Santa Fe building exterior
North America,  Plan,  Travel,  Travel Guides

Eye-opening Things to Do in Santa Fe

Located in New Mexico, USA, Santa Fe is the place to go for all things art. From upscale art galleries on Canyon Road to alternative explorable experiences, Santa Fe has everything you need for a vacation full of art and culture. Tour art galleries, enjoy amazing food and explore art exhibits that take you to another world.

There are so many things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico but this list will help narrow it down. If you want to plan a vacation that feels like no other, check out NM. Here are eye-opening things to do when visiting Santa Fe:

This post is NOT sponsored. Some product links are affiliate links which means if you buy something, I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! To learn more, visit http://paidforadvertising.com/

Check out the United States Oldest Capital: The Roundhouse

Located in downtown Santa Fe, the Roundhouse is New Mexico’s capital building. Stop by the State Capitol for a complimentary self-guided art tour (guided tours are available by appointment). In this collection, you will find contemporary masterworks by artists who live and work in New Mexico. Formed in the Zia sun symbol, the capitol building is a great place to start your walking tour of Santa Fe.

Visit 0ne of the Oldest Houses in the United States

Then, continue walking north on Old Santa Fe trail to De Vargas St, where you will find one of the oldest houses in the United States. This 800-year-old adobe building is now a small museum. Inside you can tour two small rooms (no fee). Catch a glimpse of Spanish colonial life before entering a gift shop. Those interested in Indigenous life should consider a visit to Acoma or Taos Pueblo, where you will find even older houses.

Check Hotel Rates in Santa Fe >

See Santa Fe’s Miraculous Staircase – No Nails Needed

At this point, you should stop by the Loretto Chapel. This is your chance to view one of Santa Fe’s miracles. Inside this chapel, you will find a spiral staircase built in 1878 without any nails.

There is an admittance fee ($3-5), which allows you to see the miraculous staircase in person (Guests of the Loretto Inn have complimentary access). This low fee is worth the price as the chapel is beautiful! & of course, you exit through a gift shop.

Support Local Indigenous Artists at the Santa Fe Plaza

Next, stop at the Plaza with your wallet. The Santa Fe Plaza has a long history, from the Pueblo Revolt to Civil War and modern-day protests, this space is where things happen. This spot turns into vendor booths during annual festivals. Consider visiting during Santa Fe’s Indian or Spanish Market. Sit down and enjoy some eccentric people-watching at the Plaza.

Check out the Northside of the plaza, where Indigenous artists sell their works under the shade of the Palace of the Governors. This is one of the best spots to purchase local Indigenous jewelry that you won’t necessarily find in an art gallery. Stop here for turquoise earrings, bracelets, and other silverwork from locals. Many will take cards, but cash is king when it comes to supporting local artisans.

Check Hotel Rates in Santa Fe >

Learn About the Art History of NM

Of course, a trip to Santa Fe would not be complete without some art. Start at the New Mexico Museum of Art to see the state’s artistic heritage from pre-Conquest to our present day. Then visit the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA). Many prominent contemporary Native artists exhibit work there.

Or visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to see the work of a famous US artist. You don’t have to visit Canyon Road to experience art in Santa Fe. No shame if you head out that way and find your next piece for your home.

Santa Fe Explorable Art Exhibit
meowgarita at meow wolf santa fe

Visit Meow Wolf, Santa Fe’s Original Explorable Art Exhibit

Finally, a stop at Santa Fe’s immersive art exhibit Meow Wolf is a must. This exhibit was started by artists who felt like they did not fit into Santa Fe’s gallery arts world. Meow Wolf used an old bowling alley for their alternative art exhibit. Plus, it is backed by Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin.

With over 70 rooms to explore, you can turn this into an all-day thing or do a walk-through. When you look a little closer, there is an underlying story with a mystery to solve. Look out for Nimsesku or hop through some portals! Then grab a Meowgarita at the Float Café & Bar. If you are visiting when Meow Wolf hosts a music show, even better! The building closes early and show attendees are allowed to tour the art exhibit without crowds. Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf is a must-see on your trip (and it is recommended for all ages! My 3-year-old niece LOVED it).

Check Hotel Rates in Santa Fe >

Adding art and history to your next trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico is a must. Whether you love the history and art of museums or explorable options, there is something for everyone. There are so many things to do in Santa Fe! These steps will start you on the right foot.

Support the locals, buy native art from the Indigenous people there, and be prepared for hot chile. Santa Fe is the place to visit for all things art and culture. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Check Hotel Rates in Santa Fe >

The Basics – Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Best Time to Visit:  

All these activities can be done year-round.

How to Get There:

Fly into ABQ and drive about 1 hour north or take the Rail Runner, which ends about a half-mile from the plaza.

Fly into Santa Fe Regional Airport (Denver & Dallas only via American or United), shuttles are available from this airport, call ahead for reservations.

Getting Around:

Rent a Car – Metered parking available, download the ParkMobile App for downtown & railyard area.

Bike – Not recommended until the city installs protected bike lanes. There are plenty of sweet MTB trails in the area though!

Public Transportation System – Santa Fe Trails (ensure you have single dollar bills for this!) to get around Santa Fe, or Santa Fe Pickup for complimentary service to downtown, Museum Hill and Canyon Road.

Currency:

$USD

Language:

English, locals speak Spanglish (a combo of Spanish & English)

Accommodations:

Hotel Santa Fe (Indigenous-owned, Picuris Pueblo) Check Hotel Rates

La Fonda (the oldest hotel corner in America) Check Hotel Rates

Hotel St. Francis (Guests must be 21+ to make reservations) Check Hotel Rates

What to Eat:

Breakfast Burrito or Huevos Rancheros from Tia Sophia’s

Carne Adovada Plate and a Silver Coin Margarita from The Shed (Gluten-free & Vegan items clearly marked, the Shed’s red chile is amazing) 

A Frito Pie Anthony Bourdain would actually approve of from Del Charro

Craft Ice Cream from La Lecheria

Save This Post on Pinterest:

10 Comments

  • Emma

    New Mexico is definitely a place I’d love to explore. The architecture and mix of culture looks really intriguing and I like the sound of the art galleries

  • Wendy Lynn Lee

    I haven’t been to Santa Fe for many years, but I have great memories of it and hope to return one day.

  • Natalie

    I’ve never been, but I’ve heard great things! Hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit it this year 🙂

  • mohana and aninda

    Santa Fe sounds amazing! The stair will no rail intrigues me…I’d love to visit the church. I hear that New Mexico has an interesting cuisine. Did you try any local food? I hope to visit someday.

    • Laurel | BayRosemary

      Yes, the staircase is very interesting & quality work. I love New Mexican food! Lots of pinto beans, squash and chile pepper (red or green).

  • Lina

    Oh Santa Fe looks really gorgeous! I bet the rest of your home state is just as beautiful and totally worth a trip 🙂

  • Sarah McDonald

    I have wanted a Frito Pie since watching that Anthony Bourdain episode! Santa Fe sounds like a really interesting and cool city.

    • Laurel | BayRosemary

      I’m so happy you got that reference! My friends and I were so mad he got a frito pie where he did…especially since Del Charro exists (great happy hour specials too!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.