastries, hot or cold sipping chocolate, an assortment of mousses, ice creams, milkshakes, bonbons, and a variety of tasting plates.  

Author

  • Noreen Kompanik

    Noreen Kompanik is a retired registered nurse, legal nurse consultant and military spouse turned travel writer. She launched her travel writing career in 2014 and has over 1,000 published articles in a variety of digital and print publications.