Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of earth’s must-visit cities. The City Different achieved the fifth highest score in the world from Conde Nast Traveler readers last year, and this year, National Geographic awarded Santa Fe first place in the highly competitive Sense of Place category in their prestigious World Legacy Awards. This city is on everyone’s bucket list because it has it all: from a rich, storied history, multicultural and beloved arts scenes, and a savory, regional cuisine to an outdoors that offers four seasons of absolutely majestic adventure. Santa Fe is an atypical city in most ways. The layout is deceptively small and tucked in between three mountain ranges, with centuries of nuanced and multilayered culture. Because of this, visitors often underestimate the depth of the city’s offerings. While they all have a thrilling time, they still miss out on many treasures even during an extended stay.
History is so close to the surface of modern Santa Fe. For better or worse, the events that have shaped who we are remembered down through the generations. With this respect as their guide, visitors can encounter the past all along Santa Fe’s winding, European-style streets. Historic landmarks include the Loretto Chapel, home to the legendary “Miraculous Staircase”, a staple of Santa Fe architectural and spiritual history. This chapel is also known for its weddings. The San Miguel Chapel is the oldest church in the continental United States, with a history that goes back to at least 1628. In addition to tours and mass, the chapel is also available as a music venue that hosts lectures and concerts. For a glimpse into Northern New Mexico’s ancestral Puebloan past, Bandelier National Monument or Puye Cliffs are short day trips featuring petroglyphs and ancient cliff dwellings nestled in the area’s rugged mesa country. Travelers seeking a more intimate experience of New Mexico’s present day Native American cultures should consider attending one of the many Pueblo feast day celebrations.
Museums are aplenty in Santa Fe, as people have been making art here for centuries. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum contains a collection of immediately recognizable works, as well as rare, lesser-known gems that may give you a fuller picture of Georgia’s creative life. Additionally, a short road trip to O’Keeffe’s home and studio allows you to experience the iconic place where she created some of her acclaimed works, surrounded by centuries of history and breathtaking landscape. The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts hosts a collection representative of the diverse art forms across Native North America. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture tells stories of the Native American people from the very ancient to modern times. The Museum of International Folk Art always has something on view that will blow your mind. They have an installation of carved angel and devil figures from around the world, assembled in a glass case to create a heaven and hell scene that you can stare at for hours and still find something new. The New Mexico History Museum is a good place to start if you want to understand the depth of culture in Santa Fe. The Palace of the Governors is one of the most iconic locations in our city, and has the rare distinction of being a National Historic Treasure. You can find native artists lined up and down the portal outside selling only authentic and traditional wares, often not found anywhere else. Other museums within the city include the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, SITE Santa Fe and the Wheelright Museum of the American Indian.
Theatrical entertainment is of no shortage in Santa Fe. There is cinema that can cater to every taste, from ridiculous popcorn flicks to high art. The aforementioned IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts is creating a modern Immersive Laboratory in the Digital Dome that will update and augment existing virtual reality facilities. The Jean Cocteau Cinema is where Santa Fe icon and medieval murder junkie George R.R. Martin holds court. This cinema serves as a shrine to geek culture—the only place in Santa Fe where you can see Back to the Future one week and Godzilla the next. The Cocteau often hosts events such as author talks with the likes of Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, and John Hodgman, and has its own bar. When you’re not watching a film or bumping into nerd royalty, you can browse its collection of books — all signed by the authors. The Lensic Performing Arts Center has been a part of Santa Fe since 1931 and offers film, music, plays and ballet within its walls. The Lensic also offers its facilities to local nonprofits, meaning it’s an important staple of the Santa Fe community. Teatro Paraguas is a theater that promotes performing art in both English and Spanish. Their bilingual presentations include the poetry and plays of Hispanic, Latinx and multicultural writers. Playwrights from New Mexico often take center stage at Teatro Paraguas, and the theater continues its celebrations of diversity through its children’s theater program. Loretto Line Tour Company is the most popular sightseeing company since 1992. The Loretto Line hires enthusiastic, professional guides to pilot open-air trams that give guests a one-of-a-kind vacation experience.
You may not have thought Santa Fe was a great outdoor destination, but, low and behold, the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Santa Fe are a jewel hidden in the Southwestern U.S.! Santa Fe is a paradise for hikers, skiers, snowshoers, mountain bikers, river rafters, fishing enthusiasts, horseback riders and people who simply like to stroll in city parks and take in the fresh air.
In summer, hike the miles of mountain wilderness, enjoying dramatic, panoramic vistas and fields of wildflowers. View the interactive Santa Fe County Trails Map or check out a Google map of trails leading up to the summit of Santa Fe Baldy, Northern New Mexico’s highest peak. In addition to Hyde Memorial State Park, Cerrillos Hills State Park is a little south of Santa Fe and was once a mining town. Self-guided hikes along 5 miles of trail will lead you past historic mine sites while interpretive signs along the way tell the story of how the area’s natural history influenced cultures through 1,000 years of Cerrillos Hills mining history.
Singletracks.com rates Santa Fe as a top ten mountain biking destination in the country, and the International Mountain Biking Association has named Santa Fe a Silver-Level Ride Center. But you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the city’s many bike trails and paths. Download a Santa Fe City Trail Map and a RTD Mountain Trail Route Map to find bicycle paths and trails for all types of riders located in and around the city. The following PDF maps highlight some of Santa Fe’s greatest trails: Dale Ball Trail, La Tierra Trail, Pajarito Mountain Trail, Galisteo Trail, White Mesa Bike Trail. Bicycle shops and rental equipment can be found at these locations: Mello Velo Bicycles, The Broken Spoke, New Mexico Bike & Sport, Sirius Cycles, Santa Fe REI. Each year the city hosts the Outside Bike & Brew Festival, a three day event celebrating Santa Fe’s craft beer culture and some of the best biking in the country. Check out trail conditions or hook up with a group ride through the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society. For those who like to get wet, companies such as Santa Fe Rafting, New Mexico River Adventures, and Kokopelli Rafting Adventures offer river rafting, kayaking, and canoeing on the Rio Grande and Rio Chama. For information regarding fishing within the Santa Fe National Forest, please click here. Santa Fe Mountain Adventures is a one-stop-shop for tours in hiking, mountain biking, 4×4 adventures, geocaching, high-country horseback riding, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and customized interpretive tours to cultural landmarks. For a comprehensive list of creative tours in and out of the city, please click here. Parks and recreation enthusiasts can dip their toes into more than 50 scenic parks including Cathedral Park, Bicentennial/Alto Park, Ft. Marcy Recreation Complex, Genoveva Chavez Community Center, Salvador Perez Recreation Center and the Bicentennial Park Pool (summer only).
Santa Fe also offers mind-blowing golfing options for novice and advanced. We’re talking everything from mountain to high-desert courses, all with stunning views of the New Mexico landscape. At the top of the must-play list is Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, just eight miles west of downtown. This legendary course is in high-end country club condition, with 360-degree views of the mountains. Other top choices for golf include The Club at Las Campanas, the only full-service private club in Northern New Mexico, Cochiti Golf Club, a public golf course, and the Towa Golf Club, which includes three independent nine-hole courses.
In the winter, you can ski the Rocky Mountains in winter at Ski Santa Fe and ice skate outdoors on the pond in Hyde Memorial State Park. The Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico provides outdoor recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities including adaptive skiing and snowboarding as well as golf, rock climbing, water sports and much more in the warmer seasons. Check out Cottam’s Ski Shop in Hyde Memorial Park for rentals, tune-ups, and retail options. At Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing, guests can enjoy private, interpretive guides and equipment to explore Santa Fe’s great outdoors.
Santa Fe is home to more than just great sunsets, great artwork and great food you can’t find anywhere else. This small city is home to many strange and wild attractions that make it extra special to visit or live here. Here are a few of the standout places you can visit in between trips to the mountains. The Harrell House Bug Museum is a kid-friendly collection home to more than 2,400 specimens that range from insects, spiders and scorpions to a two-foot long whip spider and beetles that are larger than your face. As the bug museum grew, Harrell added a collection of more than 150 live animals, including reptiles, fish and arthropods. The exhibit is a huge draw for kids, who can explore it using flashlights and magnifying glasses. There’s also a hands-on element as kids can hold some harmless live bugs. For another interactive setting and hands-on play, check out the Santa Fe Climbing Center. This is the only indoor rock-climbing center in Northern New Mexico, with areas for bouldering, top rope, lead climbing, as well as an area for kids climbing. Guided outdoor trips, classes, climbing teams and youth camps are also offered. Perhaps you’d like to try an activity you can take home with you. At the Santa Fe School of Cooking you can learn traditional New Mexican, Native American, Mexican, Spanish and vegetarian fare in an entertaining, educational and delicious classroom setting. At the School for Advanced Research, studies encompass broadly defined anthropology with a special focus on Native American artists and writers. The Indian Arts Research Center located there offers tours of one of the best collections of Southwestern Native American pottery, clothing, drums and jewelry in the world. If you’re looking to learn how to skateboard, the Skate School of Santa Fe has you covered. Their indoor facility features a 36-foot wide ramp, quarter pipes, banks, boxes and street terrain. Skate School is home to a pro shop as well as a skateboard museum that covers more than 60 years of this fascinating subculture. For a truly inspirational, interactive, immersive experience, Meow Wolf is a must see! The wildly imaginative art space is a collaboration of over 100 local artists and is a unique combination of a children’s museum, art gallery, jungle gym, and fantasy novel. For a complete look at Santa Fe’s calendar of events, please click here
Restaurants in Sante Fe
For a complete list of restaurants in Santa Fe and reviews, please click here.
The Compound – $$$$ – New American Cuisine – 653 Canyon Road A – (505) 982-4353
Cowgirl BBQ – $$ – BBQ/Southern Cuisine/ Cocktails – 319 S Guadalupe St – (505) 982-2565
Del Charro Saloon – $ – New Mexican Cuisine/Cocktails – 101 W Alameda – (505) 954-0320
Fire & Hops Gastropub – $$ – Pub Fare/Craft Beer & Cider – 222 N Guadalupe St – (505) 954-1635
Jambo Cafe – $$ – Caribbean/African Cuisines /Sandwiches – 2010 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 473-1269
La Boca – $$$ – Spanish Cuisine/Tapas – 72 W Marcy St – (505) 982-3433
La Choza – $ – New Mexican Cuisine/Cocktails – 905 Alarid St – (505) 982-0909
Jambo Cafe – $$ – Caribbean/African/Sandwiches – 2010 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 473-1269
Osteria D’Assisi – $$ – Italian Cuisine – 58 Federal Pl – (505) 986-5858
Pantry Restaurant – $ – Diners/New Mexican Cuisine/Breakfast & Brunch – 1820 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 986-0022
Paper Dosa– $$ – Indian Cuisine – 551 W Cordova Rd – (505) 930-5521
Sazón – $$$ – Diners/Mexican/Latin American – 221 Shelby St – (505) 983-8604
Second Street Brewery (at the Railyard) – $$ – Local Craft Beer/Pub Fare – 1607 Paseo de Peralta – (505) 989-3278
Shake Foundation – $ – American/Burgers & Shakes – 631 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 988-8992
The Shed – $$ – New Mexican Cuisine/Cocktail Bar/Desserts – 113 ½ E Palace Ave – (505) 982-9030
Shohko Café – $$ – Japanese Cuisine – 321 Johnson St – (505) 982-9708
Rio Chama Steakhouse – $$$$ – Steakhouse – 414 Old Santa Fe Trail – (505) 955-0765
The Teahouse – $$ – Teas/Breakfast/Sandwiches/Salads – 821 Canyon Rd – (505) 992-0972
Clafoutis – $$ – French/Bakery/Crepery – 333 W Cordova Rd – (505) 988-1809 https://www.loc8nearme.com/
Sazón – $$$ – Diners/Mexican/Latin American – 221 Shelby St – (505) 983-8604
Tune-Up Cafe – $$ – New Mexican Cuisine/Breakfast & Brunch/Salvadoran – 1115 Hickox St – (505) 983-7060
Vinaigrette – $$ – Salad Bistro/Wine Bar – 709 Don Cubero Alley – (505) 820-9205
The Ranch House – $$ – American (Traditional)/Barbeque/Gluten-free – 2571 Cristo’s Rd – (505) 424-8900
Grocery Stores in Sante Fe
Albertson’s Market – 600 N Guadalupe St – (505) 982-4668
Whole Foods Market – 753 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 992-1700
La Montanita Co-Op Food Market – 913 W Alameda St – (505) 984-2852
Talin Market World Food Fare – 505 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 780-5073
Trader Joe’s – 530 W Cordova Rd – (505) 995-8145
Sprouts Farmers Market – 199 Paseo De Peralta – (505) 988-1140Natural Grocers – 3328 Cerrillos Rd – (505) 474-0111
- Santa Fe Tourism Information – SantaFe.org
- Santa Fe Official Guide 2017 (digital edition)
- Gallery Information – Canyon Road Arts
- Restaurant Delivery – Dashing Delivery (505) 983-9274
- Personal Chef/Catering
- Photography – Melanie West Photography (505) 471-4995
- Spa Services
- I.T. / Network Services – Capital Computer and Network Solutions (505) 216-1108
- Dinner Recommendations/Reservations (complimentary)
- Ground Transportation (depends on routing)
- Daily Maid Service (depends on size of rental)
- Receiving packages in advance of guests arrival (complimentary)
- Vacation Planning (complimentary)