City Guide: The Art & Adobe of Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a city of streets lined with earthen adobes homes molded from dirt and clay. Red chiles hang drying from aged wooden beams, and green chiles are served up on everything from enchiladas to tamales, rich with flavor and spiciness. An explosion of art fills the hundreds of galleries that enrich this town, a stark contrast to the sameness of the buildings and homes. This makes the city feel unique and ubiquitous all at the same time. Outside the perimeter of the city boundaries, there are countless ancient Native American sites with cliffside dwellings. The remains of Indian pueblos  are scattered throughout the scenic landscapes.

To Get There.

Fly into Albuquerque and drive just over an hour. It’s ideal to rent a car, especially if you want to take day trips to see the National Parks surrounding the area.

To Stay.

La Posada de Santa Fe

We stayed at La Posada de Santa Fe, is a historic hotel built in the 1880s. It was was once in the French Second Empire architecture style, then later adapted to the city code to blend in with the adobe ordinance. The main reception area has some beautiful rooms that feel like they are from another time and place. Book it

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There are countless other beautiful hotels in Santa Fe that are beautiful, here are a few more to check out.

Inn on the Alameda

Santa Fe Motel & Inn

To Do.

Marvel at the Loretto Chapel Mystery Staircase

This “miraculous” staircase has puzzled people for over a hundred years. Most staircases are built with a central pillar to support it, but this one is built shaped like a helix. It’s considered masterful in its woodworking and structure. According to legend, the church was built without access to the choir loft. The nuns tried to find a builder to add a staircase, but none of them could find a solution for the small space. The nuns prayed for nine days and then a stranger appeared and offered to build it. He worked with only few hand tools, then left without collecting any payment.

This church is also part of a Santa Fe Architectural Walking & Wine Tasting Tour if you prefer to learn with a group then sip some wine.

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Immerse Yourself in the playfulness of the Meo Wolf Interactive Art Exhibition

Meo Wolf started many years ago by a new age Art Collective in Santa Fe that wanted to modernize the stuffy Art Gallery world and turn it upside down. With the help of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, they purchased a 33,000 square foot building and got to work transforming it into an interactive art experience. A must see!

Under the sea

Under the sea

It’s a Meow-garita!

It’s a Meow-garita!


Georgia O’ Keeffe Museum

Known for painting enlarged flowers and New Mexico’s landscape, Georgia O’ Keefe is arguably one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Go visit the museum dedicated to life and legacy, but buy tickets far in advance! This is a popular museum and sells out weeks in advance.


Wander down Canyon Road to see all the amazing art galleries

Canyon Road is home to over a hundred galleries and attracts art collectors from all over the world. My favorite part of this half mile walk through the art galleries are the sculpture gardens all along the way. Whether you go to browse or purchase, it’s worth the time. If you prefer to go as a tour there’s a curated Art Walking Tour of this road where you’ll get to chat with artists and gallery owners while learning about the local history.

At the end of the road you’ll find a cute restaurant called The Tea House with a lovely garden and outdoor patio. Try the Mexican Mocha, a little added spice to your chocolate craving.

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Go Off-Roading with Santa Fe Mountain Outfitters

Santa Fe Mountain Outfitters have a few off-roading UTV tours to choose from. We did the Caja Del Rio Sunset Tour, an exhilarating ride though rugged terrain on old Puebloan trails to see an amazing 360 sunset view of New Mexico. Generally I like to drive myself on these excursions, but on this tour you’re a passenger. The drivers are so experienced that it makes this journey epic. Some of the terrain is incredibly advanced, at times exhilarating from from 0 to 60 in seconds. The cherry on top was the the delicious food spread of charcuterie at the top of the mountain. The owners Max and Frida also own a local restaurant called El Farol, so the appetizers were a step above the rest. My favorite was the homemade fig cheesecake.

If you like adventure, there’s also a full day or half day Rio Grande rafting trip you can book.

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Visit Pecos National Historical Park

A short 30min drive from Santa Fe is Pecos National Historical Park, where you can explore the remnants of the Pueblo People. We took the most popular 1.25 mile Ancestral Sites Trail, a mostly flat walk though ancestral sites with markers about the history of the area. The highlight was seeing this 1717 Spanish mission church that still stands below.

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Explore Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is an hour drive from Santa Fe, where stone dwelling are carved from rugged cliffs made from hardened volcanic ash. There are several hikes to choose from in this park. We did the Main Loop Ruin Trail to the Alcove House Trail. These are very easy hike without a lot of elevation gain, and a total of around 2.6 miles. Along the way, you’ll clearly see the ancient Native American cliff dwellings and even be able to climb into them. If you take the extension to the Alcove House you can scale 140-foot of ladders to get to it. Do not attempt this climb if you are afraid of heights, and make sure you have good tread on your shoes.

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Visit Santa Fe Railway Park

There are a lot of cute restaurants and a lovely park in this pocket of Santa Fe. Grab a coffee or a beer and wander around.

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Visit Santa Fe Art Museum

This art museum a beautiful pueblo with a lot of history of New Mexico, from Native American territory, to Spanish, and eventually becoming part of the United States. It also has a plethora of amazing works of art, old and new.

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Visit Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

There are several great hikes around Tent Rocks National Monument. Some are through swirling canyons. These cone-shaped tent rock formations are formed from pumice, ash, and tuff deposits from volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago.

April 2021: Unfortunately for us this was closed due to COVID, check before you go.

Photo by Raychel Sanner

To Eat.

Modern General

Modern general has delicious and interesting flavor combinations. I tried the Green Chile and Corn Cilantro Cakes, which were amazing! It’s a great space for breakfast, more modern than most of Santa Fe.

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Grab A Pizza & Beer at Draft Station

Draft station is a rooftop pizzeria overlooking Santa Fe’s Plaza. This was the best pizza I’ve ever had!, and I’ve had a lot of pizza. It also has a wide selection of beers to choose from.

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Eat at The Shed

The Shed has been around since 1953. They serve your standard New Mexican cuisine; enchiladas, tamales, and tacos. Their margaritas are fresh and delicious!

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Enjoy a sunset from Coyote Cafe & Rooftop Cantina

This rooftop open air bar is a great place to grab dinner or a margarita at sunset.

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Try A truffle or Elixir at Kakawa Chocolate House

If you’re a chocolate lover, head to Kakawa for some interesting flavors. They have chocolate elixirs which are similar to hot chocolate but much more thick and rich in flavor, and chocolate truffles like Goat Cheese & Sage and Prickly Pear. They are good, but really heavy on the cacao flavor. It’s a bit much for me, but still a fun stop in Santa Fe.

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Santa Fe has a lot to offer within the city and just outside it’s boundaries. I hope this post helps you plan your trip and enjoy your time in New Mexico!


Book A Tour

Here are some other fun activities to try while you’re in the Santa Fe area.


Map


Are you planning a trip soon? These are some of my favorite sites for finding places to stay, booking tours, and more:


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