Taos, N.M.

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Taos, NM 1203

Al's Run get the best of you? Take a day off from the Taos steeps and head 18 miles to town. En route, stop in Arroyo Seco—that quirky hamlet you surely wondered about on the ride up (if you didn't blink and miss it). Grab a latte from Gypsy 360º to prime the engine for a walking tour of Taos Pueblo—one of the oldest and most well-preserved communities in the country. When you've got a solid appetite, get back on the road to town and join the locals at Michael's Kitchen, where the strawberry banana pecan pancakes rule.

Begin your explorations at historic Taos Plaza, the site of the town's original Spanish settlement, which is today lined with more than 60 galleries, shops and eateries. For a peek into the Wild West, visit the town's original jailhouse, now Xocoatl Chocolatier, then tour the Kit Carson Home, where you'll see the frontiersman's six-shooters among other period artifacts. As noon nears, drive four miles south of town to St. Francis Plaza, the fort built by Spaniards around 1700. It's home to one of the nation's most photographed churches, St. Francis of Assisi. It's also home to Ranchos Plaza Grill, where—on a mild day—you can enjoy local fare on the patio.

Be sure to set aside some time for relaxation therapy. Enjoy a dunk in the Manby Hot Springs (four miles north of town), followed by a dizzying view of the 1,200-foot Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, 650 feet above the river. Better yet—since this is your vacation—splurge on a hot rock massage or a private yoga lesson at the new El Monte Sagrado resort. Afterward, you might be thinking "bed, but the day is young. Grab a pick-me-up at The Bean coffee shop or relax to live music at The Adobe Bar in the Taos Inn, affectionately known as "the living room of Taos. For dinner, a class at the Taos School of Cooking is one of the locals' finer secrets. Under the guidance of guest chefs, you'll create the delicious theme du jour—from Oaxacan Moles to Atkins Goes Asian.

It's been a full day, but on your way home, grab a nightcap at the Old Blinking Light (live music Monday and Friday nights), or inch a bit closer and stop at Momentitos de la Vida and relax on a comfy sofa by the fire. What've you missed? Just a llama ride, maybe a performing-arts event and—surely—endless culture. But there'll be time tomorrow—after you've shown Al who's boss.

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