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Santa Fe

A Proustian Travel Guide: Mayor Javier Gonzales

A Proustian Travel Guide: Mayor Javier Gonzales

Santa Fe Mayor

Santa Fe's gay mayor paints a beautiful picture of his city.

Name: Javier Gonzales 

Profession: Mayor  

Age: 49

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

"Javier Gonzales is known for his progressive vision and inclusive style. A lifelong resident of the 'City Different', his family has deep roots here. Growing up in Santa Fe shaped Javier into the person he is today. His grandparents taught him about hard work and strong families. His community taught him about respect and diversity. As Mayor, Javier is actively [working] to making Santa Fe the leader in the green economy, diversifying [the] economy, promoting our youth, making Santa Fe safer for its citizens and continuing to grow this amazing city."

What are you most proud of?

Santa Fe’s incredible creative spirit. From Meow Wolf to the Opera to the Teatro Paraguas, creativity is part of who we are and part of our approach to every challenge we face.

What is your most cherished possession?

My horses, Maverick and Roany, are my gateway to the incredible mountains, forests, and wilderness in which Santa Fe is situated.

What is your favorite thing to splurge on?

With all the stress of being Mayor, I love taking a weekend at Ten Thousand Waves. The pools and spa are just the ticket to come back on Monday ready to hit the ground running.

When traveling, what do you never leave home without?

Red chile makes everything taste like home! I almost always have a jar or two of the homemade sauce in my luggage for desperate times!

Describe the perfect weekend in Santa Fe.
The best way to start in Santa Fe is with a walk around our historic plaza. The plaza and downtown area are where many of the hotels, restaurants and historic and cultural sites are located, and it’s all easily walkable.

To fuel up for the day, try local favorite Tia Sophia’s, the original home of the breakfast burrito. When they ask you the state question, “Red or Green?”, they’re referring to our chile—which is the best in the world. To sample both, simply answer, “Christmas.”

Visitors always want to bring some local treasures home. Shop outside the Palace of The Governors where artists from neighboring pueblos sell handcrafted jewelry. Almost everyone will want to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which houses over 3,000 pieces of work and is the only museum in the United States dedicated to an internationally-known female artist.

Other must-stops include the beautiful Loretto Chapel with its famed miraculous staircase, the San Miguel Chapel, the oldest church in the country, and the New Mexico Museum of Art, just the building alone will have you snapping many photos to show off on Instagram.

Continue enjoying the mountain sunshine by foot to historic Canyon Road, home to more than 80 contemporary and traditional galleries in a half-mile stretch and recently named the second most iconic street in America by USA Today readers.

If you want to make the most of Santa Fe art, you have to visit Museum Hill, home of some big views along with the Museum of International Folk Art, with more than 100,000 objects from over 100 countries, Museum of Spanish Colonial ArtMuseum of Indian Arts & CultureWheelwright Museum and Santa Fe Botanical Garden all within walking distance of one another, as well as the Museum Hill Café, which offers al fresco dining.

As the sun sets over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the entire sky turns incredible shades of pink, violet and orange, all of which can be witnessed at Bell Tower Bar on the roof of historic La Fonda on the Plaza hotel. The Bell Tower is a stop on the new Santa Fe Margarita Trail that everyone’s talking about.

For dinner, visit ELOISA for a modern Northern New Mexican dining experience led by hometown hero and world-renowned Chef John Sedlar. 

On Saturday morning, you must check out one of the country’s most notable farmer’s markets, located at the Santa Fe Railyard. The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market is home to over 150 vendors who sell hundreds of products all locally grown in Northern New Mexico. Come hungry! There are baked goods, fresh breads, breakfast burritos, handmade artisanal chocolates and much more to sample and enjoy. You’ll meet plenty of friendly locals and hear some music too.

No weekend is complete without an outdoor adventure. Head up to the nearby mountains and hike or bike one of the 22 miles of trail located within the Dale Ball Trails. You can also golf, fish, raft, and ride horses. A good way to unwind in the mountains is Ten Thousand Waves Spa, a Santa Fe legend inspired by Japanese mountain hot springs resorts.

The green chile cheeseburger is one of our delicacies. Cowgirl Hall Of Fame is a go-to for locals and visitors alike and is home to one of the best burgers in the city, “The Mother Burger.” Live bands play nightly, there’s indoor and outdoor dining, and it’s also a stop on the new Margarita Trail.

To keep the night going, look for Flamenco at El Farol, La Boca, and El Meson, and for internationally regarded performers at the historic Lensic Theatre downtown.

Finally, be sure not to miss the brand new House Of Eternal Return by local art collective Meow Wolf. This immersive multimedia, 20,000 square foot art experience is truly “like nothing you’ve ever seen before” as Game Of Thrones creator and long-time resident George R.R. Martin put it. The kids will have the time of their lives, but every family member will be exhilarated as it’s like walking right into a page-turner science fiction novel. This permanent installation is the latest in a long tradition of “Only in Santa Fe” and good example of why we’ve been known as The City Different for over a century.

What is your favorite neighborhood (district, street or area)? And why?

In Santa Fe you can’t pick one, but one of my favorites is The Santa Fe Railyard. In 1880, Santa Fe Railway Company pulled its first train into the Santa Fe depot, launching an era of economic and social change. After 100 successful years of rail commerce, the area began to see a decline like many other railroad-related locales during that time.

In the early 2000s, local planners and creatives got together with a vision of restoration. In September 2008, The Railyard reopened once again as a place of community gathering and activity and it’s now home to a vibrant mix of galleries, restaurants, performance art space, a teen art center, a new movie theater, the famous Santa Fe Farmer’s Market, an outdoor park and more. I love how diverse it is, representative of so many of the things at which the city excels.

What makes someone a local in this destination?

Santa Feans are the friendliest and most accepting people you’ll ever meet. To be a local, you have to have a warm smile, open attitude and a big appetite. Food is central to life here! 

Where is the most unique shopping experience?

Between the unique art galleries on Canyon Road, downtown, and The Railyard, our Farmer’s and Artisan’s Markets, and the countless quality shops all around the city, again there’s no one answer. All depends on individual taste. One of my favorites is right in the heart of the city at the historic plaza, the end of the Santa Fe Trail. Under the Palace of the Governors, recently designated a National Treasure, Native Americans gather and sell their beautiful crafts outdoors daily under the portal. There are no middlemen here, only the artists themselves, and only using traditional means with authentic materials. The hand-made jewelry and crafts are absolutely beautiful, very unique, and representative of our centuries of rich history.  

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