You might not know it but Santa Fe could just be the artsiest US destination. It is definitely a paradise for culture buffs, thanks to its historic monuments and the plethora of art galleries and public museums.
Santa Fe and its surrounding mountain range is also the rendez-vous for nature-lovers looking for refreshing camping sites, and for adventurers here to bike and hike in the rustic Southwestern forest trails.
There are over 30 sites in Santa Fe popular among TripAdvisor users. Here, we break them down to the 10 essential things to do in Santa Fe.
1. Santa Fe Plaza
Just like the Mexican zocalos, the Santa Fe Plaza is the epicenter of the city and its cultural hub. The plaza is always bursting of life around the art galleries, restaurants, and the historic sites. The city’s top attractions are at walking distance from there. Be sure to visit the Museum of Folk Art, the Saint Francis Cathedral, and every single location in this list.
2. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Georgia O’Keeffe has to be the most prominent Southwestern artist ever. She relocated from the East Coast to Santa Fe where she dedicated her work and life to immortalizing the raw beauty of the New Mexico landscapes.
The George O’Keefe Museum has the largest O’Keefe collection in the world, including her famous paintings of enlarged flowers and thousands of drawings, and landscapes. Take behind-the-scenes tours of the museum, the artist’s home and studio, courtesy of Travefy and 1000Museums. All you have to do is enter our sweepstakes.
3. Palace of the Governors
Originally the New Mexico Capitol, the Palace of the Governors, nowadays, showcases more than four centuries of the tumultuous history of this state. The 1600s’ original artifacts take visitors back to the period of the Santa Fe Trail and that of the only successful Native-American uprising on records.
The Palace of the Governors is part of the New Mexico History Museum and for $9 and the available guided tours, you will find the visit to be more than culturally-enriching.
4. Santa Fe Farmers’ Market
Museums are great but if you want to experience the living culture of Santa Fe, you have to check out the Farmers’ Market. Located near the Santa Fe Plaza, the market comes to life on Saturday mornings year round. It is the place to see locals going by their daily routine and to sample the best of locally-grown produce of all sorts. It is also the place to try out local treats, including the local chile salsas and spicy treats.
5. Canyon Road
Canyon Road is why Santa Fe is such an attractive destination for art buffs. But honestly, it is also an attraction that caters to foodies and the architecture-savvy. Here, fine eateries and furnished art galleries mingle within Santa-Fe-style buildings of exquisite beauty. A stroll down Canyon Road will be a feast of all your senses.
6. Pecos Wilderness
The mountains surrounding Santa Fe are part of the Sangre de Cristo Range which separates Colorado and New Mexico. The Santa Fe Mountains features a couple of prominent peaks such as the Truchas Peak and the Santa Fe Baldy which are both delights to climbers.
The Pecos Wilderness is part of Santa Fe National Forest. This protected wilderness area homes the Pecos River and many picturesque hiking trails. It is easy to understand why the Pecos Wilderness has long been a gorgeous haven for backpackers and weekend adventurers.
7. La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel
The oldest hotel of Santa Fe sits on the historic Santa Fe Trail, in the historic heart of the city. The building dates back to the 1920s but has been constantly renovated to meet the highest standards of sophistication. Amenities include spa treatments, fitness installations, business centers, and more.
Choose a room with a terrace and you will have a preferred view on the Santa Fe Plaza and its surroundings. Plus, the in-house restaurant Plazuela is a beautifully-decorated venue with both patio and dining room offering a unforgettable dining experience for every budget.
8. Ski Santa Fe
With sunny days all year long and snow-capped mountains, there is no reason not to hit the slopes in the Southwest. The Ski Santa Fe resort opens from late fall to early spring with enough powders to attract winter sports lovers nationwide. Check out their website for more info.
Ski Santa Fe is in the heart of the Santa Fe National Forest on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In this fairy-tale setting, visitors will find all the amenities they need to tackle the 60+ runs scattered over more than 500 acres — including shops and a restaurant perched half-way on the mountain.
9. Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretto
Luminaria Restaurant and Patio perfectly combines the casual and the elegant. The decor is a feast for the eye with a tasteful combination of wooden chairs, charcoal walls, and other rustic elements that make the Southwestern charm.
During warmer days, patrons will be delighted by the outdoor patio set near a verdant garden only illuminated at night by stars and hanging lanterns.
Lumina is located in the renowned Inn and Spa at Loretto, and provide the best gastronomic experience of Santa Fe.
10. Santa Fe School of Cooking
Yes, a cooking class in Santa Fe. You will surprise to find this hidden Santa Fe gem to be the highlight of your visit in the SouthWest. Cooking classes are a definitive offbeat romantic date idea and they provide a skill everyone should acquire.
Learn the secrets of Southwestern food preparation from some of the best chefs in the country. The Santa Fe School of Cooking has many activities available from restaurant tours to extensive 3-day courses to outdoor summer classes set in the beautiful Estrella del Norte vineyard.
Interested in experiencing any of these? Enter our Santa Fe sweepstakes now for a chance to win a luxury weekend for two in the Santa Fe. What are your favorite things to do in Santa Fe?