Santa Fe Favorites Santa Fe is known for its red adobe buildings set against blue skies in New Mexico’s desert highlands. This city is a creative vortex that thrives at 7,200 ft, at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, attracting artists and healers from around the world.
Surrounded by natural beauty, the city’s roots go deep with a Native American, Hispanic and Anglo heritage. This year, the city is 407 years old and is the oldest capital city in the USA, with the oldest home and oldest church in the country.
Home to 250 restaurants, more than 300 art galleries, at least a hundred boutique shops, and a dozen festivals and fairs. License plates read – New Mexico “Land of Enchantment” and after visiting you’ll know why the 47th state selected Santa Fe as its capital. Santa Fe has even been designated as a UNESCO City of Folk Art.
If you love museums, culture, historic sites, art galleries, folk art, nature, food and friendly people, you’ll want to visit Santa Fe. Sharing our favorites – places to go, things to do, where to stay, dine & spa!
- Santa Fe Plaza: A good place to start is the Santa Fe Plaza, the heart of the city since 1610. Today it’s a National Historic Landmark with a central park lined with cafes, shops & art galleries.
- Palace of the Governors: Walk through the portico where Native Americans sell their handmade jewelry and crafts, authenticated by the city.
- Stroll along Canyon Road Galleries: Visit world-class art galleries, shops and dine at a café, restaurant along this picturesque road. Continue onto East DeVargas St., where one of the oldest neighborhoods was settled by the Tiaxcalan Indians in the early 1600’s.
- Santa Fe Railyard: Visit this neighborhood on Tuesday and Sunday mornings when the Farmers Market comes to life. Located next to the Santa Fe Depot where the New Mexico Rail Runner Express arrives from its southern stops.
- Museums: There are several museums to visit in Santa Fe. One of my favorites is the Museum of International Folk Art where there are exhibits with extensive collections of folk art and crafts. Another is the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum with 140 paintings by O’Keeffe. If you have time, visit the New Mexico Museum of Art with over 20,000 works of art. There’s also the NM History Museum highlighting New Mexico’s colonial past, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture featuring Southwestern Native American cultures – textiles, pottery, baskets, jewelry, and other artifacts.
- Visit the Oldest House, Oldest Public Building & Oldest Church in the USA: Visit the Chapel of San Miguel, the Spanish colonial mission church built in 1610, and the oldest house in the USA next door. Closer to the Plaza, you can visit the oldest public building in the country – the Palace of the Governors.
- Churches — St. Francis Cathedral: Built in 1869, this Romanesque Cathedral is beautiful with a rose window, towers, archways. Mass held every Sunday. Loretto Chapel is a Gothic-style chapel built in 1878. Don’t Miss! The “miraculous staircase” with 360-degree spirals. The Santuario de Guadalupe was built in 1781 and is now an art and history museum.
- Santa Fe Farmers Market: New Mexico’s largest farmers’ market with over 100 vendors selling produce and also handicrafts. Buy a bundle of heirloom chile to hang from your porch or keep in your kitchen.
- Take a Cooking Class: Sign up for a cooking class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking where you can learn recipes and techniques of traditional Southwestern dishes – chile sauces, salsa, tamales, sopaipillas in hands-on and demo classes. Click here for details
- Adventures for Every Season: There’s something to do every season – horseback ride, hike, snowboard, Ski Santa Fe, whitewater rafting, golfing, biking and hot air ballooning. A highlight for us was visiting Bandelier National Monument and stepping back into the ancient past and visit cliff dwellings, pueblo homes, rock paintings and petroglyphs.
- Randall Davey Audubon Center: Randall Davey was a Santa Fe artist who donated his 135 acres land and home to the Audubon Society. Open for tours on Fridays at 2:00 pm – be sure to call in advance and make a reservation.
- Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Santa Fe: There are walking tours of Santa Fe available. Check schedules, locations and ticket prices — click here
- Watch a Sunrise and Sunset from the Cross of the Martyrs
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
- Music & Santa Fe Opera: Check the events schedule and attend the Santa Fe Opera & Performing Arts – world famous!
- Summer Concerts at the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand: Live performances 2-3 times a week – Native American music, salsa, jazz, R&B.
- Summer Spanish Market: Annual market where artisans sell their tin work, textiles, furniture and other handicrafts by New Mexican artists.
- Santa Fe Indian Market: Over 100,000 people attend this annual art market where artists display their work around the Santa Fe Plaza and streets. This market usually takes place the third weekend of August.
- Santa Fe International Folk Art Market: The largest folk art market takes place in Santa Fe each year in July. Over 120 artists from 45 countries attend.
- Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta: An annual five-day event with cooking demos, wine seminars, tastings – 75 restaurants and 90 wineries offering the best food & wine. Takes place in September.
- Taos: This ancient pueblo with its terraced adobe village is 1,000 yrs old and considered to be a National Historic Landmark. Located 1 mile from the town of Taos. Check schedules to confirm when the pueblo is open to the public.
- Chimayó: Visit the Santuario de Chimayo, considered a sacred place the “Lourdes of America.” Founded in the 17th century the community of Chimayó honors traditions, family bonds and is devoted to its spiritual roots. Each Holy Week, there are up to 30,000 pilgrims who visit this site, and some walk from Albuquerque, over 90 miles away.
- Abiquiu “Ghost Country”: Visit this village where Georgia O’Keefe lived here for 35 years, and many of this artist paintings are inspired from its scenic vistas. Explore the 21,000 acres of dramatic cliffs, rock formations and red hills that inspired O’Keefe and artists today.
- Turquoise Trail: South of Santa Fe is the Turquoise Trail, where you can visit the century old mining towns — Madrid, Cerrillos, and Golden where Native Americans sources turquoise for jewelry.
- La Posada de Santa Fe: In 1882, Abraham Staab built a mansion for his wife Julia, and today the estate has become La Posada de Santa Fe Resort. Since the 1930’s, the estate has expanded into a series of Pueblo Revival-style adobe casitas that have been built around the existing Staab Mansion and carriage house.
Located on 6 acres, just a couple blocks from the historic town Plaza, this village-like resort has 157 rooms and suites that are unique and authentic to its historic roots, with features like original adobe walls and traditional viga (exposed beam) and latilla (exposed wood slat) ceilings. Most guest rooms have original hardwood or Saltillo tile floors or carpeting.
This resort also offers the Spa Sage at La Posada, a fitness center and heated saline pool and hot tub outside.
Good to Note: Over the years, La Posada de Santa Fe has supported art, literature and cinema by hosting artists and writers. Today, there is an extensive art collection throughout the main mansion. The Staab family were patrons of the arts, and this might have been the first art gallery in Santa Fe!
Don’t Miss! Visit the apricot tree planted in the 1880’s by original owner Julia Staab. And check the resort’s schedule for art curator lectures, tequila tastings & more – complimentary!
- Inn and Spa at Loretto: This boutique luxury hotel is centrally located at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, next door to the Loretto Chapel and within blocks of the Plaza. The Inn and Spa at Loretto architecture resembles the red adobe style of the Taos Pueblo, and has maintained a design inspired by the ancient Pueblo people with Southwestern décor.
A Heritage Hotels & Resorts property with 129 guest rooms and 5 suites, each with spacious rooms, vibrant colors and luxurious bedding. This award-winning hotel also has an outdoor pool, gardens & spa.
- Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe: This boutique hotel is just across the street from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, and is designed to highlight the magical culture of Chimayo, a well-loved town on the High Road to Taos.
Great place for families with suites that connect to a private living room and include a king bedroom, and double bedroom upstairs with a private balcony.
Hotel Chimayo highlights the history and culture of Chimayó community and helps to preserve the original community heritage for future generations.
- The Anasazi Restaurant: The elegant Anasazi Restaurant offers an intimate dining experience, inspired by Santa Fe’s native heritage with fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. Executive Chef Edgar Beas’ dishes are an artful blend of Southwestern traditional dishes with a modern twist – highly recommend the starter — Hamachi crudo with Siberian caviar and avocado mousee with shishito peppers, and for entrees — Duck breast with smoked corn pudding to Colorado lamb chops with heirloom carrots, beets and tzatziki.
- Julia, A Spirited Restaurant & Bar: Located at la Posada de Santa Fe, and named after Julia Staab, the historic founder and legendary hostess of the estate. Julia offers upscale dining with regionally-inspired cuisine and tapas.
Award winning Executive Chef Jon Jerman presents innovative cuisine with a fusion of flavors. We especially enjoyed the Christmas Tamales with red chile pork, roasted green chile, queso fresco, and the Grilled Native American Skirt Steak with black bean puree, Spanish rice flan and agave glazed carrots.
- Luminaria Restaurant & Patio: We went here for breakfast and loved the huevos rancheros and smoothies. Hope we can return for dinner and dine al fresco on their romantic patio.
- Whole Hog Cafe: If you like BBQ, stop at the World Champion BBQ cafe for lunch or dinner where you can order chicken, pork, beef or ribs and choose from a variety of their most popular 6 sauces.
- Sage Spa at La Posada: Voted #4 “Best in Hotel Spa in the US” by USA Today 10Best, Spa Sage at La Posada is a full-serviced spa with indigenous spa treatments and services. Begin with a Sage purifying ritual. Sage is held sacred by Native Americans because of its purifying energies for the body and the mind. A memorable experience to start your spa journey.
I had the Hot Stones Massage and it was healing, restorative and relaxing. Some guests sign up for an Oxygen Treatment to help adjust to the high attitude. Book your spa treatment, massage, facial or sign up for a yoga class at click here
- Ten Thousand Waves: Looking for some zen? There’s a Japanese-style spa in the hills of Santa Fe with traditional ryokans, rock gardens. Guests wear yukatas, the traditional Japanese robe, and find quiet corners throughout gardens to relax, meditate between dips in the hot pools, spa treatments and visits to the steam & sauna rooms.
Global Adventuress thanks the following for hosting us during our stay:
- La Posada de Santa Fe
- Inn and Spa at Loretto
- Hotel Chimayo
- The Anasazi Restaurant