Santa Fe: A Walkable Wonder

Photos and text courtesy of Tourism Santa Fe

Come learn about the evolving history of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the oldest (412 years!) and highest elevation (7,199 feet!) capital city in the United States. A visit here is always in season; however, there’s a sweetness to these early winter months when there are fewer tourists and the character of this small city (population 85,000) really shines.

Embrace the city’s blended historic and contemporary culture by walking through a few neighborhoods in search of galleries, museums, shops and restaurants. Pause for reflection at a spa, luxuriate in a world-class locally crafted meal, or take advantage of easy access to the open space and the Sangre de Cristo mountains, beckoning from every vantage point.

Walk the neighborhoods to find the soul of Santa Fe  

Plaza & Downtown

From the oldest church in the United States to the Palace of the Governors—America’s oldest continuously occupied public building—the original city center of the historic Plaza and downtown is full of classic architecture, much of which is now inhabited by eclectic restaurants, hotels, galleries, boutiques and bookstores. Reserve a small budget to purchase authentic art and jewelry from New Mexico’s Pueblo artisans through the Native American Vendors Program, operating for more than six decades. Take some extra time to see the unique New Mexico State Capital—the only circular state capitol building in the United States—known as the Roundhouse. And no visit is complete without time at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, a testament to the 20th century artist’s enchantment with Northern New Mexico, and Santa Fe’s with her. The Plaza area also hosts the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico History Museum, and the IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Make this neighborhood your home at one of its many world-class hotels. 

Canyon Road

The Canyon Road neighborhood is the heart of Santa Fe’s gallery scene, boasting the highest density of galleries (100-plus) in the country along a half-mile, tree-lined pedestrian-friendly stretch. Once all private homes, the charming adobe buildings now host pieces ranging from contemporary to traditional, Western to Native American, traditional to abstract created by artists from all over the world.  Artist-led events and outdoor festivals, including the annual Christmas Eve Farolito Walk, add to the magic and charm of this historic neighborhood, while small eateries, cafes and award-winning, fine-dining restaurants ensure that visitors of Canyon Road stay nourished and lively as they peruse the widest variety of art Santa Fe has to offer. 

Railyard & Guadalupe 

Contemporary lofts, quirky vintage shops, galleries and museums mark the neighboring Railyard and Guadalupe districts, home to the Santa Fe Farmers Market (open Tuesdays and Saturdays), Violet Crown Cinema, Jean Cocteau Cinema, and many of Santa Fe’s most popular restaurants and pubs. The contemporary art space SITE Santa Fe is a must-see. The Railyard Artisan Market (open Sundays) and Santa Fe Artists Market (open Saturdays), along with El Museo Mercado and a spread of small local shops, make this an optimal neighborhood for shopping as well. The 10-acre Railyard Park features lovely walking paths, an imaginative playground, community gardens, and lots of open space. At the Santa Fe Depot—the northern terminus of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter line and once the end of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line—climb aboard Sky Railway’s artfully refurbished rail cars, offering themed entertainment to and from the Lamy station, 18 miles to the south. And take a peek at the adjacent New Mexico School for the Arts, a state-chartered high school, to see how its architecture has incorporated the former Sanbusco Market Center, a busy building supply warehouse from the late 1800s.  

Experience the outdoors to feel the freedom of high-altitude terrain

Amid the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, the Rio Grande Valley to the south and west, and the Jemez Mountains for your sunsets, enthusiasts can often ski, bike, hike and fish all in the same week, no matter the time of year. From the mountain slopes of Ski Santa Fe to the foothill trails of Santa Fe’s Dale Ball Trail system and the waterways of Northern New Mexico, there is an abundance of beautiful terrain for you to enjoy, all under blue skies. Just moments from downtown, you can find piñon-juniper and ponderosa/coniferous forests, so take advantage of the clean, clear air, and get your personal adventure started. Find some ideas at santafe.org.

 

Rejuvenate at the spas to reflect on the beauty of Santa Fe

Santa Fe offers many relaxation and renewal choices—massage and spa treatments, yoga, soaking, meditation and various retreat options and workshops. Choose from private practice massage therapists or those at resorts and hotels with in-house spas. Or discover what Northern New Mexico’s Indigenous peoples have long known: A soak in natural mineral hot springs has a magical power to heal and rejuvenate. Ten Thousand Waves, Ojo Santa Fe, and Ojo Caliente feature communal and private soaking options, and all are within easy, scenic driving distance. Seeking meditation and retreat options? Look into programs through multiple Zen centers, yoga studios and fitness clubs. However you like to relax and renew, Santa Fe can support you on your journey.

Satisfy your appetite for fresh world-class cuisine

You’ve heard of farm to table? Well, in Santa Fe, it’s also farm to chef! Among the thousands of Santa Fe Farmers Market goers each year are many of the city’s longtime, award-winning chefs, who have a favorite farmer for each ingredient on their menus. Some chefs have formed deeper relationships, collaborating on grow and harvest plans to ensure not only the sustainability of the farm, but the promise of their restaurant’s brand as a destination for ethically and locally sourced, fresh food. This is just one reason you will eat well in Santa Fe! Another is that the city is home to the only AAA Four Diamond restaurants in the state of New Mexico, and it boasts several chefs who have been nominated for the James Beard Best Chef: Southwest awards. Truly, all of Santa Fe’s chefs are artists, always honing their craft, and integral members of our community, heralded for their talent and service. So you can be sure you will enjoy remarkable meals inspired by regional ingredients from green and red chile to blue corn, and sample international flavors and modern fusion options at hundreds of award-winning, one-of-a-kind, locally owned restaurants. And, with more than 40 stops along the Santa Fe Margarita Trail, you’ll want to purchase a passport or download the app to plan your meals based on your margs! 

Still curious? Santa Fe is just four hours from Amarillo. Visit santafe.org to start planning your trip today.

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