Part 2 of New Mexico for romantic couples: The other SF is still very gay
Forty-five minutes to the north of Albuquerque, Santa Fe easily holds claim to New Mexico’s gayest and gay-friendliest city. Although it has no exclusively gay restaurants and bars, this high-elevation arts enclave (it jokingly “looks down on” Denver) is a haven for travelers who are both outdoorsy and artsy.
The tourist office in Santa Fe claims that the percentage of same-sex couples is second only to San Francisco. With many Santa Fe shops dedicated to home décor — gay decorators will not be far away.
What’s more fun than LGBT couples doing what we do best: shopping. With 250 galleries in the LGBT-popular Guadalupe District and on Canyon Road, you’ll be astounded by the variety of items you’ll want to take home. Whether it’s contemporary paintings, photography, pottery, sculpture or locally woven textiles, you’ll find something that opens your wallet. Santa Fe’s Native American and Spanish colonial roots and other global cultures’ influences are on display.
Meet some of the artists at Santa Fe’s famous Friday evening gallery openings. These occur with more frequency during the summer months. One of our favorite galleries is Blue Rain, which is the only gallery offering works by devotional artist Gustavo Victor Goler, or the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum are each located near The Plaza.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Loretto Chapel and San Miguel Mission are historically significant. However, for experiences that your friends may miss, take a drive outside Santa Fe.
Gays love Hollywood stars, and what would a visit to Pecos National Historic Park, with its 1100 A.D. pueblo ruins and walls of the 1625 Mission, be without a tour of Greer Garson’s 1920s Forked Lightning Ranch?
The old village of Chimayó is a 1740 adobe pueblo. For security, the original village had few entrances, and those were only wide enough for a person or horse to enter the square. Several of the 270-year-old homes remain occupied, and only recently have owners added electricity and modern conveniences, including pitched roofs.
Chimayó’s Ortega family carries traditions into the 21st century. Their weaving shop creates blankets, runners, purses and clothing in traditional Hispanic and Native American influenced patterns.
El Santuario de Chimayó dates from 1810. The sanctuary is built on the site of “holy dirt”, which the faithful believe has curative powers. Behind El Santuario you’ll find Santo Niño Chapel dedicated to the Christ-child who is revered for his protection of children. Several rustic galleries of local artists are near the chapels.
Time to get off your feet. Although not specifically gay, the Rouge Cat and the Silver Starlight Cabaret are LGBT-friendly watering holes. Gay-friendly Hotel Chimayó boasts the Low ’n Slow Bar, frequently with live music. The rooms here are not pretentious but are decorated with Chimayó-themed items, such as several crosses composed of twigs and strands of wool, and Southwestern weavings on the comfy bed. It seemed as if we had an endless supply of fluffy pillows.
The St. Francis Hotel’s Secreto Lounge is a relaxing (though energetic) spot, with lots of dark woods. The bar is managed by one of America’s top mixologists, Chris Milligan, who works the bar, as well as manages it. And his commitment to the perfect cocktail — made from scratch, no premade mixes — makes the Secreto a top cocktail destination.
If you are dining in the hotel’s Tabla de Los Santos Restaurant, preface your meal with Milligan’s orange champagne cocktail. Best of all, engage Milligan in some lively cocktail recipe conversation. He’s a master entertainer. (Cute, too, but lay off, guys — he’s married.)
From Dallas to Albuquerque or Santa Fe, the distance is 645 miles — about 11 hours by car. After Amarillo, you can sing “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” for hours.
But American Airlines also offers direct flights to Albuquerque International Sunport, and American Eagle can get you to the edge of Santa Fe in an hour and forty-five minutes.
Southwest flies to Albuquerque from Love Field.
— David Currier
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 26, 2012.