Just back from Santa Fe and Taos

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Santa Fe ranks among my favorite romantic cities (terrific for a four- or five-night Mini-Moon) and I was keen to revisit this iconic Southwestern town located 7,000 feet above sea level in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I got my chance in early April when I headed there with my boyfriend, Fred, and then on to nearby Taos.

April weather is notoriously fickle in New Mexico, but the wide-open landscapes and unique adobe architecture more than made up for the blustery nights and Easter weekend snowstorm. We settled in at brand-new Encantado, an Auberge Resort located about 10 minutes by car from downtown, and were totally enchanted by the sense of seclusion and the sunset view from our casita.

Wanting to fully soak in the 360-degree vistas, the next day we braved the gusty, chilly air for a dip in the outdoor hot tub (and laughed as our towels and chaises began to blow away), before hitting the Spa for relaxing massages. Santa Fe is home to over 200 art galleries, but its true treasure is its dining scene. Our favorite spots: The Compound for incredible lunch salads (both the jumbo crab and lobster salad and the stacked salad were amazing), Cafe Pasqual's for the char-grilled lamb with pomegranate-molasses glaze, Inn of the Anasazi for the yummy Sunday brunch, and The Shed for the zesty fish tacos and potent margaritas. And if you love Southwestern jewelry, be sure to peruse the silver and turquoise bangles on offer by Native American vendors selling from blankets under the eaves of the Palace of the Governors on the plaza.

Taos should have been just over an hour away via the Low Road, but we opted for the more scenic High Road, which on Good Friday was bumper to bumper as cars inched past thousands of Catholic pilgrims walking the 20 miles between Sante Fe and Chimayo, home to El Santuario, a chapel considered by many to be the "Lourdes of America." It was an incredible sight and we didn't mind that it took three hours to get to Taos.

We spent two nights at El Monte Sagrado, a New Age resort and spa with creatively themed Global Suites. Ours, Kama Sutra, as its name suggests, had an Indian theme and an antique bed carved with couples in passionate positions, which you can either giggle over or use for inspiration! With spring snow swirling around us for two days, we explored the small town square, drove out to the impressive Rio Grande Gorge suspension bridge (it spans 1,200 feet across with the river a dizzying 600 feet below) and enjoyed more delish dining at family-run Orlando's (superfresh New Mexican with spicy green and red chile sauce) and Joseph's Table (artfully prepared gourmet dishes in a romantic setting).

Five days and a few pounds later, Fred and I bid adios to this dynamic mountain duo and headed back to life at sea level in New York City. —Donna Heiderstadt, travel editor, Modern Bride

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