People come to the Taos area for all sorts of things…skiiing, hiking, fishing, and…shopping?
Here’s the deal: People who say that shopping isn’t a sport probably just aren’t doing it right : )
Now I’ll confess…I’m not a mega shopper. I only like to shop in places that are super targeted to my interests or that are super unique. Well, Taos is both.
Northern New Mexico (Taos and Santa Fe specifically) is home to some of the most unique culture in the US and you’ll find things (architecture, local wares, FOOD) that will make you think you’re in a different country.
Being part Native American myself, I’ve always had an appreciation for native culture, artisans, and western style in general. And there’s really nowhere in the US with a vibe like Taos (besides Santa Fe).
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Taos over the last year or so and at this point I’ve pretty much been in all of the shops. Some are total tourist traps, some sell cookie cutter merchandise, but some are absolute GEMS.
I’ll give you the lowdown on the layout of Taos plus a few different areas nearby that have good shopping and then the rundown on the specific shops that I REALLY like (and go back to often).
Shopping in Taos: Where to Go
Most of the shopping in Taos is centered in the historic downtown area. You’ve got the Taos Plaza (Santa Fe and Albuquerque have similarly designed central spaces) where the original shops are all anchored. The John Dunn Shops backs into that and it’s a walkable avenue lined with shops. Bent Street and Kit Carson St (the end that runs into Paseo del Pueblo Sur 68/64) are also lined with shops. If you park anywhere in this area, it’s pretty much all walkable.
There’s a free parking lot at the corner of Kit Carson St and Quesnel and then the closer you get into the hub of downtown you’ll want to have some quarters for street parking (even most of the smaller lots have coin meters).
Nearby Taos, you may also want to venture over to Ranchos de Taos (there’s a historic church and a great New Mexican style restaurant to pair with the amazing Chimayo Trading del Norte) or Arroyo Secco (a CUTE little town with shops and restaurants on the way up to the Taos Ski Valley). It’s worth the drive up to the Taos Ski Valley just for the views, but in general the shopping and dining options up there aren’t overwhelming.
Where to Buy Turquoise Jewelry in Taos
So, I have a somewhat sizable obsession with turquoise. It started when I was about 12 and spent $60 of my hard earned money (that was a LOT at the time!!) on a turquoise necklace in Santa Fe. We were on the plaza for the Indian Market and the local vendors had their wares spread out on blankets on the ground.
The turquoise was green with strong black veins and 21 years later the necklace has broken but I still have the beads and rework them into bracelets, another necklace, earrings, etc. pretty often. So whenever I’m in the west/southwest (but especially New Mexico) area, I’ve always got my eyes peeled for a turquoise piece that “speaks to me.”
Well, the turquoise does a lot of speaking in Taos ; )
Here are the places where I’m always looking:
Taos Pueblo: If you’re in the market for turquoise jewelry in Taos, this should be your first stop. Well, it should be your first stop even if you’re not a shopper. But anyways, I always like to go straight to the source. There’s something about buying directly from the artist instead of from a dealer at a gallery. Some artists have shops in their homes and some set up under shade structures and really, the whole experience is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else in the world. Don’t miss Sonny Spruce’s Indian Shop.
Lyle’s Creations: Lyle opened his shop just off the plaza when the Pueblo was still closed during COVID. Pretty much everything here comes straight from the Pueblo so it’s a great option if you can’t make it up there or you just want more choices.
Arroyo Seco Mercantile: Part antique store, part gift shop, the mercantile is a GREAT place to find vintage pieces.
Chimayo Trading Del Norte: Another spot for high end and vintage pieces. This might be my #2 stop after the Pueblo.
Millicent Rogers Museum Gift Shop: This one’s a little out in left field, and while it’s not my favorite museum in Taos, their gift shop is exceptional. New and vintage pieces. Plus if you just like jewelry in general, there is sooooooo much to see in the museum.
Taos Accessories: Everything here is made by local artists and I would say the settings trend more modern than most places in town.
El Rincon Trading Post: Built in 1809, this historic trading post is still a great shop to find unique pieces.
More of My Favorite Shops in Taos
Besides shops that specialize in turquoise jewelry or Native American art, there are a lot of great local shops in Taos. Here are some of my steadies:
Ampersand Old & New: This is maybe one of my favorite shops EVER. Mid Century Modern with a ranch/western twist…a mix of new and vintage finds, mostly for the home but also gifts. If I lived in the area, I would probably furnish my home out of this store. They also have good jewelry and gifts.
People of the Valley: This is a great spot for vintage (hats, boots, clothes, jewelry) plus more modern western oriented brands.
Lun & Ojo: Such a fun shop featuring local artists and vintage items with a fun vibe. Plus a shop dog!
Confluence: This new spot in the Taos Ski Valley has a great collection of high end western brands. It’s very curated (and honestly pretty expensive), but it fills a void that was majorly needed up at the ski valley. Some of what they stock is local and some is more regional, but it’s all very western, southwestern, and mountain lifestyle oriented.
Moda: This place has a great selection of clothes and jewelry that feel cozy and mountain-y, but still modern and wearable.
Op.Cit Books: I love an independent bookstore and this one hits all the right vibes. They have a great local section, plus it feels like it’s in a converted house and I love when a bookshop has a good hodge podge of rooms. Whether you’re looking for a new novel to read or a book about the best hikes in Taos, you’ll find it here.
Taos Blue: This was by far the best gallery I’ve found in Taos so far. It’s a nice, high end gallery (but not insanely priced) that has the full spectrum of pieces from jewelry to art to lamps to furniture. If you want something locally made that represents the culture of the area, this is a great place.
Taos Mountain Outfitters: I can never pass up a good gear store. This place is pretty big and has everything you could ever need for any sort of outdoor activity in New Mexico (except skiing)…think hiking, fishing, camping, etc. (both summer and winter gear). They have a pretty good dog section too. But I think my dog, Juniper, would probably flip if she was expected to carry a little backpack on a hike ; ) Sidenote: there is a worn leather couch in this store that I’m trying to figure out if I could make them an offer on ; )
Taos and Tribe: It’s hard to hit Taos & Tribe when they’re open (limited weekend hours and by appointment), but it’s a really unique store that specializes in high end bohemian style clothes with a western flair. I’ve never even heard of most of the brands they carry, but it’s very much a “vibe.”