Santa Fe is a wonderfully unique and interesting destination for any traveler – but especially for those with an appreciation for culture, history and art. The city was founded in 1607 and is the oldest state capital in the country. This isn’t a large, sprawling metropolis – it’s a relatively small town full of character and fun. Here is my list of things you should consider when visiting:
1. Walk at Santa Fe Plaza
Located in the center of downtown Santa Fe nearly everything you would want to see and do is close to Santa Fe’s plaza (a national historic landmark). Numerous art galleries, shopping malls, museums and restaurants are located within a short walking distance. The first thing I did upon arrival to the city was park nearby and begin exploring on foot. As long as the weather is nice I suggest you do the same!
2. Appreciate the Arts
Santa Fe is an ideal destination for art lovers of all kinds. There are tons of amazing museums and galleries here to get your art appreciation going, including the world famous Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Several offer free entry on Friday evenings after 5 pm:
- New Mexico History Museum
- Museum of International Folk Art
- Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
- New Mexico Museum of Art
Hey… you can’t beat free, especially on a budget! I took advantage of the offer and enjoyed visiting a couple of them. The Museum of New Mexico also offers a 4-museum pass for one low price.
Canyon Road Art Galleries
In addition to the museums there is an entire half-mile road dedicated to 100+ individual art galleries, specialty shops and studios. I walked a bit of the road and there were lots of cool sculptures out on display all over the place.
3. See Architecture
One of my favorite things about this city was walking around and seeing all of the old buildings. Being one of the oldest cities in the country Santa Fe has some awesome architecture you won’t see anywhere else. It is well known for the adobe style buildings some of which are simply incredible. Many of the pricier hotels are modeled in the adobe style as well. Santa Fe also has some of the country’s oldest churches which feature both adobe and European-gothic styles which were a real treat inside and out:
Across the street from the San Miguel Mission is The Oldest House in the United States – an 800 year old adobe house which was also pretty neat to check out.
4. Try Local Food
New Mexico has a large variety of Southwestern foods, as well as their own unique dishes called New Mexican. Carne Adovada (pork with red chilies) was featured on quite a few menus and was one I gave a shot – although not a huge fan of chilis it was pretty good. Another frequent sight during the visit was piñon nuts advertised as a very special type of nut from pine trees – I wanted to try some but never got around to it.
Kakawa Chocolate House – A Must!
Home to a variety of handmade gourmet chocolates this is a must for chocolate lovers and sweet tooths alike. The Kakawa Chocolate House specializes in authentic traditional and historic chocolate drinks from Mayans, Aztecs, 1600’s Europeans, and Colonial American/Mexican periods. With so many choices and everything tasting so delicious this was heaven! The wonderful atmosphere and friendly staff top it off to make for a great break from walking and shopping…
Their official website: www.KakawaChocolates.com
5. Indulge In Relaxation
Santa Fe is home to numerous luxury resorts and spas if you have the budget for them. Nearby there are serene outdoor hot springs that you couldn’t help but unwind and lose yourself in – 2 of which are the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and the Ten Thousand Waves.
I’ve never been big on shopping.. usually when I go to a store I know exactly what I want before I get there. Santa Fe however offers specialized shops for leather, handmade glass, sculptures, rugs and blankets, and all kinds of trinkets that you could spend hours looking through. Even if you’re like me and don’t particularly love shopping, stop in a few shops and see what the city has to offer… you never know what you might leave with.
7. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
The city has beautiful parks, is surrounded by lush forests, national monuments, and Native American history. Whether it’s hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter there is no reason not to enjoy nature while you’re here.
Bandelier National Monument
Located just 45 minutes from the city this monument is home to ruins from the pueblo peoples – spend the day hiking through the ruins to see the stone houses and hand-carved caves once inhabited by people hundreds of years ago.
With only two days to experience the city during my road trip through the state I’ve concluded I like Santa Fe. It’s a city I could find myself returning to sometime in the near future.