Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Taos, NM

  • Published 2022/05/03

A town of art and beauty, Taos is a masterpiece in the heart of New Mexico.

Known to the Spanish as the “City of Gold,” Taos captivates the hearts of tourists.

This town, rich in culture and heritage, boasts countless appealing attractions.

From white water rafting to skiing, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in this charming town all year round.

Ready to start planning your next vacation?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Taos, New Mexico:

Visit Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Daytime view of Taos Pueblo

Nick Fox /

One of the most famous historical landmarks in New Mexico, Taos Pueblo also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s remained home to Native Americans for over a thousand years, with buildings dating back to 1000 and 1450 AD.

Because of its rich historical significance, visiting Taos Pueblo will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time.

Hanging peppers at Taos Pueblo

Pecold /

Spanish explorers imagined this was the real city of gold when they came across the flourishing valley of Taos—thus the town’s nickname, “City of Gold.”

The community exists across 95,000 acres and has about 4,500 residents.

They make their livelihood by creating different crafts, including handmade jewelry.

Stairs resting on a clay house at Taos Pueblo

Vladislav Gajic /

Take a Walk around Taos Downtown Historic District

The road of Taos Historic District

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to have a real taste of what Taos has to offer, you need to go and take a look around Taos Historic District.

This is one of the most crowded and lively parts of the city.

It has all the flavors any city in New Mexico should have.

The heart of the Taos Downtown Historic District, Taos Plaza is a lovely place that draws many tourists.

The plaza of Taos Downtown Historic District

stellamc /

Most downtown establishments were built almost 300 years ago, and to this date, they are doing quite well.

It doesn’t matter if you are hungry or looking to buy some souvenirs; Taos Historic District is where to go.

There are a lot of boutiques lined up on both sides of the street, and Taos Plaza has some of the best restaurants in the city.

There are always a lot of concerts or live music playing on the corners of streets throughout the summer, and you can actively take part in these.

If you notice the buildings around you, a lot of them have the architectural style of the ancient Spanish Colonial Style.

Buildings along Taos Downtown Historic District

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the Views at Rio Grande Gorge

Aerial view of Rio Grande Bridge

Sean Pavone /

The Rio Grande Bridge makes the Rio Grande Gorge even more eye-catching.

You will understand when you are looking at the bridge, as there is no other way you can realize how deep the gorge is until you see the bridge floating above it at the magnificent height of 650 feet.

The river left a great mark on the grand plains, which were volcanic.

The waters of Rio Grande Gorge

Ann Cantelow /

If you drive along US Route 64, you will find the parking lot assigned to this attraction.

Without even leaving your car, you’ll be blessed with some of the very best views of the steel bridge and the deep gorge.

Did you know this happens to be the most gorgeous bridge made of steel in the entire country?

Its beauty is breathtaking because it feels like there is no end or beginning to this bridge; it just seems to float at a majestic height above the river.

Drop by the Taos Art Museum

The Taos Art Museum is located in the house of a significant artist.

Nicolai Fechin was one of the most important artists of Taos who came to New Mexico from Russia.

It was in Fechin House that Taos Art Museum was built.

The building boasts a beautiful mix of Spanish and Native American designs.

The museum is home to an organization known as the Taos Society of Artists, a group of talented local art artists.

You can see a lot of their work in the museum.

The Taos Art Museum’s main attractions would have to be Fechin’s actual paintings, which are breathtaking.

Tour the Kit Carson Home & Museum

Exterior of Kit Carson Museum

Traveller70 /

Kit Carson was one of the earliest settlers in the urban society of modern Taos.

The Kit Carson Museum is an excellent place to learn about the town’s history.

This legendary historic home was built in the 19th century.

Front exterior of Kit Carson Home & Museum

Traveller70 /

Carson bought it somewhere around 1843, and the house served as the home of the Carson family.

The Carson home was something like Taos’s cultural or main center for many years.

Admire Art and Jewelry at the Millicent Rogers Museum

Welcome sign of Millicent Rogers Museum

Nolichuckyjake /

Have you heard of the world-famous American potter Maria Martinez?

Most of her works have been donated to the Millicent Rogers Museum by her family.

Her work portrays Taos’ cultural impact.

That’s not all there is to see at this museum, either.

Millicent Rogers, the fashionista after whom the museum was named, donated something to the museum that people come to look at from all over the world: her most valuable turquoise jewelry collection.

Most people favor these two particular displays, but the museum has more to offer, including pieces that show off Hispanic art culture.

Some works of art are over a thousand years old.

See the Historic Hacienda de Los Martinez

Building at Hacienda de Los Martinez

Brent Coulter /

The Hacienda de Los Martinez is a haven for great architecture.

You’ll find native American homes as well as Spanish Colonial-style buildings here.

The Hacienda de Los Martinez used to be the homestead of the great Martinez family of Taos.

Family chapel of Hacienda de Los Martinez

Larry Lamsa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was built more than 200 years ago and was a fundamental pillar in Spanish trading systems.

You can still see the house standing firm, with 21 rooms open for tourists to visit.

There is a museum that shows some of the old trade routes and different systems that were used in the past.

Say a Prayer at the San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church

Exterior of San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church

Terry W Ryder /

The San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church is one of the oldest and most respected churches in Taos.

Its architecture is grand, having some specs from the colonial style.

Saint francis statue in front of San Francisco de Assis Mission Church

David P. Hardin /

The church was built for the common community as they needed a place to practice their faith.

You can see white crosses standing straight at the entrance of the church.

There is also a cemetery in the vicinity.

Wooden cross of an Francisco de Assis Mission Church

Danita Delimont /

Explore the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway

Scenic view of Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway

Gestalt Imagery /

If you are here for a weekend, take the time to drive to the stunning Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.

Alternatively, if you are on your way to see the legendary Gorge Bridge, a small detour will lead you here.

The road of Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway

Gestalt Imagery /

Arroyo Seco, Arroyo Hondo, San Cristobal, and D. H. Lawrence’s ranch are some of the most beautiful places along this drive.

The roads are beautiful, and the byway is also set against the backdrop of the legendary Sangre de Cristo range.

All these make the drive extremely picturesque.

Beautiful views from Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drive Up to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge at Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The northern part of Taos extends to the border of Colorado.

All the lands in these regions are under the iconic El Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

More than 250,000 acres fall under these lands.

So, you can imagine the size of this region.

Mountains at Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Danita Delimont /

The Bureau of Land Management takes care of these landscapes.

If you explore, you can come across a lot of different ecosystems.

There are grasslands and alpine ranges in this region.

Ute Mountain and Rio Grande Gorge are all present here, providing the place with paralleled beauty.

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area and the Orilla Verde Recreation Area are also located within these lands.

Check Out the Wild Rivers Recreation Area

Daytime view of Wild Rivers Recreation Area

It’sOnlyMakeBelieve, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is another place from where you can enjoy views of the mighty Rio Grande Gorge and bridge.

The views here are some of the most breathtaking ones you’ll see in Taos.

To maximize your time here, you can go camping in the vicinity.

Look around for a Backcountry Byway to have one of the best drives.

Catch the sunset at La Junta Point and be mesmerized by nature.

Go Skiing at Taos Ski Valley

People at Taos Ski Valley

Steve Boice /

Are you visiting Taos in the winter?

Taos Ski Valley is among the best ski resorts in the world.

Empty chairlifts at Taos Ski Valley

Raisa Nastukova /

There are ski trails for all levels of expertise.

The place is best for beginners, and if you are already experienced, you are bound to love it.

You can also book a stay here if you want to spend a night in the snow.

Snow-covered Taos Ski Valley

Raisa Nastukova /

Ride a Hot-Air Balloon and Enjoy a Bird’s-Eye View of Taos

 Hot-air balloon in Taos

Jeffrey B. Banke /

Hot-air ballooning is one of the top activities to enjoy in Taos.

If you want to look at the gorgeous views that Taos has to offer from above, you should take this chance and get up on a balloon.

Hot-Air Balloon over Rio Grande Gorge

karengesweinphotography /

Since Taos is filled with plateaus and canyons, some of its most spectacular attractions are best viewed from above.

For a scenic hot-air balloon ride in Taos, the most favorable departure point would be beside the Rio Grande Gorge.

The skies will look perfectly blue and heavenly, and the scenery will remind you of something straight out of a painting.

Be Amazed by Nature at the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area

Plants at Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area

JerryFriedman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area is one of Taos’ most beautiful pieces of land.

Initially a part of the same ecosystem as that of the Rockies, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area is a great place to enjoy nature to its fullest.

You can also see Lobo Peak here.

There are trails of over 75 miles where you can go hiking.

Wheeler Peak is also present here, adding more stunning views to the already gorgeous location.

Witness the Famous Collections of Ernest Blumenschein

Entryway of Ernest Blumenschein Museum

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ernest Blumenschein is one of the most iconic names when it comes to Taos’ art industry.

Don’t end your trip without seeing one of the most stunning art collections in the entire region.

Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein are the two artists responsible for prospering Taos’ art scene.

No one had any idea of how gorgeous Taos was until these two told everyone about its natural beauty through their art.

These two artists established the Taos Society of Artists, a group of talented local artists.

Check Out Earthship Biotecture

Earthship Biotecture World Headquarters

Takako Picture Lab /

The Earthship Biotecture world headquarters and visitor center is a rare place to visit.

The idea behind this place is quite creative, innovative, and thoughtful.

It is a museum that showcases sustainability through Earthships built in the form of living quarters.

Exterior of a shelter at Earthship Biotecture

richardamora /

This center is a place that provides education on a range of environmental issues, including solar power and recycling.

You can also book an overnight stay to experience the Earthship firsthand.

You can also buy a range of educational merchandise to continue your journey of learning about the environment.

Colorful structure at Earthship Biotecture

Kent Weakley /

Hike the Williams Lake Trail

Scenic view of Williams Lake

Jeffrey B. Banke /

If you love hiking, then a trip to the Williams Lake Trail is a must-do activity in the Taos Ski Valley area.

Also in the area is a quaint inn selling beer and German food, a picnic area, and many examples of the local flora like the Columbine blossom.

Trees framing Williams Lake Trail

Althuin /

The hike to the summit offers spectacular views of the lake, and there is a waterfall that also operates as a rest area.

At almost 2 miles long, the trail is steep in parts but relatively short, making this route extremely popular with hikers.

Enjoy Your Choice of Water Adventures with Los Rios River Runners

The Los Rio runners have been in business for over 40 years.

It offers various adventure activities such as rafting and gaming on the Rio Grande.

If you are more adventurous, you can take whitewater rafting trips over rapids or camp in the stunning Rio Chama Canyon.

You can also enjoy tour packages that include rafting and dining experiences with a calmer overall experience.

Go Rock Climbing with Mountain Skills Rock Guides

Mountain Skills Rock Guides provides guided trips to start your rock-climbing adventures.

This is basically a climbing school that provides you with the best techniques for conquering any mountain.

Beginners are more than welcome here.

They also ensure that safer conditions and scenic views are available at par for all the new climbers.

Have Burgers and Beer at The Burger Stand @ Taos Ale House

The Burger Stand @ Taos Ale House is where everyone goes to catch a game.

This place is equipped with several large TVs, so you don’t miss the action.

Beer is served along with tasty snacks.

There is also an excellent selection of wines, so your night out does not fall short of any experience.

The burger stand is top-of-the-class and offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

They organize live music evenings to make the whole ambiance more lively.

Admire Local Works at the Harwood Museum of Art

Exterior of Harwood Museum of Art

Khlnmusa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1923, the Harwood Museum of Art is one of the state’s first museums.

Taos painters and Hispanic artists are highly represented in this well-kept museum.

Take a few hours out of your day to see the Harwood Museum of Art’s numerous galleries.

Spanish colonial bulto in Harwood Museum of Art

Jay Cross from Berkeley, California, US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A wide variety of indigenous and modern art may be seen here.

You’ll be able to see a wide range of art, from early 20th-century paintings to contemporary works by Taos artists.

You may also participate in engaging activities, such as art workshops, lectures, guided tours, etc.

Get a Glimpse of the Past at Blumenschein Home & Museum

Exterior of Ernest Blumenschein House

Archinia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The home of E.L. Blumenschein, Mary Greene, his wife, and their daughter Helen was transformed into a museum.

E.L. Blumenschein is one of the first members of the Taos Society of Artists.

Library in Ernest Blumenschein House

Yworo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Artworks by Blumenschein and other notable artists from the local Taos art community fill the museum.

Additionally, visitors will witness samples of Spanish Colonial and European era antiques and family heirlooms still inhabit the home.

Visit this mansion for more than just a look at the art of the early 20th century in Taos.

Meet and Greet Llamas at Wild Earth Llama Adventures

Spend a day or two trekking and camping with a friendly llama at your side.

The llamas aren’t there for a ride; instead, they’re there to haul your camping gear along behind them while you walk.

You’ll learn all you need to know about the region’s flora and animals, campfire methods, and wilderness life.

Here, you will also discover the history and culture of the area from the guides who lead the excursions.

Depending on your itinerary, a gourmet lunch may also be included.

Explore the Snowy Mountains with Taos Snowshoe Adventures

The Southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico are a great place to learn about the area’s flora and animals and how to live in the wilderness.

Snowshoeing has long been a popular winter leisure activity in the region.

Unlike many other winter sports, it doesn’t need specialized equipment or high fitness levels.

The focus is on having fun and relaxing in the snow, and you may tailor your trip to suit your fitness level and interests.

So, pack your snowshoes and go up to the mountains to get started!

Cap Off Your Day at Taos Mesa Brewing

As a popular microbrewery in Taos, Taos Mesa Brewing can serve up to 12 of its seasonal beers on tap at any one time.

Additionally, it has a wide selection of additional regional and local craft beers on tap, completing the Tap Room experience.

Taos Mesa Brewing’s beers are known for outstanding quality and consistency.

The locals gather to meet friends during happy hour, eat fantastic food and listen to some of the best local bands.

In addition to hosting live bands, comedy shows, and ping-pong competitions, their magnificent terrace is a favorite gathering place for all kinds of events.

Final Thoughts

Because of its refreshing change of scenery and several exciting activities, Taos is an excellent spot to loosen up from your daily life in the city and recharge.

Several outdoor activities and fascinating historical monuments and museums await you when it comes to Taos’ attractions.

Gather your family and friends and plan an exciting holiday!

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