Boasting yet another, somewhat eclectic outsider influence is the Fechin Institute, a testament to Nicolai Fechin, its Russian founder and former resident. Fechin’s traditional wood carvings meld seamlessly with the art-filled, typical adobe interior.
In Taos, however, the creative atmosphere spreads beyond the museums’ adobe walls. The Taos Inn is the town’s social center, featuring true Southwestern decorated rooms, live jazz in the lobby, and ranch eggs and yam biscuits at Doc Martin’s restaurant.
Numerous galleries, gift shops such as Horse Feathers for real cowboy kitsch, and boutiques such as Artemisia for wearable art are just a stroll away. In the Taos historic district, you’ll find one-stop shopping for sun-dried chili peppers and hand-tooled leather goods.
For dining, choices range from well-seasoned to spicy. Grilled lamb tenderloin with New Mexico feta cheese stands out at Lambert’s, while burritos smothered with green chilies are washed down with ice-cold Pacifico beer at Orlando’s.
Nature lovers will enjoy a hike over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and a stop at the eco-dwelling Earthship Biotecture. In winter, snow bunnies ski at Taos Ski Valley. Others take it all in from a distance. Savvy travelers end the trip with a day or two at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, a true Native American desert resort near Albuquerque. You can arrange for Lavender Fields Dry Brush Therapy at the spa or take a hot-air balloon ride over the northern New Mexico landscape. It’s from the clouds that dreamers-artists and other free spirits-dream of a place like Taos, and they end up staying a spell.