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Santa Fe Itinerary: The Perfect 3 Days in Santa Fe, New Mexico

last Updated: February 5, 2024 New Mexico santa fe

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Headed to New Mexico and looking for the best Santa Fe itinerary out there?! You’re in luck – this (super) comprehensive guide has everything you need to plan the perfect 3 days in Santa Fe!

Santa Fe (also known as “The City Different”), is the state capital of New Mexico. It’s known for its traditional adobe-style architecture (with earth-colored adobe walls), cultural diversity (a unique blend of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo influences), and its thriving artistic community (honestly, there’s so many art galleries, museums, and studios here!). Plus, you can’t forget about the food – intoxifying Southwestern cuisine with loads of green and red chilies (and sweet sopapillas and spicy margaritas!).

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

It’s got laid-back historic adobe charm with a vibrant artistic energy, tons of traditional jewelry and crafts, and the famous Santa Fe Plaza. I had been wanting to check out New Mexico (and Santa Fe in particular) for oh so long, and was thrilled when I finally made it happen!

If you’ve never been to New Mexico, you’re in for a real treat. The perfect Santa Fe itinerary, coming right up!

Santa Fe Itinerary Logistics

Where is santa fe and how to get there.

Santa Fe is located in the high desert region of northern New Mexico. It sits at an elevation of about 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) above sea level, making it one of the highest capital cities in the United States (yes, even higher than Denver ’s whopping 5,280 feet)!

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

The city is right off Interstate 25 (I-25), which makes it the perfect stop on a much-longer New Mexico road trip , like we did! It’s not far from Albuquerque , the largest city in New Mexico (at just over an hour away), so I highly recommend visiting both cities in one trip!

And there’s so much natural beauty here – Santa Fe is surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the Jemez Mountains to the west, plus the Rio Grande River flows to the west of the city! Don’t forget to look out the window if you’re flying in…

Flying to Santa Fe

Yes, you can fly direct to Santa Fe – I honestly didn’t even realize the city had its own airport until I started researching for my trip. 

However, The Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF) primarily serves regional flights, and there’s a super limited number of direct flights available (only from Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix at this time). It’s a tiny airport, so to be expected.

Because of this, most visitors (including us!) fly into the Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), which is the largest and busiest airport in New Mexico. It’s only about 60 miles south of Santa Fe, and there’s loads more flight options. From there, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or take the The Rail Runner Express commuter train to Santa Fe.

If you don’t mind driving a few hours (about 5!) and are planning to visit Southern New Mexico (like White Sands National Park and/or Truth or Consequences ), you can also fly to El Paso International Airport (ELP). A great idea if you’re starting your New Mexico road trip in the southern part of the state.

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

Driving to Santa Fe

Already in New Mexico or the southwest? Santa Fe is easily accessible by car! Since the city is right along I-25 (a major north-south highway that runs through the central part of New Mexico), it’s super convenient if you’re coming from either north or south.  And you can easily rent a car at ABQ airport.

We drove to Santa Fe after our weekend in Albuquerque and had no problems whatsoever. 

Note that there are THREE different routes you can take between Albuquerque and Santa Fe:

  • Interstate-25 is the quickest and most direct, right on the main highway
  • The Turquoise Trail takes about 1 ½ hours, a 50-mile stretch through mining towns with gorgeous views along the way – make sure to fill up your gas tank before starting the drive!
  • Driving through the Jemez Mountains takes about 3 hours, plus however long for stops (which goes through Bandelier National Monument and Jemez Springs)

Since we only had about 3 days in Santa Fe, we didn’t wanna waste any time so simply took I-25. And since we were on a week-long New Mexico road trip , we saw plenty of scenic views the other days!

Here’s driving distances from other popular spots nearby-ish:

  • From Albuquerque, New Mexico : 65 miles (1 hour)
  • From Taos, New Mexico: ~70 miles (1 ½ hours)
  • From White Sands National Park , New Mexico: ~250 miles (4 hours)
  • From Durango, Colorado : ~215 miles (4 hours)
  • From Las Cruces, New Mexico : ~300 miles (4.5 hours)
  • From El Paso, Texas : ~325 miles (5 hours)
  • From Colorado Springs, Colorado : ~325 miles (5 hours)
  • From Flagstaff, Arizona : ~400 miles (6 hours)
  • From Phoenix, Arizona : ~500 miles (7 ½ hours)

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

Public Transport to Santa Fe

Don’t feel like driving? I get it – you’re on vacation! Thankfully there’s a few ways to get to Santa Fe by public transit.

Train : The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter train that connects Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It’s perfect if you’re spending a few days in Albuquerque first. Psst – The Santa Fe Depot is the train station in downtown Santa Fe. It’s in the Railyard District, where you can either walk or call an Uber to take you to your hotel.

Shuttle bus : There’s a few different shuttle services that operate between the Albuquerque airport and Santa Fe. Check out Sandia Shuttle, ABQ Express Shuttle, and Groome Transportation.

How to Get Around Santa Fe

Driving in Santa Fe : Since public transit is a bit lacking in Santa Fe, it’s recommended to get a car for your Santa Fe itinerary. Especially if you wanna visit a few bars and restaurants a little off the main drag, plus take day trips to Bandelier National Monument and/or a day spa! 

Since we were taking a New Mexico road trip throughout much of the state, we had our rental car with us. Note that most hotels charge for parking, and it’s kinda difficult (although not impossible) to find parking in the downtown Plaza – just something to keep in mind. There’s a fairly large parking garage directly across the street from the Rosewood Hotel if you wanna plot that on your map. 

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

Walking in Santa Fe : Yes, walk! Santa Fe is super pedestrian friendly, especially the downtown areas! There’s also plenty of bike paths if it’s warm out. If you’re staying right in Old Town (highly recommended), you’ll be able to walk to dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops.

Public transit in Santa Fe: The city doesn’t have its own extensive public transit system like many big cities do. You’ll find Santa Fe Trails, the city’s public bus service with several routes within the city. We didn’t take it so can’t comment on how reliable the bus is unfortunately. 

Rideshare : If all else fails, there’s always taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft!

When to Plan your Long Weekend in Santa Fe Itinerary 

Santa Fe experiences a semiarid climate with four distinct seasons. And just like Albuquerque, tons of bright blue skies and over 320 days of sunshine! Bet you had no idea! 

TL;DR — The city has cold winters with occasional snowfall and warm, wet summers. High elevation keeps temperatures moderate, ranging from about 85° F in July to lows near 20° F in January.

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

Spring (March to May)

Spring is a glorious time to visit Santa Fe – the temps are mild (50s to 70s °F), crowds are fewer, and there’s tons of blooming flowers! The aspens and cottonwoods start leafing, and the cactus flowers start blooming. 

Note that nights can still be quite cool (bring layers) and it’s possible for a late spring snowstorm or two to happen! Be prepared for all weather conditions. 

Summer (June to August)

Summer heats up, with daytime highs in the 80s to low 90s°F. The city is exceptionally busy, so expect to pay higher prices for hotels and airfare, and to wait a while at popular restaurants. However, the days are super long, meaning you can squeeze in oh so much into your 3 day Santa Fe itinerary.

Take note of the dramatic summer thunderstorms that can happen – it’s monsoon season in this part of the country (bring a raincoat)! Thankfully, the storms never last too long (usually happening in the afternoon – plan your outdoor activities in the morning) and, well, rainbows! 

If you do find yourself with some rain, don’t fret – just pop into a museum or art gallery, there’s lots to choose from.

Plus, the Santa Fe Opera season runs during this time (!!!), and the Santa Fe Indian Market (one of the largest and most prestigious Native American art markets) is held annually in August.

Fall (September to November)

Near perfect weather (with daytime highs in the 60s and 70s °F – perfect for playing tourist) and stunning fall foliage. Plus, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta is held in September, which is exactly as it sounds – celebrating the region’s wine and culinary offerings!

October is when the famous Balloon Fiesta takes place in Albuquerque, and plenty of visitors make the short drive up to Santa Fe for a day or so. Meaning, it’ll be exceptionally busy. Plan your long weekend in Santa Fe another time if you aren’t planning on attending the balloon festival (still on my USA bucket list!).

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For reference, we visited Santa Fe at the end of November, and while there were still some fall colors left, locals told me it was beginning to shift to winter. And it was WAY colder than I expected it to be, so make sure you wear your layers! 

We had crisp blue skies almost the entire time we were there, and heard that it snowed the day after we left!

Winter (December to February)

Winter is chilly, with daytime highs in the 40s and 50s°F, and lows in the 20s. Nights can be extremely cold, often dipping below freezing. Come prepared with true winter gear – it definitely gets cold here! 

And there’s snow, typically from sometime in late November through March, although most of it is up in the ski area and not tons in town.

This is considered low season, so it’ll be less crowded, but some attractions have reduced hours (and the La Fonda on the Plaza Bell Tower rooftop is sadly closed for the season).

Where to Stay in Santa Fe

If it’s your first time in Santa Fe, I highly recommend staying in either the Historic District (Old Town) or the nearby Railyard District (up-and-coming trendy area). 

Since we ended up staying 4 nights in Santa Fe (we left early our last morning to head south to Truth or Consequences ), we actually stayed in both areas!

Historic District (Old Town)

This is iconic Santa Fe. 

Here you’ll find the Santa Fe Plaza, a charming and authentic Southwestern atmosphere with adobe architecture, and tons of cultural attractions. Plus Native American markets and even some art galleries. 

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We stayed at the Rosewood Inn Of the Anasazi and were blown away by the gorgeous sitting area/library, authentic furnishings, and the in-room fireplace. Didn’t hurt that we were given free margarita coupons for the bar, plus chocolate chip cookies before bed every night. The true key to my heart, haha. 

Our hotel was literally right in the middle of everything (literally less than 5 minutes away), meaning we could walk to coffee shops, restaurants, and trendy bars every day/night. That’s one huge benefit of staying right in Old Town – it doesn’t get more convenient than that. 

It is the most expensive area to stay in Santa Fe (understandably), but hey, location, location, location!

Railyard District

The Railyard District is a vibrant and evolving area that’s undergone a huge revitalization lately. It’s got a way more contemporary and urban feel compared to Old Town, and feels kinda trendy in a sense. You’ll still find a mix of shops, galleries, and restaurants here, but more modern and eclectic. 

The area’s well-within walking distance to the Plaza (only 15 minutes away or so), but it doesn’t have the same historic ambiance as Old Town. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing though, just different!

Plus, staying in the Railyard District is way easier on the wallet, so if you wanna save a few bucks for some extra margaritas, I won’t fault you! 

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

Our stay at Pueblo Bonito Santa Fe was phenomenal – much more basic than the Rosewood Inn Of the Anasazi of course, but still very design-focused (especially the common area) and way less expensive. The owners kept the historic feel of the 1800s building while giving it a sleek southwestern vibe. We just loved it!

Other hotels we were considering in Santa Fe were El Rey Court (I was obsessed with those cool western vibes, OMG – at least come for a cocktail one night), Hotel Santa Fe Hacienda & Spa (right in the Railyard District), and La Fonda on the Plaza (with its popular rooftop bar).

Other Important FAQs for your a Santa Fe Itinerary 

Is 3 days in Santa Fe really enough?! I think yes, a long weekend in Santa Fe is the perfect amount of time! Personally, I felt pretty satisfied with our 3 days in Santa Fe, although you could easily add on an extra day or two and not get bored (especially if you wanna do a day trip or two). Any more and it’d be overkill in my opinion. 

What to eat in Santa Fe? I swear New Mexican food is my new favorite food group, haha. It’s wildly underrated in my book, and the flavors are just so, so good. 

I’ll give lots of restaurant recommendations at the end of the itinerary, but here’s a few foods you shouldn’t miss:

  • Chiles Rellenos : Green chiles stuffed with cheese, meat, or other fillings, coated in egg batter and fried
  • Posole : traditional hominy-based soup with pork or chicken, red or green chile, and various toppings 
  • Biscochitos : spiced shortbread cookies often flavored with cinnamon and anise, yum! New Mexico’s official state cookie!
  • Sopapillas with Honey : Fluffy, deep-fried pastries served with honey – my new favorite!
  • Blue Corn Pancakes : pancakes made with blue cornmeal and topped with local honey or syrup (a regional specialty!)
  • Fry Bread Tacos : A dish influenced by Native American cuisine, with fry bread loaded with taco ingredients.
  • Margaritas : I mean, you are in Santa Fe! And the cities even got their own Margarita Trail.. So it just makes sense to participate!

Santa Fe itinerary 3 days

Where should I go after Santa Fe? Ohh – good question! 

We spent a weekend in Albuquerque before heading north for 3 days in Santa Fe and Bandelier National Monument , then made our way south to Truth or Consequences , Las Cruces, and White Sands National Park ! 

I highly encourage you to explore more of New Mexico – it’s such a fascinating, underrated state!

Can I take a day trip to Santa Fe from Albuquerque? Sure, why not?! The two popular cities are only about an hour away, and thankfully, the Rail Runner Express commuter train makes it super easy. The train takes just over an hour and a half, so if you leave early enough, you’ll have time for shopping at The Plaza, checking out the art galleries on Canyon Road, and plenty of mezcal margaritas and frito pie, haha!

BUT I really think you’d be better off with at least a night and two full days in Santa Fe to really get a feel for the town.

On that note, I think you can easily do a day trip to Albuquerque from Santa Fe and see oh so much! Although you’re probably flying into ABQ, so that’d just be silly!

Why is Santa Fe called “The City Different”? Because Santa Fe is just different, in so many different aspects! Some people compare visiting NM to a different country, and I can totally see why. It’s got its own unique and distinctive character – a rich blend of cultures, artistic vibrancy, and historic charm. There’s really nowhere else like it!

Finally, what you came here for – the perfect 3 days in Santa Fe itinerary! Let’s get to it!

3 Days in Santa Fe Itinerary 

Santa fe itinerary day 1: old town santa fe .

On the first day of this 3-day Santa Fe itinerary, you’ll be hanging around Old Town and the plaza! This is Santa Fe’s famous historic district, a culturally rich neighborhood with distinctive adobe-style architecture, art-filled streets, and a vibrant plaza! You can easily spend all day here, and that’s exactly what we did!

travel blog santa fe

It’s super chill but there’s actually quite a bit to see. If you wanna have a leisurely day and still see everything on this list and eat, I’d stick to one museum visit.

NOTE – I typically provide a specific order of activities on my itineraries, but no need for that today! Everything in Old Town is super close to each other, and you can kinda go with the flow and pick and choose (except for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – but more on that in a bit). 

Also – there’s TONS of amazing restaurants here in Old Town. I’ve included a whole long list of all our favorites at the end of this post, but here’s what I recommend for Day 1:

  • Breakfast : Cafe Pasquals or Tia Sophias
  • Lunch : The Shed (gets busy so put your name down before you’re absolutely starving, haha)
  • Dinner : Coyote Cafe or La Boca

Here’s all my recommended things to do in Old Town:

Wander through Santa Fe Plaza

This is the central hub of Old Town, and a must on any Santa Fe itinerary! You’ll see tons of people out and about, enjoying the park with their families and children. Throughout the year there’s plenty of events, markets, and cultural festivities over here – if you’re lucky, you may just catch one.

Directly north of the Plaza you’ll find vendors selling tons of handcrafted items at the Palace of the Governors. This is the Native American Artisans Program, and the artists sell and showcase pottery, textiles, and jewelry made of traditional materials like turquoise, coral, and silver. 

travel blog santa fe

And the program is regulated – meaning the artisans only sell the highest quality merchandise, handmade themselves (never mass-produced or imported).

I really love this initiative, and highly encourage you to speak to some of the vendors about their pieces. By buying from them, you’re directly supporting the family who made them.

You can also try a Famous Frito Pie at the Five & Dime General Store less than a block away – literally a sliced open corn chip bag piled high with cheese, chilis, and meat. Mmm… delicious in the best kinda way.

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA)

If you’re interested in learning about Native American contemporary art plus history and culture, make your way over to the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, or MoCNA for short! 

travel blog santa fe

It’s the only museum in the entire country dedicated to the progressive work of contemporary Native artists (and there’s lots here – over 10,000 Contemporary Indigenous artworks, created from 1962 to the present on rotation).

The museum is honestly kinda small, but the collection is downright excellent – with tons of sculpture installations, digital media, murals, and paintings.

The colorful pillars outside are what really caught my eye! Such a fun place for photos, and you know we took a lot, haha. I thought it’d be packed with people, but we found it relatively empty most times we strolled past.

Wanna get into the museum for free? Come the first Friday of every month when there’s free admission from 5-7pm (although some of the exhibits are closed).

There’s also the New Mexico Museum of Art if you haven’t had your art fix yet!

Go Shopping at The Plaza 

Shopping at The Plaza is an absolute must – you’ll find plenty of Native American jewelry, clothing, boots, pottery, and more. Like in Albuquerque , there’s of course some tacky souvenir shops, but I promise you there’s tons of beautiful handmade stuff as well. Talk to the shop owners and vendors and you can easily tell what’s authentic.

travel blog santa fe

There’s *so* many cool spots to check out and explore (honestly, Santa Fe really surprised me), but these were my favorites:

  • O’Farrell Hat Company (truly custom hats with outstanding quality; prepare to drop some money) 
  • The Rainbow Man (a super eclectic main courtyard with multiple indoor spaces, with everything from Mexican pottery to arts and crafts)
  • Parts Unknown (upscale Western clothing store with lots of unique designs)
  • chocolate + cashmere (chocolate and cashmere, what more could you want?!)
  • Shiprock Santa Fe (GORGEOUS Navajo rugs, jewelry, woven baskets, and accessories)
  • Back at The Ranch (the most beautiful exotic cowboy boots you’ll ever see – too bad they were way outta my price range)
  • Original Trading Post (lots of unique gifts and souvenirs with that New Mexico touch – green or red chiles, chiminea wood burners, and fine regional pottery)

I so wish I left some room in my suitcase for a handwoven rug – they were all so gorgeous and I just loved the traditional colors.

Admire the Santa Fe Churches

Santa Fe is home to several historic and architecturally significant churches, and I highly encourage you to check them out. Just remember to be respectful and quiet – these are places of worship and mass still occurs.

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  • Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi: Located right off the Plaza, this Roman Catholic cathedral is full of Romanesque Revival architecture and a beautiful interior. You can go inside if you’d like to see the religious artifacts and statues, but I simply admired the cathedral from the outside.
  • San Miguel Chapel: A few blocks away you’ll find what is believed to be the oldest church in the United States, built around 1610 (very fitting that it’s directly across from the Oldest House Museum, haha). 
  • Loretto Chapel : Finally there’s the Loretto Chapel with its famous spiral staircase, known as the “Miraculous Stairs”. This elegant, wooden staircase has no visible means of support (really, there’s no poles and no nails!), and people just love it! Especially those into architecture! You’ll need to grab a ticket, but the admission fee is just a few bucks.

Explore the Oldest House Museum

Also known as the De Vargas Street House, the Oldest House Museum was apparently built in the early 1600s – yes, making it one of the oldest homes in the United States! It’s made of thick adobe walls which help regulate temps and give us clues into the architecture back then.

travel blog santa fe

It’s not so much a museum, but a few rooms with some signage, pictures, and artifacts (and a large gift shop… of course haha). It only took us a few minutes to walk through, but worth the short visit to imagine life back then. Plus, it’s free! 

Take Photos at the Inn & Spa at Loretto  

I have to admit I came here solely for the iconic Santa Fe photo opp! The adobe architecture really is stunning, with its earthy-orangey color and soft curves. 

travel blog santa fe

Note that anyone can take photos here, as this is literally the entrance to the hotel. Bring your patience if you want a clear shot though – people were coming and going with their suitcases and the valet was doing his job bringing cars to the entrance. We came mid-morning and the sun was super harsh, so I recommend either going just after sunrise or right before sunset.

Sip some Bubbles at the Gruet Winery

This isn’t an absolute must, but if you’re in the mood for some bubbly, make a quick pit stop at Gruet Winery for some New Mexico made champagne! I tried the New Mexican sunrise and it was *chefs kiss* – perfect for a quick pick me up before my visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

travel blog santa fe

If it’s warm, definitely sit on the back patio with a flight of sparkling wine. You’ll probably wanna make a reservation in advance (I was able to walk in for a quick glass, but not so sure a full-on tasting would have been available for me).

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

You can’t visit Santa Fe and not visit this museum. If you’re not familiar, Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most significant American artists of the 20th century. New Mexico is the place that inspired her work, so it makes sense to view it here! 

I honestly didn’t know too much about her before visiting, and still loved the museum – all her works are downright fascinating and I loved learning about her life. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum houses the largest collection of her artworks, including paintings, drawings, and sculptures spanning her entire career. I loved her famous flower paintings and New Mexican landscapes the most (she had a deep connection to the state).

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When I was visiting, there was a temporary exhibition showcasing her time in Maine, where she went back and forth for a few years. Felt pretty fitting since I collected shells when I was younger as well, and still do!

The museum is a tad smaller than I expected, but done really well and was a great way to spend an hour or so.

Note that you need to purchase a timed ticket in advance on the website. This is one of the most popular things to do in the entire city, so if you desperately wanna make it here on your Santa Fe itinerary, plan for it beforehand! A few of my friends missed out because they didn’t book their tickets enough in advance… buy your ticket here (a few weeks prior in busy season). 

I chose one of the last time slots and loved slowly strolling throughout the gallery after running around all day.

Psst – If you’ve got an extra day in Santa Fe (and a car!), you can also head north to Ghost Ranch, one of O’Keeffe’s first homes. On my list for next time!

Watch Sunset at Cross of the Martyrs

I love watching the sunset, especially when I travel, so was thrilled when I learned Cross of the Martyrs is the best place to do so! From up here you get sweeping panoramic views of Santa Fe; you can really see the whole city from here! 

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Getting here is easy peasy – you can either walk up (an easy but kinda steep 10 minute up-hill walk) or drive to the parking lot and walk down to the cross. There’s also some history of Santa Fe on the plaques on the way up too.

We actually came here twice – I walked here after browsing the O’Keeffe Museum one night, and then took my husband back a few nights later. Sunsets just hit different in the desert. Of course you can visit any time of day, but I found it exceptionally gorgeous at sunset.

Santa Fe Itinerary Day 2: Railway District and Canyon Road

Day two of your three days in Santa Fe has you exploring two other areas of the city – the Railyard District and Canyon Road. They’re not as overly iconic as Old Town, but still very much worthy on any Santa Fe itinerary. And since they’re pretty small, you can totally explore both in the same day.

Again, so many great restaurants/cafes/bars in these areas as well. Here’s my recommendations for Day 2:

  • Breakfast : CrashMurderBusiness or Iconik Coffee Roasters
  • Lunch : El Chile Toreado (definitely get the pork Adobada burrito) and Whoo’s Donuts
  • Dinner : La Choza, Paloma, or Paper Dosa

Morning: Santa Fe Railyard Arts District

Start the day strolling around The Santa Fe Railyard District! It’s experienced a significant revitalization the last few years, and hence has a vibrant, chill vibe. Perfect for hanging out for a few hours. You can even walk here from the Plaza if you’re staying in Old Town.

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Stop 1: Fuel up with some caffeine

Before the day really gets going, pop into one of the coffee shops nearby. I chose CrashMurderBusiness , a cozy spot that specializes in craft coffees and elixirs (what a fun name, right?). Everything on the menu sounded downright delicious (and super creative), but we chose the Race of Roadrunners (with hints of cacao, red chile, and smoked sea salt) and the Parliament of Owls (an earl gray tea with cardamom and orange blossom honey).

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There’s also Iconik Coffee Roasters if you’re looking for something more substantial (they’ve got a full breakfast menu as well as plenty of coffee options).

Stop 2: Santa Fe Farmers Market or Artisan Market

If you’re visiting on a Tuesday, Saturday, or Sunday, you’re in luck (and I highly recommend rearranging your days to make this happen)! You’ll be able to check out either the Santa Fe Farmers Market or the Artisan Market – both perfect for a morning stroll.

Note that the Tuesday Market is not open year round, and the markets have different opening hours:

  • 8am – 1pm
  • May 7th – December 24th
  • Sundays 10am to 3pm

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The Santa Fe Farmers Market is the King of them all. It’s packed with vendors beyond vendors!

If you can get to the Railyard on a Saturday, you’re in for a real treat. Expect tons of fresh produce, handmade goods, locally grown spices, eggs, dried beans, honey, and much more. The Saturday Market has the largest variety of vendors and products by far. I so wish we were in Santa Fe on a Saturday so I could’ve bought and tried a whole bunch of things. 

At the market 100% of the veggies, fruits, and plants are grown right in Northern New Mexico – no imports here! And you’re guaranteed everything is super, super fresh. And remember, buying here means you’re directly supporting the farmers of NM!

I recommend coming early as the market does get quite busy. Stop by right after breakfast for an hour or two. 

The Tuesday Market is similar to the market on Saturday, although much smaller. When I visited in late November, it was mostly confined inside – although I’ve seen photos where it spills outside. Must be time of year! It seemed like a mixture of a farmers market and an artisan market – there were a bunch of both.

The Railyard Artisan Market (on Sundays) is dedicated to local artisans and small creative businesses, and is actually one of New Mexico’s oldest markets! 

Here you can purchase original works straight from the artisans, including lots of fine art (like paintings, printmaking, and even sculptures), wooden and ceramic crafts, Native American jewelry, and even lotions and potions and health remedies, oh my. 

Stop 3: Browsing/shopping on Guadalupe Street

End the morning with some shopping on Guadalupe Street, where most of the shops and cafes are. It was pretty quiet when I visited on a Tuesday morning, but can see it being really busy on the weekend.

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These were my favorites on/near Guadalupe:

  • form & concept: An art gallery in a sleek, airy space showcasing the works of eclectic artists, both established and up-and-coming. Some really colorful and interesting pieces here.
  • Double Take: Everything is so eclectic in this vintage/thrift store. There’s two sides to it – a low end with lots of thrift pieces and a higher end, selling designer and vintage pieces. I spent so much time in here, whoops!
  • Rio Bravo Trading Co: What a gem! There’s tons of vintage rugs, hats, and jewelry. Plus, the owner’s dog is the cutest. I must’ve spent over 20 minutes listening to his stories there.
  • Array : The cutest gift shop with tons of things to browse. You never know what you’ll find.
  • Kowboyz: A western store with the coolest vintage boots at actually affordable prices. Plus loads of cowboy hats.

If you’re looking for a pre-afternoon cocktail/beer, check out As Above, So Below Distillery (female owned and distilled!) or Second Street Brewery at The Railyard. Or both, because, ya know, you’re on vacation and there’s no rules. 

Note that As Above, So Below is currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan around that if you’re craving some time in the cocktail lounge.

Afternoon: Canyon Road and Kakawa Chocolates

Any Santa Fe itinerary isn’t complete without a wander down Canyon Road – it is quintessentially Santa Fe afterall! 

Here you’ll find an eclectic assortment of art galleries in historic adobe homes and sidewalks lined with coyote fences and plenty of trees. The whole area is undeniably charming, with hidden sculpture gardens and patios serving up wine and margaritas. 

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Plus tons of art everyone! Where else can you see classic black-on-black pottery, contemporary mixed-media, exquisite Navajo weavings, and vibrant lithographs all on the same block?! An absolute *must-see* for art lovers spending a long weekend in Santa Fe!

It’s said that there’s about 80 art galleries on Canyon Road alone, and while it’s impossible to visit them all, I promise you’ll make your way into so many good ones. 

We popped into about 6 or 7 and found each gallery showcased wildly different things – all so varied and I promise you’ll never get bored! Plus, the gallery staff were all so friendly and chatty. Note that some galleries are closed on Sundays, so double check if there’s anywhere specific you wanna visit.

travel blog santa fe

Here’s a few galleries we popped into that I especially loved:

  • Gerald Peters Contemporary
  • Prescott Sculpture Gallery
  • Freeman Gallery
  • Adobe Gallery

Kakawa Chocolate House : But before you start your walk, pop into Kakawa Chocolate House for some chocolate elixirs and truffles! There’s a reason it’s super famous afterall. And yes, that means it can get *extremely* busy, so prepare to wait in line a bit. 

What’s so special about this place? Most of their menu features traditional historic recipes from Mesoamerica, Mayan, Aztec, and Colonial Mexico (way back from 1000 BC to the mid-1900s AD). 

travel blog santa fe

There’s lots to choose from (and thankfully they give samples). We blended the Zapoteca and Aztec Warrior (both Mesoamerican), and found it to be the perfect combo, not too sweet and with a hint of spice. Plus loads of whipped cream on top.

A lot of the chocolates are made with a very high percentage of cacao – meaning the truffles are the perfect balance of sweet and rich. So, so delicious, although I don’t think anything will ever beat those chocolate truffles we loved in Bruges, Belgium.

What’s an elixir you ask?! I wasn’t sure myself either. An elixir is essentially a beverage that contains ingredients meant to support the body and its functions, like herbs and superfoods. Now that is something I can get behind! Chocolate drinks that are good for you? Sign me up!

The Tea House: If you walk all the way to the end of Canyon Road, you’ll eventually get to The Tea House. This is an easy local favorite, with over 150 different types of tea and plenty of scones (plus a full menu if you’re feeling famished). We didn’t make it here (I was too full of chocolates), but it’s on the list for next time for me!

Santa Fe Itinerary Day 3: Bandelier National Monument and Hot Springs Soak

The last day of this long weekend in Santa Fe brings us on some day trips outta the city. Hiking in Bandelier National Monument and/or a soak at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort – two of our favorite things we did on our New Mexico road trip!

If you want a really chill last day, you can just do one. BUT I honestly think you have time for both; maybe it’s being a tad ambitious, but it’s less than 2 ½ hours of driving total… and they’re both excellent experiences. I recommend heading to Bandelier in the AM, and then driving straight to Ojo Santa Fe for a soak!

Morning: Bandelier National Monument

Time to get your hike on! Bandelier is one of the best places near Santa Fe to get yourself out into nature. Imagine well-preserved ancestral cliff dwellings, stunning scenery (full of canyons, mesas, and the Frijoles Creek), and even ancient petroglyphs. Plus ladders to climb, cavates to explore, and tarantulas to watch out for – yes, we saw one!

Bandelier National Monument NM

And nope, you don’t need to go all the way to Mexico , Greece , Italy , or Guatemala to see remains of ancient civilizations. They’re right here in New Mexico!

Bandelier is a must-visit if you’re interested in soaking up the stories and rich heritage of the American Southwest, plus lots of natural beauty. And getting some cool pictures too!

I recommend waking up early, grabbing a quick breakfast, and making your way to Bandelier (it’s only about an hour from Santa Fe, so really not that bad). The park does get busy though (understandably!), so the earlier you arrive, the better. 

Plus, if you’re visiting in summer you’ll wanna ensure you get a spot in the parking lot so you aren’t forced to take the shuttle (mandatory after 9am from mid-June to mid-October).

With only a few hours in the park, you should prioritize the Main Pueblo Loop Trail. This is the most popular hike in the park, and in only 1.4 miles (roundtrip), you’ll see multiple archeological sites within the canyon and even use the ladders to crawl into a few cliff dwellings. 

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Don’t leave without stuffing your face with some fry bread (covered in sugar) from the park’s semi-famous restaurant, Sirphey. The perfect after-hiking treat!

Psst – since you’ll basically be passing Santa Fe on your way to the hot springs, this is the perfect time for some lunch! Unless you wanna eat at the Blue Heron Restaurant overlooking the springs like we did – they’ve got an all-day brunch! Mmm – that breakfast burrito smothered in chiles really hit the spot.

Afternoon: Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort

After a morning full of hiking (or a long, leisurely brunch… no judging!), it’s time to finally hit the spa! Santa Fe (and New Mexico in general) are known for their hot springs, and what better way to soothe those aching muscles by soaking in a tub of steamy 100°F water. Okay, fine, the hikes in Bandelier really aren’t *too* strenuous, but hey, you deserve some R & R.

Once you arrive, you’ll need to purchase a day pass (good for as many hours as you wish – they don’t take reservations), and optional robe and slippers. It’s a tad expensive (at $45 during the week and $65 on weekends and holidays), but if you stay a few hours, I feel it’s more than worth it.

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The whole resort is gorgeous – with multiple soaking areas, plenty of spring-fed thermal pools, comfy hammocks, a duck pond, a full-service spa, a bunch of walking trails, and even a first class restaurant on-site. You can also book yourself a private pool ahead of time if you want more privacy.

It looks especially beautiful in the fall when all the leaves change color (we visited in late fall/early winter and most of the leaves had sadly already fallen off). And once you’re done soaking, it’s only a 20-minute drive back to Santa Fe! Unless you wanna stay (for $$$), but I honestly don’t recommend it since it’s kinda isolated from the rest of the city.

Note: There’s also Ten Thousand Waves (a Japanese-style spa hotel with views of the mountains) about 10 minutes north of Santa Fe. BUT you can’t just walk on in, so prepare to make a reservation for one of their public communal pools or private soaking tubs a few weeks in advance.

We also visited Riverbend Hot Springs a few hours south in quirky Truth or Consequences, and had great experiences at both. If you’re embarking on a NM road trip like we were, I highly recommend both – never too many hot springs in my book!

Where to Eat in Santa Fe 

This wouldn’t be a very complete Santa Fe travel blog without a whole slew of restaurant recommendations. I had NO clue just how much of a foodie spot this diverse city is, and boy am I glad we had a full 3 days in Santa Fe to eat as much as we could. 

Honestly, New Mexican food is oh so flavorful and full of spice – it may be my new favorite food group (although, mild for me, please)! You can really taste the rich cultural heritage of the region just by its food – a unique blend of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo!

travel blog santa fe

Whatever you do, don’t miss all the red and green chile sauces, blue corn anything and everything, fry bread tacos, posole (which I discovered I loved ), and sopapillas (best drizzled with honey).

Margarita Trail : Before I get into the actual restaurants and bars we loved, I need to mention the Margarita Trail. Yes, Santa Fe has its very own established Margarita Trail, with over 50 signature margaritas at various locations throughout the city! There’s even an app for it or a paper passport – yup. 

It seems a little gimmicky (if I’m being honest here)… with prizes available and the need to purchase the app or a paper passport for tiny discounts. No visitor in their right mind is gonna try more than a dozen in a weekend, so I feel it’s best suited for locals or those living in New Mexico who visit Santa Fe quite frequently.

BUT margaritas! Passport or not, the city boasts tons of creative margaritas, which you should totally try. My husband tried silver coin margaritas at the Rosewood (where we stayed), a frozen strawberry marg at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, something fun at El Rey Court (I honestly forgot what, haha), and a prickly pear marg at La Choza. And surprise, surprise, he didn’t complain about any of them, haha.

travel blog santa fe

Christmas-Style Chile : Another thing to note – you’ll undoubtedly get asked red or green whenever you order a New Mexican dish. They’re asking if you want red or green chile, and I recommend always asking for Christmas-style, meaning you get both!

Where to Eat in Old Town

  • Cafe Pasquals: Super popular and busy, busy, busy for breakfast, so put your name down and wander Old Town. It’s a colorful, eclectic restaurant with lots of art on the walls and flags hanging from the ceiling. We tried the pancakes with chiles, mole, and maple syrup (said to be amazing but I think we missed something…).
  • The Shed : Located right in the plaza, this is probably one of the most popular spots in Santa Fe serving traditional New Mexican cuisine – famous for their green chile stew, enchiladas, and fresh tacos. Either make a reservation for dinner, or come for lunch (no reservations needed, but expect a long wait time). Sit outside in the courtyard if it’s nice out!
  • Tia Sophias: A no frills, authentic spot filled with plenty of locals. Great for breakfast – promise me you’ll order a Christmas style breakfast burrito (huge!) and sopapillas. Plus, it’s where the term “Christmas” style was invented, so you know it’s good.

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  • Coyote Cafe: Everyone recommended this place to us, and I can totally see why! We actually had Thanksgiving Dinner here, and wow, just wow. All the flavors were on point, and I’d love to come back to try their regular menu. I’m still dreaming about that banana cream pie. Head up to the Rooftop Cantina for views of downtown.
  • La Boca: Here you’ll find Spanish tapas and small plates. We unfortunately missed this place (didn’t have enough time!), but I heard so many great things about it. It’s a bit fancy, so perfect if you wanna dress up a little. Surprisingly, the artichokes are one of their most popular dishes – try them and report back to me!
  • Frito Pie from Five & Dime General Store : You should totally eat a frito pie at least once during your 3 days in Santa Fe. I mean, even Anthony Bourdain ate here, so that’s good enough for me! 
  • Cocktails at Los Poblanos Bar Norte : A super cute shop curated with bar accessories, snacks, and other home goods. The tiny bar in the back is super cute – and right down the block from our hotel! We went to the restaurant location in Albuquerque and had a great meal, so I had a feeling the bar in Santa Fe would be just as great.
  • Drinks at The Bell Tower Bar at La Fonda : The perfect spot for happy hour with sweeping 360° views of the mountains and city below. Plus amazing cocktails (margaritas!) and small bites. Come for sunset! Closed for winter unfortunately!

Restaurants in the Railyard District

  • La Choza : This was easily one of our favorite meals during our 3 days in Santa Fe. It’s admittedly got a very similar menu to their sister restaurant, The Shed, so perfect if you couldn’t get in there. Expect truly authentic New Mexican food, like green chile stew, blue corn soft tacos, spicy enchiladas, and carne adovada. Don’t miss the sopapillas – and drizzle on as much of that honey as you want! My new guilty pleasure. Usually very long wait times, so come for an early dinner.
  • El Chile Toreado: There’s a reason the chef earned a James Beard nomination in 2023. Don’t miss the pork adobada burrito (marinated pork in adobo sauce cooked with onions) – so, so, so good. I desperately wanted to go back for another one but we ran out of time. Perfect for a chill, casual lunch. Just note it’s a food truck and there’s nowhere to eat, so if you’re visiting in late fall/winter like we were, you’ll probably wanna eat elsewhere, haha. Way too cold to stand around and eat outside.

travel blog santa fe

  • Whoo’s Donuts: A quick stop for some blue corn donuts (standouts being the blue corn blueberry lavender and blue corn maple pecan). And boy were they good. Just make sure you specify you want blue corn as there’s also regular donuts as well.
  • Paloma : Upmarket Mexican cuisine (with creative cocktails) in a rustic-chic colorful space. YOU GUYS – I was beyond obsessed. Literally everything we got was perfect – tuna tostaditos, carnitas quesadillas (with oaxaca cheese!),  guac, short rib barbacoa… it was all beyond perfection. Make a reservation; you won’t regret it. Plus, the best mezcal selection I’ve ever seen.
  • Crash Murder Business: Coffee and tea drinks with a quirky twist inside such a cozy space; perfect for your morning caffeine before hitting up the shops.
  • Paper Dosa: Genuine, authentic Indian cuisine right here in Santa Fe! It’s a bit south of the Railyard District, but super, super popular, and extremely busy. FOR A REASON – I couldn’t stop talking about my dosa for days, haha. They don’t take reservations, but I highly recommend coming for an early dinner. We got there just a little after opening and already had a 45 minute wait or something like that.

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  • El Rey Court: You definitely can’t walk here (regardless if you’re staying in Old Town or closer to the Railyard), but I promise it’s worth the short drive. The perfect after-dinner stop for some mezcal margaritas in a super chic space. The bar inside the hotel is cute and modern, and super cozy in the winter with the fireplace going! I loved the design so much we came back the next day to take some photos!

So there ya have it – my personal recommendations on the perfect 3 days in Santa Fe! Are you headed to New Mexico soon?!

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How to Spend Three Magical Days in Santa Fe, New Mexico

travel blog santa fe

America’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is home to boatloads of intriguing history, culture, and art waiting to be explored! 

With over 250 art galleries and 20 museums, Santa Fe is home to many fascinating opportunities to immerse yourself in the history and art of many cultures, including, but not limited to, Spanish and Indian influences. These cultural influences extend to the local cuisine with mouth-wateringly delicious foods, like Native American fry bread-style sopaipillas and other fresh and locally made dishes, available for you to savor. 

Santa Fe is filled with history and some of the oldest historical landmarks in the United States. From the Oldest House to the Oldest Church, Santa Fe preserves and shares the rich history of this magnificent city known as the “City Different” settled in the “Land of Enchantment.” 

Surrounded by rugged desert landscapes, Santa Fe is a place of opportunity to explore the many attractions. Places like El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, a living museum with original colonial buildings settled in the rural farming valley that once acted as a rest stop for travelers is a great place to see. On the natural side of things, Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort is home to natural springs and geothermal pools that have drawn in travelers for many years. These are only some of the outstanding attractions to consider on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

For the ultimate Santa Fe itinerary, follow along with my top recommended activities and attractions to explore for the best three days spent in Santa Fe! 

travel blog santa fe

How Many Days to Spend in Santa Fe 

Spending three days in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the prime amount of time to experience this fantastic city’s history, culture, and cuisine. This world-class getaway destination offers many attractions, from museums and spas to art and architecture. 

Take the weekend off for the perfect three days spent in Santa Fe. Make memories you’ll never forget and will cherish in this charming city where history meets luxury. 

Day One in Santa Fe

On day one in Santa Fe, we should start the trip with a step into Santa Fe’s historical background. And there’s no better way to do that than explore downtown Santa Fe and all its history and culture!

From the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market to the Oldest House Museum, on day one, we’ll be able to absorb this outstanding city’s magnificent culture and history. So, prepare your appetite and your wallet – this will be a day filled with fun, food, and shopping! 

travel blog santa fe

Morning: Breakfast & Farmer’s Market 

Start the morning—or brunch—with house-baked bread and open-face sandwiches at Sage Bakehouse. Sage Bakehouse is a unique European-inspired cafe, a one-of-a-kind pastry shop, artisan bread bakery, and cafe settled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The tartines, toasted open-face sandwiches, and paninis are to die for! They have pre-made cold sandwiches ready to go if you’re in a hurry and farmers’ market specials that vary seasonally. 

Speaking of farmers’ markets, the Santa Fe Farmers Market is a morning or early afternoon activity I highly recommend traversing. If you don’t mind walking, Sage Bakehouse is only 0.6 miles from Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. Walking from point A to point B is a great way to get a feel for Santa Fe and see sights you would only passively glimpse in a car! 

Not too far from Sage Bakehouse, this widely popular farmers’ market has been running since the 1960s. Located at the Santa Fe Railyard, the market runs year-round on Saturdays and is known as one of the best farmers’ markets in the United States! 

There is an incredible selection of fresh produce, plants, apothecary, locally made goods and foods, and more to explore for a fun morning of vibrant colors, a welcoming atmosphere, and fresh products. 

On Sundays, the Santa Fe Farmers Market runs the Railyard Artisan Market from 10 AM – 3 PM. This day is dedicated to all local artisans and small creative businesses, representing one of New Mexico’s oldest art markets. On this day, there are plenty of options of fine art, crafts, mementos, souvenirs, jewelry, home goods, and more to explore for a unique purchase to take home with you.

If you find you have an appetite after walking around, the cafe at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is open Tuesday-Sunday for select hours. The menu focuses solely on farmers’ market ingredients with seasonal menu items and guaranteed freshness in each bite. The cafe also offers excellent selections from other local businesses like Aroma Coffee, Whoo’s Donuts, and Chocolate Maven, to feature a wide selection of foods from breakfast burritos and juice to coffee and donuts! 

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Afternoon: San Miguel Chapel

After exploring the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, the San Miguel Chapel is a wondrous Santa Fe attraction that is a must when visiting this historic city. The San Miguel Chapel is 1.2 miles from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.

Situated in the Barrio de Analco, a national historic district in Santa Fe, the San Miguel Chapel is a Spanish colonial mission church built in 1610 by Tlaxcalan Indians and Franciscan friars. Known as the oldest Catholic church in the United States, the adobe church had to be rebuilt twice! One of the times in 1710, after the Pueblo Revolt, ended as the only successful Native uprising against a colonizing power in North America. 

The church offers tours Tuesday-Saturday so that more information and critical points on its background and history can be revealed to guests wishing to learn about this historic Santa Fe attraction. 

travel blog santa fe

Next: The Oldest House Museum

Conveniently located across the street from the San Miguel Chapel is the Oldest House Museum, the next Santa Fe attraction to explore!

Standing as one of the oldest buildings in the United States, the Oldest House Museum is a museum attached to a house that was added in the late 1800s and later converted to a gift shop. This neat gift shop offers various items that embrace the spirit of the many cultural influences of Santa Fe’s history. 

In the Oldest House Museum, there is history that dates back to 1200 CE. The museum utilizes entertainment, activities, education opportunities, and events to peel layer by historical layer back to encourage guests to step back in time. Take in the Spanish Pueblo architecture of this house, estimated to be about 350 years old, which hones a spot in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Admission into the Oldest House Museum is free, with self-guided tours taken at your own pace! 

After touring the Oldest House Museum, sit for dinner at the Rio Chama Prime Steakhouse. This refined ranch space is famous for its prime rib, filet mignon, and happy hour. 

Located within walking distance from the Oldest House Museum, the steakhouse is also settled in the oldest neighborhood in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike, we had to make a pitstop at this popping steakhouse—and I’m glad we did! The food was mouth-wateringly delicious, the atmosphere refined yet inviting, and the drinks refreshing. We highly recommend stopping at Rio Chama Prime Steakhouse one of the nights during your stay in Santa Fe! 

Day Two in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is teeming with history and culture, displayed in many forms like art, cuisine, and landmarks. And there’s no better way to experience them all than combining a little bit of everything! 

That’s why on day two in Santa Fe, we’ll be joining a historic walk of Santa Fe, strolling down Canyon Road filled with hundreds of art galleries and shops, and taking part in a walking food tour of Santa Fe’s authentic cuisine to really get a taste of Santa Fe! 

travel blog santa fe

Morning: Historic Walks of Santa Fe

Before heading over to Historic Walks of Santa Fe, grab breakfast at Dolina Bakery & Cafe. This airy and modern cafe features house-baked goods, a pleasant setting, and contemporary American brunch with an Eastern European influence. Enjoy their selection of fresh espresso, coffee, breakfast croissants, breakfast burritos, omelets, and other breakfast menu options to fuel up before heading out to the Historic Walks of Santa Fe.

It’s important to note that the Historic Walks of Santa Fe requires reservations and a minimum of two people per private tour. The tours run for one hour and 45 minutes, with professional guides meeting guests at Santa Fe’s Historic Plaza at 10 AM. 

Through touring with Historic Walks of Santa Fe, you can experience the best of Santa Fe by first-hand experiencing its significant attractions. The tours are led by professional guides, art historians, seasoned actors, and museum docents that strive to recreate the past for a unique experience that presents Santa Fe’s impressive history. 

Fun fact — The Historic Walks of Santa Fe tours are pet-friendly thanks to the company’s mascot, Andy, who was featured on National Geographic’s “Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel”. So, if you end up bringing your pet with you to Santa Fe, the Historic Walks of Santa Fe encourages you to bring them along for a time of fun and adventure!

Want to try out other walking tours? Check out this architectural walking tour and wine tasting ! This fun tour takes you through Santa Fe’s historic Eastside neighborhood filled with New Mexican architecture styles while tasting and savoring the local wines. 

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Afternoon: Canyon Road

Featuring over a hundred workshops, art galleries, and studios, Canyon Road is an art lovers’ paradise! 

The street is committed to the country’s finest art, offering a pleasant stroll to view outstanding pieces and collections. On the enigmatic Canyon Road, a wide variety of shops hone contemporary crafts, stunning jewelry, creative home goods, awe-inspiring sculptures, and Native American artifacts and arts. 

Offering a refreshing and inspiring setting, Canyon Road displays a vital piece of Santa Fe’s history and heritage through internationally renowned folk and local artists. If you find yourself building up an appetite during your inquisitive adventures of Canyon Road, there are a few selections of cafes and restaurants to consider to quench your appetite. 

Consider stopping at The Teahouse for lunch. This quaint haunt features an eclectic menu of teas from around the world. With a driven passion for discovering and sharing unique botanicals and loose-leaf organic teas, The Teahouse has become famously known across the globe as a top importer and Master Tea Blender of the world’s finest teas. 

If you like trying new things, I highly recommend exploring the vast options of exceptional aromatic teas and blends at The Teahouse. Though The Teahouse is an acclaimed specialty tea store, it is also a restaurant, beer garden, and wine bar, so there are plenty of options to explore for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! 

If you desire to learn more about the local art scene of Santa Fe, consider this Canyon Road Curated Art Walking Tour . Through this interactive tour, you will have the opportunity to chat with local artists and gallerists and learn more about the local art history of Santa Fe! 

There’s one other option for your afternoon that I recommend.

Wander New Mexico Food Tours is top-rated for its premium food tours of Santa Fe. People can eat, drink, and discover New Mexico through an immersive dining experience of New Mexico’s rich history. Offering a variety of tours to consider, this interactive tour is led by a local guide that introduces its guests to local business owners, farmers, producers, and chefs. Through this interaction, you can take in the authenticity and hard work that goes into creating each menu item and growing the ingredients that go into them! 

This experience is like no other. On this walking food tour, you will be able to socialize, learn, savor, and be inspired by the culinary aptitude and history of Santa Fe. 

Day Three in Santa Fe

On your last day in Santa Fe, we’ve got to end it with a bang. That’s why we’re hitting up major Santa Fe attractions like El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, a living museum, and the Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort—because treating yourself is the best part of a vacation, and this spa has sacred springs and mud baths! 

travel blog santa fe

Morning: El Rancho de Las Golondrinas

On the way over to El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, stop for breakfast at The Pantry Dos! This sweet little breakfast spot proudly stands as Santa Fe’s meeting and eating place since 1948. Serving fresh-from-scratch, quality comfort food, The Pantry Dos is a family-owned business that offers the best chile in Santa Fe. After scoffing down some tasty food from The Pantry Dos, like the Breakfast Quesadilla or the Stuffed French Toast, it’s time to explore El Rancho de las Golondrinas! 

Once a ranch, El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, or “The Ranch of the Swallows,” is now a living museum. Located on 200 acres, the ranch is in a rural farming valley south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Strategically constructed on the Royal Road, which connected Mexico City to Santa Fe, the ranch was once used as a paraje, or official rest stop, for travelers. 

El Rancho de Las Golondrinas is committed to preserving and sharing the 18th and 19th-century history, culture, and heritage of New Mexico using the living museum. On the grounds are additional historic buildings that have been reconstructed at Las Golondrinas from other sections of northern New Mexico to pair with the original colonial buildings on the grounds that date back to the early 1700s. 

When arriving at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, visitors are welcomed by villagers clothed in the fashion of hundreds of years past to personify life lived on the frontier. El Rancho de Las Golondrinas hosts special events and festivals to present an in-depth step into many aspects of life during the Spanish, Mexican, and Territorial periods. 

With a mixture of outdoor and indoor aspects, I highly recommend taking a guided tour of this expansive museum and ranch instead of the self-guided tour. The costumed guides are professional, knowledgeable, and personable, taking you on a wonderfully fascinating and educational tour of all El Rancho de Las Golondrinas is committed to preserving and sharing with all who enter its grounds. For guided tours, you must reserve your tour in advance! 

Afternoon: Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort

After a long weekend of walking and exploring, it’s time to relax and reset at the Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort.

Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort isn’t just any run-of-the-mill spa! For centuries, this spa has seduced travelers from around the world to its natural springs and geothermal pools in search of healing, relaxation, and respite. 

Now, in the present, Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort has been voted “World’s Best Spa” by Travel & Leisure 2021 for its continued dedication to best healing practices to provide an inspiring and immersive experience to all who visit. The spa’s tradition of utilizing hydrotherapy and body therapies that soothe the soul has continued to rejuvenate, nourish, and soothe the body, mind, and soul. 

The waterside spa and tranquil oasis of Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort offer a more profound level of relaxation than any other spa I’ve visited. Soaking in the sacred springs is a must before or after your appointment. It does wonders when combined with the magic of Ojo’s waters and local botanicals.

Once you’re done relaxing and soaking in the rejuvenating vibes at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort, hit up El Parasol on the way back to Santa Fe. 

Recognized by locals as the “best” in all of Santa Fe, El Parasol has mastered its family recipes. So much so that the restaurant has been featured in national publications like New York Times, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet! This down-to-earth counter service restaurant boasts homemade tortilla chips, tamales, tacos, biscochitos, salsa, and other Mexican dishes that draw locals and tourists from all over to this appetizing restaurant. 

travel blog santa fe

Evening: Meow Wolf Santa Fe

This mind-bending, interactive art experience welcomes those of all ages for a one-of-a-kind adventure. Meow Wolf Santa Fe is proud to call itself the original immersive art adventure. And what an experience it is!

Hosting over 70 rooms filled with immersive art, Meow Wolf Santa Fe is filled with adventure and opportunities to get lost in art. The company’s mission is to inspire creativity through art and exploration through an immersive experience that will transform worlds with the power of imagination. 

The success and creativity of Meow Wolf Santa Fe have extended its reach to big names like The New York Times, RollingStone, and Forbes. How impressive for a company that first got its start in 2008 as an informal DIY collective of Santa Fe artists! It’s so awesome to discover these local Santa Fe-based artists become founders of an outstandingly creative business such as Meow Wolf Santa Fe, which overflows with dreams, creativity, imagination, and opportunity. 

End the night at Second Street Brewery – Rufina Taproom, where Santa Fe’s favorite beer is brewed. Boasting three locations in Santa Fe, Second Street Brewery achieved rapid success and humble beginnings in the supportive and welcoming community of Santa Fe. The brewery now sells Santa Fe’s favorite beer in restaurants, bars, and cans in stores all over New Mexico. 

Grab a bite of The Original Alien Burger (yes, you read that right!) or The Tesuque Grandma (yes, you still read that right!) with a side of Second Street Brewery’s beers on tap like the Boneshaker Bitter or the Sloppy Sloth. Options are galore and just as delicious, no matter which one you pick. I can promise you that! 

What To Know Before You Go

There are a few things you should know before you go to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico. From where to stay to the best time of year to visit, you need to take into account these factors when planning a trip to Santa Fe! 

travel blog santa fe

Where To Stay in Santa Fe

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Santa Fe is an ideal hotel to consider staying at during your vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the best affordable stay and desirable accommodation. 

Settled in a convenient location, your stay is only four miles from the best of Santa Fe. The lobby is incredibly welcoming and vibrant, where you’ll be greeted by inviting staff and outstanding service. 

Start every morning with a complimentary fresh breakfast, including scrambled eggs, fruit, oatmeal, sausage, oatmeal, and more tasty options. A perfect opportunity if you’re interested in saving money to spend on souvenirs, gifts, or other attractions to be found in Santa Fe. 

The contemporary hotel rooms at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Santa Fe are spacious and comfortable, making it easy to sit back and relax in between activities or at the end of the day. Free Wi-Fi is part of the package at this accommodating hotel, which is perfect when you need pictures of your trip on Instagram or Facebook to show all your friends and family! Other facilities include a fitness center and swimming pool to take advantage of while staying at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Santa Fe. 

travel blog santa fe

The Best Time of Year to Visit Santa Fe

If you’re wondering what the best time of year to visit Santa Fe is, I highly recommend visiting anywhere from September to November. The temperature hit up to the high 70s during this time range, making it perfectly comfortable to stroll and walk around the stunning lands of Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Though summer may be ideal for most, as temperatures lie between the 50s and 80s, it’s important to note that this is tourist season, so hotel rates are high, and availability will be low. However, if you can make a reservation for a hotel in advance, you may beat the tourist season rush.

The winter season in Santa Fe can be quite chilly, with highs reaching the 40s during the daytime. As a result, many would rather skip this type of weather, understandably, during vacation due to the chill. 

Side Note – Santa Fe is known for its consistently intense sun rays year-round. No matter what time of year you visit Santa Fe, Mexico, it’s important that you apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn. 

travel blog santa fe

How To Get Around Santa Fe

As you may have noticed, I planned many of the activities for this guide on how to spend three days in Santa Fe within walking distance of one another (minus day three, which will require transportation). 

Getting around Santa Fe is not only affordable, but it’s great for your overall health. Voted one of America’s Top Rated Walking Cities, Santa Fe homes compact historic districts and other attractions conveniently located within walking distance of one another. 

When considering longer-distance trips, Santa Fe has several other transportation systems and services available. Uber and Lyft are two of the most common, easy-to-use ride-hailing applications that can be used to get around from your stay to attractions in Santa Fe. Other transportation services to consider include the public transportation system, shuttle services included with your hotel stay, rental cars, and charter vans. 

travel blog santa fe

Safety Advice for Santa Fe

When traveling to an unfamiliar place, it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings to ensure your safety. Like anywhere in the world, bad people or unfortunate circumstances can occur and, most often, can be avoided. 

Unfortunately, the crime rate in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is high. 

Always keep your personal belongings in sight or in a secure location while traveling around Santa Fe. If renting a vehicle, only park in designated areas. Lock your vehicle and keep personal belongings out of sight. 

When in secluded areas, do not walk alone. Suppose there are any instances of concern or potential threat, dial 911. Avoid outlying or desolate areas of Santa Fe, as these areas are known for high drug activity. Instead, remain in the tourist areas. 

There are other factors to be aware of when traveling to Santa Fe. 

Santa Fe has a lot of snakes. Therefore, you must be aware of your surroundings when around pools or lakes, though you can also run into a snake on land. 

If you are not accustomed to high altitudes, you must be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness. Santa Fe rests at 7,200 feet, with some of the mountains at 12,000 feet. If you find yourself hiking in these areas, you may find yourself suffering from dizziness or headaches. 

Altitude sickness is often likened to feeling like a hangover, with other symptoms like nausea and muscle aches to pair up with dizziness and headache. If not approached correctly, altitude sickness can extend to high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or lung buildup, which can be life-threatening. The best remedy for altitude sickness is acetazolamide, a commonly used medication to treat altitude sickness. It can be used to decrease symptoms or as a preventative measure before any symptoms occur. 

Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents. Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.

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One day in Santa Fe, New Mexico: 24-hour Santa Fe itinerary

Posted on Last updated: July 24, 2023

How to spend one day in Santa Fe, New Mexico – discover the art, culture, history, food and drink in the USA’s ‘city different’ with this guide to things to do in Santa Fe if you only have 24 hours.

* This site contains affiliate links , where I get a small commission from purchases at no extra cost to you.

One day in Santa Fe, New Mexico: A 24-hour itinerary

Set in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the USA, with a distinctive southwestern look thanks to a mix of Native American, Spanish and Mexican influences though its history. Santa Fe’s creative, artistic community, delicious food and drink and laid-back feel have seen it christened the ‘city different’.

Santa Fe is a great city break destination – with skiing in winter and art markets in summer. Ideally you’d have a few days to explore its museums, galleries and dining. But you can still see the city’s highlights in one day in Santa Fe with this 24-hour itinerary.

How to spend one day in Santa Fe

Dusk in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Stroll around the Plaza

Start your day in Santa Fe in the Plaza, the historic heart of the city. The Plaza has been a place for people to meet, stroll and soak up the sunshine for hundreds of years. It dates from the early 17th century when Santa Fe was settled by Spanish conquistadors, and is on the site of an older village built by Tewa Pueblo Native American people.

The Plaza is surrounded by the city’s distinctive terracotta abobe buldings, made from a mix of sun-dried earth and straw. It was originally surrounded by walls with government buildings and a prison inside. But today the Plaza has been designated a National Historic Landmark and its buildings house museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.

Santa Fe Plaza, New Mexico

Learn about New Mexico’s history

Among the buildings around the Plaza is the Palace of the Governors – the USA’s oldest public building in continuous use. It was built for the first Spanish governor of the colony of Nuevo México (which also incorporated what is now Texas, Arizona , Utah , Colorado and Nevada ) in 1610, and was the seat of the state government for centuries.

Eventually the government moved out into a larger, more modern building and the palace was used for the New Mexico History Museum . But its size meant they could only display a fraction of their collection, so a larger building was added next door.

The museum (closed on Mondays) is well worth a visit to find out more about New Mexico’s eventful past. There are over 20,000 artefacts on display which cover everything from the Ancestral Puebloans to Spanish colonisation, the Wild West era to 1960s hippies.

The Palace of the Governors and craft market in Santa Fe

Shop for handmade crafts

Beneath a shady portal next to the Palace of the Governors, Native American vendors set up stalls on rows of blankets. They sell a selection of different crafts, like handmade leather goods, textiles, art and jewellery made with turquoise, coral and silver.

The market is run by the New Mexico History Museum who vet the vendors so you know what’s on sale is authentic and high quality. It’s a chance to pick up some unique gifts and know your money is going straight to the people who make them. And you can meet the artists and hear the stories of the culture and history behind their works.

Baskets of turquoise jewellery in Santa Fe

See the city’s churches

Santa Fe isn’t all about the adobe, it also has some grand churches which have a much more European style. Saint Francis Cathedral (or the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi to give it its full name) was built in 1869 in Romanesque style thanks to Santa Fe’s French-born Archbishop Lamy, who brought a taste of his home country to the southwest.

Its limestone frontage stands out from the neighbouring red adobe buildings. The original plan was that it would have two 160-foot-tall steeples, but the church ran out of money. They did manage to import the rose window at the front all the way from France though, and inside are more stained glass windows as well as bronze cast doors.

The cathedral was built on top of an old adobe church which had been there since 1717. You can see some of the original building inside the La Conquistadora Chapel in the cathedral’s north transept, along with paintings and carvings which were salvaged.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Or there’s the Gothic-style Loretto Chapel – which was apparently inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris . It was built in 1878 and is famous for it’s ‘miraculous staircase’. The story goes that when the chapel was being built, there wasn’t space for a normal staircase and none of the local stonemasons knew how to build a spiral staircase.

So the nuns prayed to St Joseph for help. And nine days later, a mysterious travelling carpenter arrived, built the staircase and disappeared before anyone could thank him. The staircase is still there today, and with no visible supports it’s a mystery how it stays up. The chapel’s now a museum so you can go and take a look to work it out yourself.

Inside the Loretta Chapel and the miraculous staircase in Santa Fe

Explore the Railyard District

Next head south of the Plaza to Santa Fe’s redeveloped railyard district, a 20-minute walk away. This part of the city had fallen into disrepair after the train services stopped running. But instead of just knocking down the old warehouses, local residents worked with the city authorities and developers to redevelop it and bring it back to life.

The old warehouses have been renovated and converted to galleries, art and craft stores, restaurants, a brewery and cinema. There’s also a big farmers’ market selling local produce on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. Trains have even come back to the railyard too, with the Rail Runner commuter service connecting Santa Fe to Albuquerque.

Santa Fe Railyard District

Part of the site has been turned into the 13-acre Railyard Park, which incorporates reminders of its past life from old railway tracks and train wheels along with native plants and trees. There are also public artworks and frequent events.

Then call into Tomasita’s for lunch, a locally owned restaurant specialising in Northern New Mexican cuisine, which means plenty of chilies – they’re New Mexico’s official state vegetable and you can choose whether you’d like yours red, green or ‘Christmas’ (a mixture of both). Specialities include enchiladas and cheesy stuffed sopaipillas.

Old railway details in the Railyard Park

Get artistic on Canyon Road

With its mountain scenery and high-altitude clear light, Santa Fe has long been a favourite with artists. You’ll find artworks dotted around the city – from mosaics and sculptures to murals. But the city’s artistic heart is the half-mile-long Canyon Road.

This tree-lined street has over 100 art galleries and studios, many of them in converted traditional adobe homes. It’s a chance to see some world-class art and spot up-and-coming stars, with every type of art you could imagine – and every price point. Visitors are welcome to browse and can often chat to the artists or see the latest work in progress.

Take a stroll to admire the window displays – and look out for tucked-away sculpture gardens and street art. And if you need a break, call into the Teahouse , a popular spot with a huge selection of exotic teas sourced from around the world.

Art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Visit a museum or gallery

End the afternoon with a trip to one of Santa Fe’s museums and galleries, with lots to choose from. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is one of two sites in New Mexico dedicated to the American modernist artist who was inspired by the state’s landscapes.

You can also head to Museum Hill east of downtown where four of the city’s top museums are located – the International Folk Art Museum, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Or for something a bit different, experience the bizarre Meow Wolf , a former bowling alley which has been converted into a immersive art installation-come-interactive game. There are 70 gallery rooms to explore in a slightly trippy riot of colours, sounds and sights that’s hard to explain but is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Santa Fe.

Colourful painted chilies and mosaics in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Eat and drink

Finish your day in Santa Fe with a feast of the city’s fantastic food and drink. If you’re a wine fan, head to the Gruet tasting room at the Hotel St Francis. New Mexico is surprisingly the USA’s oldest wine-producing region, and Gruet make some great sparkling wines in their vineyards south of Albuquerque, which you can try with a wine flight.

Or if you’re visiting outside of winter and have a clear day (chances are you will in Santa Fe), head to the fifth-floor rooftop Bell Tower Bar at the La Fonda Hotel to watch the sun set. The current hotel was built in 1922, but there’s been a hotel on the same site for 400 years. Go for a traditional margarita or cool off with a frozen coconut version.

Then have dinner at the Coyote Cafe & Rooftop Cantina . The food is fine-dining style with a modern take on southwestern cuisine like peppered elk tenderloin or lobster tails, but the atmosphere isn’t at all stuffy. There’s also a lower-budget option in summer in the colourful rooftop cantina where you can get small plates like tamales and tacos.

Margarita cocktails in Sante Fe

Map of things to do in Santa Fe

travel blog santa fe

More time in Santa Fe?

If you’ve got more than one day in Santa Fe, you could add on visits to more of the city’s museums and galleries. Or if you’d rather be outside, Museum Hill is home to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden or you could climb up to the Cross of the Martyrs viewpoint.

You could also head out of the city to explore more of New Mexico. Visit the ancient Taos Pueblo Native American community – the 76-mile-long High Road to Taos is one of the most scenic drives in the southwest USA, running through the Sagre de Cristo mountains past traditional villages, artist studios and the ‘Lourdes of America’ at Chimayo.

There’s also the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, with views 565 feet down into the canyon, or you can relax at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs spa, 50 miles south of Santa Fe.

The High Road to Taos scenic drive, New Mexico

The details

When to visit santa fe.

Santa Fe has a semi-arid climate. But its altitude at 7000 feet keeps temperatures down and there’s low humidity and an average of 325 sunny days a year.

Summer sees average high temperatures of 29ºC (85ºF) during July and August. It’s also the season with the highest rainfall, though that tends to be in short, thundery downpours in the afternoons which soon pass. Don’t forget the sun is stronger at high altitude so wear lots of sunscreen, pack a hat and sunglasses, and drink plenty of water.

Spring and autumn are great times to explore Santa Fe, with pleasant temperatures around 18–25ºC (65–78ºF) and bright blue skies. Winter can get quite cold, with average daytime highs of 5ºC (41ºF) and nighttime lows of -7ºC (19ºF). There’s a chance of snow from November to April, with the highest snowfall in December and January.

Saint Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe

How to get to Santa Fe

Santa Fe is in northern New Mexico, 64 miles/1 hour’s drive northeast of Albuquerque. There’s a small airport in Santa Fe with regional flights, or a larger international airport in Albuquerque. You can get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe using the New Mexico Rail Runner trains, which take around 1 hour 10 minutes, or there are shuttle services.

The city centre is compact and easy to get around on foot (though you might find the altitude tires you out more quickly than usual). Or if you want to travel further afield, Santa Fe Trails buses run every 15 minutes, with 10 routes around the city.

Trains in the Railyard District

Where to stay in Santa Fe

A short walk from the Plaza, the Old Santa Fe Inn * is a classic New Mexico-style bed and breakfast with handmade dark wood furniture, local artworks and bunches of chilies hanging in the courtyard. Rooms are cosy and some have traditional kiva fireplaces, jacuzzi baths or balconies. There’s a free breakfast buffet plus free tea, coffee and afternoon snacks.

Or the gloriously over-the-top Inn of the Five Graces * is a riot of colours and cultures. It was created from a block of historic adobe buildings and has 24 luxury suites. An East-meets-West décor inspired by the Silk Road feature mosaic bathrooms, Afghan rugs and Indian fabrics. There’s also a spa, fitness room and peaceful garden.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Santa Fe?*

The Old Santa Fe Inn, New Mexico

Save for later

How to spend one day in Santa Fe, New Mexico – discover the art, culture, history, food and drink in the USA’s ‘city different’ with this guide to things to do in Santa Fe if you only have 24 hours | Things to do in Santa Fe | Santa Fe itinerary | Santa Fe New Mexico | Southwest USA

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Thursday 17th of November 2022

I loved this blog post! Such amazing pictures and looks like you had a great time! Do you know where the colorful painted chiles were located?

Lucy Dodsworth

Monday 28th of November 2022

Thank you! The colourful chilies were outside a shop just on the edge of the plaza but I did see a few similar ones around the city.

Blaine K Bobchak

Sunday 4th of April 2021

Nice blog , I am from Santa Fe born and raised and although there is so much more magic that this wonderful city has to offer, you really did an exceptional job. I literally found myself walking along your day plan. Good job.

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

Thanks Blaine, I really enjoyed my stay and hope to get back there someday!

Passport To Eden

Perfect 3 Day Santa Fe Itinerary – 72 Hours In Santa Fe

Three Days In Santa Fe Itinerary Featured Image

Looking for a Santa Fe itinerary? This three days in Santa Fe itinerary shares all the top things to do in Santa Fe, sights to see, and places to eat.

The first night you meet Santa Fe, you realize you’ve flung too far for a fling. One day in Santa Fe is not enough. You’re 7,000 feet above sea level, high on a city gleaming by the shadows of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. 

Two days in Santa Fe isn’t enough, either. You’re just getting to know Santa Fe’s tan lines, the bare browns that hold adobe illusions. You’ve tasted New Mexican food, felt the burn of green chile-smocked enchiladas, the citrus-cool of margaritas, and the sweet honeyed hit of sopapillas. 

Three days in Santa Fe lets you breathe. You’re drunk on art, hot from tea, and ready to roadrunner-dash through the dusty, arid Northern New Mexico landscape on a day trip. 

So, if you have just 72 hours in The City Different, here’s the perfect three days in Santa Fe itinerary to help you savor New Mexico’s capital.

Disclosure:   Heads up, this post contains affiliate links, which means Passport To Eden may get a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make an online purchase. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything. We still love that you’re here, reading our content (side note: we suggest getting a coffee or tea first because our blog posts tend to be long). You can read our full affiliate disclosure here to find out more.

Table of Contents

Day One: Getting To Know Santa Fe

Start of day one in three days in Santa Fe itinerary

9:30 AM – Downtown Santa Fe

I can see The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi as I walk up E San Francisco St. The sidewalk narrows and widens, shifting from brick to concrete. Like many roads in Santa Fe, E San Francisco street slants slightly. It’s not quite straight, but Santa Fe’s landmark church remains in sight. 

Sunlight escapes through two towers – one just a single brick layer taller than the other. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is massive, paler than the low-slung buildings that surround it, and looming. 

Feathers of frost leave my lips as I step up a small flight of stairs towards the church. I wait, along with a few others, for Ana Pacheco. Pacheco’s ancestors arrived in Santa Fe in 1692, close to two centuries before The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi was built. She’s lived in Santa Fe most of her life (minus a brief escapade to New York), and now works as a Santa Fe historian . 

Ana Pacheco Santa Fe History Tour, Best Tours Of Santa Fe by local guide

For over a decade, she ran a quarterly magazine on New Mexican history. She recorded oral histories of Santa Fe locals. She authored three books on Santa Fe (and five more about New Mexico). No one knows Santa Fe better than Pacheco , so when I saw an open spot for a historic tour led by her , I knew I had to go ( this is the tour I booked . It sells out quickly, so I recommend reserving early). 

At 9:50 AM, Pacheco zips in with a big black binder. She speaks with the confidence of someone who has had years to dissect her relationship with Santa Fe, to grapple with its inconsistencies, and to frame The City Different in a way that fits battles lost and won . The photos in the binder are ones from her books; they show Santa Fe before. She raises them up, side-by-side against Santa Fe now.  

Best tours for your Santa Fe itinerary

As our group follows her around downtown Santa Fe, she points out Moorish influences in Santa Fe. She shows us a tourist-bustling chocolate shop, and lets us know that, in the mid-20th century, this building was a checkpoint for the Manhattan Project . She explains why New Mexico was a U.S. territory for over sixty years before gaining statehood. She unpacks the Zia Pueblo sun symbol, bright red against the yellow of the New Mexican flag.  

There’s a personal touch to Pacheco’s tour. Santa Fe’s historic landmarks mean a lot to her; these are the places where she went to school, hung out after school, and went to church. Santa Fe is her city, and she invites us to know her home.

chile ristras you will see on a New Mexico itinerary

If you can’t get a spot on Pacheco’s tour , I still recommend blocking off the first few hours of your Santa Fe itinerary for a downtown stroll!

Downtown Santa Fe Guide

Some places to stop on a self-guided tour of downtown Santa Fe:

The Palace Of The Governors: Hand-crafted pots and silver jewelry wait under the portal. Every day, from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, Native artists sell wares here (this area is reserved for Native use under the Portal Program, so you can directly support indigenous artists).

Santa Fe Plaza: a small, grassy city park with a wide cross of sidewalks fenced in by shops, cafes, and vendors

IAIA Museum Of Contemporary Native Art: MoCNA is the only museum in the United States dedicated to exhibiting works by contemporary Native artists (admission is free on Fridays).

La Fonda On The Plaza: Wednesday through Saturday, La Fonda tours wind through an almost century-old hotel. Each tour begins around 10:30 and is free for visitors but requires a reservation (call 505-982-5511 and use the extension 4200)

San Miguel Chapel: one of the oldest churches in the US

New Mexico State Capitol Building: the roundhouse is home to a circle of paintings and mixed-media pieces, cementing New Mexico as a state of the arts.

Burro Alley: in the 1600s, burros brought firewood to Santa Fe. Today, this brick-paved donkey-homage is a pedestrian-only shortcut from W San Francisco Street to Grant Avenue.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: a busy museum showcasing a selection of paintings by a world-famous artist

1:00 PM – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is an absolute must for art lovers in Santa Fe!

As I head from Old Santa Fe Trail towards The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum , I see downtown Santa Fe at its peak. Chile ristras redden beneath the afternoon sun’s glare. Restaurant doors fling open, sneaking scents of warm tortillas and spice-sizzled meats into the air. Tourists hurry by chapped buildings, self-anointed fine art galleries, and every shopaholic’s balm: boutiques.

I walk until I see the face of one of the most photographed women of the 20th century —a powerhouse with a soft smile and creased eyes draped across adobe. Georgia O’Keeffe. 

There’s a crowd outside the museum and a crowd inside. It’s hard to get tickets on-site . Even if you do, you might have to wait a few hours to see the exhibitions. Advance tickets are a must ( this is the official website for booking tickets ). Entry is timed (in fifteen-minute intervals).

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, one of the best things to do in Santa Fe

But you can stay as long as you want , and I plan to. I pop my headphones into my ears and listen to an audio tour . Few of O’Keeffe’s iconic, unfurling petals are in view, so I pause at landscapes instead. Her vivid, slow-burns mostly influenced by New Mexico and the Southwest.

The museum itself is minimalistic and sparse, with white walls spotlighting pastels on paper. Start at Making A Life (on view until 2025), a snapshot of O’Keeffe’s creative processes. Then, stroll through the current exhibition (a themed collection of her works). 

General Info

ADDRESS: 217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501 COST: $22 Per Person

travel blog santa fe


Henry & the fish.

My top pick for breakfast downtown! Coconut milk smoothies. Buddha bowls. Smooth matcha lattes.

La Plazuela

Santa Fe’s prettiest restaurant. Sharp mocktails, lightly seasoned enchiladas, and pillowy sopapillas.

Won a James Beard Award over twenty years ago, and it’s still hyped for its New Mexican food. Add your name to the wait list at 4 PM.

4:00 PM – Tumbleroot Pottery

what to do in afternoon of day 1 in Santa Fe itinerary

In the spring and summer, Santa Fe’s sky takes longer to deepen from blue to black. The sun is unhurried, slow to settle behind mountaintops, a reminder that I should loosen my grip on my Santa Fe itinerary. 

I’m often my most ambitious in Santa Fe, but it’s not a city that demands ambitious travelers . Museums, shops, and restaurants don’t snap into focus as the minute and hour hands tick, and neither should you. 

So, I settle into a barstool at Tumbleroot Pottery , at a communal table , in the company of strangers. I let my fingers sink into a pound of clay , plopped into a tin, and start… what do I do with this? My knees knock against a metal counter as I dump a lump of gray clay onto a disk. I press it down with my hands, then a spatula. 

Tumbleroot Pottery, one of the most underrated things to do in Santa Fe

“Look, I made a snake,” a husband grins at his wife. He holds the snake, rolled leftover clay, in front of her. She smiles and continues working on her Southwestern-style pot. At another table, an older woman deftly carves a twisted trunk like those in O’Keeffe’s paintings. There are clay cacti, clay crosses, and clay chiles in progress, too. Everyone has been here for hours, making something that reminds them of Santa Fe . 

We share tools (one big set per table). The mallets, stamps, and brushes pass from counter to counter. Mostly, we create in quiet. We laugh at the bumbles and missteps. When someone new walks in, they ask if we’re locals. We shake our heads. 

pots by local artists in Santa Fe

Tumbleroot Pottery is a tourist destination . It’s downtown, on an easy-to-reach corner with heavy foot traffic. There’s a bar counter. Beer is served in charming, locally-fired pots (you can drink while working with the clay). There’s a gallery, too, with Mezcal cups and glaze-poured bowls by Santa Fe artists. 

The clay self-dries . You’re given a pound to work with and a how-to starter sheet. All the instruments you need are included : wires to cut slabs of clay, fettling knives for sculpting, a spritz of water to keep the clay smooth, primary colors of tempera paints, and even a box (just ask) to take your DIY creation home. You might need to nudge your neighbor for a tool if they forget to put it back in the shared container, but beyond that, Tumbleroot stays social without being sociable. Everyone gets lost in their clay projects (I do, too), scoring memories of Santa Fe into bookends and jewelry holders.

ADDRESS: 135 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501 COST: $9 Per Person

Santa Fe Itinerary Day Two: The Artist’s Path

Start of day 2 in a three days in Santa Fe itinerary

10:00 AM The Railyard

I remember how wide Santa Fe is at The Railyard. People shuffle between two lines of buildings spread so far apart that a train can easily run in between. 

The first train arrived in Santa Fe at the end of the 19th century , signaling the end of wagons trundling into The City Different [ source ]. Santa Fe became more accessible. Tourists chugged in. Communities cropped up beyond platforms. The rail was on track to boost local jobs, activity, and gatherings. But, when the Interstate Highway gained traction, Santa Fe’s spotlight-bright rail stop lost its shine. 

The Railyard District needs to be on your Santa Fe itinerary!

In 2008, The Railyard was revitalized into a commercial space . Now, The Rail Runner sits on tracks outside the revamped Santa Fe Depot. You can hear Rio Metro’s transit ($10 from Santa Fe to Albuquerque) arrive before you see it, wheels groaning like the starting tumble of a laundry machine. 

Read Next: One Day In Albuquerque Itinerary

I sit on the patio of Sky Coffee with a cappuccino. Air nips my ears, but the drink warms my bones. People spill past the rail tracks; cars roll along Alcadesa Street. It’s been eight years since my last visit to The Railyard, and Violet Crown is still the prettiest building on the block, all sleek brown slabs like an unwrapped chocolate bar. The interior has aged quickly since the start of 2024 (supposedly not in connection to Violet Crown’s buyout by Elevate Entertainment Group ), but the theater is well-loved for its indie showings . 

Santa Fe Farmers Market, one of the top things to do in Santa Fe on a Saturday and Tuesday

When I finish my drink, I pop into the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market , a Saturday load of purpling cauliflowers and Looney Tunes-worthy carrots and turnips (so many turnips). The richness of garlic, butter, and yeast exaggerates as I rip apart a warmed-up piece of flatbread, green chile rubbed into its folds. 

Travel Tip: Many vendors, like Intergalactic Bread Company & Space Sauce, are cash-only. Bring at least $10, but if you need more, there’s an ATM outside the Farmers’ Market.  

travel blog santa fe


A Margarita Trail stop. Sopaipillas are served with honey butter and raw honey.

Radish & Rye

American cuisine with a hint of Santa Fe. Reserve for a special date night.

Native New Mexico inspired. Has one of the best happy hour menus in town (4-6 PM).

Read Next: 15 Traditional New Mexican Foods You Must Try

The Farmers’ Market grows until late spring when vendors burst past the indoor venue onto a platform by the rails. So, from May through December , there’s a Tuesday Farmers’ Market , too. On Sundays , the area transforms into an Artisan Market dedicated to New Mexico artists.  

Arturo Herrera exhibition at SITE Santa Fe

Across the street is SITE Santa Fe , a series of galleries that rise like phoenixes every quarter. Interior walls are torn down, and spaces are built anew to perfectly encase exhibits. SITE Santa Fe tries to rotate artists, re-engage, and make abstract works concrete . 

“He’s a little obsessed with Disney. Stare at it long enough, and you might see the influence,” an attendant says as I fish for a pamphlet about Arturo Herrera. I see splatter paints and Mickey Mouse’s gloved hands; the Disney I know, straight-forward and animated, is lost in this story. 

SITE Santa Fe is one of the best free things to do in Santa Fe

SITE Santa Fe tries to challenge the stories you know . A Carmen Herrera showing – tightrope straight lines made when Herrera was almost a centenarian (and then as a centenarian) – urges you to think about talent, ageism, and double standards. Erin Shirref’s Folded Stone tests how art is perceived and remembered.

Wonderfully enough, nothing about SITE Santa Fe feels highbrow. Guides stationed at each gallery answer questions earnestly , helping you tease out your feelings.

ADDRESS: 1606 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501v COST: FREE

1:00 PM Canyon Road

Canyon Road Santa Fe, one of the best streets to walk through

It’s this modern museum-style approach Elaine Ritchel takes to Canyon Road. Ritchel is the founder of Santa Fe Art Tours , a company democratizing Canyon Road’s art scene. 

I try to visit Canyon Road at least once every time I stop by Santa Fe. I’ve seen outdoor sculptures capped in snow and spring birds perched atop adobe roofs. I’ve walked here in the hot, unshaded summer heat and fallen in love with turquoise doors and grooved wooden entrances that creak under signs labeled fine art gallery . 

Santa Fe is the third largest art market in the United States (after New York and San Francisco). Canyon Road is proof of that, with over eighty galleries packed as densely as an adobe brick. 

Santa Fe itinerary Canyon Road tours

There are  clusters of galleries , and within those clusters, sub-clusters. Everything is  walkable, compartmentalized, beautiful , but also overwhelming. So, Ritchel pre-selects a few places to visit.  Santa Fe Art Tours  is her Ariadne’s Thread in Canyon Road’s tight network of home-style galleries. 

You’ll unravel moods and unspool stories. Ritchel, in true Midwestern fashion, sets you at ease, then nudges you towards art appreciation.

Feel free to meander through Canyon Road unguided too! Just give yourself permission to wander and get lost.

Travel Tip: A short walk from Canyon Road is Kakawa, a specialty chocolate house known for its Mesoamerican elixirs. I recommend their hot chocolate flight (you can sample four different flavors)!

4:00 PM House Of Eternal Return

House Of Eternal Return is one of the top things to do in Santa Fe

I’m not prepared for House of Eternal Return , and I’m not sure if there’s any way to prepare. House of Eternal Return is an interactive art installation built like a kid’s dream or nightmare (perhaps both—probably both). Little details from an eerie home appear like motifs once you tunnel through a laundry machine, squeeze past a fireplace, saunter into a refrigerator, and duck under a staircase. 

There are thrills and trips, color-dunked chaos orchestrated by over a hundred local artists, and a Goa-psychotic haziness bleeped into a PG landscape.

Whether you have a Santa Fe itinerary 2 days or Santa Fe itinerary 7 days, you need to visit Meow Wolf, a popular immersive art installation whose original location is in Santa Fe

Open all the doors. House of Eternal Return has over seventy rooms ; when one door closes, another always seems to open. Skip past trees washed in neon, sneak off into a room of mirrors, and pad your shoes against bottle caps pressed into the ground. This is a maximalist fever dream , too imaginative for a quick two-hour pass-through and too labyrinthine-exhausting for three.

Editor’s Note: On April 15, Meow Wolf (the art production corporation behind House of Eternal Return) announced that over 100 employees will be dismissed. I visited House of The Eternal Return before the mass layoff, so I’m not sure if Meow Wolf’s company restructuring and reorganization will change the quality of this experience in any way. Just want to give y’all a heads up!

ADDRESS: 1352 Rufina Cir, Santa Fe, NM 87507 COST: $45 Per Person

Santa Fe Itinerary Day Three: A Getaway

Bandelier National Monument, where to go during three days in Santa Fe day trip

7:00 AM Bandelier National Monument

Eight years ago, I arrived at Bandelier National Monument at 7 AM on a spring Sunday. There was a small wooden box with red maps to borrow. I grabbed one and headed onto Main Pueblo Loop Trail . Snapped twigs and leaves brushed the early part of the path. I heard Frijoles Creek, its water gliding over rocks.

Sunlight fragmented, falling golden on tufts of grass carpeting tuffs of rock. One million years ago, a volcanic explosion heaped ash onto this ground. The ash cooled and compacted into porous, igneous rocks (tuffs), later carved by Ancestral Puebloans . Wind eroded the tuffs, piercing little holes like Swiss Cheese.

Eight hundred-something years ago, Ancestral Puebloans turned those gaps into shelters known as cavates. The rugged dwellings rising stories high (picture an apartment building in rock).

ladder leading up to Bandelier, one of the best day trips to go on during your New Mexico itinerary

You can scale wooden ladders , enter cavates, and be engulfed in darkness. I only made it up one! My fear of heights led to a panic attack, so I chose not to continue up to Alcove House, which lies 140 feet above Frijoles Canyon (I hope you understand).

But Bandelier is worth driving to; its human history rewinds 10,000 years, and you can feel how ancient this space is as you see the dry cracks, creases, and folds of rock.

Know Before You Go: Between May to October ( exact dates here ), a mandatory shuttle bus wheels you off to Bandelier’s main entrance (you board at White Rock Visitor Center). The bus service is free, departing in twenty(ish) minute intervals between 9 AM to 3 PM. All visitors still need an entrance ticket . America The Beautiful Passes are accepted. You can find more details about the shuttle bus here .

Read Next: 10 Best Day Trips From Santa Fe

Now, almost a decade later, I’m on the same road. I’m heading toward Bandelier National Monument, but stopping in Pojoaque first to visit The Poeh Museum & Cultural Center .

Poeh Cultural Center in Pojoaque, New Mexico

The complex is beautiful, with adobe brick and mud climbing towards clouds. Nah Poeh Meng is the exhibit to start with. Six immersive rooms blend art, history, and storytelling, conveying Pueblo people’s pathway (their emergence, their everyday, their anguish) through the seasons.

Three Days In Santa Fe Itinerary, day three visit to Poeh Cultural Center in Pojoaque

Past Nah Poeh Meng is a room of stories. The stories are told by Tewa pots , stacked in four corners, shining on tiered displays. No pot hides behind another. They have waited long enough to return; now, they speak.

Tewa representatives spent years trying to bring these pots home from The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian [ source ]. A long-term loan was negotiated. Now, the pots are back in Northern New Mexico , 5800 feet above sea level, gleaming under the bright lights of Poeh Cultural Center. They’ve come home.

POEH ADDRESS: 78 Cities of Gold Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87506 TIMINGS: Mon-Fri, 10 AM to 5 PM COST: $10 Per Person

General FAQ

It depends on what you’re looking for! If you prefer a great location, I recommend Rosewood Inn Of The Anasazi or La Fonda On The Plaza ! I personally love Hotel Santa Fe (it’s near The Railyard District and is the only Native owned hotel in Santa Fe).

At least a long weekend (Friday through Sunday, ideally). If you’re looking for things to do in Santa Fe during a longer stay, visit Museum Hill, relax at Ten Thousand Waves , drop into one of Santa Fe Community Yoga’s classes, and hike Sun Mountain!

I wouldn’t recommend visiting Santa Fe if you value nightlife (this town sleeps early), but if you like art and history and can handle a bit of spice (New Mexican food  can  be spicy), Santa Fe is a fantastic destination! It’s even a UNESCO-designated Creative City, recognized for its artists, museums, and performing arts venues. 🎨

Personal FAQ

I used a Sony Alpha a6400 and Canon EOS Rebel T5 (I don’t believe Canon manufactures this camera anymore).

Sopapillas, forever and always. I also love biscochitos (New Mexico’s holiday cookies). And anything smothered Christmas-style (New Mexico’s slang for both red and green chile). 😋

I don’t play favorites, but if I did, Santa Fe. 😊

sincerely anshula

Did you enjoy this Santa Fe itinerary? Let me know in the comments below! Please feel free to adapt this Santa Fe itinerary in any way to meet your travel needs.

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Anshula grew up with a love of stories and places. Thirty-five states and 100 bookstores later, she's made her hobbit home in Middle Tennessee. Her Tookish side still takes over and leaves her chasing window seats, literary destinations, adventure books, sunrise coffee, and indie bookshops. She's appeared as a travel source on HuffPost, Reader's Digest, and MSN.

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Wow, so fun. It looks like so good. And I loved the way you described it. Lovely.

Wow. That is one awesome weekend you had! Thanks for sharing the list of places worth visiting. The restaurants you suggested look like they serve really good food. Hopefully I get to visit Santa Fe someday.

I hope you get to visit too! It is such a pretty city! xx – Anshula

I’ve never been to Santa Fe myself but I would love to visit. Casa Chimayo sounds like a great place to visit for dinner I love Spanish food.

Yes! The food served there is sooooo good! xx – Anshula

That seems to be an amazing weekend. Love the photos that you have shared. And you describe it so detailed. I would definitely want to visit Santa Fe one day.

Thanks Karen, your comment is so sweet! Hope you get a chance to visit! xx – Anshula

Looks like you had an awesome weekend, visiting Santa Fe is on our bucket list. Everything looks so nice from the pics you took, I would love to visit Bandolier National Monument one day.

It really is a magical place! xx – Anshula

You sure looked like you had a fantastic weekend! I have never been to Santa Fe and I wish I could the soonest time. You definitely fed my wanderlust for the place with your photos!

Thanks so much, Kristine! I hope you get a chance to visit soon. xx – Anshula

Just visited Santa Fe for the first time last summer. I stumbled upon many of your recommendations. Enjoyed the memories and makes me want to return to try the rest on your list!

Thanks Craig! That’s so great to hear! xx – Anshula

It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this superb blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

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Destinations , Down South , Road Trips , Vacations · June 8, 2022

The Perfect Weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico Itinerary

Sun-warmed adobe buildings. World-class art. Chile-drenched New Mexican cuisine. Historic museums and churches. And, of course, margaritas 🙂 It’s called City Different for its combination of rich cultures. And a weekend in Santa Fe, surrounded by art, mountains, and the color teal, will make you feel…

happy, energetic, and curious from start to finish.

santa fe adobe buildings

And did you know, founded between 1607 and 1610, it’s the highest and oldest capital in the United States? The Spanish revival style architecture, a blend of Spanish and Native American cultures, and narrow streets that don’t follow a grid pattern, but the lay of the land instead, all make for a preserved legendary history.

Whether I’ve already convinced you to visit or not, keep reading. First, a few standard questions…

How Many Days Should I Spend in Santa Fe?

Three days makes for a great experience in Santa Fe. But there are plenty of attractions, museums, restaurants, and shops to extend your trip to a long weekend in Santa Fe for a total of 4-5 days. This way, you can do things at a more leisurely pace.

We did not take days off work, drove from Colorado, arrived in Santa Fe on a Friday night around 7:00 PM, and left on Sunday around 2:00 PM. I think having a few more hours on Friday or Sunday would have been ideal. But, as always, we squeezed A LOT in. 🙂

Make it a full road trip and incorporate some of these other Best Vacation Destinations in New Mexico !

travel blog santa fe

Is Santa Fe, New Mexico Walkable?

YES—it’s one of the best parts about a trip here. A small city relative to some in the U.S., nearly everything you experience is within walking distance. And the lively, picturesque streets make it that much more enjoyable. Everywhere you turn, there is artwork, pops of colors, and green trees and mountains!

During the full day Saturday, we walked 6.5 miles. And on Sunday (we did drive to a different area), 3.5 miles.

Where to Stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico

There are some great hotels and Airbnbs to stay at in Santa Fe. I highly recommend staying right in the downtown area —everything is so close and it’s worth the extra expense vs. spending money on cabs or relying on your own car (keep in mind there are a LOT of margaritas in this area…lol.)

If you are looking for a hotel experience, the historic La Fonda on the Plaza is magnificent with a ton of amenities , including a rooftop patio, restaurants, an outdoor pool, and robes. You will pay for it though at $300-400 per night. (If you don’t stay here, still hit the rooftop bar! More on that later.)

If you want a bit cheaper option right in the city, we loved our Santa Fe Airbnb just a 5-minute walk to the heart of downtown. It was cute and clean with a comfy bed and a hot tub. When it was all said and done, it came out to just over $200 per night.

sante fe new mexico

Chile? What do I need to know?

Santa Fe’s love language is chiles. Smothered all over everything you eat. And you’ll love it. Your answer is either “red chile,” “green chile,” or “Christmas” which is a combination of both. It’s spicy with a sweet flavor and I think it changed my life lol.

That covers the basics, so let’s get into the Weekend in Santa Fe Itinerary!

Weekend in Santa Fe: Day 1

If you arrive before dinnertime, check out one of the museums outlined down below before you eat. But we’ll kick off with the first great meal in Santa Fe—there will be many:

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

This is easily one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe! Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen is a huge space—general dining areas, an indoor bar, an open-air bar, and an outdoor patio. And you’ll realize how good this place is right off the bat because their chips and salsa are the BEST— plus, they are free and unlike some of the trendy restaurants that charge. (Pet peeve.)

Not only that, but you’ll peruse a menu of literally over 100 margaritas! It’s tough to choose, but you can’t go wrong. I loved “Girl’s Best Friend.” And their tacos (go with pork belly) were delicious, authentic, and didn’t skimp on the avocado. Maria’s is a local favorite, as well as a popular spot for tourists. Don’t miss it!

maria's new mexican kitchen santa fe

More Santa Fe Dinner Options to Choose From

La Choza is another fantastic, highly rated option for dinner that we had recommended to us multiple times. Unfortunately, we did not make it here but it is #1 on my list for next time. If you go, make sure to let me know how it is! And don’t skip the red chile. Or green chile. Or Christmas! 🙂

Another option is Paloma which you will also see recommended often; it’s one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe according to many internet reviews. We made reservations for when we got into town and LOVED the atmosphere of the outdoor patio—very trendy.

But, we were disappointed with the food. Our dishes included good pieces of meat and homemade tortillas, but both lacked any flavor. To pay over $90 for steak fajitas, two fish tacos, chips & salsa, one margarita, and one whiskey was a tough swallow. And though we won’t come back, maybe we just got unlucky because people RAVE about Paloma.

travel blog santa fe

After dinner and drinks, get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow is a LARGE day!

Weekend in Santa Fe: Day 2

The first full day of your weekend in Santa Fe. I promise it’s going to be a memorable one full of delicious food, strong margaritas, art, and the opportunity to learn more about this beautiful city.

Dolina Bakery

Dolina Bakery is the perfect place to start your day! An aesthetically-pleasing inside and a front-side outdoor patio space give you two options for enjoying your coffee. Order at the counter, and whatever you do, don’t skip the Almond Croissant. It was one of the best I have ever had! Bonus: this is a fun, short walk from the Airbnb.

TIP: Don’t get full here. Treat it as your morning coffee stop and split any food with others. Trust me, there is plenty in your future!

dolina bakery santa fe

Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

After you are ready and energized, it’s time for the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market . This lively market is the place to be on a Saturday morning! I absolutely loved the vibe and strolling through the food vendors with local produce, art, and fresh baked goods.

And it’s huge! Start on the north end at the artisan market and make your way along the railroad tracks where you eventually end up at the food market. There are outdoor tents as well as a big indoor space with even more goodies. Make sure to walk the whole thing—it’s one of the best outdoor activities to enjoy the weather.

Note: There is also a Spanish Market and an Indian Market—check to see if you are visiting when those are scheduled.

sante fe farmers market

Santa Fe Plaza

Next, make your way right into the heart of the downtown which is the Santa Fe Plaza. This area is bustling with tourists, street vendors, shops, and restaurants. Here, downtown Santa Fe shows off its natural beauty and culture. And one of my favorite things was all of the green—something I did not expect! Once you make it here, you’re right at the center of everything you want to do!

And if you didn’t get full at Dolina Bakery or the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market…

the plaza santa fe

Cafe Pasqual’s

Walk over to brunch at Cafe Pasqual’s where you will love the atmosphere just as much as your food. Small, quaint, and full of artwork, Cafe Pasqual’s offers breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, pancakes, and more that are all organic with pasture-raised meats.

I ordered the Huevos Barbacoa Con Chile and loved the slow-cooked beef cheeks with green chiles. (We also had a plain black coffee and loved it!) Keep in mind that this place gets busy so stop by and get your name on the list. They will call/text you and in the meantime, you can…

Cafe Pasqual's huevos barbacoa

Shop in Santa Fe

Shops are endless in Santa Fe. And you will quickly experience all of the creative talents in this city. Not to mention, the beautiful Spanish and Native American cultures. One of my favorite ways to learn about the area was through the shops, boutiques, and studios.

Spend some time both while you wait and after your meal walking around the different shops in this area. A few of my favorites:

Santa Fe Olive Oil & Balsamic Co.

Forever a favorite of mine. “Uh oh” is usually what comes out of my husband’s mouth when we notice an olive oil shop! And Santa Fe Olive Oil & Balsamic Co. did not disappoint. They offer free, do-it-yourself tastings and a variety of oils, vinegar, olives, and spices. There are also other souvenirs including fun-shaped pasta, books, and gift sets. I left with the White Truffle Olive Oil and a bag of pasta and can’t wait to put it to good (delicious) use!

Santa Fe Olive Oil & Balsamic Co.

Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse

I don’t know what gives me the feels more—olive oil or new books lol. Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse is a great bookstore with Santa Fe stories and history, new fiction, memoirs, and a children/teens section. There’s also a large cafe with comfy seating, puzzles, and a peaceful community vibe. Make sure to stop in here if you’re a reader!

Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse

Indigo Rug #2

The first shop that made me say WOW, there are some talented folks out here. This shop does not stop at rugs and you will have such a fun time admiring the cool art pieces. We spent a solid half-hour walking through, talking to the owner, and picking a (small) piece to take home with us.

santa fe art

Shopping is hard work. And there are too many sensational margaritas in this area to not get to one by noon!

After a nice, relaxing morning with coffee, brunch, and shopping, it’s time for a little marg-hop. Here are all of the places to stop:

Coyote Cafe

The colorful, lively, and fun rooftop at Coyote Cafe is where to start. The adobe building overlooks the touristy streets and has pops of color and artwork in every direction. If you’re a little slow from a big brunch, this place will pick you right back up!

I went with the Turquoise Margarita and it was a good choice. And after this, I was ready to ramp up the day drinking lol. (Shoutout to the fantastic waitress who helped us out with some great recommendations for the rest of our trip, too.)

NOTE: This is one of the top restaurants to eat at as well. Their indoor dining is more elegant and expensive.

travel blog santa fe

Margaritas on a vibrant outdoor patio with live music? Yep, sign me up. And sign up everybody else too because this popular place is ALWAYS busy. At least on the weekends. We made our 5-minute walk over from Coyote Cafe and there was about a 30-40 minute wait at Cowgirl. But it’s worth it! And there are a few shops right along the block to kill some time.

Cowgirl is known for its award-winning BBQ, green chili cheeseburger, and the Caddilac Margarita. While we didn’t eat, we continued the margarita tour. And weren’t disappointed—plus, had local musicians to go with it! Definitely a fun, Saturday afternoon experience.

cowgirl sante fe

Shop While You Wait

As I mentioned, stroll around a few of these shops while you wait for a table at Cowgirl. P.S. you 100% want outdoor seating there vs. indoor. It’s worth the wait. Here is where to shop:

A fun, high-end home decor and gift shop. Array is one of those places where you want to take home one of everything! Charcuterie boards, soaps and lotions, ceramics and artifacts, plus pillows, frames, and candles. You will be ready to revamp every room in your home.

arry shop santa fe

Double Take Consignment Shop

Looking for a pair of cowboy boots or turquoise jewelry? Peruse Double Take where they combine retail and resale in a very large space with two levels. It is higher-priced than most thrift stores, but you may just snag a steal.

Okay, back to the marg-hop…

double take consignment

More margs? More outdoor patios? Yep, there’s more where that came from. Start heading back towards the Santa Fe Plaza (you’ve explored most of the southwest side and now we’ll head east.) And no, I don’t expect you to make this entire 10-minute walk without a margarita break 😉

Make a pit stop at The Pantry , where you can sit on a corner patio and sip your drink. They have a very good classic margarita and if you like them on the sweeter side, this might be your favorite one!

the pantry sante fe

La Fonda on the Plaza: Bell Tower Rooftop Bar

Make sure you go into La Fonda on the Plaza at some point during your trip—even if you aren’t staying there! It’s a beautiful historic hotel. And the best part is the Bell Tower Rooftop Bar . Head to the elevators and get to floor 5.

From there, you can walk out and find a table or seat along the perimeter for the best views of Santa Fe! Adobe buildings, churches, green mountains. It’s one of the best things to do in the area and they also happen to serve my top-rated Margarita in Santa Fe! (My full ranking to come—I will link here!)

We’re 4 margaritas in, maybe it’s time for some food?

La Fonda on the Plaza: Bell Tower Rooftop Bar

Dinner at The Shed

This is hands down the best Mexican food I have ever eaten in my entire life. The Shed is as AUTHENTIC as it gets, plus spicy and delicious. The Shed opened in 1953 and has been in its current location, adobe hacienda (Prince Patio), since 1960.

A Weekend in Santa Fe is not complete without The Shed.

And it’s not a secret. We had a TWO-HOUR wait here on a Saturday night and didn’t get in until 8:30 PM —they take reservations up to 3 months in advance. And, trust me, it was worth every single second of waiting. We almost ate elsewhere and I am beyond thankful we didn’t. I had the Chicken Enchiladas Plate with Green Chile. The flavor was unreal with both heat and hints of sweetness. (And their famous red and green chile come directly from the farm.)

the shed sante fe

While You Wait…

Okay, so a 2-hour wait is quite a long time. Make sure to secure a reservation or come long before you want to eat something and get your name on the list. We learned this the hard way but, luckily, there are plenty of other places to explore while you wait.

Anasazi Restaurant

Anasazi , an upscale Southwestern restaurant, is just around the corner and lured us in with its beautiful outdoor space. While the margarita was one of the best I had the entire trip, the 25 minutes it took to get it wasn’t all that enjoyable. I like a slower-paced restaurant experience just so it’s not over in a half over, but the service here will stop me from ever coming back. There was zero urgency, the staff didn’t seem happy, and after mentioning a look at the appetizer menu, we were never asked what we’d like. Skip this and head to:

Low ‘n Slow

Ah, much more our style. Fun bar area with smiling bartenders, good music, and a few TVs to catch some of the game. We were (after taking a look at the pizzas coming out) 10 seconds away from skipping The Shed and eating at Low n’ Slow . I’m still glad we didn’t, but next time, I would love to dig into a fresh-looking pizza!

NOTE: They serve HAWT Pizza Co. which is just down the block.

low n slow santa fe

Weekend in Santa Fe: Day 3

After you eat at The Shed, you will be as full as it gets haha. Enjoy a well-earned sleep. Here is what to do first thing on Day 3 (if you can stop yourself from going to Dolina Bakery again!)

Ikonic Cafe

Ikonic Cafe has a gorgeous outdoor space with green plants, flowers, and the adobe building backdrop that is perfect for morning coffee. And the inside is large, welcoming, and full of character. They offer large breakfast menu items like tacos, benedict, and waffles, and while it looked delicious, I was still full and just went with a classic Americano.

ikonic santa fe

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

After grabbing coffee, we wanted to explore the east side of Santa Fe (specifically Canyon Road) since much of yesterday was the west. And if you thought everything was artsy and colorful over there, this walk will bring it to a whole new level!

There are a ton of historic buildings to explore in Santa Fe—honestly, we probably should have spent more time on this! But it was fun to admire a few from afar, including the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi .

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Stroll Canyon Road

An art lovers dream! Walk along the narrow streets of Canyon Road and you will find over 100 art galleries and boutiques. Art from both local artists and those around the country (and the world) are showcased. It is such a gorgeous place to be.

canyon road santa fe

The Teahouse

All the way towards the far end of the art galleries is The Teahouse . And they serve some delicious breakfast! Their patio space is full of green trees and pretty flowers and you’ll love a Sunday morning experience here. We ordered a quiche and I did not want to stop eating it! “Today’s Quiche” was with mushrooms, green chiles, and cheese—yum. We also shared the granola yogurt bowl full of fresh fruit.

NOTE: Parking is horrendous over here! The best way to do it is to walk (which is very entertaining) or take an Uber. The parking lot is very small for their large outdoor patio and it’s one of the only restaurants open for breakfast in the morning so it gets busy.

the teahouse santa fe

If you’re in Santa Fe, you should check out a museum or two. And if the standard museum doesn’t excite you, I have something that just might be up your alley—in a weird way? Lol. After breakfast, head to…

A Santa Fe main attraction, and a short 10-minute drive from the heart of downtown, which is the crazy Meow Wolf , the House of Eternal Return. A crazy, 70-room interactive experience that will have you in a different universe every 60 seconds.

It’s fun, it’s bizarre, and it’s definitely a unique experience.

It costs $42 per person ($27 for a child) which is a little steep (what isn’t these days?) but you also get a unique experience you won’t forget! Enter during your timeslot and you can stay as long as you want. There is a missing family mystery game to be played throughout the rooms if you wish. Otherwise, just walk around, find new rooms, touch and climb, and have fun!

TIP: Right when you get in, skip the first couple of rooms nearby (unless you play the game) and get more towards the back to help avoid people. It does get a bit crowded.

ONE MORE TIP: You have to pay a few dollars extra for 3D glasses and coins for the photo booth or games. Skip it. I did both and it’s not worth it.

meow wolf santa fe

Additional Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

As mentioned, we should have had a few more hours in Santa Fe to accomplish a couple more things! If you do happen to have more time, make sure to explore a few museums and churches. They are some of Santa Fe’s top attractions.

Museums in Santa Fe

  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum : This would be my first pick! Dedicated to her legacy this museum is full of modern watercolors, charcoals, and oil paintings. It’s $18 and free for kids.
  • New Mexico Museum of Art : Regional art and photography in the cutest adobe building. I’d love to do this one, too! It’s $12 for non-residents and free for kids.
  • New Mexico History Museum : Three interlocking buildings, including the Palace of the Governors (1610), you will learn all about New Mexico’s deep history and rich cultures. It’s $12 for non-residents and free for children.
  • Museum of Indian Arts and Culture : Interactive exhibits and artifacts to explore and learn more. It’s $9 for non-residents and free for kids.
  • Museum of International Folk Art : Art and artifacts from 100+ countries. It’s $12 for non-residents and free for kids.
  • Wheelright Museum of the American Indian : Founded in 1937 and dedicated to Native American Arts. It’s an $8 admission.
  • Museum of Spanish Colonial Art : Spanish colonial style art, textiles, and furniture. This one is free!

Churches in Santa Fe

  • San Miguel Chapel : the oldest church in Santa Fe—1610.
  • The Loretto Chapel : the unique spiral staircase is a must-see.

santa fe historic churches

Weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico Itinerary

I want to spend another weekend in Santa Fe as soon as possible! And I hope you enjoy your trip to northern New Mexico as much as I did. As one of the most historic cities in North America, it is a destination that does not lack rich culture, artist’s studios, or views. (Or top-notch tacos and margaritas!) You won’t regret a trip here. And let me know your favorite part!

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Luxury Travel Blogger – Carmen Edelson

Luxury Travel Blogger – Carmen Edelson

A Weekend Guide to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sante Fe, known as “The City Different”, is a wonderful place for the senses. It is both rich in culture, history, and architecture, all set at the foothills of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. With over 320 days of sunshine a year, it is the perfect destination to visit during any season!

Santa Fe is also the oldest city in New Mexico, and has certainly earned its place as one of the most cultural cities in the U.S. There are numerous museums, galleries, and historic sites to explore, almost all of which offer a fascinating insight into Native American heritage and art.

New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I recently enjoy a weekend getaway here and have compiled my top recommendations to make the most of your time! Enjoy reading all of the best places to eat, sleep, and explore in Santa Fe!

Where to stay: 

Hotel Santa Fe : The Hacienda & Spa is a sanctuary for the cultural and luxury traveler. Santa Fe is renowned for celebrating the history and spirit of the Pueblo people, and this hotel does just that. I was very happy to discover that this is the city’s only Native American owned hotel! Therefore, you will be able to enjoy a tradition-centric retreat with beautiful handcrafted natural pine furnishings and Native American Art throughout the property.

Hotel Santa Fe: The Hacienda & Spa

We stayed in a Traditional Room with an incredibly comfortable king-size bed. I really loved the Southwestern-style decor throughout the room, and the modern amenities like a fully stocked minibar, fast wifi, and more.    

Traditional Room - Hotel Santa Fe: The Hacienda & Spa

There is a fabulous spa for those looking to unwind and restore your body and soul. Their highly skilled massage therapists use rich aromas such as white sage, organic lavender and wild piñon sap – all of which are local.

The Spa Entrance at Hotel Santa Fe: The Hacienda & Spa

For those looking for the ultimate dining experience, Hotel Santa Fe’s Amaya Restaurant offers a unique private dinner option in a traditional teepee. These are available seasonally, from Memorial Day – Labor Day, and are perfect for 2-4 guests. This is family-style dining at its best, in a fun and adventurous way. You can get comfortable with traditional hides and blankets inside while enjoying native cuisine. This is something I’ve never seen before in a hotel!

Amaya Restaurant - Hotel Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hotel Santa Fe truly brings the city’s Native American culture to life through its beautiful decor, art, special dining experiences, and warm hospitality.

Hotel Santa Fe Reception Area

Where to eat: 

We enjoyed breakfast both mornings at the lounge on the 5th floor of Hotel Santa Fe, but were happy to discover so many amazing options in the city for lunch and dinner.

Hotel Santa Fe Lounge

A great lunch option is La Boca where they serve Spanish inspired small plates, paired with quality Mediterranean and South African wines. This restaurant was opened in 2006 by 8-time James Beard Award Nominee, Chef James Campbell Caruso. He prides himself on using fresh, local ingredients and La Boca has been called “the most influential restaurant in Santa Fe”.

For either lunch or dinner, I’d recommend The Compound which has award-winning dishes that are considered New American with a Southwestern influence. Chef and owner Mark Kiffin is a James Beard Award Winner so you are certainly in great hands. The Compound is located in the eclectic Arts District on Canyon Road. There is a rich history to discover here as the restaurant was once an adobe home.

Compound Restaurant Santa Fe, New Mexico

My top suggestion for a fabulous dinner spot would be the Coyote Cafe . This is an elegant eatery which features local, Southwestern cuisine. I’d recommend starting off at their rooftop bar with delicious cocktails. Coyote Cafe is easily one of Santa Fe’s most renowned restaurants because of their creative menu by celebrity chef Mark Miller. Start with their Seared Diver Scallops and then try either their Telicherry Peppered Elk Tenderloin or the mouthwatering Pan-Seared Sea Bass as your main course. You cannot leave without ordering their Banana Cream Pie or Caramel Creme Brûlée.

Image Coyote Cafe, Santa Fe

If you’re visiting Sante Fe on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday, I would also suggest visiting the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. This is one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in the United States and it operates year-round in the Railyard District! Under one roof (and outside as well), you’ll discover excellent produce, beekeepers, baked goods, live music, presentations, and so much more.

Where to explore: 

There is so much to see and do in Santa Fe’s Plaza and Downtown area. I would start off at the centuries old Palace of the Governors which is the most historic part of the city. It was here that I really enjoyed shopping for handcrafted souvenirs from Native artisans. You will also discover many quaint streets with charming boutiques, restaurants, bookstores, and galleries.

Santa Fe's Plaza where you can buy local Southwestern Jewelry

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is definitely worth a visit as well. This is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. For history buffs out there, this cathedral was built on the same sight of two churches that date back to the early 1600s. The current one was built between 1869-1886. This gorgeous structure is considered Romanesque Revival architecture which typically features simplified arches and windows.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe

Canyon Road is also a must to visit.  The street is lined with art galleries filled with one-of-a-kind pieces and sculptures.  It is actually home to over 80 galleries!

Art Galleries on Canyon Road, Santa Fe

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is dedicated to the art, life, and legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe. It was opened in 1997, 11 years after the artist’s death. If you’re a big fan of her work, I would give yourself at least an hour to appreciate everything. This is the largest permanent collection of O’Keeffe’s work in the world, with over 3,000 pieces.

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum image Flickr Jpellgen

For something more modern and unique, I highly recommend visiting Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return. Visiting this immersive art installation was one of the highlights of my trip!

Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Meow Wolf is unlike any art museum I have ever visited. It offers a creative new form of non-linear storytelling that unfolds as you explore. And trust me, there is so much to explore and interact with! This wildly creative space is a collaboration involving over 100 local artists. The house inside of an unassuming building, located in an industrial district, is straight out of a science fiction novel. It is also over 20,000 square feet so give yourself plenty of time!

Meow Wolf Art Installations, Santa Fe, New Mexico

There are dozens of rooms, secret passages, and interactive objects that you can play with. The premise is that something mysterious has happened inside of a Victorian house which has caused it to dissolve the nature of space and time. A highlight for me was entering through one of the passages that looks like a vintage refrigerator! Thankfully, photos and video are allowed and it is open to the public every day except for Tuesdays.

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About the author

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Where to Visit in China & Explore Remarkable Destinations

Zus smart usb car charger review – a handy car charger and car locator, the best bites in mayfair, 5 airport hacks for stress-free travel, top 7 reasons to visit malibu with your family this summer, seven stars luxury hospitality & lifestyle awards: 5th year anniversary gala in athens, greece, how to choose which greek island to visit, hotel casa 1800: a historic boutique hotel in seville, spain, wines that pair perfectly with italian food, dining guide: where to eat in whitby, england.

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What a beautiful guide, Carmen! I love the architecture of the city, and that spa sounds wonderful.

Dee ~ Vanilla Papers

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Carmen Edelson

Thank you so much, Dee 🙂

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Manuel Mendoza

A great weekend you had! Santa Fe it’s a fabulous place, with a lot of things to do and so much culture to offer, it’s a very nice place!

I totally agree – loved my visit!

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Kyle Rankins

It looks like such a fantastic place to travel. I can’t wait to experience it first hand.

I think you’ll have a great time, Kyle!

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It’s a lovely post, Carmen! I like it, and it will be helpful for my next travel to Santa Fe. It is a good destination to visit year-round and is also a ski destination, so winter snowfall and cold temperatures are to be expected in the winter months.

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Very good post .This is very helpful.Thanks for posting.

No problem, Jessy! I love Santa Fe.

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travel blog santa fe

23 Essential Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Travel Guide)

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Welcome to “The City Different.” If you’re looking for the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I have you covered. After spending four days in this iconic Southwest city, all I can say is, book the trip.

I had little idea of what to expect on my visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in partnership with TOURISM Santa Fe and Steller . The itinerary was four days, exploring the ins and outs of what I knew to be a top destination — Conde Nast Traveler readers just named it the #2 best small city in the U.S.

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

What I found during my four days was just how vibrant the city of Santa Fe is. From its arts, food, design, museums, and rich history, Santa Fe lived up to its name as “The City Different.” And it truly is. From sitting at 7199 elevation (you may feel a bit winded walking around) to a bustling art scene as a UNESCO Creative City, you have it all.

I love that in one breath you can be walking through exquisite art studios along the famed Canyon Road and in another, out of breath hiking the trails of Santa Fe National Forest just seven miles out of downtown. It’s a spectacular blend of everything you could want on a trip. (And let me make a case for what is an epic girls’ getaway destination.)

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you’re looking to visit Santa Fe, this guide to the best things to do on a visit will help you plan your stay. There’s no shortage of things to do in The City Different. The question is: which will you do first?

Planning a Trip to Santa Fe? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Santa Fe:

  • Four Seasons Rancho Encantado , for the best luxury hotel
  • Hotel Santa Fe , for the best quintessential Santa Fe hotel

The 23 Best Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

1. stay at four seasons resort rancho encantado santa fe.

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nestled amidst the pinon woodland landscapes of Santa Fe, the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado is a retreat that seamlessly blends luxury with the American Southwest. The resort’s adobe-style architecture sits perfectly in the natural surroundings, offering an immersive Southwestern experience.

Getting to spend two nights out at this resort was a wonderful start to my time in Santa Fe. It felt like a retreat in itself, being just 15 minutes outside of downtown. The grounds are stunning, almost like a living art gallery, where sculptures and art are intertwined into the design.

The casitas and suites are spacious and have wood-burning fireplaces, and Le Labo amenities in the bathroom. It’s a wonderful resort to book while visiting Santa Fe. Book the best rates here .

2. Grab Breakfast at Dolina Café

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Such a delicious spot just outside of the downtown, Dolina Café is an Eastern-European-inspired cafe. The pastry case is hard to pass by but trust me when I say to sit down for brunch. The menu has many creative dishes on it, some traditional, and some with Slovakian roots. I loved my cinnamon French toast that is housemade daily. Their lunch menu with more savory dishes looked incredible, too.

3. Sip Bubbles at Gruet Winery

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

A descendant of Gilbert Gruet’s Champagne house in Bethon, France, Gruet Winery here in Santa Fe, New Mexico is a must-stop for bubble lovers. I came into the tasting room for a quick glass, and my friend did a tasting. Such a lovely space and fun to get to taste this New Mexico-made sparkling wine.

4. Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a captivating tribute to the iconic American artist known for her vibrant and larger-than-life paintings of flowers, landscapes, and abstract forms. It houses an extensive collection of O’Keeffe’s works, providing visitors with a profound insight into her groundbreaking contributions to modern art. I highly recommend booking a reservation in advance as they only allow a certain number of guests daily.

5. Experience the Santa Fe Farmers Market

travel blog santa fe

The Santa Fe Farmers Market was such a highlight of my time exploring Santa Fe! The big Saturday market set in the Santa Fe Railyard is packed with local vendors selling local produce, handmade goods, honey, and more. It’s one of the best markets I’ve been to in the country — I came home with several locally grown spices, dried beans, and more.

Another part of the market to enjoy is the “artisanal” where local artisans sell their art and jewelry. If you’re looking for a cup of coffee to fuel up while at the market, check out Sky Coffee . I’d recommend an early start as the market does get packed, and most vendors are cash-only.

6. Explore the Shops on Lena Street

This was my favorite part of Santa Fe as Lena Street is a young, hip area full of artist studios, small coffee shops, and restaurants. Park in one spot and just make your way down through several spots. My favorite finds were Living Threads for home goods and Whiskey & Clay for ceramics. We had lunch at Ozu , a Japanese eatery that makes onigiri and other Japanese food. For pastries and coffee, stop into the Bread Shop !

7. Dine at the Elevated Terra Restaurant

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Set at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe , Terra Restaurant boasts incredible views over the landscape. It’s an elevated dining experience, with a focus on flavors of Northern New Mexico. Some of my favorite dishes were the octopus tostada and the hamachi ceviche with a kick.

8. Visit the New Mexico Museum of Art Vladem Contemporary

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of my favorite museums as the setting is stunning, the New Mexico Museum of Art Vladem Contemporary is the newest in town. It’s a must-see if you only pick one! Inside, an array of art from modern to contemporary, and the building itself is worth touring as well. No reservation is required for this one!

9. Hit the Galleries on Canyon Road

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you’re looking for art in Santa Fe, go no further. Canyon Road in Santa Fe is a renowned art district boasting approximately 100 galleries that showcase an impressive array of artworks. Strolling along this picturesque street, you can pass by dozens of galleries along the way. I’d recommend spending at least 2-3 hours here if possible.

Another recommendation for this area, if you’re looking for a bite to eat, is  Joe’s Tequila Bar at Inn on the Alameda . And just up the street, Folklore and La Boheme are some of my favorite local stores in this part of Santa Fe.

10. Try Seasonal Cuisine at The Compound

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

For an upscale lunch, book a table at The Compound . This French meets New Mexico cuisine is an elevated dining experience in Santa Fe. This was my favorite for more refined dining, and their seasonal dishes were amazing, like the poached pear with blue cheese on toast.

11. Mix Clay and Cocktails at Tumbleroot Pottery Pub

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you’re looking to do something interactive but without a set time, come to Tumbleroot Pottery Pub . It’s a clay studio meets cocktail lounge where you can pay for a pail of clay. You can order drinks made with their own in-house spirits, and sculpt your clay pieces. In the pub itself, there are dozens of stunning ceramics made by local artists for sale.

12. Catch A Show at El Flamenco Cabaret

I had a friend tell me once that when in Santa Fe, you have to catch a flamenco show. Book yourself a table to see a show at El Flamenco Cabaret . It was so captivating to see the talented show that runs over 100 times a year with talented artists from Spain.

13. See the Sunset From the Cross of the Martyrs

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Budget about 30 minutes or so to visit Cross of the Martyrs , it’s just outside of downtown (like 5 minutes!). But well worth driving to the very top as you get unparalleled views over Santa Fe. I came up for a quick look and loved getting such a wonderful perspective of Santa Fe.

14. Stay in the only Native-American-Owned Hotel, Hotel Santa Fe

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Set just outside of the downtown, Hotel Santa Fe is a quintessential stay in Santa Fe. It has been open for 25+ years and celebrates the spirit of the Pueblo people. The hotel also has a spa and restaurant onsite, worth checking out if you have the time. One of the best parts of staying here is the complimentary, on-demand shuttle service that will take you downtown. Parking can be challenging at times, so this was super helpful to take advantage of! Book the best rates here .

15. Take a Georgia O’Keeffe-Inspired Cooking Class Demonstration

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Santa Fe School of Cooking offers a dedicated cooking class inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe . I don’t want to spoil the menu or the experience too much, but it was so interesting to learn more about the artist’s life through food. The experience is a 2-hour demonstration, lots of information on her gardening and preserving, followed by lunch.

16. Enjoy Creative New Mexican Cooking at The Shed

The Shed restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a popular spot known for serving up classic New Mexican dishes. I loved sitting in the inside courtyard, which had a lovely atmosphere. The food here is known to have a bit of that Santa Fe chile kick, so keep this in mind when ordering. I ordered the tamale appetizer, added chicken, and did the green chile sauce — so, so good. This place gets absolutely packed, so I’d recommend making a reservation far in advance.

17. Explore and Shop Near the Santa Fe Plaza

travel blog santa fe

The Santa Fe Plaza is the heart of the city with its historic charm. While there, be sure to explore the iconic Palace of the Governors , a centuries-old adobe structure that served as both the New Mexico capitol and the governor’s residence during the Spanish Colonial era.

Near the Santa Fe Plaza, there are many boutiques and galleries to peruse. For high-end fashion, Santa Fe Dry Goods is a must. Just next door, don’t miss Shiprock Santa Fe , one of the most impressive Native American jewelry and home goods stores. Up the street, The Rainbow Man is a great art gallery collection with local pottery and goods too. My other favorite two stores were Ex Voto for fine jewelry and Los Poblanos Farm Shop Norte for a curated home goods boutique.

18. Enjoy a Spa Day at Four Seasons Santa Fe’s Spa

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

On my last morning at the Four Seasons Santa Fe , I booked in for a spa experience set in one of their luxurious suites at the spa. It had its very own hot tub and steam room, with a fireplace inside the treatment room. I tried their chardonnay body scrub followed by a nourishing lotion (everything on the spa menu looked lovely!).

19. Spot Fall Foliage along the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway

travel blog santa fe

If you want to get out into nature, take the drive up the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway . You could put in your maps the Aspen Vista Picnic Ground and Trailhead as your destination, but all along the way is truly wonderful. Come October, the fall foliage here is spectacular as there are so many aspens. Along the way, you’ll find many places to stop and hike as well.

20. Hike the Aspen Vista Trail

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of the most iconic trails to hike in the fall for foliage is the Aspen Vista Trail . The trail itself is rather flat, so it’s easy to do with all ages but keep in mind it starts at 10,000 feet elevation. If you want, you can park, walk to the aspens, and turn back to the parking lot.

21. Get a Coffee at CrashMurderBusiness

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

For a fun stop in Santa Fe near the railyard, CrashMurderBusiness specializes in craft coffee and elixirs. Their menu is hyper-creative and each drink is really beautiful. I tried their maple-infused “unicorn” drink and the bright glitter on top was so fun!

22. See the Historic Churches of Santa Fe

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

You’ll likely pass a few of these while strolling through downtown Santa Fe, so I’m highlighting my favorites. Some noteworthy churches you shouldn’t overlook include the San Miguel Chapel , often regarded as the oldest church in the continental United States, the Loretto Chapel , and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi . All of these are within earshot of each other as well.

23. Try Sipping Chocolate at Kakawa Chocolate House

Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

This was one of those stops I am so glad we made! Kakawa Chocolate is renowned for its artisanal approach to crafting exquisite chocolate truffles and historic drinking chocolates. They have ancestral chocolate blends to modern takes, and each day it rotates for their seasonal drinks. I had the Marie Antoinette drink that had orange blossom and a bit of almond milk, and it was so good (worth a visit!).

What to Know About Visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico

What is the best time of year to visit santa fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a year-round destination with each season having something on offer. In my opinion, the best time to visit Santa Fe is during the fall, from September to November, when the weather is pleasant. You can’t go wrong during the winter months either when the town is decorated with lights. Come late spring, it’s equally temperate in weather.

How Much Time Do I Need in Santa Fe?

A visit to Santa Fe can be enjoyed properly in about 3 to 4 days. This timeframe allows you to explore the city’s rich art and culture scene, try its diverse cuisine, and take a few day trips in the surrounding area, including nearby attractions like Taos and Bandelier National Monument .

Where To Fly Into to Visit Santa Fe?

The primary airport for visitors flying into Santa Fe is the Santa Fe Regional Airport (SAF), which offers convenient access to the city and is located just a short drive from the downtown area. Alternatively, you can also consider flying into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), which is the largest airport in the region and offers a wider range of flight options. From Albuquerque, it’s about a 60-90 minute drive to reach Santa Fe.

Do I Need a Rental Car When Visiting Santa Fe?

While Santa Fe itself is a walkable city with a compact downtown area, having a rental car is beneficial for exploring the surrounding area. I picked up a car at Albuquerque Airport when I flew in. My preferred website for low-cost rentals is Discover Cars .

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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you . If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here .

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:

  • World Nomads (best for all-around)
  • Safety Wing (best for frequent travelers)

Xx, Jessica

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This New Mexico City Has Relaxing Hot Springs, Beautiful Hiking Trails, and Luxury Hotels

Santa Fe is the perfect all-season destination — here's why.

travel blog santa fe

It might sound like a cliché to say a city "has it all," but Santa Fe genuinely fits that description. With thriving arts and culinary scenes , thousands of years of human history, and dozens of miles of hiking trails through canyons , mountains, and forests, it's no surprise that there really is something for everyone.

While the activities vary greatly across Santa Fe, the city has an incredibly cohesive feel, thanks to its Pueblo-style exteriors and New Mexican–style interiors that are ubiquitous downtown, in restaurants, galleries, and hotels.

There's really no place quite like Santa Fe in the United States, which makes it the perfect destination for your next vacation. Here's everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable trip to Santa Fe.

The Best Time to Visit Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a year-round destination; because the city sits at an elevation above 7,000 feet, it experiences all four seasons, despite New Mexico generally having a desert climate. In the summer, you can expect temperatures to reach the high 80s or low 90s, while in the winter, temperatures can fall below freezing. As such, there's a great range of activities in Santa Fe, which travelers can enjoy throughout the year.

Mid-summer through early fall is the traditional high season, because the monsoon (typically July and August) brings much-needed rain to this arid region, bringing temperatures down considerably. It also causes the wildflowers to bloom, creating a scenic backdrop to the artsy city. Winter is also a popular time to visit Santa Fe's ski slopes. Spring and mid-to-late fall are shoulder season — you'll find great deals on your stay then, plus milder weather.

No matter when you visit, you're likely to experience good weather; Santa Fe has an average of 325 days of sunshine each year.

The Best Things to Do in Santa Fe

If there's one thing Santa Fe is known for, it's its arts scene. The city has long been beloved by artists drawn to its landscapes — Georgia O'Keeffe was a longtime Santa Fe resident, and there's a museum honoring her life and work here. Today, the city has one of the largest art markets in the country, with more than 250 galleries and dealers selling artwork and artisan-made goods.

Besides the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum , there's also the Museum of International Folk Art , the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture , the New Mexico History Museum , the New Mexico Museum of Art , Museum of Spanish Colonial Art , the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian , and Meow Wolf , an immersive, interactive art installation that draws an international audience.

Santa Fe is also known for its Pueblo-style architecture — everywhere you look downtown, particularly around the Plaza, you'll see structures made of reddish adobe bricks inspired by the buildings of the Pueblo peoples, whose communities you can visit just outside of the city. But there are other architectural gems here, too, including a number of churches and cathedrals, such as St. Francis Cathedral Basilica of Assisi and the Loretto Chapel.

And if it's an adventure you seek, the great outdoors is all around Santa Fe. Go hiking in Tent Rocks National Monument, or hit the slopes at Ski Santa Fe.

The Best Hotels in Santa Fe

There's no shortage of hotels in Santa Fe, and they range from sprawling luxury resorts to family-run boutique inns. One commonality between all of them? A dedication to Santa Fe–inspired décor, from adobe bricks to colorful textiles.

If you're looking to stay downtown near the Plaza, top hotels include the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi , the Inn of Five Graces , La Fonda on the Plaza , and Inn on the Alameda . You can even stay at a small resort downtown: La Posada de Santa Fe is set on six acres.

Looking for a resort just outside of town? Check out the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe , Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort , the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder , Ten Thousand Waves , and Bishop's Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection .

Experiencing the Santa Fe Springs

Santa Fe is something of an under-the-radar spa destination. Though it might not have the acclaim of Arizona's Sedona, the city is home to world-class spas, some of which are located in downtown hotels, and others of which are part of resorts built around natural hot springs.

Sister spa resorts Ojo Santa Fe and Ojo Caliente are located 25 minutes and 60 minutes outside of the city, respectively, and they offer soaking opportunities in spring-fed mineral pools — both hot and cold. Both properties have a range of services beyond soaking, from spa treatments to yoga classes, not to mention accommodations and restaurants. Whereas Ojo Santa Fe has a more lush property filled with greenery, Ojo Caliente offers a more desert-driven experience.

If there's one destination spa that could be considered "off-brand" for Santa Fe, it's Ten Thousand Waves — but don't let that deter you from a visit. The luxury spa, just a 10-minute drive from downtown, is designed in the style of a Japanese onsen, with private hot tubs and cold plunge pools that visitors can reserve up to 45 days in advance. But Ten Thousand Waves also has spa treatments like facials and massages, as well as the restaurant Izanami and suites for guests who'd like to stay overnight.

Hiking the Santa Fe Trails

Santa Fe is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a subrange of the Rocky Mountains. As such, there are myriad hiking opportunities for people of all athletic abilities.

The city of Santa Fe itself operates the Dall Ball Trails, which provide 25 miles of hiking and biking just outside of downtown. Looking for a challenge? Head to the Santa Fe National Forest to tackle the Atalaya Mountain trail, a six-mile, out-and-back hike with an 1,800-foot elevation gain, or the 22.8-mile-long Winsor National Recreation Trail.

If you want to add a dose of history and culture into your hike, visit Bandelier National Monument, where 70 miles of trails weave through the ancient lands of 23 Ancestral Pueblo nations. Along the trails, you'll be able to see petroglyphs (ancient drawings) and historic architectural sites.

Where to Ski in Santa Fe

When we said Santa Fe is a four-season destination, we meant it. In the winter, Santa Fe transforms into quite the ski destination. Ski Santa Fe is the city's ski resort, located just 16 miles away from downtown in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There are 86 runs here with a base elevation of 10,350 feet, and they're serviced by seven lifts. Ski Santa Fe has trails for all levels, but overall, this is a family-friendly mountain. Ski season in Santa Fe kicks off in December and runs through mid-March.

The Best Restaurants in Santa Fe

New Mexico, as a state, is well-known for its cuisine — a blend of Spanish, Indigenous, Mexican, and American flavors — and you can sample all of it in Santa Fe. Enchiladas, tamales, and posole (a pork stew) are a must, whether you try them at fine-dining establishments or crowd-favorite casual joints. Know that you'll have to pick between green or red chile for many savory dishes in Santa Fe — or you can opt for a "Christmas" blend of both, a style reportedly invented at Tia Sophia's Mexican diner, best known for its breakfast burritos. On the sweeter side of the spectrum, be sure to taste local chocolate, biscochitos cookies, and sopaipillas (fried dough often served with honey).

It's hard to pick favorite restaurants in Santa Fe, but we'll do our best. For fine dining, we recommend Geronimo and the Compound. For local eats, hit up Tia Sophia's or the Pantry , another diner. And for sweets, head to Dolina Cafe and Bakery or Kakawa Chocolate House .

And finally, you must make a stop at the Five & Dime General Store for frito pie — it's a classic!

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Women and the Wilderness

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico – situated in a high alpine desert at 7,000 feet- must be on your travel bucket list. It’s the oldest and highest capital city in the United States so it’s chalk full of rich history waiting to be discovered. With the Santa Fe National Forest and the start of the Rocky Mountains at your doorstep – it’s every outdoor adventurers paradise! Not only that, I quickly discovered it’s quite the little foodie city! Perfect for a romantic getaway or girls weekend. Here’s my long weekend guide to Santa Fe.

Long Weekend Guide to Santa Fe

Getting there.

I made the drive from Breckenridge, Colorado. About 5.5 hours winding through mountain passes and high plains. If you’re flying, you’ll arrive via Santa Fe Regional Airport. A super small, quaint airport but makes for a quick and efficient airport experience!

If you’re flying, you’ll most definitely want to rent a vehicle to get around during your long weekend in Santa Fe! I recommend a vehicle with 4WD so you’re not hindered when it comes to accessing certain trails and off the beaten path places.

Parking in Santa Fe

Parking, just like any other city, can be a battle! But there are parking garages and reasonably priced street parking throughoutthe city. Free on Sunday!

Where to Stay

Santa Fe is home to some of the most romantic, timeless accommodations. Many of which, make you feel like you’re taking a step back in time. The traditional western accents, Pueblo style architecture, painted tiles – all of it is everywhere. Around every corner. And that’s the kind of charm you want when staying in Santa Fe. With such a range of accommodations, here are my recommendations.

The Sage Hotel

Conveniently located between the East and West sides of the city, it’s a happy basecamp for all of your Santa Fe explorations. More of a motel style accommodation, there are 145 rooms thoughtfully decorated with cool tones, Native American artwork, and authentic Spanish tin accents. 

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Inn of the Five Graces

Located just a few blocks from the historic Santa Fe Plazain Barrio de Analco, the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in the U.S.

The entire property leaves you feeling transported into another time and place. With earthy tones and a traditional adobe and stone exterior, it’s very unassuming. Stepping inside is where the magic is. While you can see hints from the outside looking in, the interior features one of a kind artisan pieces, mosaics and textiles from East India and Tibet. Each room is uniquely designed featuring different accents, textiles and color palettes entirely. There are even historic sundries from the Silk Road. Blending accents of the West and Far East might be the most beautiful symphony of cultures I have seen.

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La Fonda on the Plaza

Located in the heart of the historic Santa Fe Plaza, this is a quintessential American Southwest stay. You can expect vibrant décor and traditional New Mexican architecture and design. Its warmly designed interior is echoed throughout. The rooms feature hand-painted headboards, handcrafted furnishings and original artwork. Elegant, romantic and traditional – all things you’d want out of a Santa Fe stay.

La Fonda Hotel Santa Fe New Mexico

Things to See and Do

Santa Fe has a few different areas worth exploring. For the sake of this blog post, I am going to divide it up by two areas: The Santa Fe Plaza and near the Plaza 

The Santa Fe Plaza

See the historic churches.

There are many old churches filled with the rich history of the Spanish settlers.

·  San Miguel Mission – the oldest church in the United States built in 1610 by Franciscan friars

·  Loretto Chapel, commissioned in 1873

·  Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Museums and Art Galleries

There are countless museums and art galleries in Santa Fe. Dare I say, it’s a mecca for both! My two favorites were the New Mexico History Museum and the Antieau Gallery. Canyon Road is another great place to gallery hop. Head here for a complete list of galleries.

Go on The City Different E-Bike Tour with Heritage Inspirations

This is such a fun way to see the city! This half day tour takes you off the beaten path and gives riders a deeper look into the history of Santa Fe. The rides are $155 pp inclusive of bike, helmet, and bike trunk bag (fits a water bottle). Plus a very knowledgeable tour guide to take you all around the city! I loved getting a locals perspective on Santa Fe.

The Ultimate Long Weekend Guide to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Near The Santa Fe Plaza

Soak at ten thousand waves spa.

No long weekend guide to Santa Fe is complete without THIS. What a luxurious, unforgettable experience! Their private bathing experiences, reminiscent of the onsen of Japan, are a great way to relax and recharge after a day of exploring Santa Fe. The private bathing experiences at Ten Thousand Waves are entirely self-contained with a hot and cold tub, sauna, changing room and shower. The soak is 90 minutes, unless you book a longer experience. Hot tub water is maintained at 104-106 degrees F., cold plunges are around 55 degrees F., saunas average 180 degrees F. 

You can book your tub up to 45 days in advance. Make sure you bring your vaccination card as vaccinations are required.

Pro tip: dine at Izanami, located on the property, for some delicious, upscale izakaya fare. Casual atmosphere with small plates!

The Ultimate Long Weekend Guide to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hot Spring Hopping

From a spa to wild hot springs! My kind of thing. Here are a few wild hot springs in the Santa Fe National Forest worth exploring:

·  Spence Hot Springs

·  McCauley Hot Springs

·  Jemez Falls and Warm Springs

Santa Fe Hikes

Being situated in a high alpine desert means you have access to rolling hills, mountains and desert. AKA a hikers paradise. While much of the hikes were closed due to wildfires during my time in Santa Fe, I was able to get to a couple on this list!

·  Cross of the Martyrs

·  Diablo Canyon

·  Sun Mountain

·  Dale Balls Trail

·  De ception Peak

·  Bandelier National Monument

The Ultimate Long Weekend Guide to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Where to Eat in Santa Fe

I’m not sure if this is widely known or not but Santa Fe is for sure a foodie city. There are so many different places to dine and cuisines to try. You could spend a week here and not go to the same restaurant! Here are my favorites.

Coffee + Breakfast

  • Opuntia Café: Another fun spot that has good coffee and tea and a great atmosphere in the Railyard.
  • Modern General Feed + Seed: Think heirloom kitchen from Los Angeles meets the southwest. Things like acai pancakes, egg scrambles, fresh made sour dough and juices.
  • Crash Murder Business : on Montezuma Street. A brand-new coffee shop that is doing fun drinks they are calling “elixirs” almost like a coffee cocktail sans alcohol.
  • Iconik Coffee’s Lupe : location on Guadalupe Street about halfway between the Plaza and the Railyard. They are a local roaster and source fair trade beans.

Lunch + Afternoon drinks

·   Izanami : delicious, upscale izakaya fare. Casual atmosphere with small plates!

·   Herve : Wine bar in the Plaza featuring wines from New Mexican winery, Lescombes.

·   Vinaigrett e: a restaurant dedicated to gourmet, artisanal salads.

·   The Shed : New Mexican fare with an awesome patio. Known for the best red chile.

·   Zacatlán : A mix of southwestern and New Mexican Cuisine

·   La Choza: New Mexican fare

I think it’s safe to conclude there’s no place quite like Santa Fe. Whether you are in search of a romantic getaway, girls trip or solo adventure – this slice of America’s Southwest has a little something for everyone. From the rich history, to the mountains, the food, the relaxation – this will be an unforgettable trip.

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Your Colorful Guide to Santa Fe, New Mexico

06/02/2022 by Emily Becker Leave a Comment

When it comes to the American Southwest , Santa Fe will always be on my list. This artist’s haven has a beautiful aesthetic that captures the whimsy of the region while offering its own unique flair. Compared to other places in New Mexico , it definitely has a more upscale vibe, with an impressive array of restaurants, cafés, and art galleries.

Read on for some awesome things to do in Santa Fe, along with my favorite eateries and accommodations:

Table of Contents

Things to Do in Santa Fe

Meowwolf museum.

travel blog santa fe

We had high hopes for MeowWolf and (spoiler alert) it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Created by Santa Fe–based artists, this is an interactive art museum like no other. It’s as quirky as it is imaginative, full of surprises, and one of my favorite things to do in Santa Fe.

Each room is different, from wacky technicolored spaces full of neon lights and mirrors to oddly shaped cave corridors. It’s nearly impossible to describe, but I’d say it’s a madhouse, but in the best way. You have to visit for yourself to truly understand its glory.

Enjoy a salt cave experience

If you’re the owner of a Himalayan salt lamp and swear by its benefits, this is going to be very exciting for you. The Santa Fe Salt Cave is essentially a manmade, indoor, cave-like room lined with Himalayan pink salt crystals. Inside, you’ll find zero-gravity chairs, soothing music, and a calming atmosphere in which you can sit back, relax, and take in the healing properties of the space.

The Salt Cave uses halotherapy (salt therapy) to promote wellness. The claim is that the salt helps people improve conditions such as “chronic bronchitis, asthma, sinus congestion, COPD, allergies, lung diseases, and skin ailments.” I surprised Garrett with a visit, and we both thought it was relaxing and well worth it.

Art peep at Institute of Contemporary Native Arts

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This art museum is unlike any other, as it’s the only one in the country that is dedicated to showcasing progressive works from contemporary Native artists. The Institute of Contemporary Native Arts is THE place to gain insight into the unique voices of Native artists from the area, with bold exhibits and thought-provoking events all year long.

Walk through Ra Paulette’s psychedelic hand-carved caves

Just north of Santa Fe, smack-dab in the desert, is Ra Paulette’s mysterious hand-carved caves. This imaginative artist has been chiseling away for more than 25 years, creating caves in the sandstone cliffs near his home. Now there are 14 caves, each with its own distinct personality. Some have skylights built in while others feature intricate patterns and even benches.

Within the last decade, access to the caves has become more and more exclusive. Now one of the only ways you can see them is by booking a private tour through the Origins resort .

Admire the gorgeous architecture

travel blog santa fe

New Mexican architecture has its own specific style, which you won’t want to pass up learning about in Santa Fe. Mixing venerable techniques like adobe with Spanish colonial architecture, the buildings around town tell its story brilliantly.

Not only are the architectural styles notable here, but Santa Fe is also home to a famous acequia (watercourse), which is still used for irrigation. Find out about it on this awesome Santa Fe architecture and wine tasting tour .

Stroll through the Santa Fe Botanical Garden

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I love a good botanical garden, and this one certainly won’t disappoint. Because the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is meant to showcase varieties of local plants, you won’t find lush green lawns or row upon row of flowers here. Instead, it replicates the region’s arid environment by highlighting plants that grow naturally in the desert surrounding Santa Fe. You’ll see a vast array of succulents, cacti, desert bushes, and more, with beautiful sculptures nestled among them.

The garden is big enough to spend several hours in, and there’s very little shade, so come prepared with plenty of sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.

See ancient petroglyphs at La Cieneguilla

Home to the one of the largest collections of glyphs in the American West, the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site is a spectacular look into Santa Fe’s past — and I mean way, way back. Archaeologists believe that some of the petroglyphs date back to nearly 8,000 BCE.

Finding the glyphs is easy and just a short hike from the highway on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. You can find out how to get to La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site here.

Try the famous chile sauce

travel blog santa fe

You can’t leave Santa Fe without trying at least one of the famous chile sauces here. New Mexican cuisine has a unique flavor of its own, thanks to these special sauces. There are three main types: red, green, and Christmas. The chile itself is the same, though, with green being the less ripe version. Red chiles are the ripe ones and have a sweeter flavor. Christmas chile sauce is just a combination of the two.

You’ll find New Mexican chile sauce on just about everything from breakfast burritos to steaks, so why not try each one and decide which is your favorite?

Rafting in the Rio Grande Gorge

If you are looking for an adrenaline boost while exploring Santa Fe, don’t miss out on the opportunity to go whitewater rafting in the stunning Rio Grande Gorge! Each of the rapids has its own name; you can join an expert guide who will tell you all about each one on this exciting rafting tour . As you paddle along the river, you might also be able to see wildlife, such as bighorn sheep and large birds of prey.

Explore the art galleries and cafés of Canyon Road

travel blog santa fe

Canyon Road in downtown Santa Fe is perhaps the bougiest part of town, with chic cafés and galleries lining the street one after another. As you walk, you’ll see impressive sculptures and art installations outside, with gorgeous landscaping and cacti galore. This is by far the most Instagrammable part of Santa Fe, so make sure you have your camera ready!

Get the most out of Canyon Road with this curated art tour .

You might be surprised to know that there are snowy slopes in New Mexico, but wintertime in Santa Fe lends itself to some superb skiing. The season starts at the end of November and extends through most of April at Ski Santa Fe , which has slopes for beginning and advanced skiers alike.

Visit Loretto Chapel

travel blog santa fe

This gothic-style wedding chapel is more than meets the eye. Legend has it that the famous spiral staircase was built by a mysterious stranger who appeared out of nowhere one day, and then promptly disappeared without receiving payment for his work. This is just the beginning of the mysteries of the staircase , however. Visit Loretto Chapel to find out more.

Check out an ancient meteor strike at Santa Fe Shatter Cones

Scientists believe that modern-day Santa Fe sits on the site of a meteor strike from 1.5 billion years ago. Today, the only evidence of this colossal impact is at the Santa Fe Shatter Cones, where you can see sharp, cone-like rocks that indicate the strike.

You can find these interesting rock formations just past the Chamisa Trailhead off Highway 475, only about five miles northeast of downtown Santa Fe.

See a show at the Lensic Performing Arts Center

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This nonprofit performing arts center is just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside, with a history that dates back to the 1930s. You can catch a number of performances here, from ballet to theater to concerts. Find out what events are happening at the Lensic Performing Arts Center during your visit here .

Where to Eat

travel blog santa fe

Palacio Café for breakfast

In the heart of downtown Santa Fe, you’ll find Palacio Café. This top-rated joint serves breakfast all day, so you can get your fix any time. It serves indulgent plates, like french toast and super-stuffed breakfast burritos, that make my mouth water just thinking about them. With prices hovering around $10 per plate, this is the ultimate cheap-yet-delicious spot.

Kakáwa Chocolate House for a sweet treat

From interesting truffle flavors like mezcal and horchata to some of the best hot chocolate you’ll find in town, you’ll definitely be able to satisfy your sweet tooth at Kakáwa Chocolate House.

Zacatlán for dinner

Incorporating Southwestern and Mexican influences, Zacatlán offers a delicious array of tasty dishes bursting with flavor. We started with the burrata salad, which was a nice fresh start to the meal. The steak tacos and braised beef short ribs were awesome. I would definitely go back again to try more of the menu.

Where to Stay

The most charming adobe-style airbnb.

Equipped with a sweet outdoor patio perfect for soaking up those glorious New Mexican rays, our Airbnb was dreamy and comfortable.

The house has a full kitchen, cozy living room, a bedroom with a fireplace, and homey touches throughout. This is definitely the place to stay if you’re looking for a more authentic experience in Santa Fe. Book here . Want more options? We rounded up the 10 best boutique hotels in Santa Fe for you . If you are considering camping your way through, this New Mexico camping guide has everything you need to know.

I’m already feeling nostalgic for Santa Fe’s outstanding cuisine, vibrant architecture, and artsy vibe. If you’ve been, what are your favorite spots that we missed? (Please, give me another reason to go back!)

*Some links in this post are affiliate links for products and services we personally use and love. Any purchase you make through them supports us at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much!

About Emily Becker

Emily Becker is a digital nomad based in Costa Rica. She's been traveling on and off since 2014 and has visited 15 countries—planning to tick many more off her bucket list. In addition to writing for BMTM, she works as a copywriter and project manager.

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13 of the best things to do in Santa Fe

Ungelbah Davila

Oct 18, 2021 • 6 min read

30th June 2018, Santa Fe, New Mexico, The biweekly Santa Fe Farmers"u2019 Market is one of the oldest, largest, and most successful growers"u2019 markets in the country.

From shopping for local produce to browsing art galleries, here are the top things to do in Santa Fe © Andrew Peacock / Getty Images

Comprising a blend of Native American, Spanish, Mexican and American influences, Santa Fe is one of the country’s most culturally and historically significant destinations. Walk its adobe-lined streets or dive into one of its cutting-edge restaurants to explore what truly makes this “the City Different.” Here are the top things to do in Santa Fe.

Visit the Railyard

The Santa Fe Railyard is a newly revitalized district on over 13 acres of open space where you can shop at a year-round farmers market and an artisan market every Sunday inside the pavilion. Farmers, makers, and artists from all over gather to sell everything from goat's cheese to hand-blown glass, making it a great place for one-of-a-kind gift shopping. There is also a movie theater, shopping and dining, and a park with an outdoor stage that hosts live music throughout the summer.

Walk the Plaza

As a National Registry of Historic Places site, the Plaza District is the literal and figurative heart of Santa Fe. At over 400 years old, Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the United States, with pre-colonial roots stretching back thousands of years. Door-to-door galleries, shops, restaurants, museums and historical sites line every street along and adjacent to the Plaza. The richness of cultural identity in Santa Fe is evident in its preserved adobe architecture, fabulous public art, and unique foods.

Artists sit near jewlery and other handmade creations for sale in an arcade while tourists look on at what they might buy

Meet artists near the Palace of the Governors

Along the south side of the Palace of the Governors , under a covered walkway known as the Portal, Native American artists representing forty-one tribes, Pueblos, chapters and villages in New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and parts of Arizona sell handmade jewelry and art almost every day of the year.

Before the creation of formal markets in the 20th century, the Palace of the Governors portal was used as a market for produce, game, pottery and basketry. Today, there are different artists daily, regulated by the Portal Committee, who inform rules to emphasize authenticity and traditional materials. 

Gallery hop along Canyon Road

Santa Fe is considered one of the great art centers of the world, and its community of artists spans generations. Gallery hopping along Canyon Road is a fun, free way to see all the types of art Santa Fe has to offer, from classic Western scenes to cutting-edge contemporary work. With over 100 galleries located along this deeply historic, world-famous road, you can easily spend a day just wandering. 

Try some chile

From vegan and fusion food to tapas and tamales, the Santa Fe food and beverage scene is the best in the Southwest. Chow down at colorful La Choza , known for being worth the wait (arrive early). Or dig into unpretentious Cafe Pasqual’s whose huevos motuleños , made with feta cheese and sauteed bananas is... chef’s kiss. Almost anywhere you go, red and green chile will find a way to be involved.

A shot over a low-rise town at dusk. There are pink streaks of light in the sky where the sun has recently set

Watch the sunset from a rooftop bar

La Fonda hotel ’s rooftop bar is arguably the best place in the city to watch a legendary Santa Fe Sunset. On almost any evening the sky comes alive with electric oranges, reds and ribbons of gold that fade into neon pinks, blush and purple before filling with twinkling stars.

Go tequila tasting

A Santa Fe tradition since 1950, Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen has over 150 different margaritas, over 170 tequilas, and an excellent menu of traditional New Mexican food to pair them with. If you can’t decide which one to try, the House Margarita, made with authentic agave tequila, triple sec and freshly squeezed lemons, is their best-seller.

Explore Museum Hill

Art history is as important to the landscape of Santa Fe as is the cutting-edge contemporary work that the city proudly displays. A quick drive from the Plaza is Museum Hill, the site of world-class museums where it is easy to spend an entire day taking in the priceless collections within the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture , the Museum of International Folk Art , the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art . Special exhibits and shows are always on display and worth planning for.

Visit MoCNA

For a twist on the norm, check out the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art (MoCNA) on the Plaza – the only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary Native art in the US. Owned by the Institute of American Indian Arts, MoCNA houses 9000 contemporary Indigenous artworks from 1962 until the present.

A woman smiles at the camera as she parades down a street. She's wearing a beautiful dress with intricate designs, which she proudly shows to the camera

Be drawn to the art festivals

Santa Fe hosts art markets year-round, drawing in thousands of visitors. Celebrating its centenary in August 2022, the annual Santa Fe Indian Market draws over 150,000 people to the historic Santa Fe Plaza and surrounding neighborhood for an extended weekend of artist booths, a juried art show, gala, auction, fashion show and more. It is the largest Indigenous art show in the world and represents work from at least 1200 artists. 

December sees a more scaled-down event in the Winter Indian Market. Other annual events include the International Folk Art Market , Traditional Spanish Market , and Fiesta Fine Arts and Crafts Market during the Fiestas de Santa Fe .

Picnic at the open-air opera

Founded in 1956 by a formerly New York-based conductor by the name of John Cosby, the Santa Fe Opera is an open-air venue 7 miles north of Santa Fe, surrounded by high desert piñon and sweeping vistas. Local lore has it that Cosby and his acoustician friends fired off rifle shots until they found the ideal location on their newly acquired 199-acre guest ranch. 

In full Paris meets Wild West meets Haight Ashbury, Santa Fe-style, Opera goers arrive at the dirt parking lot early with champagne, wine and elaborate picnics for an evening of good old-fashioned white table cloth tailgating.

Dance like nobody's watching

If there’s one thing Santa Feans love to do it’s dance like they're alone in their bedroom, and as a visitor, it can be one of the most fun, liberating experiences you’ll have. Catch a free summer concert at the Plaza Bandstand , Latin music at El Farol , live rock’n’roll at Evangelo's , or grab dinner and a dance at Cowgirl BBQ .

Go down the rabbit hole at Meow Wolf

I bet you thought we forgot about Meow Wolf . As if. Book early and carve out a day for the wildest ride in the Fe. When this writer was a whippersnapper, Meow Wolf was an art collective in a run-down building. If you’d told those dreamy kids, trying to make rent and cling to their ideals, that in a few years Meow Wolf would become an immersive art experience inhabiting an abandoned bowling alley, launching second and third locations in Denver and on the Vegas strip, and getting the focus of national attention, they’d have said you were tripping. 

The centerpiece of the Meow Wolf Art Complex is The House of Eternal Return , a permanent installation where you can easily imagine what Alice felt like when she chased that rabbit – totally lost, but in the most magical way. With 20,000 sq ft for visitors of any age to explore, touch, climb and take pictures in, the scope of the journey is really up to the individual. 

You might also like: Santa Fe for free: experience New Mexico’s capital without spending a cent    How to get around in Santa Fe    The best time to visit Santa Fe   

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Santa Fe Script_The City Different_2023


Santa Fe is a city for all seasons. Take an art, history, or culture tour, taste our range of culinary options, browse the shops, hike a nearby city trail, or relax at one of our many spas. These itineraries assume that you're arriving late in the day and staying for two full days. Adventure awaits in The City Different.

Explore the Heart of Santa Fe Relax and Rejuvenate An Outdoor Adventure Art Lover's Journey

Explore the Heart of Santa Fe

Day One Get settled in and though you surely want to explore right away, take a moment to catch your breath and replenish your body with plenty of water to help you acclimate to our 7,200-foot elevation. Here are some additional tips for enjoying yourself at high elevation. Many Santa Fe hotels have fine restaurants so you can enjoy dinner right where you're staying. Explore our  Dine  listings to find the perfect place for your first culinary experience in Santa Fe. Engage your server about the dishes on the menu as you can learn a lot about the Santa Fe culture through a brief exchange about our food.  Day Two After breakfast, get acquainted with downtown Santa Fe on a  guided tram or walking tour . You'll get a great overview of Santa Fe's history, culture, and architecture as you navigate the winding streets in and around the downtown Plaza with a knowledgeable guide sharing stories about the famous buildings, the significant events, and the colorful people of Santa Fe's past who helped shape this dynamic city.  Try a traditional New Mexican lunch served in one of Santa Fe's downtown restaurants, where you'll likely be asked the question, "Red, green, or Christmas?" Here are some tips on how to answer.

Following a memorable lunch, consider some  shopping  on the Plaza, still the cultural center of The City Different. Purchase a custom hat, buy authentic Native American jewelry directly from the artist, or discover a one-of-a-kind sculpture or piece of art. Our boutiques and galleries welcome you to find something special to remind you of your stay. Feeling ready for some relaxation? Visit one of Santa Fe's luxurious hotel spas  to enjoy a hot stone massage, an herbal body wrap, or a hot tub soak. You'll have no problem finding one! Ready for dinner? Choose from an array of acclaimed restaurants, serving everything from traditional New Mexican cuisine to global fusion . Then take in a concert, play, or other performing arts event happening around town. Check our  Events Calendar  for a list of opportunities to get out and about. You'll head to bed feeling inspired by all that Santa Fe has to offer, but you're not done yet! Day Three Following breakfast, spend the morning exploring the fascinating  museums  of downtown Santa Fe.  The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum  is a good place to start. It's small and easily seen within an hour, showcasing the works of the country's most famous female artist. Then head over to the  New Mexico Museum of Art , where you'll discover paintings by traditional and contemporary Southwestern artists. Nearby is the  New Mexico History Museum , a cutting-edge museum that explores our region's history in a multi-media environment. Part of the history museum, the  Palace of the Governors,  is the country's oldest, continuously in use public building and is worth visiting for its fascinating history. And the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts  is the country’s only museum for exhibiting, collecting, and interpreting the most progressive work of contemporary Native artists.  Rest those museum legs with a delicious lunch at a restaurant chosen from our  Dine  listings. Or find a spot using one of our handy  self-guided tours , which include the Santa Fe Margarita Trail, the Craft Beer and Spirits Tour, Santa Fe Food Truck Tour, Coffee Lovers Tour, and the Chocolate Trail. 

Then take to the streets to enjoy some of the city's fascinating historic sites on foot. Visit the Loretto Chapel , with its famous "miraculous" staircase and  The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi , built between 1869 and 1886 in the French Romanesque Revival Style. After seeing the sites, head up to the Bell Tower Bar  at La Fonda on the Plaza where you can enjoy panoramic views of the sunset as you relax with a Santa Fe-style margarita. Then enjoy one more amazing Santa Fe dinner before your trip draws to an end.

Relax and Rejuvenate

Classes & Workshops

Santa Fe is known as a sanctuary for the body, mind, and spirit and this itinerary ensures that by the time you leave, you will be utterly relaxed and blissfully rejuvenated. Settle in and fill up your water bottle. You'll need to consume more water while you are in Santa Fe as the city is situated at 7,200 feet. If you stay on top of your water intake, you'll feel great. Your hotel likely has a very fine restaurant, so take it easy and enjoy your first dinner close to "home."  Day Two After a delicious breakfast, go to one of Santa Fe's acclaimed  spas , such as the Japanese-inspired Ten Thousand Waves , which is just minutes from downtown and located on the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest. Enjoy an extraordinary massage followed by a peaceful soak in an outdoor hot tub with a sauna and bathroom of your own, surrounded by fragrant pine trees. The resort also features an izakaya-style small plates restaurant and lodging.  After your massage, there's no better way to further unwind than by getting into nature. Drive further up into the mountains of the Santa Fe Ski Basin and enjoy a leisurely  hike  of a slight incline among aspen trees on the Aspen Vista Trail. There's an inviting picnic area, so consider bringing a light lunch or snacks to replenish yourself while taking in the views. Then head back down to town and give your body a treat by taking a yoga class, a Pilates class, or another type of exercise class that you'll find in our  Classes and Workshops  listings. Now it's time to indulge in a city tradition of artisanal chocolate. Take The Chocolate Trail  to sample handcrafted chocolates and chocolate elixirs so unique, you won't find them anywhere else, including some confections infused with our famous red and green chile.

Take some time before dinner to relax your body, mind, and spirit, then dine in style at one of  Santa Fe's fine restaurants  before taking in a concert, play or other performing arts event held at the Lensic Performing Arts Center . Check our  Events Calendar  to see what's going on while you're here. Day Three After breakfast, it's time for another day devoted to  spas.  Just 20 minutes from downtown is Ojo Santa Fe, where you can not only get your body glowing with an herbal wrap or hot stone massage, but you can soak in spring-fed thermal outdoor tubs or swim in the largest saltwater pool in Santa Fe, meander the 77-acre property, and try lunch at their farm-fresh restaurant Blue Heron. 

Now you are ready to head back into downtown Santa Fe and perhaps you'd like some restorative views. If you've some energy and love a good sunset, try the short and paved stroll up to the Cross of the Martyrs. Stop along the way to read the plaques detailing Santa Fe's history. At the top, you’ll see all of the places you've visited and the sunset will likely put on a show. If you're ready for a Happy Hour with a view, try Rooftop Pizzeria & Draft Station —the views are more urban and up close. Great for people watching and architecture gazing! Next, consider a cooking class in the technique of our Northern New Mexico cuisine or another cuisine, like Spanish or Thai. With three schools in town ( Santa Fe School of Cooking , Las Cosas Cooking School , and Open Kitchen ), you can surely find a class that works for your interests and your budget. In one of the many hands-on classes, learn how to roast chiles, make paella, or a great barbeque sauce and then enjoy your efforts over a glass of local wine or craft beer! 

An Outdoor Adventure

View From Sun Mountain

Get settled at your hotel, and then organize your personal gear for your following day's adventure. A full water bottle and a high SPF sunscreen are requirements in our high-altitude region. A quick and delicious dinner nearby is your best bet so you can get a good night's sleep and be prepared. Check out our Dining Guide for ideas. Day Two Be sure to eat a hearty  breakfast at a restaurant , as today you'll be riding the thrilling rapids of the mighty Rio Grande. Charter any of Santa Fe's experienced  river rafting companies  for a full day on the river and you'll be in expert hands, plus have all the gear you need for your great adventure. After the ride is over, return to Santa Fe for a mellow end to an exciting day. Relax over dinner at a nearby restaurant and then rest up for your next big day of adventure. Check our  Dine  listings to find a restaurant close to where you're staying. Day Three After eating a delicious breakfast, stop at one of Santa Fe's local grocery stores to pick up snacks and a healthy lunch for your trip to the Santa Fe Ski Basin, where you'll find an array of trails to  hike  for the day. Try the popular Aspen Vista Trail, with beautiful views of the aspen trees that turn golden in the fall. You can also rent mountain bikes and bike the Aspen Vista Trail. If you'd prefer to play golf rather than hike the mountains, you'll find plenty of beautiful, award-winning golf courses. Check our  Golf Courses  section for ideas on where to play. You could also spend the day fly fishing in the mountains. Charter a fly fishing trip with one of Santa Fe's  outdoor adventure companies  and you'll be an expert by the time the lesson is over. After your day in the mountains or on the golf course, a trip to one of Santa Fe's  spas  will help out any tired muscles. Then enjoy an excellent dinner at one of Santa Fe's acclaimed restaurants, which you can choose from our  Dine  listings. If you still have energy left, enjoy a concert, play or performing arts event listed in our  Events Calendar.  

Art Lover's Journey

Canyon Road

Take a lunch break at the Farmers' market or in one of the Railyard restaurants, then continue to explore this district, which also includes the Guadalupe Street shops. Finish up your afternoon in the downtown Santa Fe Plaza, where you'll find more  galleries  devoted to Native American art as well as contemporary and traditional arts of the Southwest. And you absolutely cannot miss the Native American Artisans Portal Program , where you can meet the artists behind an ever-changing array of handcrafted items includes pottery, some textiles, and jewelry made of traditional materials such as turquoise, coral, and silver.  Before it's time for dinner, make time to watch one of our spectacular sunsets from the top of the Cross of the Martyrs, an outdoor park on the northeast side of Paseo de Peralta. Then head out to dine in style at one of our celebrated world-class restaurants, where the food itself can be a work of art.

As you consider this itinerary or build one of your own, the Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide can be an important resource. Also, our Accommodations section will hook you up with a place to call home during your visit, and the Dine  section can direct you to our acclaimed restaurants—advance reservations are a wise idea in this town, popular among foodies!

This week-long itinerary (The Beatles' version of "Eight Days a Week" that is) of things to do in Santa Fe and the area was put together by Anna Tenaglia, the innkeeper at Hacienda Nicholas for the past seven years. 

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26 Top-Rated Things to Do in Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. Even if you don't have a specific destination in mind, you could spend hours wandering the scenic streets lined with Pueblo-style adobe buildings, some dating to the city's 1610 founding. Any

  • All Things To Do

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Santa Fe Plaza Santa Fe Plaza free

Since the city's founding in 1610, the Santa Fe Plaza has been its cultural hub. Today, surrounded by numerous centuries-old buildings like the Palace of the Governors , the plaza continues to be the epicenter of Santa Fean affairs, from live music to September's Santa Fe Fiesta. The plaza, which is a National Historic Landmark, hosts Indian and Spanish markets yearly, in addition to concerts and community gatherings. Any night of the week, the plaza is buzzing with activity with people enjoying restaurants, perusing galleries and checking out souvenir shops. Save a little money to do some shopping while here: Santa Fe Plaza is full of vendors selling authentic Native American items like jewelry, textiles and pottery (just be wary of the plaza's inflated prices).

Visitors say you have to make a point to stop by the Santa Fe Plaza to experience the lively atmosphere, noting that there always seems to be something going on, whether it's a parade, a market or a festival. Recent travelers also suggested taking time to browse the various shops around the plaza, but do warn things seemed a little overpriced. Others said it serves as a great jumping-off point for exploring Santa Fe's top attractions, many of which spool out from the plaza.

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Canyon Road Canyon Road free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Canyon Road hosts events throughout the year, including the Canyon Road Art Stroll on Fridays during the summer and the annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk, when the avenue is lined with paper bags glowing with candles on Christmas Eve. – Ashley M. Biggers, Contributor, Travel

If there's any doubt that Santa Fe is a prime destination for art lovers, Canyon Road quashes it. Situated less than a mile east of the Santa Fe Plaza , Canyon Road is home to more than 80 art galleries selling works from famed creatives, such as members of the Taos Society of Artists, and treasures like handmade Pueblo pottery and kinetic sculpture. Pop into the different galleries and boutiques along the street and you'll find everything from jewelry to paintings. The street itself is also a feast for the eyes: Many of the galleries found here are housed in historic adobe buildings laced with brightly colored flowers, art installations are often showcased outside and the enticing aromas emanate from the doorways of top-notch eateries like Geronimo Restaurant and The Compound Restaurant.

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Museum of International Folk Art Museum of International Folk Art

U.S. News Insider Tip: Located 2.5 miles south of the Santa Fe Plaza on Museum Hill, the Museum of International Folk Art neighbors the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. In between visits, refuel at the Museum Hill Café. – Ashley M. Biggers, Contributor, Travel

Of all the museums run by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, this one is probably the most unconventional and diverse. The Museum of International Folk Art also showcases more than 130,000 pieces of folk and traditional art from societies all over the globe. At this museum, you'll encounter African, Asian, Middle Eastern, contemporary Hispanic and Latino, European, North American and Spanish Colonial pieces ranging from household objects, ceramics and paintings to puppets and costumes. Don't worry about boring your kids: the large collection of colorful toys from around the world is sure to spark their interest.

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Ultimate Santa Fe History Walking Tour

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The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi free

If you're an architecture buff, take some time to check out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which was constructed beginning in 1869. Located a block east of the Santa Fe Plaza , this breathtaking French Romanesque Revival cathedral stands out among the city's adobe skyline. Adjoining to the cathedral is the small adobe chapel – all that remains of a previous church that was destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt – which contains the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.

This historical church receives plenty of praise from travelers and Santa Fe residents alike. Visitors said you should stroll through the inside, take in the beautiful stained-glass windows and find a docent to help explain some of the history of the church. They also remind visitors that the church is active and to be respectful of services.

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Attend a performance at the Santa Fe Opera House Attend a performance at the Santa Fe Opera House

The Santa Fe Opera House is a world-renowned venue that plays host to a variety of operas each summer. The company has presented operas – comedies, dramas, tragedies and more – every July and August since 1957 (in a succession of three structures). The current venue is an open-air theater surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountain ranges, which means it offers some gorgeous views, and it can accommodate around 2,100 spectators. Patrons can arrive up to three hours prior to the show and many often do, specifically to tailgate in the surrounding parking lots with picnics, gourmet meals and drinks. (The opera also offers special dining options like premade tailgate picnics and preview buffet dinners for a set price.)

Recent visitors offered plenty of praise for the Santa Fe Opera, saying the singers were impressive and that the setting is quite picturesque. They say it's a top Santa Fe experience — even if you're not a regular opera goer. Travelers and residents agree that tailgating is a must – people are dressed to the nines, sipping on sparkling wine and savoring "chic eats," so plan to bring some food and drinks to enjoy. Some warn that you may experience thunderstorms, but that the lightning makes for an even more dramatic backdrop during the show. They also suggest bringing a sweater or a wrap in case of an evening chill.

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Palace of the Governors Palace of the Governors

Dating to 1610, the Palace of the Governors was the original capitol of New Mexico and has been in public use longer than any other building in the country. The adobe structure was connected to the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, when the Pueblo Indians successfully drove Spanish invaders out of Santa Fe (who then fled to El Paso ). Today, the National Historic Landmark showcases more than 400 years of the state's history (officially as part of the New Mexico History Museum ). Outside, Native American artists sell handmade pottery, jewelry and more.

Recent travelers said they gleaned a great deal of knowledge about New Mexico history from visiting this site. They also appreciated that the vendors educated them on the different wares for sale (and weren't too pushy, either). However, a few recent visitors were disappointed to find that many of the historical exhibits normally on display within the palace had been removed due to a building renovation that began in early 2023. Though the building is still accessible to visitors, the educational exhibits may be limited.

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New Mexico State Capitol New Mexico State Capitol free

New Mexico's State Capitol, known familiarly as the Roundhouse, was designed by architect Robert E. McKee to resemble the shape of a Zia sun symbol, the image that adorns the state's flag. The 232,000-square-foot structure – the country's sole round capitol building – has a 60-foot-high central rotunda. Beyond its distinctive architecture, the capitol is worth visiting for art's sake. Its art collection, managed by the Capitol Art Foundation, has nearly 600 works, including paintings, sculpture, photography and more. Additionally, the Governor's Gallery on the fourth floor operates as an arm of the New Mexico Museum of Art and hosts several special exhibits annually. The building's 6 1/2-acre-grounds boast outdoor art as well as more than 100 types of local plants.

Recent visitors admired the art on display and report that the staff are very friendly. Reviewers also comment on the capitol's unique round style.

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New Mexico History Museum New Mexico History Museum

U.S. News Insider Tip: Two historic restaurants surround the museum. Family-owned and operated since 1953, The Shed occupies an adobe hacienda dating to 1692. The Plaza Café has served diner favorites since 1905; the same family has operated it for more than 75 years. – Ashley M. Biggers, Contributor, Travel

The New Mexico History Museum has exhibits that recount the state's stories from a variety of perspectives. Its core "Telling New Mexico" exhibition offers an overview of more than five centuries of regional history. It also mounts various temporary exhibits that have concentrated on the legacy of the Fred Harvey Company, the state's role in World War I and how the museum amassed its collection of artifacts. Its collections include more than 1 million objects and documents, including rare 18th-century hide paintings, devotional art and photographs. There's also a working exhibit concerning New Mexico's printing and literary traditions. The museum also houses the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, which boasts an extensive catalog relating to state and regional history and culture. The Palace of Governors is part of the museum.

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Small-Group E-Bike Adventure Tour through Hidden Santa Fe

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The Best of Santa Fe & The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum: Private Tour

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Explore the city with Routes Bicycle Tours of Santa Fe Explore the city with Routes Bicycle Tours of Santa Fe

With more than 400 years of history to revisit, Santa Fe feels like a living museum. One of the best ways to experience this history – not to mention spotting its architectural gems and other landmarks – is on a bike tour. Outfitter Routes Bicycle Tours offers tours exploring the city's art and history, local cuisine and craft beer. Guides lead each tour and offer historical information and local insights.

Recent reviews said a bike tour was a great way to get introduced to the city. They raved about the guides' knowledge. They noted that bikes allowed them to cover more territory than walking tours.

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Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, part of the Museum of New Mexico system, aims to tell the stories of the Southwest's native people from pre-history to the present day. Its collection includes more than 72,000 objects, including sculptures, baskets, pottery, jewelry, textiles and an ancient 151-foot-long hunting net made of human hair circa A.D. 1200. The museum also hosts various events, such as native pottery demonstrations and lectures, as well as educational programs. There's also an outdoor sculpture garden that features rotating exhibits by Native American sculptors.

Recent travelers said this museum is well worth a visit for its well-curated displays and educational exhibits. Several recommended stopping in the excellent gift shop.

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Railyard Arts District Railyard Arts District free

U.S. News Insider Tip: While in the Railyard, check out Jean Cocteau Cinema, an indie movie house, and Beastly Books, a sci-fi and fantasy bookstore. "Game of Thrones" creator George R. R. Martin owns both. – Ashley M. Biggers, Contributor, Travel

Along with Canyon Road and the Santa Fe Plaza , the Railyard Arts District represents a top "City Different" (Santa Fe's nickname) artistic hub. Spread along rail tracks that terminate at the Santa Fe Depot, the district has transformed from a home of industry to one for galleries, museums, restaurants and shops. The neighborhood is home to the Santa Fe Farmers Market on the weekend, as well as galleries, such as Blue Rain Gallery, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art and LewAllen Galleries. SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary art museum, showcases exhibitions and artist talks with leading-edge creatives from around the globe. What's more, Railyard Park hosts summer music concerts and events, such as the International Folk Art Market.

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San Miguel Chapel San Miguel Chapel free

San Miguel Chapel bills itself as the oldest church in the continental United States. Indeed, the structure, or at least the original part of it, long predates the founding of the country as it is believed to date back to around 1610. (Over its centuries of existence, portions of the building have been reconstructed as is typical and required of adobe structures.) Located in Santa Fe's historic El Barrio de Analco district, near Santa Fe Plaza , the church is dedicated to the archangel Michael, a statue of whom stands at the site, along with a carved wooden alter screen and other artworks. The adobe building is used for Mass, live musical performances and other events. Be sure to check its calendar of events before visiting.

Visitors acknowledge that the chapel is modest, but stress that it merits a short visit, especially for those with an interest in history and mission-style architecture. Others praised the informative and friendly docents.

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Meow Wolf Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf started as an arts and entertainment collective in 2008, but many people use the same name to describe the group's major interactive installation in Santa Fe, the "House of Eternal Return." This otherworldly, over-the-top, impossible-to-describe immersive installation is located in a 20,000-square-foot space and spread across more than 70 rooms. Opened in 2016, the exhibit quickly became a major permanent attraction in the city and offers a trippy escape into a world filled with scenes and settings worthy of sci-fi movies. There are hidden doorways, portals to other worlds, mysterious hallways, strange music and fascinating artwork. If you feel like following the mysterious story arc about the "family" who supposedly lived there (and disappeared), you can, but you don't have to in order to enjoy the exhibit.

Recent visitors raved about the unusual experience, saying it's unlike anything they have ever seen, and advise others to leave plenty of time to explore. Other reviewers said it's great for all ages, though some said tickets can get pricey for a family. They further advised to be prepared for crowds, especially during peak times like spring break, and visual chaos when you enter the exhibit. Several reviewers warned those with limited mobility that you will need to crouch or crawl for certain elements.

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Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Famed artist Georgia O'Keeffe was inspired by Santa Fe's blazing landscape, and her portrayals of New Mexico earned her a reputation as one of the top southwestern artists. This namesake museum celebrates her career with its collection of 3,000 pieces, including 140 oil paintings, 700 drawings and hundreds of other works.

Fans of O'Keeffe generally enjoy the museum. Many recommend the free audio tour. (Be sure to bring your own earbuds.) However, some patrons warned that the museum is small and said they wished more of O'Keeffe's finished works were on display. The museum is in the process of planning an expansion and new building that is set to open in downtown Santa Fe in 2026.

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Bandelier National Monument Bandelier National Monument

U.S. News Insider Tip: While in Los Alamos, don't miss the Bradbury Science Museum, which showcases the history and work of Los Alamos National Laboratory; and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which preserves locations associated with the development of the world's first atomic bomb. – Ashley M. Biggers, Contributor, Travel

For centuries before the Europeans invaded North America, Ancestral Puebloan peoples lived in permanent settlements across the Southwest. At the Bandelier National Monument, visitors can explore the remnants of one of these settlements. At the base of Frijoles Canyon are a collection of ancient cave dwellings and other stone structures belonging to ancestors of today's Pueblo peoples.

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Santa Fe Farmers Market Santa Fe Farmers Market free

No matter your reason for visiting Santa Fe – whether it be to see the art along Canyon Road or ski the slopes – set aside some time to check out the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Open on Saturdays throughout the year, the market features dozens of vendors selling everything from locally grown produce, flowers and cheeses to baked goods, jams and honey. There is also a cafe selling coffee and other local treats. At the nearby  Railyard Artisan Market , crafters sell handmade items like jewelry and ceramics.

Recent visitors were supremely impressed by this farmers market, especially with the variety of fresh produce and the stimulation of the senses (from colorful veggies and fruits to the aromas of fresh flowers and spices). The only downside, according to some travelers, was that the venue was packed with people; many suggested getting there early to avoid the crowds. Others warned of difficulty finding a parking spot.

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Explore the Santa Fe Margarita Trail Explore the Santa Fe Margarita Trail

Every region has its signature cocktail. The margarita is synonymous with Santa Fe. The Margarita Trail connects nearly 50 different restaurants and bars across Santa Fe County. Each restaurant has a specialty drink on the trail, such as the "Holy Margarita" at SkyFire Restaurant at Bishop's Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection ; and the "Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita" at Cowgirl BBQ.

Of course, the trail's creators don't intend for people to drive all around town sampling. Rather, the trail is meant to be enjoyed over time, whether a few days during a weekend trip or over a longer span.  A "passport" where imbibers can track the trail locations they've visited is available in paper form from any of the Santa Fe visitor centers or via a digital app. If you present your passport at a participating location, you'll get a $1 discount on the specialty margarita. Plus, stamps can be redeemed for prizes, such as t-shirts and cocktail books. Opening times and prices vary for each margarita trail stop. For more information, visit the Tourism Santa Fe website .

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El Rancho de las Golondrinas El Rancho de las Golondrinas

El Rancho de las Golondrinas, or the Ranch of the Swallows, is a living history museum that endeavors to show what life was like in the rural area south of Santa Fe in the 18th and 19th century. The 200-acre complex has buildings dating back to the early 1700s as well as reconstructed buildings from other areas of the state. Volunteer docents wear clothing reflecting the period and demonstrate lifeways from the era. The site stages various events, including the Santa Fe Harvest Festival each autumn and the Santa Fe Renaissance Faire in September.

Visitors recommend taking a tour as the guides are very knowledgeable and personable. Many also suggest wearing comfortable shoes because seeing all the exhibits requires a lot of walking.

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2 Hour Pottery Experience (Wheel or Hand-Building)

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Santa Fe Farmers Market & Railyard Food Tour

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New Mexico Museum of Art New Mexico Museum of Art

The oldest art museum in the state (it opened in 1917), the New Mexico Museum of Art is set in a traditional adobe building and home to more than 20,000 pieces of American and European art. Pieces range from drawings, paintings and photographs to more unique displays like prints and textiles. The museum has a permanent collection and welcomes rotating exhibits. Special exhibits have included presentations like "Con Cariño: Artists Inspired by Lowriders," which celebrated the influence of lowrider cars; "The Nature of Glass," which exhibited various techniques used with the medium; and "Picturing Passion: Artists Interpret the Penitente Brotherhood." Vladem Contemporary, the museum's annex for contemporary art, is slated to open in the Railyard District in 2023.

Recent visitors appreciated the variety of art on display (a few said they liked this museum better than the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum ). Many museumgoers loved the rotating exhibitions and said they often return to see what new pieces are on display. Others recommended exploring the outdoor sculpture gardens and courtyard.

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Santa Fe Botanical Garden Santa Fe Botanical Garden

The high desert landscape surrounds the City Different (Santa Fe's nickname), but there are few better places to appreciate its intricacies than the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. The approximately 20-acre garden features a collection of fruit trees, a xeric garden (dry plants that rely solely on rainwater) and the Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands ethnobotanical garden, which explores plants tied to human history. Meanwhile, the meandering Art Trail showcases annual sculpture exhibitions. A 3.25-acre Piñon-Juniper Woodland protects the foothills ecosystem that's unique to Northern New Mexico. Approximately 8 acres of the garden is developed with walking paths.

Recent visitors recommend visiting the garden, even if, being situated in the Southwest, it may not be the lush landscape many people expect. They say the relatively small garden has a wide variety of native plants and recommend taking a docent tour to appreciate the displays further. Tours aren't offered on a set schedule; they're available when staff and volunteers are. Inquire at the visitor center for availability.

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Take a class at Liquid Light Glass Take a class at Liquid Light Glass

Liquid Light Glass is a hub for glass-blown art, sculptures, ornaments, vases and more. The shop and studio is located in the Baca Street Arts District, a neighborhood forming the southern end of the area of Santa Fe that's home to retail shops, furniture showrooms and art boutiques. Travelers can visit the studio to take a class with founder and glass artist Elodie Holmes, or one of her colleagues, to create colorful glass art.

Past patrons said walking through the shop to see all the unique glass-blown art is a treat; many added that they loved the class, during which items like paperweights, vases and bowls are made, and that the instructor was very patient and helpful.

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Paseo Pottery Classes Paseo Pottery Classes

Santa Fe is an arts town through and through. It's easy for visitors to get swept up in the creative flow at places like Paseo Pottery, a working studio that also offers clay classes. A trio of artists founded Paseo Pottery in 1991. Ceramicists still work in the studio today; the on-site gallery displays their work. Many of these artists also teach classes, from seven-week long intensives to two-hour long clay experiences. During these sessions travelers and newbies can "play in the mud" with hand-building techniques and using the potter's wheel. At the end of class, their work is recycled back into the clay mound.

Reviewers enjoyed the studio's fun, welcoming atmosphere, and said it was fitting for both novices and experienced artists. They noted that instructors provide easy-to-follow instructions and are supportive. 

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Loretto Chapel Loretto Chapel

The Loretto Chapel is known for its so-called miraculous staircase, which creates two 360-degree turns as it climbs 22 feet to the choir loft. The stairway is said to have been built by a wandering carpenter after the chapel itself was completed in 1878. According to the chapel, the carpenter used wooden pegs (not nails) and the staircase itself has no visible means of support. Other features of the neo-Gothic church – which is just 25 feet by 75 feet – include trefoil arches, buttresses and stained-glass windows imported from France.

Though they note that the chapel is small, visitors enjoyed seeing and learning about the remarkable staircase. However, a few said a stop inside is not worth the $5 admission fee, noting that there are several interesting churches to visit nearby that do not charge an entrance fee. 

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Canyon Road Art & History Walking Tour

(64 reviews)

from $ 70.00

Stained Glass Class - Hidden Santa Fe Gem

Stained Glass Class - Hidden Santa Fe Gem

(21 reviews)

from $ 190.00

Small Group Santa Fe Walking Tour

Small Group Santa Fe Walking Tour

from $ 85.00

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Nedra Matteucci Galleries Nedra Matteucci Galleries

U.S. News Insider Tip: After browsing, head across the street to Kakawa Chocolate House, which specializes in handmade truffles (like chili chocolate) and drinking chocolates. – Ashley M. Biggers, Contributor, Travel

Set on the edge of Canyon Road , Nedra Matteucci Galleries has established a reputation for fine 19th- and 20th-century American art. Viewers will find bold-faced names from history, such as the members of the Taos Society of Artists, artists from the American West, and leading contemporary American impressionists and modernists. Founded in 1972, the gallery showcases painting, pottery and jewelry, and features an outdoor sculpture garden with a scenic pond.

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Peruse the Santa Fe Indian Market Peruse the Santa Fe Indian Market free

Held each year since 1922, Santa Fe Indian Market lays claim to being one of the oldest and most celebrated Native American art markets in the country. It showcases the juried work of more than 800 Native American artists representing some 250 federally recognized tribes from the U.S. and Canada working in mediums from jewelry to sculpture, and from painting to beadwork. The open-air market, which centers on the Santa Fe Plaza and surrounding roads, includes several days of shopping, as well as an award ceremony honoring the best artworks, a Native American clothing contest, an haute couture fashion show and other events. There are also food vendors, selling fry bread, Navajo tacos and roasted corn, among other dishes.

Recent visitors enjoyed the variety of vendors and applauded the quality of the work. Some cautioned that it can be hot (the event takes place in August) and recommended planning accordingly – or ducking into the shops around the plaza to cool off.

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Ski Santa Fe Ski Santa Fe

It may come as a surprise to some visitors, but New Mexico is home to some of the top ski spots in the Southwest. Ski season here usually spans from late fall, around Thanksgiving, into March, and Ski Santa Fe receives an average of 225 inches a year. Because Ski Santa Fe is located about 15 miles northeast of Santa Fe, it's easy to add to your itinerary. The ski area covers 660 acres of terrain with 86 runs. There are more intermediate and expert trails, but beginners will be able to get their turns in here, too. It offers a base elevation of 10,350 feet and 1,725 feet of vertical drop, which skiers can access through seven chairlifts.

Visitors who tried Ski Santa Fe appreciated its proximity to downtown and said there's even a free shuttle (the RTD Mountain Trail Bus ) that runs from downtown Santa Fe to the mountain making it easier to access. Skiers said the quality of the snow was great, the views are impressive and there were rarely lift lines.

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