Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe is a bustling city with a rich history and cultural heritage. Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States, and its Spanish colonial architecture is a sight to behold.
The city is also home to a lively arts scene, with dozens of galleries and museums to explore. And of course, no visit to Santa Fe would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. New Mexican food is renowned for its use of fresh ingredients and bold flavors, and Santa Fe has no shortage of great restaurants to choose from.
Whether you’re looking to soak up some history or enjoy the best that New Mexico has to offer, a visit to Santa Fe is sure to leave you with lasting memories. Not to mention, it’s only about an hour away from Albuquerque if you’re planning a quick day trip.
To help plan your trip, here is our list of the 20 best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1) Santa Fe Plaza
The Santa Fe Plaza is the central plaza of the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is located at the junction of Guadalupe and San Francisco Streets, two of the city’s main north-south thoroughfares.
The plaza has been the center of Santa Fe life since the city was founded in 1610. It is home to several important public buildings, including the Palace of the Governors, which has served as the seat of government for the state of New Mexico.
The plaza is also a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike, with its many shops, restaurants, and galleries. Throughout the year, the plaza plays host to a variety of events and activities, from farmers’ markets to art fairs to live music.
2) New Mexico Museum of Art
The New Mexico Museum of Art is one of the oldest art museums in the United States. It was founded in 1917 by a group of artists who wanted to promote the work of artists from New Mexico.
Today, the museum houses a collection of more than 20,000 works of art, ranging from prehistoric to modern. The museum is also home to a library and archives, which contain documents and photographs related to the history of art in New Mexico.
In addition to its permanent collection, the New Mexico Museum of Art also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions typically feature work by contemporary artists, as well as work that is related to the museum’s collection.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. Admission to the museum is free.
3) Canyon Road
Every year, thousands of people flock to Canyon Road in Santa Fe, in search of a unique shopping experience. Nestled in the heart of the city’s historic district, the street is home to more than 100 galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
Visitors can find everything from traditional Native American artifacts to contemporary art pieces. Canyon Road is also a popular spot for live music and street performers. Whether you’re looking for a souvenir or just want to take in the sights and sounds of Santa Fe, Canyon Road is definitely worth a visit.
4) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe is a must-see for anyone interested in the life and work of this iconic American artist. The museum houses the largest collection of O’Keeffe’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures, as well as a trove of personal belongings and correspondence.
Visitors can also explore O’Keeffe’s home and studio, which have been preserved as they were during her lifetime. The museum offers a variety of tours and programs, making it an ideal place to learn more about this fascinating artist and her unique vision.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or just getting to know her work, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is sure to offer a memorable experience.
5) Santa Fe Farmers Market
The Santa Fe Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm at the Santa Fe Railyard Park. Located just off the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the market features fresh produce, food trucks, live music, and more.
Featuring over 150 vendors, the market has something for everyone. Visitors can find locally grown produce, New Mexico-made cheese and honey, and a variety of artisan goods.
The market also features a wide selection of food trucks, serving everything from breakfast burritos to wood-fired pizza. In addition to the delicious food, the market also offers live music and entertainment for the whole family. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is the perfect place to spend a Saturday morning in Santa Fe.
6) Meow WOlf
Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience located in Santa Fe (there are exhibits in Las Vegas and Denver too). Founded in 2008 by a group of artists, the installation features a unique blend of art, music, and storytelling.
Visitors are free to explore the installation at their own pace, and there is no specific route that needs to be followed. Instead, guests are encouraged to discover the many different rooms and secret passages that make up the exhibit. With its maze-like design and interactive elements, Meow Wolf provides a truly one-of-a-kind experience that is unlike anything else in the world.
In addition to its main installation, Meow Wolf also operates several smaller galleries and performance spaces throughout Santa Fe. Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or a first-time visitor, Meow Wolf is sure to leave you with lasting memories.
7) Ski Santa Fe
Ski Santa Fe is a ski resort situated on the southernmost tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and offers views of the Santa Fe Valley. Ski Santa Fe features a variety of terrain, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails.
The resort also has a terrain park and Mogul field for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. In addition, Ski Santa Fe offers a variety of amenities, such as a ski school, rental shop, and daycare center. Ski Santa Fe is open from late November to early April and receives an average of 200+ inches of snow each season.
8) Bandalier National monument
Bandelier National Monument is a 33,677-acre park located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The park is home to a variety of archaeological sites, including the ruins of an Ancestral Puebloan village.
Visitors to the park can explore ancient dwellings, petroglyphs, and cave art. They can also hike through lush forests and on volcanic landscapes. Bandelier National Monument is open year-round and offers a variety of ranger-led programs. In addition, the park recently reopened its Visitor Center, which features exhibits on the area’s history and culture.
9) Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art is a treasure trove of global culture, located in the heart of Santa Fe. With a mission to “collect, conserve, document, and interpret the traditional arts and humanities of all nations,” the museum is home to an impressive collection of folk art from around the world.
The permanent collection includes more than 130,000 objects, ranging from textiles and paintings to carved wooden masks and jewelry. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions, featuring both traditional and contemporary folk art.
Whether you’re interested in learning about the traditions of other cultures or simply admiring the beauty of handmade art, a visit to the Museum of International Folk Art is sure to be a memorable experience.
10) Santa fe Opera
The Santa Fe Opera is one of the most well-known and respected opera companies in the United States. It was founded in 1956 by John Crosby, and it has been presenting operas in repertory each summer since 1957.
The company’s mission is to enrich the lives of the people of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico by presenting the finest quality musical theatre. The company achieves this by commissioning and producing new works, reviving neglected works, and presenting a wide variety of operas from the standard repertoire.
The Santa Fe Opera is renowned for its beautiful setting, nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The open-air theatre has 2,128 seats and is surrounded by a landscaped plaza with fountains and sculptures. The company also has an extensive education and outreach program that reaches over 10,000 students each year. The Santa Fe Opera is truly a gem of the American opera scene.
11) El Rancho de las Golondrinas
El Rancho de las Golondrinas, or “The Ranch of the Swallows”, is a living history museum located in Santa Fe. The ranch dates back to the 18th century, when it was founded as a stopping point for travelers along the Camino Real.
Today, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities that showcase life on a typical Spanish rancho. These include demonstrations of traditional trades such as sheep shearing and blacksmithing, as well as classes on topics like cooking and basket weaving. T
here are also a number of festive events held throughout the year, such as fiesta days and Christmas parties. Whether you’re interested in history or just looking for a unique day out, El Rancho de las Golondrinas is definitely worth a visit.
12) Nedra Matteucci Galleries
The Nedra Matteucci Galleries are located in the historic district of Santa Fe. The galleries feature a wide range of contemporary and traditional art, with a focus on American Indian and Western art. The galleries also host a variety of events throughout the year, including educational lectures and workshops.
In addition to its artwork, the Nedra Matteucci Galleries is also known for its support of local artists. The galleries frequently host exhibitions of work by local artists, and they also offer a number of scholarships and fellowships for artists living in the Santa Fe area. As a result, the Nedra Matteucci Galleries play an important role in promoting the arts in Santa Fe.
13) Go Brewery Hopping
Santa Fe is home to a thriving brewing scene, with dozens of breweries dotted around the city. And with so many options to choose from, beer lovers will be spoiled for choice when it comes to brewery hopping.
One of the best things about Santa Fe’s breweries is the variety on offer. From small batch craft breweries to large-scale production facilities, there’s something for everyone. And with a vibrant local food culture, you’ll be able to find plenty of great places to eat and drink while you’re out exploring the city’s breweries.
So whether you’re a beer lover or just looking for something different to do in Santa Fe, make sure you add some brewery hopping to your itinerary. Some of the best breweries can be found here.
Zozobra, also known as Old Man Gloom, is a large puppet that is burned during the annual Fiesta de Santa Fe in New Mexico. The burning of Zozobra is thought to represent the end of summer and the beginning of fall.
Zozobra is constructed from a variety of materials, including paper mache, cloth, and wood. He is typically about 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The first Zozobra was created in 1924 by artist Will Shuster. Every year since, a new Zozobra has been built.
The burning of Zozobra has become a beloved tradition among locals and visitors alike. If you find yourself in Santa Fe during the Fiesta de Santa Fe, be sure to check out this unique event.
15) Loretto Chapel
Loretto Chapel is a historic Catholic chapel located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The chapel was built in 1878 and is best known for its unique spiral staircase, which was constructed without the use of nails or supports.
The staircase is said to have been built by St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and it has become a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike. Visitors to the chapel can explore the main floor and climb the staircase for a closer view of the intricate workmanship. Loretto Chapel is open to the public daily, and Mass is still held there on Sundays.
16) WheelWright Museum
The Wheelwright Museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Native American arts and cultures. The museum offers a variety of ways for visitors to learn about the rich history and traditions of Native Americans.
The museum’s permanent collection features a wide range of artifacts, including pottery, beadwork, baskets, and clothing. In addition, the museum offers a variety of educational programs and events that are perfect for families or groups. The Wheelwright Museum is a great place to learn about the diverse cultures of Native Americans.
17) Basilica of Saint Francis
The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is a Roman Catholic church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is the oldest church in the United States and is a National Historic Landmark. The basilica was built between 1869 and 1886, and its architect was Antoine Gulielmi.
The basilica is home to a community of Franciscan friars and also houses a museum. The museum contains artifacts from the early days of the church, as well as a collection of religious art. Visitors to the basilica can also see the remains of Saint Francis of Assisi, who is buried in the crypt beneath the church. The basilica is open to the public daily, and Mass is celebrated every Sunday.
18) New Mexico History Museum
The New Mexico History Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the American Southwest. The museum chronicles the history of the region from the early days of Spanish exploration to the present, with a special focus on the state of New Mexico.
Highlights include an interactive exhibit on the Santa Fe Trail, a recreation of an old trading post, and a gallery devoted to the history of the Pueblo people. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions, lectures, and events. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something to do on a rainy day, the New Mexico History Museum is sure to educate and entertain.
19) Check out one of the Hot SPrings near Santa Fe
Santa Fe is home to some of the most beautiful hot springs in the country and has several world-class spas that offer visitors the chance to relax and rejuvenate in natural therapeutic waters.
Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort experience or a more budget-friendly option, there’s a hot springs spa in Santa Fe that’s perfect for you. So if you’re looking to get away from it all and soak up some of New Mexico’s natural beauty, be sure to check out one of the hot springs spas in Santa Fe.
20) Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States, having been home to the state’s governors since 1610.
Today, the Palace is a museum that tells the story of Santa Fe’s rich history. Visitors can see how the Palace has evolved over time from a simple adobe structure (adobe buildings are a signature of Santa Fe architecture).
They can also learn about the people who have called the Palace home, including Spanish governors, Mexican officials, and American territorial governors. With its unique blend of history and architecture, the Palace of the Governors is a must-see for anyone visiting Santa Fe.
Recap of the Best Things to do in Santa Fe
- New Mexico Museum of Art
- Santa Fe Plaza
- Canyon Road
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
- Santa Fe Farmers Market
- Meow Wolf
- Ski Santa Fe
- Museum of International Folk Art
- Bandalier National monument
- Santa Fe Opera
- El Rancho de las Golondrinas
- Brewery Hopping
- Nedra Matteucci Galleries
- Loretto Chapel
- Wheelwright Museum
- Basilica of Saint Francis
- New Mexico History Museum
- Hot Springs
- Palace of the Govern
Where to Next?
Looking for a charming city in the heart of West Tennessee? Check out Jackson, Tennessee!
Is the midwest more your speed? Then Appleton, WI could be the perfect place for you!
For a small-city feel with plenty to do, be sure to check out Allentown, Pennsylvania!