The City Different is the perfect place for romance, whether you’re exploring its historic architecture, dining at one of its fine restaurants, or exploring galleries. No matter what you are looking for, Santa Fe has no shortage of fun date night ideas.
Here are just a few ideas for your next Santa Fe date night:
Follow the Margarita Trail
This is a mainstay of any Santa Fe travel experience for tequila lovers. Both locals and visitors can sample drinks from 40 different establishments using the Margarita Trail Passport found at any Santa Fe Visitor Center downtown or downloaded on a smartphone. Use the passport to receive a $1 discount on each signature margarita and to help determine your next stop.
Start your journey at Joe’s Tequila Bar is a great place to start or finish up your tour. Stop in to enjoy our tart signature margarita. You can even take a break to enjoy dinner before heading into the Plaza to continue the quest.
Fall in Love with Fine Art on Canyon Road
With over 80 studios, galleries, and museums to explore, Canyon Road offers a day chock-full of culture. Bond over unusual designs at La Mesa of Santa Fe, or examine the curios at Intrigue Gallery—both make for interesting dinner conversation later in the night. Mixed media works, characteristic of modern Santa Fe art, are also on display. Ceramics and woodblocks at Hecho a Mano stun audiences, as do the sculptures and abstract works at Kay Contemporary Art.
Note that most galleries close up shop at 5:00 pm.
An exercise in mindfulness and quality time, bathing at Ojo Caliente’s spa, featuring water from local natural desert hot springs, is a stellar date night activity. The bathhouse has provided relaxation and healing through the sulfur-free, mineral-filled waters since 1868.
Try the Lithia Pool, and bathe in each other’s presence under the stars with this open-air bath. Or soak in any of the Upper and Lower Cliffside Pools after sunset for a romantic open-air experience. Stargaze in tandem or enjoy quiet, affectionate conversation along the resort’s edges.
Ojo Caliente is located about an hour north of Santa Fe’s downtown.
There’s nothing more classic than a dinner date with heavenly dishes on the menu. Lucky for couples, Santa Fe is home to a rich food scene. Classic eats like Southwestern-style steak and chile-topped enchiladas are fair game, though Santa Fe’s more contemporary fare is equally delicious.
Book a table at Geronimo, one of the best fine dining restaurants in America, located in a restored adobe home. Enjoy their Southwestern take on American-style farm-to-table cuisine.
Or book an evening at El Farol, one of New Mexico’s most famous restaurants. Enjoy their tapas-style menu, paella, cocktails, and some of the finest flamenco performances.
Turn date night into an overnight experience. Book a room at the Inn on the Alameda We offer deluxe rooms and suites perfect for evenings. Our king and queen-sized beds embody comfort, while the interior design and accents pay homage to the inn’s Southwestern heritage.
The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame
On June 24, 1931, alongside the beginning of the Great Depression, The Lensic motion picture “palace” opened in our fair city of just 11,000 souls.
Built by Nathan Salmon and John E. Greer, and named for Mr. Greer’s six grandchildren, the Lensic was an anagram of the first letter of each grandchild’s name. Built in the Spanish Baroque style, the Lensic’s distinct architecture has defined Santa Fe as much as John Gaw Meem’s Pueblo Revival style. She was the social center of town with her own ballroom and a stage for vaudeville acts, with a 6 musician orchestra pit.
By the 1990’s, the wear and tear of passing decades made her look worn down. Because of Bill Zeckendorf’s vision that Santa Fe could and would support a downtown performing arts center, his wife Nancy and other civic minded Santa Feans began the arduous task of raising $9,000,000 necessary for its expansion and historic preservation. Without the foresight and shared vision of Alexis Girard and her family, the Lensic Board would have never been able to eventually own the theater, a critical requirement for philanthropic support.
Throughout the years, this “wonder theater of the Southwest” hosted performers as diverse as Chet Grass and his Frontier Knights Orchestra to vaudeville shows with skimpily clad dancing girls like Maria Y Sable. When the Lensic premiered Santa Fe Trail in 1940, Roy Rogers Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan and Olivia de Haviland all were in attendance. In 1934, Claudette Colbert appeared at the premier of Cleopatra, a young Judy Garland performed here, Rudy Valle crooned, and for the 1982 film festival, Lillian Gish, Ray Bolger, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers smiled, blew kisses and danced across the stage.
With this sort of history, most of our citizens felt the Lensic had to be one of the finest performing arts centers in America. The Lensic Performing Arts Center opened on April 22, 2001 featuring violinist Pinchas Zuckerman, Marc Neikrug, David Grusin and Eddie Daniels among many others, including a hundred National Dance Institute students performing on stage.
The Lensic was off and running, creating in the past 20 years countless diverse community oriented programs including dance, voice, musical, theatrical performances and lecture series.
Santa Fe is a city whose citizens pine with love for all the performing arts, and the Lensic is one of the major pillars supporting our City Different’s unique position in our land. The foresight of Nathan Salmon and E. John Greer, along with the drive and determination of the Zeckendorfs and Alexis Greer Girard, plus countless donors, big and small, including the State of NM and the City of Santa Fe, gave us this bountiful gift. Any trip to Santa Fe should include a visit to the Lensic for a performance or two. Before your visit to the Inn on the Alameda, check out Lensic.org for a list of the coming attractions and get your tickets early. The Lensic is truly a gem in the crown of the Performing Arts in New Mexico, and is fortunately located right here in Santa Fe.
Nestled in the mountains of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Opera theater has captivated visitors for years with its brilliant architecture, state of the art productions, and an unrivaled natural backdrop.
Photo Cred: Ken Howard
This vibrant cultural institution is an integral part of any visit dedicated to understanding the local arts scene, and the history of the structure itself provides a fascinating context for the thousands that visit the Opera theater today.
One cannot even imagine the Santa Fe Opera theater without thinking of John Crosby, a young New York composer who was the Opera’s founder and the General Director for 33 years. John Crosby erected the Sante Fe Opera theater in 1956, and laid the foundations of present day Santa Fe to become one of the premier artistic centers of the world.
With the help of John Crosby’s Manhattan-based parents, he purchased the San Juan Ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe to pursue his dream of an outdoor summer opera company that could employ the many Metropolitan Opera performers during their summer off-season.
With the help of an acoustician, he meticulously walked the beautiful ranch, firing gunshots until they located a perfect acoustical bowl for the construction of the first opera theater, which opened in July 1957.
This modest theater consisted of a compact open-air stage with simple wood benches to accommodate an audience of less than 500. Although the structure was petite, Mr. Crosby unveiled the new venue with a grand performance of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly – a tradition he continued with the grand openings of two subsequent theaters. As the 50’s passed into the 60’s and beyond, many generous opera patrons provided the funding for the theater’s continual growth.
Photo Cred: Ken Howard
The Santa Fe Opera grew in worldwide recognition, and both the demand for greater capacity and protection from the summer monsoons made it clear that a larger, more structurally sound theater was necessary for the orchestra, performers and patrons.
John McHugh, a student of John Gaw Meem, designed an arching theater roof that would hover over an auditorium that tripled the seating capacity. Tragically, the theater burned to the ground mid-season of 1967, with the performances subsequently moving to a downtown Santa Fe high school gymnasium for the remainder of the season, and the sets and costumes borrowed from around the country. With the fundraising help of Mr. Crosby’s close friend, Igor Stravinsky, the theater re-opened for the 1968 season.
Finally, almost 30 years later, to meet ADA requirements and to complete the covering of the open-air roof from the elements, Polshek and Associates designed the present magnificent Crosby Theatre, which seats 2,234.
What a fascinating history – one that has touched thousands of visitors and locals alike.
It is always a lifetime memory to come to Santa Fe for the summer opera season, and truly, there is no better place to stay than at the Inn on the Alameda, situated on Alameda Street across from the beautiful cottonwood shaded Santa Fe River, which meanders through the historic downtown.
The Inn on the Alameda is the closest hotel to both the river and to Canyon Road, our world-renown arts and crafts district. Stay with us and enjoy the short walk from our central location to exquisite shopping, and visit the many galleries and museums peppered throughout town. Then in the early evening, take a “box lunch” prepared in advance by our chef at Agoyo Lounge to picnic on the stunning opera grounds before the evening’s performance. Or join many other operagoers for the traditional (and always entertaining) pre-performance “tail gate” party in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Opera theater. Better yet, join us on the outdoor Agoyo Lounge patio for an early evening dinner and cocktails before heading out for the opera.
We at the Inn will always help in any way to make your stay with us the best possible experience, opera season or not.
Photo Cred: Ken Howard
Santa Fe Sunsets are Sublime
As the days grow longer, the brilliant blue skies are laced with clouds, and the sunsets grow more dramatic. This means summer is here, and there’s more to do in the City Different! We know that one of the things visitors enjoy most about our unique little city is the relaxed pace of life, the feeling that whatever does not get accomplished today can always wait until manana. Santa Fe embodies a lifestyle that allows one to thrill to glowing skyscapes and enjoy morning strolls in the cool morning weather…..but as summer arrives, so does the diverse musical scene for which the city is known. Here are a few ideas of how to create a aurally awesome vacation!
The Santa Fe Opera
Renowned for good reason, this outdoor theater brings great music and theater to life in Santa Fe from July 1 through August 27 this year. A mixture of classics and premieres guarantees that there will be something from the opera repertoire for everyone to enjoy at the beautiful Crosby Theatre. Chief conductor Fredric Chaslin opens the Santa Fe Opera season on July 1, with a new production of Charles Gounod’s Faust, and Giacomo Puccini’s perennially popular La Boheme opens on July 2. Renowned director Peter Sellars comes back to Santa Fe to direct the first American staging of Antonio Vivaldi’s Griselda, and audiences will be entertained with a new production of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s grand opera buffa The Last Savage. Completing the schedule will be Alban Berg’s Wozzeck,returning to the Santa Fe Opera stage for the first time since 2001. For guests without a vehicle, the Opera shuttle will pick guests up at the Inn and return them after the performance (reservations required with a credit card). The Opera Guild hosts a buffet dinner before the performances (again, reservations are required), with an entertaining lecture to prepare for the ensuing performance, and those who prefer the casual nature of tailgating can reserve a picnic to pick up right at the Opera grounds. Daily backstage tours take place Monday through Saturday (a mere $5 Monday-Friday and free on Saturday) until August 27 and depart from the Box Office at 9 a.m. And when the Opera brings down its curtain at the end of August, the stage belongs to the one and only Willie Nelson, appearing there in concert for one night only, September 17.
Tailgating at the Opera
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Now in its 38th season, the Santa Fe Chamber Music presents a roster rich with concerts of depth and intimacy each week from July through August. These are performed in the Lensic Performing Arts Center and the St. Francis Auditorium. The inspired artistic leadership of composer/pianist Marc Neikrug brings both distinguished musicians and emerging young talents to the City Different during the 6-week Santa Fe season. The Composer-in-Residence program, inaugurated in 1976, encourages a free flow of communication among composers, musicians, and audiences through premieres of commissioned works and concert performances of a composer’s other works. In 2010, the Festival also inaugurated an exciting new Artist-in-Residence program to showcase the special talents of specific artists, and this year’s honored guest artist is the fantastic soprano, Dawn Upshaw, a familiar voice from her Santa Fe Opera performances in the past. By offering open rehersals, the Festival provides a wonderful opportunity to see how a particular performance takes shape before it is presented to the concert-going public. Many performers return year after year, and local favorites like the Orion String Quartet and pianist Ceclie Licad will be on the stage again this summer. That Santa Fe music fans truly value the Festival is evidenced by the many committed volunteers who spend their evenings ushering, pouring coffee or handing out tickets.
People + Plaza + Performers = Pleasure!
Summerscene on the Plaza
If a more casual musical scene is appealing, the ever-popular Santa Fe Bandstand concerts offer free mid-day and evening performances from early July through the middle of August, right downtown on the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Concerts take place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6pm, and on Monday and Wednesday afternoons at noon. Local and national performers run the gamut of musical genres from Native American to world music, and you might even see some swing dancers strutting their stuff. You can bring a lawn chair or a blanket, with your own picnic or with food from vendors on and around the Plaza area. Music-loving locals will be out in force, and this is a great time to see the range of residents, young and old, all drawn to the City Different for different reasons.
Music on the Hill at St. John’s College
Yet another popular outdoor musical experience is the St. John’s College Wednesday evening music series, running from early June into July, with a 6pm concert time. Experience suggests an early arrival since parking is minimal, although Santa Fe Rapid Transit will run shuttles from Museum Hill every 15 minutes from 5-9pm. Walter Burke Catering will be selling food, but you can also just bring your own picnic!
The Lensic: One of Santa Fe’s Real Gems!
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
And let’s not forget the Lensic! As if we could…Santa Fe is so grateful for the panoply of events that take place in our beautifully restored Performing Arts Center. In between chamber music concerts and readings, individual performers and groups will hold sway throughout the summer, with the New Mexico Jazz Festival and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale appearing in July and the Santa Fe Concert Association celebrating its 75th anniversary season with a gala concert in August.
Music lovers love Santa Fe, and we love to have them enjoy with us the many melodies made here! Feel free to call us here at the Inn for more information about events this summer; it’s our pleasure to help you make sweet music out of a Santa Fe vacation!
The Lensic Performing Arts Center at 211 West San Francisco Street celebrates a 10th Anniversary Gala on April 16, 2011
The Lensic We Love
The admiring glances seen every time we attend a performance event at the Lensic Performing Arts Center are a reminder that this jewel in the heart of town is not only still alive and active but is also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year! So often, great local gems slip quietly and inexorably into disrepair before we realize what is being lost. What good fortune for the city of Santa Fe that a dedicated group of local folk put their minds, money and muscle to ensuring a future for this architectural and historical treasure. And as the renovation was about to begin, one of the excellent decisions that ensued was the hiring of Robert Martin as the Director of the Lensic.
Bob Martin, Executive Director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center
With this gala year and the upcoming celebration, we asked Bob Martin for a bit of his time to help our guests become acquainted with all that the Lensic brings to the City Different. Despite the many demands involved in creating this anniversary party, Bob graciously complied with the questions we posed.
- How long have you been with the Lensic, and how did you find your way there?
I have been at the Lensic 11 years. I came two months before the renovation begin in April 2000. Sue Weil, who I knew in Los Angeles, connected me up with Merrill Brockway who was helping Nancy Zeckendorf find a director.
For those who need more history on the contributions of Ms. Zeckendorf et al, there’s more about the history of the Lensic in this earlier post https://www.innonthealameda.com/the-authentic-guide-to-santa-fe/2011/01/santa-fe-lucky-to-have-the-lensic/
- In lieu of the usual “Top Ten” list, can you please name some favorite events performed at the Lensic on your watch?
The Los Alamos Project reading; The Laramie Project:10 Years Later; Sonny Rollins at the New Mexico Jazz Festival; Terry Allen, David Byrne and Emmylou Harris in a benefit concert for Landmine Free World; Eddie Izzard; and Children of Uganda.
For a city of less than 100K residents, this is an impressive and varied list of visiting artists, which should prove enticing for those who have not yet enjoyed a concert, reading or dance performance at the Lensic!
Eddie Izzard, Works in Progress
- Can you name a community outreach event at the Lensic that has been personally meaningful for you?
That’s hard to pick. I really believe in the importance of all of them.
Guess that this question was akin to asking a parent to name a favorite child; sorry, Bob!
- What one performer have you always wanted to see at the Lensic, but who has eluded you?
Mr. Martin should not feel alone; the movie that tells a similar elusive tale is entitled I’m Not There http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368794/
- What performer, living or deceased, would you like to meet and why?
Zero Mostel and Bert Lahr, because I just thought of them.
Zero Mostel as The Fiddler on the Roof
The One and Only Bert Lahr
- Is there a staff member at the Lensic whose job you secretly envy?
Job satisfaction is a great quality in a community leader!
- What would you like to see happen for the Lensic over the next ten years?
To maintain excellence in programming, to continue taking chances and commitment to community. To be recognized nationally as a model for performing arts centers.
Under Bob Martin’s stewardship, the Lensic is definitely on its way towards these goals, especially with the launch of its $3 Million Fund the Future Campaign to ensure the legacy of performance, education and community events for generations to come.
- As befits all New Mexicans, the state question, red or green? And where?
Green at Tia Sophias.
Everyone has a Favorite Place – and Color – for Chile!
The 10th Anniversary Gala Celebration commemorating the creation of the nonprofit Lensic Performing Arts Center, along with the 80th birthday of the historic Lensic Theater itself, begins on Saturday, April 16 at 5pm. A champagne reception taking place in the Lensic Lobby will precede the performance. This memorable occasion will also honor Santa Feans Nancy and Bill Zeckendorf, who spearheaded the effort to create the performing arts center that has become so integral to the arts community of Santa Fe. Performances by members of the Santa Fe Concert Association, Santa Fe Pro Musica and Santa Fe Symphony will be enhanced when the directors of each group conduct pieces played by this specially organized “Lensic Ensemble.” The Gala will also feature students from the Santa Fe Indian School and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and a film retrospective of the Lensic and its history will be screened.
We extend our sincere thanks to Bob Martin, for sharing some of his time and thoughts with us and for his energy and devotion to ensuring that the Lensic Performing Arts Center endures as a vital part of the cultural life of our city!
If you would like to be part of this important Santa Fe celebration, please call the Lensic Box Office at 505-988-1234 or visit their website at http://www.lensic.org/content/lensic_anniversary.
Lensic Center photos courtesy of the Lensic; all rights reserved.
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 West San Francisco Street in Santa Fe, NM
Phone: 505.988.7050 Box Office: 505.988.1234
E-News at http://www.lensic.org/content/lensic_enews
The Distinctive Lensic Performing Arts Center
Total opera fan that I am, the time between summer seasons of the Santa Fe Opera seems particularly long right about now. That’s why the live HD simlucasts from the Metropolitan Opera are so welcome. Santa Fe screenings are held on the appointed Saturdays at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, so I headed there last Saturday for my opera fix, in this case La Fanciulla del West by Puccini, whose La Boheme comes back to Santa Fe this summer. As we settled into our seats for a few hours of glorious music, I was struck yet again at the glories of this landmark theatre and all the wonderful things it has made possible in Santa Fe.
A versatile performing arts center located right off the Santa Fe Plaza, the Lensic originated as a movie and vaudeville theater, with a 69-year run before closing, a passing that was deeply mourned by Santa Fesinos for whom memories of a movie and dinner downtown live on in their minds as the perfect date. The Lensic was built by Nathan Salmon, an immigrant from Syria, who chose to make Santa Fe his home in the late 1800’s, after being stranded here by a snowstorm. An enterprising individual with an immigrant’s belief in the real value of property, Mr. Salmon bought land parcels throughout the Santa Fe and Albuquerque area. In 1930, despite the devastating pressures of the Great Depression, Mr. Salmon and his son-in-law, E. John Greer, made plans to build what they called a ‘Spanish style’ theater, with up-to-date projection and sound equipment that could offer both live performances and the new ‘talking’ pictures to the then-11,000 residents of Santa Fe.
A ‘Spanish Style’ Theater for Santa Fe
The Salmon-Greer partnership broke ground for the theatre in September 1930, and its uniquely memorable name originated when Mr. Salmon sponsored a competition, including a $25 prize, to name the new theater, using either a Spanish title or an amalgam of his grandchildren’s initials. Mrs. P.J. Smithwick claimed the prize (a tidy sum in Depression years) by creating an acronym using the required initials (for Lila, Elias John, Nathan, Sara, Mary Irene and Charles), while at the same time cleverly implying the “lens” of a movie projector. Built swiftly, the Lensic Theater had its grand opening in June of 1931 and soon became the center of Santa Fe social life, since movies served as a respite from the sorrows of the Depression and the war years that ensued.
As Santa Fe grew, the Lensic thrived. Over the years, other options for entertainment in Santa Fe became available, and the Lensic’s technical facilities began to lag behind the demands of modern performance. As this mismatch of requirements expanded, the theater stopped hosting live events and by 1999, it had closed its doors altogether. Fortunately for Santa Fe, the next act was about to begin!
London Assurance Simulcast in HD
Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, recognized as real estate royalty in New York City, arrived in Santa Fe in the 1980s and quickly grasped the Lensic’s potential as a performing arts showcase. Determined to save this classic venue, they pursued Mr. Salmon’s original vision of a dramatic showplace for the city, a destination historically imbued with talent galore. Working with a panoply of performing arts groups, city officials, interested individuals and committed business leaders, they recruited a hard-working board of directors (including the Inn’s owner, Joe Schepps), incorporated the theater as a nonprofit, and embarked on a twelve month rehabilitation. Funded through a $9M capital campaign raised by a coterie of Santa Fe’s movers and shakers, the Lensic rose again like the mythical phoenix and was unveiled as a non-profit performing arts venue in April 2001. To the delight of locals and visitors alike, the thoughtful and restrained renovation restored the theater’s decoratively stylized architecture, and improvements to the technical capabilities made it possible to bring an eclectic variety of performances to the City Different. Thanks to the dedication and insight of all involved, the 821-seat theater has become an integral part of the city’s reputation as a mecca for the arts. An ideal example of how community collaboration and commitment can create a whole greater than the sum of the parts, the Lensic is now a vibrant cultural resource for the city of Santa Fe, as well as the state and surrounding region. As its mission statement says, “The nonprofit Lensic Performing Arts Center enriches lives by bringing diverse art and people together in the historic Lensic Theater, a cornerstone of downtown Santa Fe since 1931.” How true!
Perfomers of All Sizes
What can one see at the Lensic? Well, just about anything! From the HD simulcasts of the Met to traveling circuses, from chamber ensembles to Native American roots music, Polish folk dancers to classical ballet, bluesmen to children’s mariachi groups, writers’ readings to memorable big-screen classics (yes, you CAN still see a movie at the theater!), the Lensic welcomes all who have something to share with the arts-loving denizens of the City Different. The Lensic was recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as an official project of Save America’s Treasures in 2000. And 2011 is indeed a gala year, with the Lensic Performing Arts Center celebrating its 10th anniversary, and the original Lensic Theater turning 80 in April 2011.
The Whole World is Welcome at the Lensic
When our guests come to the Front Desk at any time of year to ask what there is to do in Santa Fe, it is always a pleasure to respond by saying, “Let’s see what’s at the Lensic!”
All images are courtesy of the Lensic, and all rights are reserved.