Best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe MuseumsSanta Fe, now celebrating 400 years of history, is a year-round destination for those who love history, the arts, fine dining and the feeling of being in Europe while remaining much closer to home. Here are some favorite things to do for the visitor to Santa Fe:

Sample the Cuisine: Santa Fe is one of those places that attracts top chefs who, often open their own restaurants. An example is Martin’s, owned by Chef Martin Rios. Chef Rios had been Executive Chef of several Santa Fe restaurants before opening his own. Other restaurants I particularly enjoy are: La Plazuela at La Fonda, The Shed, Los Mayas, Cafe Pasqual’s, La Choza and Santa Cafe.

The Santa Farmer’s Market is another place that will get you in the mood for a special Santa Fe meal. At the Farmer’s Market, located in the artsy Railyard district, you’ll find chefs from local restaurants shopping for fresh produce as well as opportunities to purchase produce, breads, cheeses and pastries for your own table.

Explore the Art Galleries:  Santa Fe is known as a center for art. Santa Fe has over 250 galleries, many of them located around the Plaza and along historic Canyon Road. Canyon Road is a historic pathway into the mountains and an old neighborhood that has become the city’s center for art with the highest concentration of galleries.

Canyon Road is only a few blocks from the Plaza. Put on your walking shoes and stroll the galleries and enjoy photographing the traditional adobe buildings. A few recommended galleries are the Jane Sauer Gallery, Robert Nichols Gallery (for pottery) and La Mesa of Santa Fe, for affordable art and housewares.

When you are walking Canyon Road, don’t forget to check out the side streets. Delgado street has some great galleries and oftenPueblo Pottery in Santa Fe Gallery has openings that are separate from the galleries on Canyon Road. Try their Fourth Friday event. It’s always festive.

Of course Canyon Road is not the only place with art galleries. Right around the Plaza you will find such well-known galleries as Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery (Pueblo Pottery), Packard’s, Blue Rain and Legends. There are some edgy contemporary galleries in the Railyard area (short drive from the Plaza). Enjoy  Santa Fe Farmers Market, SITE Santa Fe, Warehouse 21 and El Museo Cultural at the Railyard.

Spend the Day at Museum Hill: Santa Fe is a relatively small town and yet has 16 museums. Museum Hill is the site for four interesting museums: Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. With a wonderful plaza, expansive views, footpaths connecting each museum, and a convenient cafe, Museum Hill is a day trip within a few minutes driving time from the Plaza.

Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum: Every day dozens of Native American artists from around Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Southwest sell their work under the long portal that fronts the Palace of the Governors.

This is a very regulated program that insures artwork that is authentic and of high quality as sold by the artists or their family members. The Palace itself is the state’s history museum and the oldest public building in the U.S. making it a perfect setting.

Explore the Faith
Kateri Tekakwitha Bronze at Santa Fe BasilicaSanta Fe means Holy Faith in Spanish. Santa Fe has several historic churches you will want to see. Visitors are always mystified by the Loretto Chapel, at the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Inside the Gothic church is the staircase referred to as miraculous and inexplicable.  It makes over two complete 360-degree turns, stands 20’ tall and has no center support. It rests solely on its base and against the choir loft.

The main cathedral in Santa Fe, visible from the Plaza, is the St. Francis Basilica Cathedral, completed in 1887, is on the site of the original adobe church built when the city of Santa Fe was founded. Inside this beautiful basilica, you will find the statue, Our Lady La Conquistadora. Brought from Spain in 1625, the statue is the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.

Within walking distance of the Plaza, you’ll find a fairly simple adobe structure. Built in 1781 west of the Santa Fe Plaza, the historic Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church is now an art and history museum. The Santuario contains the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s collection of New Mexican santos (carved images of the saints), Italian Renaissance paintings, and Mexican baroque paintings.

Santa Fe is a treasure of history and culture. With the many fine inns and hotels, spas and one of a kind boutiques, you’ll enjoy your time in Santa Fe. Explore, relax and treasure this marvelous city in northern New Mexico.

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose