Looking for all the best attractions in “the City Different”? Our guide to all the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico is all you need!
Santa Fe, the capital city of New Mexico, is a city overflowing with art, history, tradition, and culture.
Nestled in the high desert at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe’s distinctive adobe architecture and vibrant arts scene create a unique and enchanting atmosphere. The city is renowned for its historic Plaza, where traditional markets, cultural events, and centuries-old adobe structures converge.
Santa Fe is also home to a thriving arts community, and there are numerous galleries, museums, and theaters to check out.
The city represents a melting pot of cultures and histories, with Native American, Latin American, and US Southwest traditions and styles influencing the institutions and landscape. Here is a list of the best things to do in Santa Fe for those who want to make the most of their time in this amazing city!
Table of Contents
- 25 Best Things To Do In Santa Fe, New Mexico
- 1. Broaden your mind at the New Mexico History Museum
- 2. Catch a show at the Santa Fe Opera House
- 3. Attend the annual International Folk Art Market
- 4. Experience immersive art at Meow Wolf
- 5. Go whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande
- 6. Admire the Loretto Chapel
- 7. Stroll around the Santa Fe Plaza
- 8. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
- 9. Hike the Santa Fe Trail
- 10. Browse through the Santa Fe Farmers Market
- 11. Tour the New Mexico State Capitol
- 12. Explore the Canyon Road Arts District
- 13. Check out the Santa Fe Botanical Garden
- 14. Appreciate tradition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
- 15. Take a day trip to Albuquerque
- 16. Admire the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
- 17. Wheelwright Museum
- 18. Visit the Palace of the Governors
- 19. Attend the annual Santa Fe Indian Market
- 20. Go skiing
- 21. See the San Miguel Chapel
- 22. Go window shopping on San Francisco Street
- 23. See a variety of art at the New Mexico Museum of Art
- 24. Browse art and eateries at Santa Fe Railyard
- 25. Attend the Annual Traditional Spanish Market
- Where To Stay In Santa Fe, New Mexico
25 Best Things To Do In Santa Fe, New Mexico
From exploring art galleries on Canyon Road to seeing the USA’s oldest church, here are some of the most fun things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico!
1. Broaden your mind at the New Mexico History Museum
The New Mexico History Museum in downtown Santa Fe is a captivating testament to the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the state.
The building itself is a harmonious blend of traditional adobe architecture and modern design, reflecting the state’s commitment to preserving the past while embracing contemporary perspectives.
Inside the New Mexico History Museum, visitors embark on a fascinating journey through New Mexico’s complex history, spanning indigenous cultures, Spanish colonization, Mexican rule, and the territorial and statehood periods.
The exhibits showcase a diverse array of artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays, offering a comprehensive narrative that explores the intertwining threads of culture, politics, and daily life in the region.
From the ancient Pueblo civilizations to the vibrant traditions of Hispanic and Native American communities, the New Mexico History Museum is one of Santa Fe’s top attractions, especially for history buffs!
2. Catch a show at the Santa Fe Opera House
Just a short drive north of downtown amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Santa Fe Opera House is another one of the top Santa Fe attractions.
Established in 1957, this world-renowned opera company has garnered international acclaim for its commitment to producing innovative and dynamic performances.
The Santa Fe Opera House itself is a striking architectural marvel, designed by renowned modernist architect John Gaw Meem. Its open-air theater, set against the dramatic backdrop of the New Mexico sky, provides a unique and enchanting setting for opera enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
Each summer, the Santa Fe Opera House becomes a stage for exceptional productions, attracting seasoned opera aficionados and those new to the art form. The repertoire spans a wide range of classical and contemporary works, featuring talented performers and creative teams from around the world. If you’re looking for a lovely performance or a way to engage with the entertainment scene in Santa Fe, catch a show here!
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3. Attend the annual International Folk Art Market
Another one of the best things to do in Santa Fe is browse through the handicrafts at the International Folk Art Market if you plan to visit Santa Fe in July.
Established in 2004, the folk art market has grown to become a dynamic platform for master artisans, hailing from diverse cultures and communities, to showcase and sell their handmade crafts.
Set against the backdrop of the picturesque Santa Fe mountains, the International Folk Art Market transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and traditions, creating a unique shopping experience for visitors seeking one-of-a-kind, culturally rich pieces.
This annual event not only provides a marketplace for artists to sustain their livelihoods but also serves as a cultural exchange, fostering connections and understanding between artisans and patrons. By bringing together talent from around the globe, the folk art market contributes to the preservation of traditional crafts and the empowerment of artists in a way that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries.
The International Folk Art Market is a must-visit for those seeking a truly immersive and diverse cultural experience when they visit Santa Fe!
4. Experience immersive art at Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf is an avant-garde arts and entertainment collective in Santa Fe that has gained widespread acclaim for its immersive and interactive installations.
Founded in 2008 by a group of artists, Meow Wolf has become a trailblazer in the realm of immersive experiences, transcending traditional boundaries between art, technology, and storytelling. Meow Wolf’s “House of Eternal Return” is a groundbreaking installation that opened in 2016 in Santa Fe and helped the location gain international recognition.
This surreal and fantastical space invites visitors to explore a Victorian house with secret passages and portals to other dimensions, blending elements of science fiction, fantasy, and interactive art in a way that captivates audiences of all ages.
Meow Wolf’s commitment to pushing artistic boundaries has led to collaborations with a diverse array of artists, musicians, and performers. With an expansion beyond Santa Fe, including a location in Las Vegas, Meow Wolf continues to redefine the concept of experiential art, creating immersive environments that challenge traditional notions of gallery spaces and engage visitors in a multisensory journey.
The collective’s impact on the art and entertainment landscape has been profound, demonstrating the potential for collaborative, immersive experiences to ignite the imagination and bring art to new and unexpected audiences.
5. Go whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande
One of the best things to do in Santa Fe for adventure seekers is heading up to the Rio Grande and going whitewater rafting!
The Rio Grande, flowing through the rugged terrain of the Rio Grande Gorge, offers a thrilling mix of rapids and serene stretches. As the river winds its way through deep canyons and high-desert scenery, rafters are treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mesas and rock formations.
Whether navigating the challenging rapids or floating through calm waters, the Rio Grande rafting experience from Santa Fe combines the rush of adrenaline with the tranquility of nature, making it an ideal excursion for those seeking both adventure and the beauty of the Southwestern wilderness.
Taos is a charming town just north of Santa Fe that offers whitewater rafting tours. While you’re in the area, check out the impressive Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, an engineering marvel and a breathtaking landmark that spans the deep and dramatic Rio Grande Gorge.
6. Admire the Loretto Chapel
Located right in downtown Santa Fe, Loretto Chapel is a historical and architectural treasure that has captivated visitors for decades.
Constructed in the late 19th century, Loretto Chapel is renowned for its Gothic Revival-style architecture, highlighted by the exquisite spiral staircase that has earned it the nickname “The Miraculous Staircase.”
The intricately designed staircase, with two complete 360-degree turns and no visible means of support, has long been a source of mystery and intrigue, prompting various legends and stories about its construction.
Loretto Chapel itself, with its elegant stained glass windows and ornate details, provides a serene and spiritual atmosphere, making it a popular destination for both religious pilgrims and tourists interested in the chapel’s rich history and architectural marvels.
Loretto Chapel is not only a place of worship but also a venue for cultural events and concerts, further enhancing its role as a cultural hub in Santa Fe. The chapel’s historical significance, coupled with the enigmatic staircase and its exquisite interior, makes it one of the city’s coolest landmarks.
7. Stroll around the Santa Fe Plaza
Santa Fe Plaza, located at the heart of historic Santa Fe, is a vibrant and iconic gathering place that serves as the cultural and commercial nucleus of the city. Established in 1610, the Plaza holds the distinction of being one of the oldest public spaces in the United States.
Surrounded by adobe structures, including the historic Palace of the Governors, the Santa Fe Plaza exudes a distinct Southwestern charm. It has long been a central hub for community events, markets, and celebrations, maintaining a timeless allure that blends the city’s rich history with its contemporary spirit.
Stroll around the Santa Fe Plaza to admire the captivating blend of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures, evident in its eclectic mix of shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
Visitors can explore the unique adobe architecture, shop for authentic Southwestern crafts, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. As the heart of the city, the Santa Fe Plaza is a great place to start while sightseeing around Santa Fe.
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8. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is another amazing landmark situated in downtown Santa Fe. Dedicated to the life and work of Georgia O’Keeffe, the museum offers a comprehensive collection of her paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
O’Keeffe, known for her innovative contributions to modern art, particularly her depictions of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes, is celebrated for her unique vision and artistic prowess.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum provides a chronological journey through her career, allowing visitors to witness the evolution of her style and explore the inspirations behind her evocative and often sensual creations. The serene adobe-style museum building, designed to complement the surrounding Santa Fe architecture, serves as a fitting backdrop to O’Keeffe’s masterpieces.
Beyond the captivating display of artwork, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum contributes to the cultural vibrancy of Santa Fe by hosting educational programs, lectures, and temporary exhibitions that delve into various aspects of O’Keeffe’s life and art. It stands as a testament to O’Keeffe’s enduring legacy and provides an intimate space for art enthusiasts to connect with the essence of her creative spirit.
The museum invites visitors to explore the world through O’Keeffe’s eyes and gain a deeper understanding of the artist’s profound impact on American art history.
9. Hike the Santa Fe Trail
The Old Santa Fe Trail, a historic trade route that linked Missouri with the city of Santa Fe in the 19th century, played a crucial role in shaping the cultural and economic landscape of the American Southwest.
Established in the early 1820s, the trail served as a vital corridor for the transportation of goods, connecting the burgeoning markets of the United States with the Mexican territories. Wagon caravans laden with merchandise, including textiles, tools, and household items, traversed the rugged landscapes of the Great Plains and the arid expanses of the Southwest.
The trail’s significance extended beyond commerce, fostering cultural exchanges between Anglo-American, Hispanic, and Native American communities, contributing to the rich tapestry of the region’s history.
Today, the Old Santa Fe Trail is commemorated as a National Historic Landmark, and remnants of the original route can still be traced in various parts of the American West.
In Santa Fe, the trail’s legacy is celebrated through historical markers, museums, and events that honor the pioneers, traders, and adventurers who embarked on this challenging journey. History lovers can visit the National Historic Landmark and see an incredible piece of the past still preserved today.
10. Browse through the Santa Fe Farmers Market
Those who love to shop may find browsing the Santa Fe Farmers Market one of the most fun things to do! The Santa Fe Farmers Market is a vibrant and iconic gathering place that reflects the rich agricultural heritage of northern New Mexico.
Held in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, the market operates year-round, offering an ever-changing bounty of fresh, locally grown produce, artisanal products, handmade crafts, and live music.
The colorful stalls brim with a diverse array of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, all cultivated by regional farmers using sustainable and organic practices, embodying the commitment to the region’s agricultural traditions.
The Santa Fe Farmers Market is also a cultural hub, fostering a sense of community and connection between producers and consumers. The market provides a platform for local artisans to showcase their crafts, from handmade jewelry and pottery to traditional textiles.
With its lively atmosphere, the Santa Fe Farmers Market creates a celebration of the unique flavors, traditions, and creativity that define Santa Fe and the surrounding region.
11. Tour the New Mexico State Capitol
One of Santa Fe’s most prominent locations is the New Mexico State Capitol. Completed in 1966, the Capitol Building, also known as the Roundhouse due to its distinctive circular shape, serves as the seat of the New Mexico Legislature.
The structure itself is a blend of modernist design and Southwestern influences, with a central rotunda and four wings that house legislative chambers and offices. The Capitol’s architecture mirrors the convergence of traditional and contemporary elements, reflecting the state’s commitment to honoring its diverse heritage while embracing the dynamics of a modern governance system.
Surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the New Mexico State Capitol is not just a center of political activity but also a hub for cultural events and public engagement. The adjacent Capitol Art Collection showcases a diverse array of artworks by New Mexican artists, providing a visual narrative of the state’s history and identity.
The Capitol grounds, featuring sculptures and monuments, invite both residents and visitors to connect with the spirit of New Mexico. The Roundhouse stands as a dynamic symbol of the state’s commitment to democratic governance, cultural preservation, and the celebration of its rich heritage.
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12. Explore the Canyon Road Arts District
One of the best things to do in Santa Fe for art lovers is to walk around the Canyon Road Arts District, a world-renowned haven for art enthusiasts near the city center.
This historic half-mile stretch is lined with over a hundred galleries, studios, boutiques, and restaurants, creating a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere that has earned Santa Fe the designation of the third-largest art market in the United States.
Canyon Road is an adobe-lined street that beckons visitors to explore a diverse array of artistic expressions, from traditional Southwestern and Native American art to cutting-edge contemporary art. Whether wandering through sculpture gardens, exploring intimate galleries, joining a guided walking tour, or engaging with local artists, the Canyon Road Arts District offers a rich tapestry of visual arts that reflects the city’s cultural diversity and creative spirit.
Beyond the galleries, Canyon Road comes alive during various art events and festivals, attracting artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts from around the world. Canyon Road has become a hub for cultural experiences, featuring outdoor sculptures, live music, and art openings that transform the historic street into a dynamic celebration of creativity.
The Canyon Road Arts District is not just a destination for art connoisseurs; it’s a lively and ever-evolving cultural landscape that invites everyone to immerse themselves in the beauty and expression of the city’s artistic community.
13. Check out the Santa Fe Botanical Garden
Located just south of the city center, visitors can explore the tranquil oasis of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Established in 1987, the garden spans 14 acres and features a variety of themed spaces, including a Butterfly Pavilion, Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands Garden, and the Orchard Gardens.
Visitors can meander through paths that wind through arid landscapes, showcasing native plants adapted to the region’s unique climate. The garden’s curated collections of plants, including xeric and low-water use species, highlight the importance of sustainable gardening practices and conservation efforts in the high desert.
In addition to its botanical displays, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden serves as an educational and cultural hub. The Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, a part of the garden, offers a chance to explore a rare cienega ecosystem.
The garden regularly hosts workshops, lectures, and events that engage the community in environmental education and the appreciation of native plants. The Santa Fe Botanical Garden provides a serene and enriching experience for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a deeper connection to the unique landscapes of northern New Mexico.
14. Appreciate tradition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, stands as a testament to the rich and diverse indigenous cultures of the American Southwest. This fascinating museum is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and showcasing the art, history, and cultures of Native American communities.
Housed in a modern facility, the museum’s extensive collection includes artifacts, textiles, pottery, and contemporary art that spans thousands of years of Native American history.
Visitors can explore exhibits that delve into the traditions of Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and other indigenous peoples, providing insights into their artistic expressions, spiritual practices, and daily lives.
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture not only serves as a repository for Native American heritage but also as a dynamic space for cultural dialogue and exchange. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community events, the museum fosters a deeper understanding of the vibrant and diverse cultures that have shaped the Southwest for centuries.
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture ensures that the narratives presented are respectful, accurate, and reflective of the living traditions of the indigenous peoples of the region. It’s one of Santa Fe’s most incredible museums and a must-see when you visit Santa Fe!
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15. Take a day trip to Albuquerque
Embarking on a day trip from Santa Fe to Albuquerque offers a delightful journey through the diverse landscapes and cultural offerings of New Mexico. Albuquerque is full of fun things to do, and it’s only an hour from downtown Santa Fe.
Begin your exploration in Old Town where centuries-old adobe buildings house boutiques, galleries, and the historic San Felipe de Neri Church. Or check out the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science if you’re interested in learning something new.
Take a hot air balloon ride, as Albuquerque is renowned as the “Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World,” providing a unique and breathtaking perspective of the city and its surroundings. Or delve into the cultural tapestry at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where exhibits, performances, and traditional cuisine showcase the heritage of the region’s indigenous peoples.
For nature enthusiasts, the ABQ BioPark offers a captivating blend of a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and Tingley Beach, providing a day of family-friendly exploration. Explore the quirky and vibrant atmosphere of Nob Hill, a trendy district with eclectic shops, cafes, and a nostalgic Route 66 feel.
The Sandia Peak Tramway offers panoramic views of the city and mountains, especially stunning during sunset. To immerse yourself in New Mexican cuisine, embark on a culinary adventure with green chile-infused dishes, traditional tamales, and delicious sopapillas.
A day trip from Santa Fe to Albuquerque offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, providing a memorable exploration of two distinct cities in the Land of Enchantment.
16. Admire the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, located right in the city center of Santa Fe, stands as a majestic symbol of faith and architectural splendor. This iconic cathedral constructed in the late 19th century is a masterpiece of Romanesque Revival architecture and features a distinctive rounded facade and twin towers that dominate the city skyline.
The interior of the cathedral is adorned with stunning religious artwork, including murals, statues, and stained glass windows, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich religious and cultural history of the region.
Within the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, the venerated La Conquistadora statue holds a unique place of reverence. Also known as Our Lady of the Rosary, this sacred image is believed to be the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.
Carved in Spain in the late 1600s, La Conquistadora has been a cherished icon for over three centuries, with a journey that mirrors the complex history of the region. Devotees and pilgrims come to the Cathedral to pay homage to this centuries-old statue, a symbol of faith and continuity that links the spiritual traditions of Santa Fe to its colonial past.
Seeing the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and La Conquistadora is a fascinating experience to have in Santa Fe.
17. Wheelwright Museum
Nestled in the heart of Santa Fe on Museum Hill, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is a cultural gem dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Native American art and history.
Established in 1937 by Mary Cabot Wheelwright, the museum’s mission is rooted in fostering an understanding and appreciation for the diverse artistic traditions of Native communities across the Southwest. The museum’s collection includes an impressive array of Navajo and other Southwestern Native American artworks, ranging from textiles and jewelry to pottery and contemporary art pieces.
Visitors are treated to a rich tapestry of exhibitions that not only showcase the artistic mastery of Native American artisans but also provide insights into the cultural significance and symbolism embedded in their creations.
The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is particularly renowned for its focus on Navajo weaving traditions. The museum’s historic Case Trading Post, an integral part of its campus, is a treasure trove of Navajo rugs, blankets, and textiles.
Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian serves as a vital bridge between Native American communities and a broader audience, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.
The museum’s commitment to preserving and promoting the work of Native American artists makes it a vital institution within Santa Fe’s cultural landscape.
18. Visit the Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors, an enduring symbol of Santa Fe’s rich history, stands prominently on the northern side of the city’s historic Plaza. Constructed in 1610, it is recognized as one of the oldest continuously occupied public buildings in the United States.
Originally serving as the seat of government for the Spanish colony of Santa Fe, the Palace has witnessed centuries of cultural and political transformations, from Spanish colonial rule to Mexican control and eventually becoming a United States territory. The adobe structure, with its long portal and traditional design, is a striking example of Southwestern architecture and provides a tangible link to the region’s complex past.
Today, the Palace of the Governors operates as a museum under the New Mexico History Museum, showcasing a diverse collection of artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that chronicle the history of Santa Fe and the surrounding areas.
The Palace also hosts the daily Portal Program, where Native American artists sell handmade crafts along the historic portal, continuing a tradition that has endured for centuries and contributing to the cultural vibrancy of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza. Checking out the Palace of the Governors is one of the best things to do in Santa Fe.
19. Attend the annual Santa Fe Indian Market
The Santa Fe Indian Market is an annual event that stands as one of the most renowned and prestigious showcases of Native American art and culture. Hosted in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1922, the market attracts artists and collectors from indigenous communities across North America.
Taking place in the historic Santa Fe downtown area and drawing tens of thousands of visitors, the Indian Market transforms the city into a vibrant tapestry of colors, textures, and traditional craftsmanship.
From intricately woven textiles and exquisite pottery to beadwork, jewelry, and contemporary art, the market provides a platform for Native American artists to exhibit and sell their work while fostering cultural exchange and appreciation.
The market extends beyond the display of art, featuring live music performances, traditional dances, and culinary experiences that showcase the rich diversity of Native American traditions. It serves as a significant economic and cultural driver for the participating artists and the broader indigenous community, allowing them to connect with a global audience while preserving and celebrating their unique heritage.
The Santa Fe Indian Market is a testament to the resilience, creativity, and artistic mastery of Native American peoples, creating an immersive and unforgettable experience for both art enthusiasts and those seeking a deeper understanding of indigenous cultures.
20. Go skiing
Many people might not know that skiing is one of the best things to do in Santa Fe! In the winter months, there is enough snow on the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains just outside the city to offer a diverse range of slopes for all skill levels.
Ski Santa Fe is the top resort in the area that provides an ideal winter getaway for enthusiasts seeking pristine powder and breathtaking alpine scenery. With an elevation of over 12,000 feet, Ski Santa Fe has slopes that are renowned for their challenging terrain, steep descents, and ample opportunities for thrilling downhill adventures.
The resort’s modern amenities, including well-groomed trails, high-speed lifts, and professional instructors, contribute to a seamless and enjoyable skiing experience for visitors of all ages.
Beyond the exhilarating runs, Ski Santa Fe offers a charming mountain village atmosphere where skiers can unwind after a day on the slopes. The cozy lodges, complete with roaring fireplaces and panoramic mountain views, provide a perfect setting for relaxation and socializing.
Whether tackling the challenging peaks or enjoying a leisurely day on the bunny slopes, Ski Santa Fe Resort blends the thrill of skiing with the serene beauty of the mountainous landscape.
21. See the San Miguel Chapel
Also one of Santa Fe’s most beloved landmarks, San Miguel Chapel is known to be the oldest church in the United States with roots dating back to the early 17th century.
Constructed around 1610 by Tlaxcalan Indians under the guidance of Spanish Franciscan missionaries, the adobe chapel is a testament to the enduring history of Christianity in the Southwest. San Miguel Chapel’s unassuming exterior belies its historical significance, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in the region’s cultural and religious heritage.
The interior of the chapel features a serene and simple sanctuary, adorned with traditional religious art, wooden vigas, and a wooden altar screen known as a reredos, reflecting the early Spanish colonial influence on the architecture and design.
As a living piece of history, San Miguel Chapel has undergone several renovations over the centuries, preserving its authenticity while ensuring its structural integrity. Visitors can explore the quiet elegance of the chapel and contemplate its role in the early days of Spanish colonization in the Americas.
The chapel, surrounded by a historic cemetery, offers a tranquil retreat in the midst of the vibrant city of Santa Fe. You can combine the San Miguel Chapel with other nearby attractions on a historic downtown self guided walking tour of Santa Fe!
22. Go window shopping on San Francisco Street
San Francisco Street in Santa Fe is a charming and historic thoroughfare that winds through the heart of the city, offering a captivating blend of Southwestern architecture, vibrant shops, and cultural attractions.
Lined with adobe-style buildings, San Francisco St. captures the essence of Santa Fe’s distinctive architectural identity. Visitors can stroll along the sidewalk, taking in the warm hues of the adobe facades, adorned with traditional wooden vigas and wrought-iron details.
San Francisco St. is also home to a diverse array of shops, galleries, and restaurants, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Art galleries showcase a wide range of Southwestern and contemporary art, while boutiques offer unique handcrafted jewelry, textiles, and home decor.
The street’s culinary scene is equally enticing, featuring a variety of restaurants serving traditional New Mexican cuisine, international flavors, and gourmet delights. San Francisco Street is a great place to go sightseeing and window shopping in downtown.
23. See a variety of art at the New Mexico Museum of Art
Another one of the best things to do in Santa Fe is visit the New Mexico Museum of Art, a cultural gem that showcases the diverse artistic heritage of the region.
Established in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico, the museum has played a pivotal role in preserving and presenting the artistic traditions of the Southwest. The museum’s collection includes a wide array of artworks, from traditional Native American and Hispanic art to contemporary pieces that reflect the evolving cultural landscape.
The historic Pueblo Revival-style building itself, designed by Isaac Rapp, is a work of art and seamlessly complements the surrounding adobe architecture of the historic Santa Fe Plaza.
Visitors to the New Mexico Museum of Art can explore rotating exhibitions and permanent collections, or participate in educational programs that delve into the rich artistic history of the region. The museum’s commitment to showcasing a diverse range of voices and perspectives makes it a dynamic hub for cultural exchange and appreciation.
With its prime location on the Plaza, the New Mexico Museum of Art invites both locals and visitors to immerse themselves in the artistic tapestry of Santa Fe.
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24. Browse art and eateries at Santa Fe Railyard
If you’re looking for even more artistic inspiration then visit the Santa Fe Railyard, a vibrant district that combines history, culture, and contemporary creativity.
Once a bustling rail yard dating back to the late 19th century, the area has undergone revitalization and redevelopment, transforming into a lively destination for locals and visitors alike.
The historic Santa Fe Railyard Plaza, surrounded by renovated brick buildings and contemporary structures, serves as a gathering place for events, concerts, and the popular Santa Fe Farmers Market.
The Railyard’s architectural fusion of adobe, steel, and glass pays homage to the area’s rich history while embracing the city’s progressive spirit.
The Santa Fe Railyard is not only a cultural hub but also a thriving arts district. The SITE Santa Fe contemporary art space, housed in a striking building with a distinct triangular shape, showcases cutting-edge exhibitions and installations, contributing to the city’s reputation as a hub for the arts. The Railyard also hosts galleries, shops, and cafes, making it one of the best things to do in Santa Fe!
25. Attend the Annual Traditional Spanish Market
The Traditional Spanish Market in Santa Fe is an annual celebration that transports visitors to the heart of New Mexico’s rich Hispanic and Spanish colonial heritage. Every summer, this market provides an immersive exploration of the region’s Hispanic heritage.
Established in 1926, this vibrant event takes place in late July and features an array of traditional Spanish arts and crafts, including intricate woodcarvings, tinwork, colcha embroidery, and handwoven textiles.
The market, held in the historic heart of Santa Fe, draws talented artisans from New Mexico and surrounding areas, each showcasing their skills in time-honored crafts passed down through generations. Visitors have the opportunity to interact with the artists, learning about the cultural significance and techniques behind each piece, creating a unique and immersive experience.
The Traditional Spanish Market is the oldest and largest market of its kind in the Continental United States!
Where To Stay In Santa Fe, New Mexico
Here are some of your top accommodation options in Santa Fe, with options for all types of budgets!
Best Budget Accommodation: Econo Lodge Inn & Suites
Econo Lodge Inn & Suites is one of the best budget hotels in Santa Fe. Located just southwest of the city center, you can make use of the outdoor pool, free wifi, daily housekeeping, and free continental breakfast.
For travellers looking to save money on their trip to Santa Fe, this is a great option. A room is under $100 USD per night!
Best Mid-Range Accommodation: El Sendero Inn
Part of the Ascend Hotel Collection, El Sendero Inn is located right in downtown Santa Fe on the Old Santa Fe Trail. The location doesn’t get much better than that!
With air-conditioned rooms, a lovely garden and swimming pool, private parking, continental breakfast, and a restaurant on-site, you have everything you need here for a comfortable stay.
Best Luxury Accommodation: Inn on the Alameda
For those looking for an upscale stay in Santa Fe, Inn on the Alameda is one of the city’s top-rated hotels. It has beautiful adobe architecture and styling and is located just a few minutes walk from all the best downtown attractions.
The rooms are cozy, the service is impeccable, and guests particularly love the New Mexico-style hot breakfast on offer. It’s a lovely and safe place to stay right in the heart of Santa Fe.
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