Itching for a one-of-a-kind vacation full of dazzling colors and wondrous historic sites? Artistic and colorful, Santa Fe beckons flocks of travelers every year, thanks to a unique blend of attractions and diversions. With a multitude of outdoorsy things to do in Santa Fe, the city is truly a paradise for adventure junkies. Nicknamed aptly as the “City Different”, Santa Fe also impresses visitors with an array of unusual ingredients, such as a vibrant arts scene, Gothic cathedrals and a chile-infused game-changing cuisine. And, with a collection of 16th-century Spanish-influenced buildings, the city preserves a historic charm as well, offering more options for things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Need some tips and information on what to do in Santa Fe, Mexico? Don’t know where to go in Santa Fe? Experience a smashing and unforgettable adventure with our list of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1. Explore Canyon Road
What is Santa Fe, New Mexico known for? Well, the city has a plethora treasures, from its scenic natural beauty to its long history. And, one of the things it’s known for is its world-class art. Highlighting the city’s evolving and dramatic landscape, the dazzling works and masterpieces of artists like Gustave Baumaan and Georgia O’Keeffe fill the Santa Fe art galleries.
You can find most of these renowned artistic creations along Canyon Road – a beautiful gallery-lined strip in Santa Fe. Billed as an art lover’s mecca, the road has a range of mediums built to showcase art. Here, you’ll get a chance to visit over 50 galleries selling famous artworks from beloved artists. To make things even better, Canyon Road offers tons of cultural gems, including Southwestern wood carvings, hand-woven Navajo rugs and pottery.
Of course, the road is a feast for the eyes as well, meaning it’s one of the best things to do in Santa Fe for shutterbugs. Here, you’ll get to lay eyes on historic adobe buildings adored with art installations and brilliantly colored flowers.
2. Visit The New Mexico Museum of Art
Speaking of artsy things to do in Santa Fe, don’t forget to swing by the New Mexico Museum of Art on your getaway. Known formerly as the Museum of Fine Arts, this treasure trove is the state’s oldest art museum, exhibiting a ton of contemporary, regional and traditional artworks. Home to more than 20,000 remarkable art works, the museum flaunts creations by Southwestern artists as well as contemporary geniuses.
Modern art collections include creations by the legendary Georgia O’Keeffe, Jane Reeves, Lucy Lippard and Gustave Baumann. As an added bonus, the museum also has fabulous traditional pueblo-style architecture. As a matter of fact, it portrayed an important role in the revival of pueblo Spanish architecture. As far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely a can’t-miss experience that should be on your list of things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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3. Be mesmerized by the Liquid Light Glass
The Liquid Light Glass, opened in 1986, is a visually appealing hub for glass-blown vases, ornaments, sculptures and art. You can make a stopover at the studio to watch Elodie Holmes – the owner and founder – create stunning and colorful glass art. And, if you want to up the ante, you may sign up and join a glass-blowing class, which is something I highly recommend.
4. Swing by Kakawa Chocolate House
Got a sweet tooth and looking for some delightful things to do in Santa Fe, NM? Why not pay a visit to the Kakawa Chocolate House? A pleasant delight for chocolate lovers, Kakawa is artisanal chocolate Santa Fe company that creates and sells homemade ice-cream, rich chocolate drinks and admirable handmade chocolates. Drawing inspiration from the long history of chocolate, the company meshes Colonial and Mesoamerican chocolate recipes with seasonal and fresh ingredients to create innovate and new delights.
5. Ice skiing
Wondering what is there to do in Santa Fe in winter? Searching for cool and thrilling wintry things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico? Surprisingly, New Mexico houses some of the finest ski spots in the Southwest. Normally, the ski season here starts from late fall and ends in early spring, with a ton of resorts seeing mover 200 inches of snow every year. There are a few major ski areas in NM that are a short drive from Santa Fe, including Taos Ski Valley, Sipapau Ski and Summer Resort, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and Ski Santa Fe.
6. See the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Even if you’re not overly religious, you won’t regret visiting this cathedral. With its beautiful architecture, it’s easy to see why people call it as one of the best attractions and things to do in Santa Fe, NM. A perfect example of Romanesque Revival architecture, this cathedral dazzles with its square towers, rounded arches and Corinthian columns. In addition, the cathedral has simple yet impressive interiors, enhanced by wondrous features like delicate woodwork, French stained glass and a granite baptismal font.
7. Check out Santa Fe Farmer’s Market
Want to score fresh produce and great finds when visiting the city? Looking for things to do in Santa Fe that will let you see the city from a local’s perspective? Available year-round, this energetic and pulsating event is a great way to dive into the Santa Fe local community. Established in 1960s, it is today the largest farmer’s market in New Mexico, and represents over a hundred growers featuring an awesome range of produce that you won’t find in a typical American supermarket.
8. Experience Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return
Created by dozens of artists, the immersive, colorful and sprawling multimedia art installation is the stuff of childhood imaginations and psychedelic trips. Offbeat and quirky, this eccentric display looks nothing like the vivid landscape paintings that you will find in most art museums in Santa Fe. If you’re into extraordinary experiences, this should be on your travel itinerary and personal list of things to do in Santa Fe.
9. Experience The Santa Fe Opera
They don’t call the Santa Fe Opera as one of the top attractions and things to do in Santa Fe for nothing. Trust me, the venue will give you a fascinating music experience that you’ll remember for years to come. Not only is it a brilliant piece of contemporary architecture, but it also boasts lavish productions showcasing the world’s finest opera stars.
10. Wander around Santa Fe Plaza
The Santa Fe Plaza has been the city’s cultural hub, serving as a host to fandangos and bullfights, ever since the city was founded in 1610. Today, the plaza remains the epicenter of the city’s affairs, from the Santa Fe Fiesta in September to live music. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the plaza also regularly hosts Spanish and Indian markets, in addition to the community gatherings and concerts.
The place buzzes with activity, almost every night, with people checking out souvenir shops, perusing galleries and hitting restaurants. And since it’s surrounded by a bunch of buildings and landmarks, it makes a great place for a little sightseeing in Santa Fe as well. Of course, sightseeing costs nothing, making it one of the best free things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
11. Support artisans via Folk Art Market
Can’t get enough of the artistic attractions and things to do in Santa Fe, NM? I suggest that you head to the Folk Art Market! Unlike the other galleries and attractions in Santa Fe, the market strongly promotes intercultural exchange by allowing guests to directly buy distinctive artwork from artisans. The sales will benefit the artists as well as help sustain their respective communities all over the world. And you get to do all that, while appeasing yourself with delicious food and striking scenery.
12. Visit the Cross of the Martyrs Park at sunset
One of the best things to do in Santa Fe is to savor the breathtaking sunset at the Cross of the Martyrs Park. In addition to the great views, the place will give you a sense of the city’s heritage with historic plaques placed perfectly along the ascension.
13. Stop by Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Named after one of the 20th century’s most important artists, the museum is designed to inspire all future and current generations. The treasure trove advances, presents and preserves Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy and modernism through research, education and innovative public engagement. Once you’ve wrapped up your visit in this museum, you’ll feel the urge to visit her house at Ghost Ranch.
14. See the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
Here’s another suggestion that you may want to put into your list of things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. More than just an art museum, this place will take you back 300 years ago in New Mexico by exhibiting the grace and soul of the Spanish life. The recreated rooms, furniture, bultos and rare santos will give you a pleasant glimpse of the past in New Mexico.
15. Decipher the messages at La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site
Up for some Indiana Jones-like things to do in Santa Fe? The La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site flaunts archaeological gems begging to be deciphered by curious travelers visiting the city. Every message has a story and meaning, but you’ve got to figure them out on your own.
16. Explore Randall Davey Audubon Center
For nature walks and bird-watching tours in Santa Fe, head to Upper Canyon Road’s 130-acre Randall Davey Audubon Center. Not only does it have a peaceful setting, but it has an intriguing history too, meaning it’s a terrific addition to your options of things to do in Santa Fe. Surrounded by forests and located in the Santa Fe River, the center also sees about 120 different bird species. Visitors can hike the trails on their own or hire a guided to learn more about the center and its charming inhabitants.
17. Eat a smorgasbord of tasty dishes
There’s no shortage of awesome restaurants in Santa Fe. My top picks include the Rooftop Pizzeria, Compound Restaurant and Jambo Café. For those who want some spicy treats, make your way to Tomasitas, one of the oldest restaurants in Santa Fe, serving classic New Mexican food for more than 40 years.
18. Experience a night adventure like no other
See the gleaming and breathtaking night sky in New Mexico with a stargazing tour from operators like Astronomy Adventure. For decades, this company has been star-spotting as well as offering entertaining and educational guided night tours. Experience the awe-inspiring charm of the twinkling stars on a beautiful pitch-black canvas without the city light interruptions.
19. Go on a shopping spree at the Traveler’s Market
Are you a shopaholic who’s searching for some cool things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico? Then, make sure to include the Traveler’s Market to your Santa Fe travel itinerary! Full of merchandise from all corners of the world, it’s truly an extraordinary bazaar sans the chaos. Here, you get find a wide variety of goods, including oddities, books, fabrics, pottery, toys, jewelry and even Oriental Carpets.
20. Hike or bike the Dale Ball Trails
Outdoor adventurists and nature photographers will love the Dale Ball Trails. After all, it has 20 miles of unpaved and paved hiking as well as biking trails with plenty of fabulous desert and mountain views. For me, it’s one of the best and coolest things to do in Santa Fe, especially to those who are into nature escapades.
21. Make a pit stop at San Miguel Mission Chapel
No list of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico is complete without the inclusion of San Miguel Mission Chapel. Built originally in 1636, the chapel is one of the country’s oldest religious buildings, and by far the oldest of its kind in the city. Additionally, the church houses a high altar, unique art works, and a number of towering statues. And, by the way, the chapel’s adobe architecture seems to change its color throughout the day, as the sun strikes at the chapel at different angles.
22. Experience the dynamic Santa Fe festivals
The city hosts a seemingly endless series of celebrations, festivals and community fairs. For a memorable experience, check out the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta, Santa Fe Film Festival, Farolito Walk, Thirsty Ear Music Festival and Las Posadas.
23. Snap a bunch of photos of Santuario de Guadalupe
A celebrated musical venue, this sanctuary is certainly a terrific model of Spanish Colonial architecture and exhibits a nice collection of religious artworks. And, did I mention that it’s free to visit? So, don’t forget to include this site to your personal list of free things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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