Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of the most scenic and culturally rich areas in the Southwest. Offering a mixture of Spanish, Native American and colonial influences, it’s known for its Pueblo style architecture, local crafts and incredible landscapes.
Highlights of Santa Fe
- The Plaza -This is the center of the city for shopping and sightseeing. It’s the home of historic buildings such as the Palace of the Governors and many shops, museums, cafes and restaurants.
- Outdoor Adventures -Once you leave the city, you can explore lots of beautiful landscapes. There are several touring companies that can help you get the most out this unique area. Santa Fe Walkabouts offers hiking, mountain biking and 4WD tours. If you want to explore the area by water, Santa Fe Rafting Company has full and half day river trips. Santa Fe Jeep Tours provides exciting tours to destinations such as Diablo Canyon.
- Museums and Historical Attractions -Santa Fe is extremely rich in history, so you’ll probably want to check out a museum or two. New Mexico History Museum, right in The Plaza, is a good place to begin for an overview of the area’s culture and history. If you’re interested in Native American culture, you’ll want to see the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, which has more than 40,000 artifacts. The Museum of International Folk Art has works and exhibits by artists from more than 100 countries.
- Art Galleries -Santa Fe is renowned for its art galleries and craft shops. There are way too many to list, but if you’re an arts enthusiast you should definitely leave a few hours for browsing in these galleries. A few of the notable ones include Davis Mather Folk Art Gallery, Keshi, Nedra Matteucci Galleries and Rainbow Man.
- Santa Fe Farmer’s Market - While farmer’s markets can be found almost everywhere today, the one in Santa Fe is especially rich in, not only local foods and produce but also in local arts and crafts. It’s open Tuesday and Saturday mornings.
Dining and Nightlife
Santa Fe, as you might expect, is a great place to find authentic Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. You can, however, find many other options as well. The following is a small sampling of some of the area’s finer restaurants and places to find nightlife.
- The Famous Plaza Cafe lives up to its name, as it’s a popular restaurant right on The Plaza. It has a variety of American and Southwestern options, from turkey burgers to green chili stew to cashew chicken.
- La Boca, on W. Marcy Street, is a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant offering their unique interpretations of what they call “Nuevo Latino Cuisine,” such as a full tapas menu. They also have a great selection of beer and wine as well as live music.
- Raaga, on Aqua Fria Street, is one of Santa Fe’s premier choices for Indian cuisine. It has won several awards under chef Paddy Rawal, who offers meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes mild, medium or hot.
- One of the best restaurants in town, Geronimo, on Canyon Road, has an elegant atmosphere and a contemporary American and international menu, with delicious offerings such as Spice Rubbed Roasted Game Hen, Seared Maine Diver Scallops, New Mexico Four Corners Grilled Rack of Lamb and many others.
- For expertly prepared authentic Mexican food, try Mucho Gusto, on Paseo de Peralta, offers a good selection of Mexican dishes such as burritos, chalupas, fajitas, enchiladas and more.
For entertainment and nightlife, you can attend one of Santa Fe’s many theaters or concert halls, such as Santa Fe Opera House, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus or the Santa Fe Playhouse, to name a few.
Bars and clubs offering a lively nightlife scene include Evangelo’s on W. San Francisco St., which often has jazz and blues music; The Dragon Room Bar, downtown on Old Santa Fe Trail at the Pink Adobe (an historic inn), named the top bar in Santa Fe by the Santa Fe Reporter and La Fiesta Lounge, downtown on E. San Francisco St., where you can get food and drinks and sometimes hear country music.
Where to Stay
If you want to stay in a lovely historic hotel right on The Plaza, there’s La Fonda on the Plaza. Aside from the convenient location, the hotel offers Southwestern decor, spacious rooms and a hop rooftop bar.
Inn of the Five Graces, on E. de Vargas St., offers exotically decorated rooms in styles ranging from Southwestern to Arabian to Tibetan. There’s a restaurant and fitness center and you can get rooms with kitchenettes if you want to do some of your own cooking.
Another nice choice is the Native American-owned Hotel Santa Fe, The Hacienda on Paseo de Peralta, which is also full of amenities such as a fitness center, pool, restaurant and bar, as well as free shuttles to downtown.
For budget hotels, you also have quite a few choices. There are at least three basic but comfortable hotels on Cerrillos Road: Silver Saddle Motel, Econo Lodge Inn & Suites and Santa Fe Comfort Inn, all offering good value and not too far from the main drag.
If you’d prefer to stay at a quaint inn or B & B, some of your choices include Inn of the Turquoise Bear, in a beautiful historic home near The Plaza. Among other amenities, the owners provide guests with a special smoothie each morning; Four Kachinas Inn, on Webber St., with beautifully decorated rooms in a quiet neighborhood not far from downtown; and Dunshee’s on Acequia Madre, a quiet and peaceful spot that’s also close to shopping areas on Canyon Road.