The second week of October is the perfect time to visit Santa Fe for introverted (creative) professionals

Written by Julie K | Photography by Julie K

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The second week of October is the perfect time to visit Santa Fe for introverted (creative) professionals.


You work hard. Your time is spent in focused care of your patients or clients, filled with professional socializing and expert advising. Problem-solving, implementation, follow-up, and documentation consume your daily energy stores.


You live with a constant tug from your inner creativity. I put creativity in parenthesis because there is a reasonable likelihood that you don’t believe you are creative. You keep a box around it and never let it grow freely.


Quiet musing which serves as the catalyst of creativity is nearly absent from your life.


Professional stagnation sets in as you feed the deepest places of your soul less and less.


Your feet twitch with a restlessness and you feel that inward pull but towards what?


You need to immerse yourself in artistry and beauty. To get outside and catch a glimpse of the big universe again. To sit in front of a blank canvas and tentatively make that first brush stroke.


You need to go to Santa Fe the second week of October.


Why you should go in the second week of October

This is the season where the temperatures move from hot to delicious fall warmth in the day and refreshing crisp cold at night. With the drops in the temperature, come the decrease in the crowds allowing you access to beautiful quiet spaces and plenty of options to explore art and outdoors.


If you want to start big, come a little early for the annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta the first week of October. Take in the dawn light and bold colors while watching hundreds of hot air balloons fly. Catch a ride and soar over the landscape. The gentle glide and expansive views will open your mind toward your inner creative calling.


At this time of year, the aspen leaves are turning into twirling gold. Take a ride up the chairlift at Ski Santa Fe. Or loosen your muscles and move your blood with numerous hikes within a short distance of Santa Fe. If you feel like more of a jaunt, drive to the Taos Ski Valley. From the town of Taos up to the ski village is a delightful journey of curves and aspen groves.

Julie K with yellow aspens at Taos Ski Valley

If you are ready to indulge your spirit in some artistic endeavors, check out the Santa Fe Studio Tour. Over two weekends in October, you can enjoy seeing artists in their own creative environment, view their newest work, and catch some demonstrations. It’s inspiration whichever way you turn.


Not only are there numerous artist studios in Taos and Santa Fe but they are dotted along the High Road and the Turquoise Trail. Gift yourself the freedom to just wander and follow what pulls you in. You will be surprised at the delightful and invigorating discoveries. October allows you more space to wander at your own pace.


A creative trip definitely needs delicious culinary experiences. Santa Fe will not disappoint. In fact, you will probably be wondering how you can possibly cram in all the eating and drinking you will want to partake in. The quieter second week of October will allow you better access to the best restaurants in Santa Fe.


Introvert-friendly creative experiences in Santa Fe

Start your day off strong with fresh roasted coffee and avocado toast at Iconik Coffee Roasters. I walked to this shop every single almost-frosty morning for my cappuccino and avocado toast with fresh greens and Dukkah spices. (I now keep a tin of Dukkah spices within reach in my kitchen to aromatize everything from salads to scrambled eggs.) Besides the delicious house-roasted single-source coffee and nourishing food, the art and merchandise were fantastic, including bags of produce from local farmers.


A day from Santa Fe to Taos

Having a free day all to myself, I chose to do a one-day road trip. Fueled up with coffee, my little rental car and I headed out the “back” way to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Driving quiet back highways in the early morning light is one of my favorite ways to let my brain slow down, sort files, and realign ideas. The bridge which spans 650 feet over the Rio Grande with steep reddish canyon walls on either side is a great place for a walk to enjoy the gorge scenery.

Julie K at Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

I then turned towards Taos with the goal of seeing the historic plaza and visiting the Taos Ski Valley. My favorite season is winter with snow skiing but I revel in ski towns during any season. The winding road up to the ski valley was magnificent with stunning groves of glowing aspen leaves, the second week of October seemed to be the peak.  It was a driving and visual delight. I stretched my legs and my wallet exploring the ski village.


A creative waypoint on the route to Taos Ski Valley is the secluded village of Arroyo Seco. It is tiny and funky but full of charm and magnificent scenery where you can enjoy eclectic shops, galleries, and eateries. This is the kind of place to revel in being away from the crowds and to step into the unexpected.


Turning back towards Santa Fe, I stopped at Farmhouse Café and Bakery where ingredients are locally sourced and meals can be enjoyed surrounded by gardens, arts, and mountain views. The mid-day warmth in October still allowed for a comfortable patio lunch. Always on the hunt for a delicious pastry, the well-known carrot cake did not disappoint me.


I continued my drive from Taos to Santa Fe via the High Road. The scenery is especially stunning driving north to south in the flatter autumn light and you will enjoy peaks, canyons, rocky badlands, pine forests, luscious farms, and small Hispanic villages which are havens for artists. This is a great way to spend a few hours feeding your soul with beauty and solitude at whatever pace you feel like.


The Plaza

An evening out wandering downtown Santa Fe is not complete without dinner at The Shed. This café is a textural smorgasbord of color and flavor, serving New Mexican food and delectable potent margaritas.

Don’t miss the historic Plaza, which is lively at nearly anytime of the day. I am always drawn to cathedrals, not only for their architecture but for finding a spiritual moment in my travel day. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi anchors the east end of the Plaza and the gothic Loretto Chapel features the miraculous staircase with two 360 degree turns using no nails. Both contain a tremendous amount of history and story, as well as the perfect place for a few moments of quiet meditation.


Bandelier National Monument

When my friend and colleague C joined me, we visited Bandelier National Monument for some history and hiking. This is a well-preserved ancient Pueblo village featuring the remains of cave dwellings, ceremonial kivas, and petroglyphs. Set in a canyon and along a refreshing stream, you can explore via a paved path and steep wooden ladders. The monument also contains thousands of acres of wilderness, over 70 miles of trails along with wildlife and waterfalls. We even delighted in some wildflowers still blooming in October.

As you enjoy outdoor activities, keep in mind that Santa Fe is at an altitude of nearly 7000 feet and higher in the surrounding mountains. The air is lower in both humidity and oxygen. I recommend bringing or purchasing a small humidifier that will keep your sinuses soothed as you sleep. You must drink higher amounts of water than usual to avoid dehydration and try to carry 1-2 liters of water with you when you are hiking. We had to aid a lady who passed out on the trail in Bandelier due to dehydration.


Plan for an early dinner at Paper Dosa. This little family restaurant featuring southern Indian food with a twist of New Mexico green chiles tossed in here and there has become a popular local spot. I recommend arriving right at opening so you don’t miss this delicious and unique dining experience.


Artistic endeavor in Santa Fe

As my time in Santa Fe was wrapping up, I felt that I needed a bit more time in the artist’s world. Overall, I prefer getting outdoors to visiting museums and galleries but if such curated experiences are your thing, you can spend days to weeks indulging your senses in Santa Fe. So on my last day, I drove along the scenic back road called the Turquoise Trail to the town of Madrid. This once abandoned and now turned trendy village is southwest artist meets old west clunky but it draws you in with its spirit and color.


In early October, you can catch the studio tours here, but I also just recommend wandering on your own through the numerous shops and galleries to explore your artistic soul. The Indigo Gallery in particular drew me in for a long while. I bought a small painting of mountains and aspens directly from the artist who was working in the gallery and also found a monochromatic mixed media piece with a tiny yellow bird on a wire. Both bring delight to my imagination and the memory of happy times as I see them each day in my house. It serves as inspiration for the daily effort of showing up for my creative soul.

Why you should go to Santa Fe for your soul

Whatever senses need to be awakened, you can indulge them in the greater Santa Fe region. I’ve always considered myself more scientist than artist, more outdoorswoman than museum patron, but we need to create a path for our ideas to develop and our creativity to expand. For me, this needs to include good food, plenty of quiet outdoor time, and some curious inspiration.


I loved the many options available for artistic endeavors and historic learning in Santa Fe. The calendar in October is chock full of great activities, along with a little more space to wander. The opportunity to see the many colors of the art and of the surrounding geography along with stunning aspens just adds to the delight of enjoying the mid-day sun before bundling into cozy coats, hats, and mittens in the evening.


What I took away from my time in Santa Fe is that even a global pandemic and life-changing illness don’t stop the seasons or the artists. Every day is a new day with new colors and creations. We miss out on the vibrancy around us when we stay in our boxes, focused only on the mechanics of our personal and professional chores.

Through the historical ages, the nature and people of this gorgeous high-altitude region have grown and created, adapting to each new season year after year. I brought a few small pieces of art back to my home to remind me to create beauty in everything I do. From my dentistry to my writing to my meals for one, I want to be able to say with satisfaction, “Look what I made for you.”


Whatever your creative endeavors are, or even if that creative pull still feels vague, planning a trip with the idea of tantalizing that inner tug will open up a pathway of creative invigoration that will brush aside stagnation in your professional obligations. You may find a breakthrough in your journey of achievement or you may just find a side hobby that brings you joy and relaxation.


Going to Santa Fe in the second week of October will not only be a relaxing vacation from your work, but this dynamic destination will let your introvert breathe and your creative soul step outside of the box.

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