It’s not easy rising with the sun and hitting the road, but the oasis of Truth or Consequences makes the struggle worthwhile. Just a little over an hour drive north of Las Cruces, this lakeside village offers art, hot springs, and some yummy eats if you know where to look.
Follow this guide to see, taste, and try the best of T or C.
Written and photography by Jennifer C. Olson
Acquaint Yourself With the Quirk
The payoff for your journey begins during breakfast at Passion Pie Café (406 Main Ave., deepwaterfarm.com). Easy to find and centrally located, this colorful coffee stop promises to rejuvenate visitors in more ways than one. To compensate for your early start, order a Shot In Space, which the barista describes as a “red eye”—their cold brew laced with two shots of espresso. For less of a jolt, ask for one of the iced teas of the day (like citrus hibiscus or ginger peach). Pair either with the Passion Pie’s filling twist on New Mexican comfort food: a green chile corn and feta muffin. Instead of taking your java to go, sip it in the artsy café while gazing at locally made art or flipping through a paperback from the leave-one-take-one library.
After breakfast, head down the street to the Geronimo Springs Museum (211 Main Ave., geronimospringsmuseum.com). If it’s not open yet, admire the nearby water feature and check out the Healing Waters Trail kiosk, which maps out landmarks within walking distance. Continue on an energizing stroll through Ralph Edwards Park (East Riverside Dr. between S. Cedar St. and Birch St.) for a peek at the Rio Grande, and then come back downtown via Broadway St.
Since many of downtown T or C’s storefronts are either galleries or antique shops, we suggest visiting the galleries first and then treasure hunting for vintage collectibles. While you’re in the area, pop into RioBravoFineArt (110 N Broadway St., riobravofineartgallery.com), a gallery featuring works from the estate of founder Harold Joe Waldrum and contemporary fine art from other Southwest artists.
Move on to Grapes Gallery (407-409 Main St., 949-371-7691) a collective that hosts regular painting classes. It’s just a five-minute walk from RioBravoFineArt, but since the route is distractingly eclectic, the journey could easily eat up half and hour. Hosted by a rotating crowd of creatives, Grapes leaves most of its massive showroom open (save for a living room-like arrangement at dead center), giving the art along its walls room to breathe. Note the artist bios next to each brilliantly displayed grouping of pieces, and admire each style in the context of its creator’s story.
With any extra time this morning, venture off Main and Broadway to Spectrum Pottery (411 Date St., 575-894-6100). The studio and gallery’s hand-thrown stoneware is food, oven, and dishwasher safe—not to mention gorgeous. Artist Ken Merrick has been making and selling these pieces from T or C since 1974.
All this art gazing will no doubt bring on an appetite, so head back downtown for a bite at Grapevine Bistro (413 N. Broadway St., grapevinebistro.com), which dishes up gluten-free and vegetarian options. Their menu includes a Very Berry Salad with a house-made raspberry vinaigrette, and a meaty T or C Club on rosemary olive oil bread. So go light or go hearty, but definitely save room for dessert—or at least a croissant slathered with prickly pear jam!
Hunt for Treasure!
Whether an antique collector or thrift store junkie, a visitor to T or C will find no shortage of places to shop. When Pigs Fly (113 Main Ave., 575-200-8143) has the most impressive and best-curated collection of vintage goods—tin signs, record albums, antique kitchen utensils, costume jewelry, and refrigerator magnets. An aficionado can browse in silent delight, while an amateur will discover a wealth of knowledge in the friendly shopkeeper.
Another friendly face will welcome you into Sun Gallery (407 1/2 N. Broadway St., 541-515-4575). You can gauge artist Sue Soaring Sun’s passion for collecting by the amount of goods piled high in the small store, and her sense of humor shines through in the displays.
Discover some out-of-this-world clothing at nearby boutique A Touch of Yesterday (409 N. Broadway St., 575-590-1524) and then head across the street. On the south side of Broadway, Xochis Bookstore and Gallery (430 N. Broadway St., xochis.com) sells texts from all over the globe and offers pottery from San Ildefonso, Santa Clara Pueblo, and Hopi artists. Grow your winter reading list from selections on the shelves, and also expand your collection of display pieces for your home.
As you wander, note the dada art exhibited on fences and in yards around town. Stop and pose for silly photographs in front of T or C’s vibrant murals and rainbow-hued buildings. Stop to admire street sculptures, and make a point to check out the newly built Healing Waters Plaza (300 Daniels St.) behind the Spaceport America Visitor Center (301 S Foch St., 1-844-7-2SPACE, spaceportamerica.com).
Soak It All In
Finally, unwind at Fire Water Lodge (311 Broadway St., firewaterlodge.com), an oasis within an oasis. This place is tops for a laid-back vacation. With a lush courtyard and in-room soaking tubs, this stylish Southwest lodge offers respite and authenticity—and it’s even dog-friendly (with a $10 fee). Start your evening with a private soak or a dip in the lodge’s community outdoor tub.
If they’re booked up, downtown is also home to the Pelican-collection of hotel spas (pelican-spa.com) and the exquisite and historic Ted Turner’s Sierra Grande Lodge (501 McAdoo St., sierragrandelodge.com).
Go Out On The Town
Now that you’ve exhausted and relaxed yourself, clean up for dinner in a refined establishment. On a quieter side street, BellaLuca (303 Jones St., cafebellaluca.com) serves Italian cuisine in the middle of the desert, and it’s just what you need after a day this stimulating. While many T or C restaurant names, and even the town’s vegetation hints at wine, BellaLuca is the place to find it. You can get a craft brew here, as well. But the begs-to-be-ordered menu item is the New Mexico specialty calzone featuring classic red sauce, green chile, bacon, onion, and mushroom. For a sweet ending to your day in T or C, indulge in the brioche bread pudding, which is drowned in an earthy caramelized pear and brandy sauce.
Still not ready to turn in? Truth or Consequences Brewing Company (410 Broadway St., torc.beer)—the county’s first craft brewery—will open in 2017, so note its progress and pop your head in for an after-dinner beverage if it’s ready for business. You might also aim to visit during a Second Saturday Hop from 6 to 9pm. Peruse galleries and studios while meeting artists and enjoying music and refreshments.
Ready for Round 2?
If you stay the night and have another day to explore the area, visit Spaceport America via the shuttles from the downtown Visitor Center (spaceportamerica.com, 1-844-7-2SPACE) with reservations 24-hours in advance or book an eco tour through Ted Turner Expeditions (tedturnerexpeditions.com).
For more information on the beautiful town of Truth or Consequences, including a full map of the Hot Springs Historic District, visit sierracountynewmexico.info.