Santa Fe’s historic plaza: The gathering place

Lilacs bloom in the spring near Santa Fe's Plaza

Lilacs bloom in the spring near Santa Fe's Plaza

Santa Fe’s historic plaza has long been the cultural and geographic center of the city.  When Santa Fe was founded, The Plaza was found at the end of El Camino Real (the Spanish Royal Road from Mexico City), the Santa Fe Trail, and the Old Pecos Trail. It was truly a historic crossroads.

Today, The Plaza is surrounded by restaurants, hotels, shops and museums. The Plaza is a hub of activity for Santa Fe. In the winter, you’ll find such beautiful traditions as the lighting of the trees in The Plaza. In the summer there are art festivals and weekly bandstand concerts. For as long as Santa Fe has been a town, The Plaza has been the gathering place.

The Plaza is in the center of historic Santa Fe. If you find the Palace of the Governors, you have found the Plaza. Map

Staying Near the Plaza
When you visit Santa Fe, the best thing to do is stay on or near the plaza to be within walking distance of so much that is happening. It is the best way to get the feel of the city. Ideally, you will stay in a hotel that is just steps from The Plaza.

Here are some hotels located on or near the plaza:
La Fonda on the Plaza
Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe
Inn of the Anasazi
La Posada de Santa Fe

Celebrations and Events on the Plaza
The Plaza is the center for such festivities as the annual Santa Fe Indian Market and the Spanish Market. There’s always something going on whether it be music, arts or a celebration. Check out the Santa Fe Visitors Bureau websitefor events.

Dance to the Bandstand Music during summers on The Plaza

Dance to the Bandstand Music during summers on The Plaza

The Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark and has always been a gathering place in downtown Santa Fe. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When you visit the Plaza you will notice original historic buildings all around the perimeter. These buildings mirror the cultures of Santa Fe with adobe, territorial and other architecture.

The Palace of the Governors is the oldest public building in the U.S. and houses a history musuem. You’ll also be able to visit the New Mexico Museum of Art, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the Loretto Chapel.

Everyday Life on the Plaza
Every day you will see vendors set up shop on the Plaza followed by a few food carts to add convenience to those wanting to grab lunch. At the Palace of the Governors you will see Native American jewelry vendors bring their wares to town. It’s an excellent place to buy your first Native American jewelry item as the vendors are regulated and guarantee their work to be Native American made.

The Plaza is a great place to people-watch and to sit on a bench and read a good book. Except during major events, you can walk your dog through The Plaza.

Estevan performs at The Plaza

Estevan performs at The Plaza

Dining on the Plaza
In addition to fantastic shops surrounding the plaza, you’ll find a great variety of restaurants. From a brewery (with rooftop view), to Rooftop Pizzaria to the Restaurant at the Inn of the Anasazi, there are great restaurants both on the Plaza and within a short walking distance. In the summer, many have enjoyable outdoor dining.

We recently had dinner at the Ore House at Milagro and enjoyed sitting in a courtyard setting inside the building. We were regaled with tales of how the building used to be a house of ill repute behind the Palace Saloon.  The food was reasonably priced and tasty and, even though some of us, walked along the upstairs balconies, we saw no illicit activity going on!

More Information
The Best Things to See in Central Santa Fe

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose