If you are seeking a delightfully different urban experience, try Santa Fe. It lives up to its billing as “the city different”. Its distinctive features include an eclectic mixture of native American, Spanish colonial and contemporary Western cultures, great architecture and an emphasis on art, entertainment and cuisine.
Its gorgeous setting at 7.000 feet at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, surrounded by forests, leads to the town cherishing its views and protecting them with a city code that prohibits high rise buildings in city limits. It also boasts an average of 325 days of sunshine.
The architecture and food in the city are worth a trip in themselves. But there is a lot more too. Beautiful and historic adobe structures dominate, and the native New Mexico cuisine is flavored by pungent native American peppers. It is simply delicious and very different from Tex-Mex and other Spanish-inspired foods. There are also over 400 restaurants in Santa Fe.
If you are looking for art and entertainment, Santa Fe has what you seek. It is home to over 250 galleries and abounds with native American art and jewelry as well as art from around the world. The city also has 20 major museums and many government buildings (including the state capitol) as which house many precious pieces of art. The city also boasts an opera company, dance companies and an orchestra.
The town’s history is amazing, rivalling places like At. Augustine and Boston. The nation’s oldest state capital, established in 1610, Santa Fe is the site of the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied government building (dating from1610), the oldest house and church are nearby and the Santa Fe Fiesta dates from 1712.
The best way to take it all (including some attractions elsewhere in New Mexico) is to purchase a New Mexico Culture Pass for only $30. It includes admission to eight museums and seven historic sights.
Santa Fe can be reached by highway, air or train.
- By car, Santa Fe is on Interstate 25, between Albuquerque and Las Vegas, New Mexico.
- By air, the nearest major airport is the Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), 65 miles distant.
- By train, the nearest Amtrak station is Albuquerque, 63 miles away. The New Mexico Rail Runner Express train connects Santa Fe with the Albuquerque Amtrak station 7 days per week.
- There are no cruise ports near this inland location.
Must-Sees For A Short Trip
- The shops and sights at the Santa Fe Plaza, epicenter of downtown.
- The Railyard shops, restaurants and farmers’ market (Tues. and Sat.).
- Canyon Road, the gallery district.
- Museum Hill, home to several good museums.
If You Have Several Days, Some of Your Best Options Are:
- A road trip to Taos, another artsy town. Spectacular scenery along the way on both the high and low roads.
- A performance at the Santa Fe Opera, in season.
- A visit to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.
- A cooking class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking,
- Touring the New Mexico State Capitol (good art!).
- Jewelry shopping (expensive but wide selection of authentic native American hand-made items).
Sidebar: Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing The Simply Smart Travel Way For Santa Fe: Santa Fe is very artsy and you’ll want to look good and fit in. Think resort casual and you will be fine. Wear comfortable shoes.
Sidebar: This Destination At A Glance
Over 50 Advantage: Great galleries, gourmet restaurants, walkable attractions, opportunities for relaxation and good public transportation.
Mobility Level:. Moderate with no notable impediments.
When To Go: Indian Market in August is popular but crowded. September through November is less crowded and the weather is good.
Where To Stay: The La Fonda On The Plaza Hotel is in the heart of things. The Inn Of The Governors is also recommended. There is a good selection of national lodging chains and bed and breakfast properties.
Special Travel Interests: Native American art, adobe architecture, history.