Romancing Santa Fe | - January 27, 2012

"Santa Fe offers endless ways to celebrate this day devoted to romance"

With its gorgeous mountain setting, vivid sunsets, starry skies and moon-drenched nights, Santa Fe is the perfect place to celebrate Valentine's Day. You can soak in an outdoor hot tub beneath a canopy of pines, dine in an elegant restaurant on Southwest specialties or dance to the music of a live band in a swanky bar. Ski powdery trails high above the city, ride horses along mountain trails or shop for handcrafted jewelry, Pueblo pottery, designer clothes and hand-tooled cowboy boots. Santa Fe offers endless ways to celebrate this day devoted to romance.

Start the day with a chocolate lover's odyssey at The Chocolate Smith, an artisan chocolate boutique offering handmade dark chocolate studded with red chile, pistachios, lavender and other luscious ingredients. Next door, Whoo's Donuts offers delectable donuts made with Chocolate Smith chocolate.

Take to the slopes at Ski Santa Fe, where the views of Santa Fe are jaw dropping. This family-friendly ski area offers alpine trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels as well as slope-side restaurants, bars, a ski shop and ski classes. Ski pristine cross country trails through aspen and pine trees on the Nordic or Aspen Vista trails.

If you'd rather be indoors, visit the Museum of International Folk Art, filled with thousands of folk art objects from around the world. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, the only museum devoted to a single woman artist, exhibits the drawings, paintings and sculpture that have made O'Keeffe one of the world's most celebrated artists.

For an afternoon excursion, hop aboard the Santa Fe Southern Railway and take a Valentine's Day ride on the rails. Enjoy chocolate, champagne and hors d'ouevres on a historic train that takes you into the Galisteo Basin. Or relax in a sensual spa with an array of massage options, herbal wraps and body rubs. Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese- style spa nestled in the mountains, offers outdoor hot tubs, saunas and a cold plunge. At Absolute Nirvana, indulge in an Indonesian spa treatment for royal weddings and a romantic rose petal bath.

Or spend the day on horseback, exploring the canyons, meadows and mesas of the region. The Broken Arrow outfit in Cerrillos and the Bishop's Lodge Ranch, Resort and Spa offer guided tours. Snowshoes provide another great way to explore Santa Fe's great outdoors on the Aspen Vista Trail, the Dale Ball trails or in the pristine wilderness of the Valle Caldera, a volcanic crater in the Jemez Mountains.

Santa Fe is a shopper's paradise, with boutiques and shops full of Southwestern apparel, jewelry, pottery and home furnishings, along with Native American art and jewelry, custom cowboy boots, Western wear, contemporary art, books, antiques and more.

As the day ends, take in Santa Fe's dramatic sunset at the Cross of the Martyrs, overlooking the mountains in a natural setting above the city. Or take a drive up Hyde Park Road towards Ski Santa Fe, where a spectacular overlook offers majestic sunset views and a gorgeous bird's-eye view of the city as it starts to light up at night.

Many restaurants in Santa Fe offer specials on Valentine Day, featuring elegant wine or champagne dinners for two. Celebrate the holiday in an intimate, fireside setting, a bustling bistro or an elegant restaurant, savoring Southwest specialties, French and Italian cuisine, Mediterranean offerings or signature dishes from India, Africa and Asia.

Enjoy after-dinner dancing at one of Santa Fe's nightclubs, which offer live music, DJs, and concerts. Or relax by a kiva fireplace listening to Native American flute music or classic Spanish guitar. Santa Fe also offers flamenco music and dance performances at some of the local restaurants and bars.

End your Valentine's Day celebration with the classic Hollywood love story "The Way We Were," showing on the big screen at The Lensic at 7 p.m.

However you choose to romance Santa Fe this Valentine's Day, you're guaranteed to have a romantic time in the heart of the old Southwest.