11 Interesting and Beautiful Places to Visit in Taos, New Mexico

In the high desert of the Land of Enchantment, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lies ethereal Taos. Rich with history, culture, and surreal landscapes, a visit to Taos is a fulfilling experience for everyone. 

During my time in Taos, I was amazed by how much there is to learn about Pueblo and Southwestern culture. There are dozens of opportunities for visitors to learn with the numerous museums and galleries around town.

When it’s hard to hold your head up with the weight of all that information inside it, no worries. You can sit back and gather yourself by overlooking a vast gorge or taking in the view from the tallest mountain in New Mexico. 

While a list of things to do in Taos can go on and on, here are 11 interesting and beautiful places to visit in Taos to get you started:

**Taos Pueblo

Of course, when looking for places to visit in Taos, Taos Pueblo (located about a mile north of Taos city) is the main event. Unfortunately, during the several times I’ve visited Taos, the Pueblo remained closed as a COVID precaution. So, I haven’t gotten to see it yet, sadly.

Good news is, they’ve reopened!

So while I won’t try and describe something I’ve never seen it goes without saying that this is number one on places to visit in Taos.

Considered one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the entire country, a visit to Taos Pueblo is a chance to immerse yourself in over 1000 years of history and tradition. Little wonder why it’s the only living Native American community that has been designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.

Photo by Jeff Burak on UnSplash

Taos Plaza 

If you want a nice introduction to a place, the town square is a great place to start, and Taos is no exception.

Settled around 400 years ago by Spanish settlers, the buildings enclosing the square have remained remarkably intact. It’s easy to get lost inspecting the old adobe style architecture and craftsmanship.

Inside the buildings you’ll find gorgeous indigenous works of art such as pottery, sculptures, and paintings, with many of the galleries featuring pottery and art from the Taos Pueblo.

Fun fact, they only create pottery with clay gathered within the lines of the Pueblo. One way you can tell pottery came from Taos Pueblo is by the use of micaceous clay, which gives their work a glittery appeal.

After you’ve perused the galleries, grab yourself a snack and some drinks from one of the local haunts. You can find a great margarita at the Alley Cantina. Taos Plaza is easily one of the coolest places to visit in Taos, so be sure to give it a visit during your stay.

Man in Taos

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Taos Ski Valley 

When you think of New Mexico, you might not picture skiing, hot chocolate at the lodge, and a ski-in biergarten. However, that’s the scene you can find at Taos Ski Valley during the winter. We were there in April and people were still cruising down snow-capped peaks. Turns out the snow stays longer when you’re at an elevation above 12,000 feet!

Watching people ski with a giant German beer and pretzel made us feel like we were in the Alps.

The drive back down the mountain is like coming back to reality. Once a scene of a snowy winter wonderland, now a dry desertscape.

Of course, warm weather on the mountain is just as fun because you can explore all the hiking trails Wheeler Peak (the tallest mountain in New Mexico) has to offer.

Taos Ski Valley

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Earthships 

How would you like to live in a home free of energy bills, heating bills, and water bills? In a home and community that is fully self-sustaining? And have a house that looks like it just dropped out of the sky from Mars? If you said “I would definitely like that”, the community of Earthships just outside Taos might be the place you’re looking for.

Earthships originated in Taos and now have many communities around the world. They’re built using natural and recyclable materials and produce electricity through solar and wind power. Thermal mass and solar power create heat and water recirculation provides water for toilets and showers.

I’ll refer you to their website at earthshipglobal.com for more details on how that’s possible, because I certainly am not an expert. 

However, have a wonderful time touring the visitor center and attempting to learn as much as I could. If you’re not already planning on creating your own and just want to learn more and see some really funky architecture, you have to visit the Earthship community while in Taos!

Earthships

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge 

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is a must visit for anyone in the Taos area. It’s an exquisite combination of beautiful nature and incredible engineering. It’s the second highest bridge in the US highway system at 650 feet, connecting both sides of the mighty Rio Grande Gorge. Park in the nearby lot and walk over, peering down at the tiny kayakers and tiny tubers making their way down the river. 

Surrounding the bridge is an incredible backdrop with a foreground made of sage and a background taken up by Sangre de Cristo snowcaps. With hiking along the edge of the gorge you can find numerous vantage points of the gorge from a distant as well as the incredible valley beneath.

Photo by KeyBarbara on Pixabay

Millicent Rogers Museum 

One of the best places in Taos to immerse yourself in native Pueblo history and the history of the Southwest is the Millicent Rogers Museum. Within the walls of the museum you’ll find extensive collections of pottery, paintings, photography, and jewelry.

Founded in 1956, the museum is named after Millicent Rogers. She helped popularize southwestern style and decor and was key in preserving Pueblo art and culture in the area.

While at the museum, you have to check out the works of Maria Martinez. Her distinct black pottery is the pinnacle of the art form. Also, take a minute to admire paintings by Pop Chalee, one of my favorite artists that I discovered at the Millicent Rogers Museum.

Millicent Rogers Museum

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

La Hacienda De Los Martinez 

Here’s another museum to visit in Taos, but of a different sort. Built during the Spanish colonial era, it was owned by Don Antonio Severino Martinez, a trader, merchant, and eventually the mayor of Taos in the early 1800s.

The hacienda features thick adobe walls with two inner courtyards and was made as a fortress to protect against native Plains tribes. 

While built as a fortress, a farm, and a trading post, it was also a home to the Martinez family. Today, it’s as if the family still lives there.

Artifacts are arranged as they were a couple hundred years ago when the Martinez family was thriving. Walk from room to room and imagine what it was like to work there. Envision life during that time as if you were a fly on the wall.

La Hacienda De Lost Martinez is a fascinating place to visit in Taos and makes a great activity for the family, so be sure to put it on your list!

Martinez Home

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church 

Just south of the village of Taos in Ranchos de Taos, stands tall the San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church.

The church was constructed between 1772 and 1816 during the Spanish colonial era in the center of Ranchos de Taos Plaza. During that time, the church played a central role in the community during the 18th century. 

Seen as an exquisite example of Spanish colonial adobe architecture, the church has been the subject of many artists work. That includes greats such as Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams.

Georgia O’Keefe, who spent much of her time in this region of the U.S., once described the building as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.” Needless to say, San Francisco De Assisi Mission Church is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Taos.

San Francisco de Asisi

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Enchanted Circle Drive 

Ever want to turn your mind off and just.. drive? I do!

When the urge strikes in Taos, it’s easy to find beautiful country roads to cruise down. Roll down your window, listen to your favorite sounds, and let the warm New Mexico air flow through your beard (if you have one).

Enchanted Circle Drive is one of the best roads to do this. Distancing 84 miles, this car commercial runs through Carson National Forest through the sage brush fields outside Taos and up the mountain valley of the Red River.

Between admiring the changing landscapes, make sure to stop and check out some small towns such as Red River, Eagle Nest, and Angel Fire. You never know what gems you might find checking out local vintage shops and even souvenir shops.

Enchanted Circle

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Arroyo Seco 

Speaking of checking out some small towns, one town you have to check out is Arroyo Seco. A tiny town on the way to Taos Ski Valley with few establishments, but hidden gems to be found. Who doesn’t love exploring a small town?

This is a great place to stop and eat after exploring the Ski Valley.

You can check out Sol Food Cafe for something quick, or stop by ACEQ for lovely farm to table dining.

Make sure you stop in at Little Loved Market, one of my favorite vintage finds during our travels. Your IG will love how you look in some southwestern vintage, I guarantee it.

Kit Carson Home and Museum 

Kit Carson was a legendary frontiersman, trapper, trader, and soldier from the early 1800’s. While being a legend, he made Taos his home. Right smack in the center of town, you can visit his home and picture a much more hardened version of yourself like Kit Carson.

This living museum holds in place what it was like for a frontiersman of Kit’s stature 200 years ago. 

You can walk the grounds reading the story boards and inspecting the weapons and tools. You can also take pictures of the furniture as inspiration for your now southwestern style home.

There are even guided and self-guided tours to learn everything you need to know about Carson and the history of the area, so make sure you step back in time and check out Kit Carson Home and Museum while you’re in Taos!

Kit Carson

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Float down the Rio Grande 

More a fun activity than a place to visit I suppose, but we’ll think of it as visiting the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge. Or, getting up close and personal to the Rio Grande herself.

There are several outposts near Taos that you can rent rafts and gear for your adventure. You’ll float down the river gazing up at the sky and the mighty walls of the gorge. Keep an eye out for hawks, eagles, and other wild life during your journey! 

The Rio Grande is a legendary American river.

Throughout the history of westward expansion, many have come across the Rio Grande, battling with natives and exploring unknown lands.

Tackle your own adventure and along the way take in an incredible vantage point of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge mentioned earlier. For those visiting Taos and itching for adventure, this the perfect solution for you.

Rio Grande

Photo of Rio Grande with wild fire smoke by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Did we miss any of your favorite places in Taos, New Mexico?

Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in Taos, New Mexico you’d like to see on our list!

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