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The top things to do in Taos, New Mexico

From the desert to white-water rafting, the town of Taos in northern New Mexico has it all. We discover the history of the Pueblo Indians alongside local wine and eateries.

For a taste of the American West, Taos, New Mexico offers stunning landscapes, adventure travel, fine art and culinary bliss. It's the coolest town you've probably never heard of —that's why we've got a guide of the top things to do in Taos, from historic sights to delicious bites.

Nature-lovers flock to Taos for skiing, hiking, white-water rafting and horseback riding. Photographers flock, too: Taos is famous for its year-round dramatic sunsets. In fact, all kinds of artists wind up in Taos. From the Indigenous Peoples who painted on walls and hides to the art colony established at the end of the 19th century, the arts scene in Taos has always thrived. Many famous artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, have worked there, and today, the town supports more than 80 galleries and several art museums.

Finally, travellers go to Taos to eat and drink. From late summer through the fall, green chiles grow all over the region, spicing up the fresh salsas and infusing the vodkas. You’ll find bean-to-bar chocolate and a handful of local vineyards making wines with New Mexico grapes. Elsewhere, farm-to-table restaurants and chic cocktail bars mean plenty of nightlife options, plus the Mexican influence throughout the state equals the best tacos and tamales in the country. 

The top things to do in Taos, New Mexico 

Taos Pueblo

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On this stretch of high desert in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the history of the Taos (or “Red Willows”) Pueblo Indians traces back roughly a thousand years. Today — from the beautiful multi-storied adobe architecture to the pottery and silver sold on the Plaza — Indigenous culture continues to thrive throughout the picturesque little town. The ancient Taos Pueblo, now used for sacred ceremonies, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

taospueblo.com

Rio Grande Stables

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Whether you’ve never met a horse or you’re an experienced equestrian, whether you’d like to ride for an hour or a whole day, this 30-year-old horseback riding outfitter will lead you along the most stunning trails of Taos, through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and over the Cebolla Mesa to the Rio Grande Gorge overlook. See juniper and ponderosa forests, sagebrush, gorges and a river trout hatchery. Longer rides include lunch and, if you’re lucky, wildlife sightings. Opt for an evening ride to see the sun set behind the mountains. All guides are certified in Wilderness First Aid.

riograndestables.net

Los Rios River Runners

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The stunning river canyons of the Rio Grande are best explored from within. New Mexico’s largest and most experienced white-water rafting outfitter opened in 1978, so Los Rios River Runners have had plenty of time to learn how to deliver the ultimate rafting experience. A day with Los Rios is safe, fun and always an adventure: They have more river access than any other outfitter in the region. Guests can choose half-day, full-day, or overnight excursions, and, in the summer, a sunset dinner float.

losriosriverrunners.com

Art Galleries

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Home to more than 80 galleries, Taos is an art-lover’s dream, showcasing the works of local talents, stars of the southwest, and internationally renowned painters and sculptors. A stroll around Taos Plaza offers gallery-hoppers everything from mid-century Abstract Expressionist art to classic southwestern imagery (think cow skulls, coyotes, men in sombreros riding horses) to intricate ceramics and unique jewelry to landscapes.

A few interesting galleries include Jones Walker of Taos, which exhibits only northern New Mexican artists; Ennui Gallery, which exhibits Taos artists and has a fabulous vinyl record collection; and Tres Estrellas Design, a great place to shop for gorgeous Navajo weavings and vintage textiles. In the John Dunn Shops, a quaint pedestrian mall offering shops, eateries, and sometimes live music, Las Comadres Gallery is filled with beautiful pieces crafted by local women—jewelry, fiber art, pottery, handbags, and wall hangings.

The top things to eat and drink in Taos, New Mexico

The Love Apple

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For authentic, organic, locally sourced, northern New Mexican cuisine, The Love Apple delivers every time. Think grilled trout wrapped in corn husks or chipotle portabella quesadillas with smoked gouda. Housed in a 19th-Century Catholic church, the concept entails seasonal recipes made from scratch. They use hormone-free, grass-fed meat, local cheese and produce from nearby farms in their dishes. The rustic-chic décor, charming patio for al fresco dining, ever-changing menu and beautiful wine list draws New Mexicans and tourists.

theloveapple.net

Vivác Winery

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Grab your camera and your designated driver and head to one of the highest-altitude wineries in the world. Situated at 1,828 meters, the postcard-scenic Vivác is the 23-year-old creation of two local brothers and their wives. It’s also one of the finest (and the northernmost) additions to the New Mexico Wine Trail, which starts as far south as the border with Mexico. Vivác does everything by hand, from harvesting to grape sorting to barreling and their wines garner national accolades.

vivacwinery.com

Chokola

For award-winning small-batch, organic, “bean-to-bar” chocolate (picture cacao beans drying on the ground in the sun), this charming café and chocolateria sits just off the plaza and slings truffles, single-origin chocolate bars, bonbons, and pour-over coffee. There might be no combination more decadent than truly fine coffee and truly fine chocolate, and Chokola provides a pick-me-up at any time of day. The husband-wife team behind this business trained with a renowned chocolate maker in Venezuela and their chocolate has been recognized by the Good Food Awards and the International Chocolate Awards. If you’re traveling with kids who aren’t impressed by “bean-to-bar” precision, the milkshakes and ice creams are sure to entice.

chokolabeantobar.com

The top place to stay in Taos, New Mexico

The Historic Taos Inn

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The oldest and most iconic hotel in Taos, situated right in the Historic District, blends into the rustic landscape. The earth-toned adobe-style building and warm hospitality have attracted everyone from Greta Garbo to Robert Redford. Wood-burning fireplaces in every room add charm to the property. Foodies gather at the on-site restaurant Doc Martin’s for carne asada, then hit the Adobe Bar afterwards for margaritas and live music. The hotel opened in 1936, the year after the only hotel in Taos burned down, and has been preserved since 1982.

taosinn.com

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