I have a fun trip on the horizon. I am headed to Santa Fe for a little jaunt at the end of July. Being the planner that I am, I am busy gathering all the info I can to be properly prepared. Here are a few go to sources for good travel tips. I cannot wait to gallery crawl down Canyon Road again, go to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and check out all the fabulous turquoise jewelry around the square.
Santa Fe is such a great place of inspiration, history and wonder.
today’s santa fe city guide update comes from san francisco artist lisa neimeth. lisa created our original guide to santa fe in 2008 and has so graciously updated this incredible guide with new shops, eateries and places to stay, as well as a list of fantastic annual events! thanks lisa for your beautiful tour of santa fe!–stephanie
*to preserve the original guide’s url, we’ve made these changes to the original guide. so some of the comments you see below will be from the original posting back in 2008. *
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to re-visit the guide I did on Santa Fe two years ago–it gave me the opportunity to explore Santa Fe again with new eyes and to see this town as if for the first time. While I do not live in Santa Fe (I live in San Francisco)-I am a frequent visitor and plan on spending at least 3 months a year here up north a bit- in Abiquiu–to work in my soon to be built ceramic studio there.
But I love being here in this town with its fantastic light, diverse interests, great food and just a general feeling of what it is like to be contemporary but living in a very old western town.
It is no wonder so many movies are filmed here these days–not only is the landscape breathtaking, but the talent that exists here is broad and compelling.
Lots goes on in this town all year and it is fantastic to visit during all 4 seasons–I just returned from a beautiful snowy time there–but do relish those warm dry desert summer days the best….
So since this is the oldest capital city in the USA, celebrating its 400th anniversary this year-things do not change too much or too quickly, so much from my 2008 guide is still valid. That said-because there is such a high concentration of art lovers, scientists, artists and a culture that supports linking the arts to just about everything–there is always a new movement afoot—
I am going to update any changes as well as add in some of the new places, eateries, shops and up and coming little enclaves that will be worth checking out.
The newest good news is that the town is moving beyond the plaza walls–the plaza is the “heart” of old Santa Fe and is beautiful, and well worth visiting. But for locals and visitors alike–there are lots of new things happening south of the plaza in little nooks and cranny neighborhoods that are really nourishing some younger art and design movements. With the opening of the new Railyard mixed use area as well as the Railrunner train that goes from Albuquerque to Santa Fe in one hour–brings an emphasis to a formerly industrial area and spreads the action further into where a large part of the population of Santa Fe lives.
So read on for what to explore in old and new neighborhoods in Santa Fe as well as fabulous things to do as day trips. This is a truly magical area with so much to tempt your imagination–a mix of historical wonder greeting the contemporary.
Welcome to Santa Fe, New Mexico–a beautiful city set in the high desert mountains at 7000 feet. This is a great town-lots of history–and a unique tri-cultural feel–incorporating the Native American, Hispanic and Caucasian inhabitants. With this comes a great combination of ancient worlds segueing into the hip modern world. Once I started spending time here, I was hooked and now visit often and try and work here and do clay in the summers. Living in San Francisco, Santa Fe is the perfect antidote to urban, coastal living or anywhere else you may live!
Art has always been a big part of this area with one of the first artist colonies formed in Santa Fe in the early part of the 19th century formed by folks fleeing New York City and the East coast to “heal” themselves in the dry, clean air. Once these artists came here they were so struck by the incredible beauty and spectacular landscape…and cheap rents…they stayed and began a long tradition of artistic pilgrimages to this area to capture the intense beauty and fascinating culture. Georgia O’Keeffe being one of the more well known among these people who really came to symbolize the mysterious ethereal beauty that lurks here. So of course, when the artists come, everyone else soon follows, sometimes rendering a place more touristy, trendy and of course, more expensive. Santa Fe boomed in the 1980’s and 90’s with “Santa Fe style” and Ralph Lauren galore. The city is retreating from that a bit these days and really trying to move into the 21st century with modern art, design and more complex and innovative restaurants. What you have now is still the same charm and mystique but with some more edgy art and design movements afloat. What I love about Santa Fe is that you can experience so many different things here–eat great food, take a hike, get a fantastic massage and outdoor hot tub, wander through some great museums and galleries, shop for beautiful Native American and Hispanic artifacts and explore new design and art events– all in one day! There are also great deals on hotels to be had here since there are so many hotels around. More details about that later.
The city has a few main areas that will be covered here and are all within walking distance or at least a short drive from each other: the Plaza-the first settled town in the US (1610)–the end of the Santa Fe Trail and the heart of Santa Fe; Guadalupe Street/Railyard/2nd St–the “new” area where modern galleries and design shops are popping up; and Canyon Road-the original “art street”, on the periphery is Cerillos Road, a bit out of the center of town and includes many of your basic box stores on the southern end, but closer to town has some great old neon motels and some great local spots.
In the Plaza Area:
Centered around the main plaza are sweet small streets teeming with shops-some touristy, others unique and interesting. Here are some of the better ones:
• Seret & Sons: 224 Galisteo Street 505.988.9151: beautiful old rugs, doors and other architectural elements artifacts from around the world
• Carpinteros: 217 Galisteo St 505.982.2258: elegantly hand-crafted furniture in the Spanish tradition.
• Sequoia Collections: Galisteo St 505.982.7000: unusual furniture made of reclaimed woods and metals; lovely, funky paintings from emerging artists.
• Native American vendors: line up under the Plaza overhang daily and sell authentic Native American jewelry and other items. If you want to buy jewelry-do it here–you are buying direct from the artisans who make it.
• Doodlets- 120 Don Gaspar Ave 505.983.3771: crafts, novelty items, hand made paper goods
• Jett-101 Old Santa Fe Trail 505.988.1866: unique jewelry from local and national artisans
• Ortegas—101 W. San Francisco St 505.988.3585: historical trading post carrying contemporary and older native American jewelry
• Papergami-213 W. San Francisco St 505.982.3080: beautiful Japanese papers and paper items
• Mira-101 W.Marcy St 505.988.3585: really fun clothing jewelry and decorative objects
• Design Warehouse– 101 W. Marcy St 505.988.1555: fantastic furniture and home store-great website too
• Back At The Ranch– 209 East Marcy St 505.989.811: custom made, vintage and really original cowboy boots
• Todos Santos- 125 E. Palace ave 505.982.3855; chocolatier and confectioner -with beautifully crafted candies–gilded milagros
• Poem- 125 E. Palace Ave 505.820.7884: tabletop, paper and other eclectic home decor items
• Patina- 131 West Palace Ave 505.986.3432 www.patina-gallery.com: hand crafted jewelry and decorative objects
• Onorato– 109 ½ E.Palace Ave 505.984.2008: great bedding, linens and housewares
• Char- www.chardesigns.com 104 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505.988.5969: classic Santa Fe style here in custom and hand made clothing and amazing jewelry designs
• SStein Design— local handcrafted bags and wallets. By appointment to come to the local factory—worth the trip!
• The Rainbow man- www.rainbowman.com- fun vintage Native American and Hispanic folk art, tableware, jewelry, photographs
• Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse 202 Galisteo St-www.collectedworksbookstore.com
Where to eat:
• Pasquals—103 East Water St 505.983.9340: a do not miss in Santa Fe-great New Mexican food, funky Mexican folk art interior and a cool gallery upstairs where you can purchase micaceous clay cook pots. This is a Santa Fe landmark–lines out the door, but well worth the wait.
• SantaCafe– 231 Washington Ave 505.984.1788: classic Santa Fe restaurant—refined and located in a beautiful back patio spot.
• Tia Sophia’s:210 W. San Francisco St 505.983.9880: great New Mexican breakfasts, long lines, but moves fast!
• Plaza restaurant: New Mexican coffee shop
• La Boca-72 W.Marcy st 505.982.3433:fabulous modern Spanish tapas
• El Meson-213 Washington St 505.983.6756: more fab tapas with a great bar and music
• La Fonda-100E.San Francisco st 505.982.5511: oldest hotel in US–great interior-murals, fun bar with famous margaritas, music and snacks;great rooftop bar open during summer–great views!
• La Casa Sena: 125 E.Palace Ave 505.988.9232: beautiful courtyard in the summer-great drinks and appetizers
• The Shed: 1131/2 E.Palace Ave 505.982.9030; classic New Mexico food-historical building
• Rooftop Pizzeria-60 E.San Francisco St 505.984.0008- great view of the mountains, really good pizza, salads
• Coyote Cafe/Cantina—132 N. Water St 505.983.1615 -classic Santa Fe restaurant rooftop cantina open in warmer months for lunch, drinks
• Restaurant Martin-526 Galisteo-new hot spot in town from old hand chef/owner—fabulous!
And don’t miss: Museum of Contemporary Native Art, The Lensic Theater (great concerts, performances), Georgia O’Keefe Museum-located off the Plaza and the newly opened New Mexico History Museum–a fabulous way to learn of the local history, Palace of the Governors–located on the plaza, Center for Contemporary Art up on Old Pecos Rd for great films, lectures.
Just west of the main plaza area is this fun shopping, eating area that also includes the developing Railyard area.
• Spanish Table-109 N. Guadalupe St 505.986.0243: eclectic collection of housewares and culinary delights from Spain
• Cielo Home and Cielo Tabletop- 316 Guadalupe 505. 992.1960: 2 stores carrying wonderful combination of tableware, home furnishings and other housewares
• Gypsy Baby– 318 Guadalupe St 505.820.1898: high end baby/kids store
• Double Take at The Ranch 321 Guadalupe 505.820.7775- vintage clothing, boots, jewelry and household items–very fun
• Santa Fe Pottery @ Double Take- 323 Guadalupe: local and national artisans working in contemporary pottery
• Sanbusco Center- a small “mall” but with some interesting shops–jewelry, textiles–worth breezing through
• Mindy and Clyde Cupboard Company- 407 S. Guadalupe 505.982.0901: vintage restaurant and railroad china, tablecloths and other fun items– like an outpost of Fish’s Eddy in NYC
• Casa Nova– 530 S. Guadalupe 505.983.8558: great mix of international housewares, art and design services
• Moss-530 S. Guadalupe St 505.989.7300: contemporary furnishings–amazing indoor/outdoor furniture
• Antique Warehouse: 530 S. Guadalupe 505.984.1159: Mexican Doors and Ranch furniture
• Santa Fe Clay- 1615 Paseo de Peralta 505.984.1122: studio and gallery showcasing nationally renowned contemporary ceramics for show and sale
• Rainbow Gate-320 Sandoval 505.983.8892: unique locally made dinnerware shop. All work is made on the premises and boast lots of color!
While you are here-make sure to visit the interesting new galleries that are all around the Railyard Area-many have Friday night openings: (Box Gallery, William Segal, Tai Gallery, Gebert Contemporary to name a few). Plus, the Farmers Market’s permanent home is here now–a must visit on Saturdays–a real Santa Fe scene–great food, music , crafts. The new indoor FLEA is also open now across the street from the farmers market at the railyard–open sat/sun–fun vintage–real flea market stuff.
Other cool things in the new Railyard area:
• Site Santa Fe-1606 Paseo de Peralta www.sitesantafe.org–cutting edge museum/gallery–Biennial coming this summer (2010)
• Santa Fe Complex- www.sfcomplex.org –experimental space for art and science ventures
• Warehouse 21- 1614 Paseo de Peralta www.warehouse21.org – gathering place for youth art programs, exhibits, events
Side trip from here to 2nd Street and beyond:
This area is really blossoming with live/work spaces, cafes, galleries and look out for more happening here ongoing:
• Meow Wolf Artist Collective- www.meowwolf.com–1800 Second st–young artist collective engaging in shows, events, installations, concerts, “throwdowns”-a peek into what’s very new and innovative in the youth art scene here–no howling coyotes with bandanas here!
• Jackalope– 2820 Cerrillos Rd 505.471.8539: a fun sprawl of a store with a mix of furniture, pottery, textiles in a bazaar like setting (don’t miss the glass blowers and prairie dogs right in the middle of the grounds!) neon motels and local lore-just soak it in on your drive through!
• While you are here stop by the Tecolate café 1203 Cerrillos Rd. 505.988.1362: for a hardy breakfast of blue corn pinon pancakes or check out the Counter Culture café 930 Baca St: for breakfast, lunch and dinner, located off Cerrillos road in an up and coming neighborhood.
This is classic Santa Fe–this street of galleries, shops and restaurants is one of the original “Art Streets” in the US–it is filled with historic adobes and is totally walkable from end to end.
• C gallery-708 Canyon Rd 505.986.1221: terrific contemporary art and home furnishings
• Curiosa-718 Canyon Rd 505.988.2420: wonderful gem of a store with tableware, jewelry and unusual art for home-bird and nature themed
• Nathalie– 503 Canyon Rd 505.982.1021-very cool fashion and home furnishings of the southwest and france
This is the street to just walk up and down and just explore the multitude of galleries, to many to mention here, that line Canyon road–they often have Friday night openings with wine and cheese and a chance to stroll between 5 and 7pm.
Where to eat:
• Downtown Subscription-376 Garcia St 505.983.3085: locals coffee hangout with every magazine imaginable!
• The Tea House- 821 Canyon Rd 505.992.0972: serene and inviting for breakfast and lunch. amazing muffins, salads, sandwiches and an incredibly extensive tea list. Wonderful rock garden—great after a day of walking around!
• Geronimo– 724 Canyon Rd 505.982.1500: high end bustling Santa Fe restaurant housed in a restored adobe–this is serious.
• El Farol-808 Canyon Rd 505.988.3823: fun Spanish restaurant with flamenco nights and lively bar scene.
Other things to do near downtown:
• Ten Thousand Waves– about ten minutes up the ski basin road from the plaza is this serene collection of outdoor hot tubs private and group ones–all in a beautiful alpine setting.
• Tesuque Flea Market-about 20 minutes north of town near the famous Santa Fe Opera House (if you go in the summer-check out the opera—you can score $10 SRO or splurge for a real seat and take in world class opera in a gorgeous setting.
• DeVargas Mall- 181 Paseo de Peralta just north of the plaza—yes, another mall, but this is an old-fashioned one and has 2 great stores worth visiting: Surrender Dorothy- super fun clothing, shoe and bag store; Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe -505-988-3394-wonderful kitchen and tableware store—has it all.
• Museum Hill: Up about 5 minutes from the plaza on Old Santa Fe Trail perched above town, are five terrific museums well worth a visit, especially the International Museum of Folk Art. There is a bus that runs up here from the plaza. Beautiful spot and a great orientation to the history and folklore of the area.
Santa Fe Ski Basin: in winter–a low key but beautiful ski area–just 20 min from downtown!
Things to do outside of town:
• Abiquiu–an hour north of Santa Fe lies one of the most beautiful landscapes–worth going to for a roam around. And don’t miss visiting Georgia O’Keeffe’s home here open to the public by reservation (and make the reservation well in advance!) from March through November. It is well worth seeing her simple, yet elegant home filled with a wonderful collection of 20th century furniture and art. You can also checkout Ghost Ranch–small dinosaur museum and great hiking
• Taos-another great art town about an hour north of Santa Fe (a subject for another guide!) galleries, shops, restaurants, great skiing
• Galisteo- gorgeous landscape a half hour east of Santa Fe; home of Bruce Nauman and the late Agnes Martin, cool town, sweet hotel/restaurant
• Turquoise Trail–instead of taking I-25 from Albuquerque to Santa Fe–take I-40 to route 14–known as the turquoise trail. Have fun riding through Madrid and Cerillos-old mining towns now home to galleries and cafes. Cerrillos is where they filmed Young Guns back in the 80’s and is still mighty cool-check out the great old bar there–you may share a pint with ol’ Pee Wee
• Tent Rocks– beautiful natural spiral rock formations in the Cochiti reservation half way between Albuquerque and Santa Fe–well worth a stop for a hike
• Chimayo and the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos–historic healing church and road trip worthwhile to explore hispanic wood carving traditions and crafts indigenous to this area
Where to Stay:
If you go, check out www.hotels.com or go on www.craigslist.org for New Mexico/ Santa Fe and go to vacation rentals. There are some great deals to be had of varying types of accommodations–centrally located. Hotels out on Cerrillos Rd tend to be cheaper, but a little removed from the central area. Another resource iswww.vrbo.com—vacation rentals by owner—you can find houses and condos here for rent. There are three great local resources for information about what is going on in town. On Wednesdays the Santa Fe Reporter comes out–a free weekly with lots of great information. On Fridays the PasaTiempo is inside the New Mexican-the local paper and gives you a rundown of all weekly happenings. Also THE Magazine- a monthly free publication you can find in newspaper boxes on the street corners-has all the information about gallery openings, museum shows and restaurant information as well.
You can fly into Albuquerque—and drive an hour north to Santa Fe—you can really get away with not even renting a car as there are great shuttles from the ABQ airport straight to Santa Fe. And now with the Railrunner train.
that you can catch from Albuquerque and goes directly to downtown Santa Fe–there are many transport options.
Visit Santa Fe at any time of year—there is always something going on and each season is absolutely gorgeous!!
Check for local events and in summer don’t miss these amazing annual events:
International Folk Art Market 7/9-11/10
Indian Market 8/21-22/10.
SOFA West will also take place in Santa Fe this summer 7/8-11 exhibiting Sculptural and Functional Objects
THE Plaza, the heart of old Santa Fe, hasn’t changed much since the Spanish settled here 400 years ago. But surrounding the Plaza is an increasingly cosmopolitan city. Sure, it’s possible to focus entirely just on the historic center, where Native American handicrafts are for sale on every corner.
But the rest of Santa Fe now offers groovy contemporary art spaces, hot Asian restaurants and a park by a pair of trailblazing architects. Accept that Santa Fe isn’t just tacos and turquoise anymore, and you’ll find yourself loving the New Mexico capital not for what it was, but what it is.
5 p.m. 1)PUBLIC SPACE
For a beautifully curated introduction to Santa Fe, visit the New Mexico History Museum (113 Lincoln Avenue; 505-476-5200; nmhistorymuseum.org), which opened in 2009 and includes a gripping display about Los Alamos, where the Manhattan Project was conducted in secret during World War II. A large courtyard with ancient walls and shady trees separates the museum from the Palace of the Governors (palaceofthegovernors.org), the Spanish seat of government in the early 1600s and now a small museum of Colonial and Native American history. The two-museum complex is free on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m.
7 p.m. 2)WHITE WALLS AND WINE
You’d have to be crazy to pay for a glass of white wine on Fridays. Canyon Road, which angles up from the center of town, has more than 100 galleries, and there are openings every Friday night. According to canyonroadarts.com, the largest category is contemporary representational (think brightly colored paintings of the desert). Check out Eight Modern (231 Delgado Street; 505-995-0231; eightmodern.net), where you’ll find the geometric scrap-metal constructions of the Santa Fe artist Ted Larsen. The backyard sculpture garden is a great place to marvel at New Mexico’s amazingly clear sky and savor its piñon-infused air before heading to dinner.
9 p.m. 3)AHI MOMENT
Martín Rios is a hometown boy made good: Born in Mexico and raised in Santa Fe, he apprenticed at the Eldorado Hotel and the Inn of the Anasazi — two local stalwarts — and made a brief appearance on “Iron Chef” before opening his own place, Restaurant Martín (526 Galisteo Street; 505-820-0919;restaurantmartinsantafe.com), in 2009. The main draw is the food — dishes like ahi tuna tartare ($14) and duck breast with smoked bacon polenta and Marcona almonds ($25) offer hints of the Southwest, with a dash of global aspiration. But the homey décor makes you want to stick around even after finishing the bittersweet chocolate truffle cake ($8).
10 a.m. 4)SPICE MARKET
The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market (1607 Paseo de Peralta; 505-983-4098; santafefarmersmarket.com) dates back a half-century, but it stepped up a notch when it moved to a permanent building in 2008. Everything sold here, including dried chilies, yogurt and grass-fed meats, is produced in northern New Mexico. The market is part of a bustling district that includes the new Railyard Park by the architect Frederic Schwartz and the landscape architect Ken Smith, both Manhattanites whose taste is anything but quaint. As you wander around, be on the lookout for the Rail Runner, a gleaming new passenger train scheduled to pull in from Albuquerque at 11:08 a.m.
Noon 5)SUSTAINABLE SALADS
Santa Fe residents — as you learned roaming the Farmers’ Market — care where their food comes from. No wonder Vinaigrette (709 Don Cubero Alley; 505-820-9205; vinaigretteonline .com) was an immediate hit when it opened in 2008. The brightly colored cafe has a menu based on organic greens grown in the nearby town of Nambé. Choose a base — Caesar, Cobb and Greek are possibilities (around $10) — then add diver scallops or hibiscus-cured duck confit ($7) for a satisfying meal. Wines by the glass start at a very friendly $6.
2 p.m. 6)RIDING THE SPUR
Thanks to Santa Fe’s sometimes depressing sprawl, it’s getting harder and harder to find wide-open spaces. But drive (or bike) to the corner of Galisteo Street and West Rodeo Road, where there’s a small parking lot — then begin pedaling due south, in the direction of Lamy (about 12 miles away). What starts as an asphalt path morphs into a dirt bike trail that swerves around a 19th-century rail spur. There are some pretty steep hills, but they’re short, and the momentum from a downhill is usually enough to handle the next uphill. (If only life were like that!) The scenery is always gorgeous, especially in late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky. Mellow Velo (638 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505-995-8356; mellowvelo.com) rents mountain bikes starting at $35 a day.
7 p.m. 7)TAPAS WITH STRANGERS
La Boca (72 West Marcy Street; 505-982-3433; labocasf.com) is one of downtown Santa Fe’s most popular new restaurants — thanks to its contemporary tapas, plus larger dishes like cannelloni filled with crab, scallop and Manchego ($11). You’ll find yourself sharing tips on what to order — and even forkfuls of delicious eats — with strangers.
10 p.m. 8)REGGAE FOR ALL AGES
Santa Fe isn’t a night-life town, but Milagro 139 (139 West San Francisco Street; 505-995-0139; milagro139.com) is helping to change that. A building that had housed a coffee shop was recently converted to a restaurant that becomes a club on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s no cover, and the drinks, including a house margarita called Beginner’s Luck ($5), are delicious. A recent visit coincided with performances by Rubixzu, a local band that performed a blend of reggae and Latin hip-hop to a diverse crowd, aged 9 to 90. For a trendier vibe, head to Meow Wolf (1800 Second Street; 505-204-4651; meowwolf.com), an alternative art space, or check its Web site for other parties hosted by Meow Wolf artists.
10 a.m. 9)FREE-RANGE PEACOCKS
For a big breakfast and an early start, drive south on Cerrillos Road about 10 miles past the Interstate, until you see a handwritten cardboard sign that reads, “Pine wood stove pellets sold here.” You’ve arrived at the San Marcos Café (3877 State Road 14; 505-471-9298). Dozens of peacocks, turkeys and hens roam the property (which also houses a feed store), providing an Old McDonald-like backdrop for crowd-pleasers like eggs San Marcos, a cheese omelet in a bath of guacamole, beans and salsa ($12).
Noon 10)KITSCH TO CONTEMPORARY
If you ever thought that item you found at a roadside stand was one of a kind, Jackalope (2820 Cerrillos Road; 505-471-8539; jackalope.com), a sprawling, indoor-outdoor flea market, will disabuse you of that notion. There are hundreds of everything, including punched-copper switch plates and tote bags that depict Michelle Obama smiling on a swing. If you need to shake off the kitsch, head to SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo De Peralta; 505-989-1199; sitesantafe.org), a contemporary art space where the 2010 biennale, focused on moving image technologies in contemporary art, will run from June 20 to Jan. 2, 2011.
1 p.m. 11)YOUR OWN ADOBE
It’s difficult to spend time in Santa Fe without thinking about buying a home (or second home) here. So check out Zocalo (Avenida Rincon; 505-986-0667;zocalosantafe.com), a striking development by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. He is known for crisp geometry and super-bright colors — a welcome sight in this city of browns and terra cottas. Consider it real estate voyeurism, combined with a crash course in contemporary architecture.
IF YOU GO
Santa Fe has a tiny airport, which offers nonstop service to and from Dallas and Los Angeles on American Eagle. Most visitors fly into the larger Albuquerque airport, about an hour south. A recent Web search found round-trip fares from Kennedy Airport on Delta, from about $260 for travel in June. Sadly, the Rail Runner doesn’t run to the Albuquerque airport, but there is a free shuttle connecting the rail line to the airport on weekdays.
The Hotel St. Francis(210 Don Gaspar Avenue; 505-983-5700; hotelstfrancis.com), billed as the oldest hotel in Santa Fe, completed a top-to-bottom renovation in 2009, and it looks spectacular. Doubles from $120.
TheEl Rey Inn(1862 Cerrillos Road, 505-982-1931; elreyinnsantafe.com) is a retro-chic 1930s-style motel, with nicely furnished rooms and beautifully landscaped grounds to go along with the kitschy Native American-themed architecture. Doubles from $99.
Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa (30 Buffalo Thunder Trail; 505-455-5555; buffalothunderresort.com) is part of a new casino complex, about 15 minutes north of town. Doubles from $159. Hilton also built a less-expensive Homewood Suites nearby (10 Buffalo Thunder Trail; 505-455-9100), with doubles from $109.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 6, 2010
The 36 Hours column on May 23, about Santa Fe, referred incompletely to transportation options to the Albuquerque airport, which most Santa Fe visitors fly into. While the Rail Runner from Santa Fe does not stop at the airport, there is a free shuttle connecting the rail line to the airport on weekdays.
Bewitching, all-adobe Santa Fe dates back to 1610 and today it’s home to world-class galleries, dining, museums and even opera. It’s a city that makes its own rules, yet never forgets its long and storied past. As the country’s oldest state capital, it’s a place where centuries-old umber adobes are set against a dramatic Sangre de Cristo mountains backdrop. From art to spas, hot green chile to fiery red ristras, everything part of this sage-scented oasis is saturated with creative flair, and you’ll be surprised by how much variety you can pack into a 48-hour itinerary.
Begin at the historic Plaza. Santa Fe’s heartbeat, it dates back to the city’s beginning. Native Americans sell their jewellery and pottery along the wall outside the Palace of the Governors. Arrive early for the best selection. We’d suggest browsing the entire length of the portal (awning) before making a purchase – there is so much variety.
After you’ve found that turquoise bear fetish you’ve been searching for, head inside the Palace of Governors, the most important artefact of the adjoining New Mexico History Museum. Built in 1610 by Spanish officials, it is one of the oldest public buildings in the USA. Today the museum has more than 17, 000 historical objects reflecting Santa Fe’s Indian, Spanish, Mexican and American heritage. Next door, the Museum of Fine Arts features a collection on par with heavy-hitters like New York City’s Met and Paris’ Louvre. There are more than 20, 000 pieces in the collection, including a great section by regional artists.
You’ll be good and hungry after museum-hopping, and you’ll have your pick of restaurants offering quintessential Santa Fe food, including San Marcos Café, Bobcat Bite, La Choza or Tesuque Village Market. Or, head to The Railyard, which was renovated in 2008 and has become an up-and-coming centre for contemporary arts, with great restaurants and a brewery.
After lunch, you have a choice: head to Santa Fe’s other main museum district, renowned Museum Hill. Our favourite museum in Santa Fe is located here, The Museum of International Folk Art, which houses more than 100, 000 objects from more than 100 countries. Or, instead visit the equally incredible Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, where you’ll see Santa Fe sights manifest on canvases created by one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
Now it’s time for some shopping. Head to Santa Fe’s version of Rodeo Drive, Canyon Road, for a little million-dollar painting browsing. Once a footpath used by Pueblo Indians, today more than 90 of Santa Fe’s 250 galleries are found here. From rare Indian antiquities to Santa Fe School masterpieces to wild contemporary work, it’s all for sale
Your afternoon of museums, art, and shopping, can work up an appetite, but you’re in luck. In the heart of the Canyon Road chaos is one of the city’s best dinner joints, El Farol. The ambiance is rustic adobe, the steaks are plump, and the tapas are nothing short of delectable. After eating, it’s time for dancing at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. The famous watering hole boasts Western-style feminist flair, an outside patio and live music after 9pm. Try the unique smoky tasting Mescal margarita on the rocks.
Check into one of Santa Fe’s classiest hotels for two nights. Just steps from the plaza, the Inn & Spa at Loretto offers super spacious rooms done up in modern Southwest style. Have a good-night cocktail at the lobby bar and look up at the ceiling. Each panel is hand-painted.
Don’t sleep in, you’ll want to get to Tia Sophia’s for breakfast. This is the city’s favourite morning eating option, and you’ll find celebs and locals alike stuffing their mouths with delicious green chile-soaked egg, cheese and meat burritos. If the line is too long, you also can’t go wrong with the southwestern breakfast at La Fonda Hotel’s La Plazuela which sits in the hotel’s light-filled centre court.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is your next stop. Visit the small chapel inside, where the oldest Madonna statue in North America is housed. Constructed between 1873 and 1878, the nearby Loretto Chapel is modelled on St Chapelle in Paris and home of the city’s most photographed site – the Miraculous Staircase, a wooden spiral staircase with two complete 360-degree turns and no central or visible support.
Have a fast fuel-up lunch at Del Charro Saloon, which serves pub grub so good even former Gov. Richardson eats it. Then spend the afternoon mountain biking some of the state’s best intermediate single track. You can rent a bike from Mellow Velo Bicycles. Follow Upper Canyon Rd north to the well-signed parking lot at Cerro Gordo Rd and ride the South Dale Ball Trails. It’s a challenging course, but you’ll be rewarded with supreme isolation and outstanding views.
If steep switchbacks aren’t your thing, be sure to visit one of Santa Fe’s many world-class spas for a massage or facial. For the ultimate in relaxation, head to Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style resort and day spa offering everything from herbal wraps to salt scrubs.
Get back in time for sunset and a margarita at the Belltower Bar at La Fonda Hotel. The family-run, James Beard Award-winning, restaurant, The Shed, has been serving New Mexican fare in an atmospheric 1692 adobe since 1953 and is where to head for dinner. Afterward, cap off your 48 hours in Santa Fe with a Black Dragon margarita inside a 300-year-old adobe building at the Dragon Room Bar. It is a consistent top favourite of locals and Hollywood visitors alike.
For an old lady of 400, Santa Fe has never looked so good. The town of 70, 000 is celebrating a new history museum and a renovated historic district, not to mention a 16-month-long birthday party. Aggressive state film incentives over the past seven years have brought feature productions like No Country for Old Men and the upcoming Legion to town, adding to Santa Fe's artsy rep. But some things never change: You'll still find the adobe architecture and eclectic vibe that has lured countless writers, painters, and actors—such as Willa Cather, Shirley MacLaine, and Cormac McCarthy—to the "City Different."
The Southwest stunner turns 400. Here, seven ways to celebrate.
1. Touch History Delve into the 47th state's past at the 96, 000-square-foot New Mexico History Museum, which opened last May. Visitors can view a piece of 16th-century Spanish chain mail and experience some of the mystery of 109 E. Palace Avenue, the arrival point for scientists working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos in the 1940s. Wrap up your visit at the 1609-built Palace of the Governors, highlighting the two 18th-century Segesser hide paintings that depict early colonial life, and Tesoros de Devoción, a permanent exhibit of New Mexican religious icons. "But the building is our most important artifact, " says director Frances Levine, "because it's the place where our history began."
2. Make Tracks for Art and Edibles A former eyesore, the new Railyard District today features art spaces like teen-geared Warehouse 21 and gallery/shop/studio Santa Fe Clay. Join Santa Feans on Saturday mornings at the beloved Farmers Market to pick up organic raspberries, Arena blanca chocolate, Diablo red wine, green chili mustard, and goat cheese. Miguel Gallegos, operations manager at the Market, suggests grabbing a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito to enjoy in the ten-acre xeriscaped park that runs between the acequia and the tracks.
3. Discover O'Keeffe D. H. Lawrence, Martha Graham, and Ansel Adams all flocked to northern New Mexico in the 1920s and '30s for its welcoming arts scene, but only Georgia O'Keeffe stayed permanently. Today, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum downtown is home to the largest single collection of her work with more than a thousand paintings, sculptures, and drawings. But for a more intimate view, book a tour of the O'Keeffe Home and Studio (from March to November) in Abiquiu (48 miles from Santa Fe), her full-time home starting in 1949. The restored 18th-century adobe building has been maintained exactly as she had before her death in 1986. "You'll see that O'Keeffe lived the modernist aesthetic that she painted, " says museum curator Barbara Buhler Lynes. "It's simple, elegant, and minimal. After a visit, people realize they need to throw out stuff."
4. Delight Your Tastebuds Santa Fe has long been on the gourmet's itinerary, both for its celebrity chef-helmed restaurants and its pioneering use of red and green chili at places like Café Pasqual's. Chef John Vollertsen, food editor at Santa Fean, recommends Atrisco Cafe and Bar, with its healthier take on time-honored recipes (try the whole-wheat sopapillas), and Max's, where chef Brian Rood makes a memorable roasted green chile shrimp and grits. "He's going to be Santa Fe's next great chef, " predicts Vollertsen.
5. Take a Hike Nestled against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe boasts outdoor adventure literally at its back door. The seven-mile Atalaya Mountain Trail—part of the Dale Ball Trail System—starts from the parking lot at St. John's College and rewards hikers with expansive city views. Sixteen miles further afield, the Santa Fe Ski Basin attracts downhill and cross-country skiers and snowboarders to its 72 runs.
6. Go to Class With its rich culture and natural beauty, Santa Fe inspires classes from personal transformation to photography. Learn how to prepare authentic New Mexican red and green chili sauce at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Painter Jane Shoenfeld (www.skyfields.net) will help you capture the scenic Southwest on canvas, while porcelain artist Heidi Loewen (www.heidiloewen.com) can teach you how to throw a pot.
7. Get Soaked Wind down with a soak at Ten Thousand Waves, the tranquil Japanese-themed spa located in the hills above Santa Fe and featuring seven outdoor and one semi-enclosed baths. "I recommend the Four Hands massage, where two therapists work on you, " says public relations director Mary Johnson. "Your mind can get around two hands, but it doesn't know what to do with four. It's a lot of fun."
Fast Facts Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, sits 7, 000 feet above sea level. Since 1958, a city zoning law has preserved Santa Fe's Spanish-adobe architecture. Visitors can now fly directly to Santa Fe Municipal Airport with recently launched service from Dallas and Los Angeles on American Eagle.
Santa Fe Hotel Finder: Four Insider Picks
Inn of the Anasazi This 58-room boutique hotel boasts an acclaimed restaurant and an even more impressive location, just off the Plaza. Even if the room rate is out of your price range, stop by The Patio for a drink—you just might spot a Hollywood celebrity. From $249.
Inn and Spa at Loretto The 134-room complex—with an exterior made to look like the main building at the Taos Pueblo—completed a $7.5-million renovation in 2008. During the warmer months, dine at Luminaria's romantic outdoor patio, which manages to stay tranquil despite the hotel's downtown location. From $189.
Hotel St. Francis Reopened in October 2009 after a redesign, Santa Fe's oldest hotel offers good value just a block from downtown. Eschewing the usual Southwestern patterns and colors, the decor here takes inspiration from the hotel's name and deploys a Franciscan theme, incorporating stone and wood and featuring a baptismal font in the lobby. From $119.
Inn of the Turquoise Bear Poet Witter Bynner and his longtime companion, Robert Hunt, hosted artists and thinkers from Ansel Adams to Robert J. Oppenheimer here. Today the historic B&B has 11 bedrooms—most with ceiling vigas and kiva fireplaces—named after the famed visitors. The inn wins raves for its peaceful gardens and wine-and-cheese hour. From $115.
Published in the January/February 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler
By Kelly Corrigan
Not only does Santa Fe hold the distinction of being the oldest capital city in the United States (first inhabited in 1607), but in 2005 it was the first American city named to UNESCO's "Creative City" network for its authentic experience that is grounded in the community's culture. Look into these blogs, podcasts, and more for a greater glimpse into this Southwestern gem.
Here, you can prepare for the day's weather in Santa Fe, view a list of all the city's museums, and learn interesting tidbits such as this: The Pueblo people have lived in New Mexico for 12, 000 years.
Although it may have been created for locals, Santa Fe's government site offers a scroll of the city's latest news and events that gives any visitor a glimpse of the city's hot topics. Town committee meetings and agendas are also listed here.
Visit this site for a list of things to do that includes everything from river rafting to seeing Native American ruins. Suggested activities for kids include skateboard parks and family cooking lessons. Click on "Local's Love It" for insider favorites. You'll see that more than a just few chocolate lovers reside in Santa Fe.
"SantaFeKate" as she's known here, had only visited Santa Fe twice before she decided to leave Boston in 2006 and move west to slow down, experience a different culture, and be closer to her sons. Her blog documents the local happenings—a performance, a weekend hike on the Aspen Vista Trail. She even relates historical stories she learns while traveling in and around Santa Fe.
Randy describes himself as "just a guy enjoying life in this beautiful city." And he has pictures to prove it. Whether out on a hike or strolling through the farmers market, Randy photographs what intrigues him, which could be a man roasting green peppers on a street corner or a perky sunflower in full bloom.
Start here with "Adobe Moments" produced by Santa Fe Public Radio KSFR 90.7. These two-and-a-half minute spots get to the heart of the matter, whether they're about the Pueblo Revolt, the events at Los Alamos, WWII camps, or the history and people of New Mexico.
With host Mary-Charlotte Domandi, this radio show broadcasts every weekday from the Santa Fe Baking Company, a local coffee hangout. Domandi's guests range from Grammy nominated vocalist Perla Batalla to Tibetan Buddhist Nun Robina Courtin to Karen Armitage, chief medical officer of the New Mexico Department of Health.
Produced by Santa Fe resident Kate Manchester, this podcast features chefs, foodies, activists, and farmers living in or near Santa Fe who discuss the up-to-date trends in how food is produced, marketed, and eaten. For example, learn about Santa Fe resident Doug Fine, who lives in a solar powered home, raises his own food, and drives a car fueled by vegetable oil.
Santa Fe's Museum of Indian Arts & Culture posts its lectures online. Listen to art historian J.J. Brody delve into the Pueblo art traditions of two neighboring communities, or hear emerging Native American artists discuss breaking from traditional art and cultural stereotypes.
This alternative weekly, published every Wednesday, reports on local news and culture in Albuquerque, northern New Mexico, and Santa Fe. It's won several state and national awards for its in-depth stories.
Based in Santa Fe, this magazine has been published since 1923, making it the oldest state magazine in the U.S. Each month, it explores the arts, the environment, and New Mexico's multicultural heritage.
Santa Fean is the city's premier magazine. Covering everything from art, homes, lifestyles, and personalities, the magazine aims to be sophisticated and informative. Features focus on design, local celebrities, and the buzz around town.
This map easily identifies restaurants, shopping outlets, accommodations, and businesses within Santa Fe.
The Spell of New Mexico edited by Tony Hillerman (1984)
In this collection of essays, the writers and thinkers who were once drawn to New Mexico reveal its allure. D.H. Lawrence, Mary Austin, and Conrad Richter are some of the writers featured. "Pretentious as it sounds, and tough as it is to prove, there does seem to be something about New Mexico which not only attracts creative people but stimulates their creativity, " Hillerman writes.
Santa Fe: A Walk Through Time by Kingsley Hammett (2004)
Written by Kingsley Hammett, publisher of DESIGNER/Builder magazine, this book of essays and photographs focuses on the original 67 buildings of downtown Santa Fe and the people who inhabited them.
Santa Fe Flavors by Anne Hillerman (2009)
Restaurant critic Anne Hillerman not only recommends Santa Fe eateries here, but she includes the recipes of some of the city's most cherished dishes, such as lobster salad from the Pink Adobe and aguacate (avocado) from El Farol.
South of Santa Fe (1942)
When a group of gangsters kidnaps three industrialists who have come to New Mexico to support a gold-mining project, Roy Rogers, who acts in this movie under the same name, works quickly to free the hostages. Two-way radios, airplanes and big cars are involved in this action movie.
Santa Fe (1951)
Randolph Scott stars as Britt Canfield as one of four brothers who fought in the Confederate Army. He gets a job with the Santa Fe Railroad Company and urges his brothers to join him. Instead his brothers—still bitter over the South's defeat in the war—start robbing trains and find themselves opposing Britt.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)
Directed by Marc Lawrence, Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker star as Paul and Meryl, an estranged couple who suddenly find each other under a witness-protection program. They flee New York City for safety in Wyoming. Several of the scenes were shot in Santa Fe, which stands in for Wyoming.
Spoken Word (2009)
When a young San Francisco spoken-word artist returns to New Mexico where his father is dying, he rediscovers the broken world he left behind.
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