Santa Fe, New Mexico has a lot to offer. Here’s a perfect travel guide to help you plan the best vacation in the “The City Different” of the United States of America
Santa Fe is a city of superlatives. Sculpted on the foundation of Native American, Spanish and Anglo cultures, it is where the fine arts flourish, New Mexican Cuisine rules the dining table and Adobe are still the preferred building material. At 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe offers visitors a culturally diverse experience served in the most authentic way. It’s over 300 days of the sunshine per year and above-average air quality has been attracting visitors for centuries. With walkable neighborhoods dominated by pueblo-style architecture and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains cradling the city, Santa Fe has preserved its warm, inviting, small-town feel. No matter what interest, season, food, culture and nature buff you are, Santa Fe will give you enough reasons to have a life-long affair with it. Here’s a Perfect Travel Guide for Santa Fe, New Mexico Points of Interest to help you navigate your way through “the City Different”.
Related: My US Trip: Experiencing Santa Fe, “the City Different”
Best Time to Go
Santa Fe is a destination for every season. Although it is a high mountain desert, its weather has four distinct but hospitable seasons. You can choose your visit depending on your interests. Summer is the peak season when the days are hot and ideal for long outings, but the shoulder seasons of fall and spring are pleasant too with some fantastic festivals. Winters is an ideal time for skiing, thanks to the generous amount of Powdery snow it gets.
Santa Fe has been attracting travelers for long, thanks to 325 days of glorious sunshine a year. December is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 43°F (6°C), and July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 86°F (30°C). The city gets its share of monsoon in late summer, where it rains for about an hour most afternoons.
Fly direct to Santa Fe Municipal Airport from Phoenix and Dallas via American Airlines or from Denver via United Airlines.
Fly to Albuquerque, one hour South of Santa Fe, from 22 major cities of the US. New Mexico Railrunner provides daily comfortable train service to Santa Fe.
The best thing about Santa Fe is how convenient and cheap it is to navigate through the city. There are plenty of options and most are free. While the downtown and Canyon Road are walkable, you’ll need a car or Santa Fe Pickup (a free shuttle) to visit the rest of Santa Fe. The RTD Blue Bus is another very good free option. Uber is a reasonable too.
Santa has great stay options to suit any kind of budget. Either you can stay near downtown or out in the middle of the desert. Near the Santa Fe Plaza, you’ll find several gorgeous hotels—most built in the adobe-pueblo style—with Southwestern décor and contemporary art. Additionally, you can find destination resorts in Ojo Caliente, Ranchos de Albuquerque, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where amenities include horseback trail rides, fields of lavender, and a full Japanese onsen spa.
I stayed at Inn on The Alameda, nestled in the heart of the city, minutes away from the historic Santa Fe Plaza and the Canyon Road. The 72 rooms and suites hotel built in distinctive Pueblo-style architecture is spread across two acres and ten buildings.
I was booked in Santa Fe Suites, which combined the fine amenities of a boutique hotel with the peaceful and welcoming feeling of a private home. My bed was king-size, a separate living area equipped with a sofa, a wet bar with Keurig coffee maker and Newman’s Own organic coffee, a mini-refrigerator, an in-room safe, a Kiva fireplace and a fancy bathroom.
Staying at Inn on the Alameda, was like staying at a friend’s place having a fine taste. From hardwood floors to hand loomed rugs to distinctive regional artwork (which I was told is handpicked by the owners themselves from Mexico); everything reflected Santa Fe’s flair of its artistic heritage.
The daily lavish buffet breakfast and 4-5 pm complimentary wine-and-cheese hour were delightful. The front desk staff, the restaurant staff, and the housekeeping staff were all very friendly and helpful. It was nice being around so many smiling and friendly people. They were so helpful that they became my de facto travel guide, helping me explore places that I could have never explored myself. Their free shuttle was a great touch of customer service. All in all, it is a wonderful property, perfectly positioned to enjoy the downtown plaza and is staffed with great people. I highly recommend it.
Hotel Rates (depending on availability and season):
- Traditional Santa Fe rooms: with one or two queen beds start from $159 to $289 and with two queen beds or one king bed and a patio or balcony from $169 to $309
- Deluxe room: with one king bed ranges from $199 to $359 and with one king bed or two queen beds and a Kiva fireplace starts from $219 to $379
- Suites: from $259 to $629, depending on the season and the specific suite available
Other good places:
- La Fonda on the Plaza: A historical luxury hotel, which has become a city landmark. Doubles from $300.
- Four Seasons Rancho Encantado: A secluded resort with 65 casita-style guest rooms, each with its own fireplace and terrace. Doubles from $330.
- Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi: Just steps away from Santa Fe’s historic Plaza with 58-rooms, each incorporates local handcrafted textiles and paintings into its design. Doubles from $315.
- Sunrise Springs Spa Resort: A wellness resort having natural springs and 70 acres of gardens, walking trails, and undeveloped desert. Doubles from $280.
- Drury Plaza: Located in downtown Santa Fe having spacious 182-rooms. Doubles from $170.
Restaurants & Cafés
- il Piatto Farmhouse Kitchen for farm fresh Italian food with locally sourced produce and meat
- Bell Tower at La Fonda for the best sunset and legendary margaritas served with select free starters
- Café Pasqual for the renowned Mexican and New Mexican cuisine.
- Kakawa Chocolate House for its chocolate elixirs
- Shake Foundation for the green-chile cheeseburger
Santa Fe New Mexico points of interest:
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
With more than 3,000 pieces dating from 1901 to 1984, it’s the largest permanent collection of O’Keeffe’s work in the world. Her collections offer a rare insight into her creative process including the light and landscape of Santa Fe which inspired her. It was the first museum in the United States dedicated to a female artist.
New Mexico History Museum / Palace of the Governors
This enormous world-class museum brings America’s West to life through interactive exhibits, photos, and displays. The Palace of the Governors, built in 1609, is the nation’s oldest continuously occupied government building.
The House of Eternal Return
This colorful, 22,000-square-foot, immersive multimedia art installation, created by the collective Meow Wolf, is the stuff of childhood imaginations. It is housed in an erstwhile bowling alley owned by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.
The mile-long second most iconic street in America is lined on both sides of the street with cutting-edge, conceptual and contemporary fine art galleries and studios.
The 50-acre neighborhood has a thriving art scene with vibrant art galleries, restaurants, Santa (one of the most widely recognized farmers’ markets in the United States), brewery, music venues and a movie theater.
Must visit for four distinct art institutions – the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of International Folk Art and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.
Ten Thousand Waves Spa
Ten minutes from downtown, nestled on a cliff top in Santa Fe’s mountains, the secluded Japanese-inspired spa is the ideal place to relax and soak away the stress after a long day of exploration. The natural, mineral-rich waters ranging in temperature from 80 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit can do wonders to the body and soul.
Plaza and downtown for Native American jewelry and souvenirs. Canyon road to buy art, fine leather goods, chic home furnishings and avant-garde jewelry. Kowboyz at Railyard-Guadalupe District for fantastic selection of used cowboy hats, boots and western wear.
Day Trips from Santa Fe
After you are done exploring Santa Fe (which can take an entire lifetime), you can take day trips to any or all of these places –
- O’Keeffe Country: the painted Mesa village of Abiquiu just 50 miles Northwest of Santa Fe. This is where O’Keeffe used to stay.
- Native American Pueblos: north of Santa Fe lies eight native American Pueblos. Taos Pueblo is a must visit.
- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks: the unique geological structures that lie southwest of Santa Fe.
- Los Alamos: the ancient native American cliff dwellings and petroglyphs, which are just twenty minutes away from Santa Fe.
Itinerary Suggestion: Santa Fe New Mexico points of interest
If you have only 1 DAY
- Day 1: Start by taking a tour of the Palace of the Governors and the Loretto Chapel in the historical center of Santa Fe. Afterward, stroll up the Santa Fe River to Canyon Road, the artistic heart of the city. Then take a short drive toward the foothills to Museum Hill, where you can visit the museum of International Folk Art, Spanish Colonial Art, and other collections. End your day by at the Plaza by shopping and enjoying fantastic dinner at any of the highly rated restaurants.
If you have 2 days
- Day 2: Begin your day on a healthy note by heading to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market at Railyard District and view contemporary art at the world class art space SITE Santa Fe. If you feel tired after, head to Ten Thousand Waves Spa. In the evening, you can enjoy performing arts or take a cooking class or join a guided photography tour. And if you want to get a heady mix then you can’t miss the Margarita Trail.
If you have 3 days
- Head out on a day trip to Taos Pueblo or any other day trip mentioned above. If you are an adventure lover then head out for a half-day, or full-day of outdoor fun of hiking, white-water river rafting, mountain biking, skiing or a hot-air balloon ride.
If you have 4-7
- Day 4-6: Take another day trip or indulge in more outdoor activities. And keep trying new and interesting restaurants in downtown, Canyon Road, Railyard or Museum Hill.
- Day 7: Wrap up your Santa Fe trip with a relaxed day. Just explore the city thoroughfares without any fixed agenda. Talk to locals, sample the gourmet coffees and teas. Don’t forget to try chocolate elixir at Kakawa Chocolate House and a green-chile cheeseburger at Shake Foundation. Don’t leave the city without enjoying your one last glorious sunset at Bell Tower, La Fonda on the plaza. End your day with the traditional authentic New Mexican meal at Café Pasqual. Fly back to your home with a bag full of memories next morning.
Hope this Perfect Travel Guide for Santa Fe, New Mexico helps you discover the timeless and earthy soul of the city.
I would love to hear back from you if you likes these Santa Fe New Mexico points of interest or did I miss out on something?
And if you love my stories and want me to continue writing, please don’t forget to share this story on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. Remember your one small effort can make a hell lot of difference to a writer’s life.
Related: Traveling to the USA soon? Don’t forget to read The USA Travel – Things you should know before your visit
I was in Santa Fe on the invitation of Tourism Santa Fe. All views expressed above are mine and based on my experience and interactions during my stay at Santa Fe. All pictures are either taken by me or provided by Tourism Santa Fe
This is such a great guide all done so well in a single post. I had no idea there was so much to do in Santa Fe but you covered this comprehensively together with accommodation and food and beverage options as well as suggested itineraries depending on the length of a person’s stay. Just brilliant and I also loved your photos.
Thanks a lot Nicole for your kind words. I am so glad my post impressed me. I really fell in love with Santa Fe and wanted to share my love for the city with others as well.
It is a destination that you cannot fall out of love, once you have visited it. There’s so much to explore in that city. I absolutely recommend it.
This is great and informative post about Santa Fe, especially for first-time visitors like me. I love the strong Mexican cultural heritage there, must feel like you’re in Mexico and not the US! The photos are really great and make me want to visit sooner rather than later!
Thanks a lot for dropping by and sharing your feedback. The best part about Santa Fe was that it didn’t have one cultural influence but tricultural – Native American, Spanish and Anglo. And that reflected in everything – architecture, food, art etc.
You must visit Santa Fe and discover it yourself. I am sure like me you’ll totally love it.
This is a great guide. I love a guide which includes recommendations for everything just like this one. The pictures are really appealing too. Hearing so much about Santa Fe recently really made me want to go
I am so glad you found the Santa Fe Travel Guide useful. And you should absolutely visit the place. You’ll definitely fall in love with it.
The free Santa Fe Pick-up shuttle is perfect if your staying outside of the historic center. The weather is almost guaranteed with 300 days of sun per year in Santa Fe. You’ve captured some wonderful images, it looks like you were there on one of those 300 days!
I agree Santa fe Pick-up shuttle was such a saviour. And the frequency is so good too.I actually had a mix of weather. First two days it snowed out of nowhere and then it was sunny. Got the best of both the worlds 🙂
That’s a very useful post! I must say I was expecting this post, soon after I read your last! The railrunner train looks so comfortable! The Almada hotel does look sophisticated and chic! The colorful multimedia installations look awesome!
Thanks a lot Bhushavali for your kind words. Santa Fe had everything. It’s really impossible to pinpoint something that I didn’t like. Everything was perfect. Would love to go back any day.
Oh now I want to visit The House of Eternal Return. I’ve never heard of it before. But it looks such a fun place!! The hotel you suggest looks cool too!
The House is Eternal Return was a great surprise. Totally loved it. And Inn on the Alameda was such a cool place to stay. I felt as if I was staying in a Latin hotel. And the staff was super nice.
This isn’t somewhere I’d ever considered going but it looks really fascinating. Love the arts and railyard
Thanks Anne for the comment. Actually when I planned my trip, Santa Fe wasn’t even in my list of places to visit but then a friend convinced me to check it out. And bwoy what a great decision it was. I would have missed out on a fantastic experience if I had not visited it. Must visit place.
What an extensive and useful guide to Santa Fe! Thank you so much for your tips and itineraries. We’re thinking to visit New Mexico and Arizona next year, and your guide comes in quite handy! We’ll certainly consider going to some of the places you’ve mentioned here!
Thanks a lot for your kind words. I am glad you found it useful. New Mexico really surprised me a lot. I did Arizona too. Will be soon writing about it as well. Do look out for the stories from the Grand Canyon state.
I didn’t even know that Santa Fe existed till I stumbled upon this blog. Good to know that it’s a tourist magnet since centuries. Complementary wine-and-cheese hour sounds like my kind of thing. I hope they had vegetarian cheese and wine though. To me a cheerful and helpful staff is more important than mere luxury. Glad you found both.
Thanks a lot Abhinav. It’s always a nice gesture when a hotel provides something extra. And staying at Alameda on the Inn was really a fantastic experience. And yes, as a vegetarian I didn’t struggle at all in Santa Fe. In fact food is one of the reason why I would go back 🙂
Santa Fe was a place that always interested me very much. It has always been on my bucket list. Your photos make me want to return even more.
Thanks a lot for the appreciation. Santa Fe has a certain small town charm to it that attracts you like a magnet. Once you have been to Santa Fe, you can’t stop but keep returning. Hope you get to visit it soon..
Thanks for this wonderful post about Santa Fe! I have not visited and your information gave me a great overview of what to expect and places to go. I love your images too!
It’s looks like such an inviting place with a rich history.
I hadn’t considered Santa Fe as a destination for travel – you’ve given me reason to rethink that!
As a travel writer, our biggest ask is how to paint a picture of the experience you had. It’s really a difficult task. And trust me if people can feel what you felt, it’s the biggest compliment a writer can ever get. I am so glad my writing could inspire Santa Fe wanderlust in you.
Looking forward to hearing soon about your experience in Santa Fe.
This is definitely somewhere I would go. I love the sunshine and also love visiting sights that are very old!
Thanks a lot Natasha for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. With the kind of interests you have, I am sure you’ll love santa Fe.
Looks like an amazing place to go!!
It surely is, Erika. You have to see it yourself to see how unique Santa Fe is.
Wow, what a fantastic travel guide! This must have taken you a very long time to put together…much appreciated by those of us interested in traveling to Santa Fe.
Thanks a lot Mike for the generous appreciation. I was so touched by Santa Fe’s hospitality that I had to share a travel guide, which could inspire people to travel to that beautiful city. It definitely deserves lot of limelight.
Thank you for such an informative guide on Santa Fe! I didn’t know that there’s so much you can do there! I would for sure be interested in hitting all the gems offering New Mexican cuisine. But I would be interested in visiting The House of Eternal Return as well!
I am glad to know that you liked the Travel Guide I shared on Santa Fe. New Mexican Cuisine and Meow Wow is definitely a crowd puller.
Very impressive artistic heritage displayed in the rooms. The guide is informative and good, definitely of help to those who plan to visit there. Very well photographed too.
Thanks a lot for dropping by and sharing your comment. Santa Fe was love at first sight for me. It stays with you long after you have left the city.
I love George O’Keefe work, so I’d totally go visit her museum! And that old cemetery would be an amazing place to photograph! (I have this thing for cemeteries!) What a fun and colorful post about Santa Fe!
I loved her museum too. Very thought-provoking and gives an insider view on her life. Actually I am not much into museums but Santa Fe changed that for me. Every museum I went to was so unique and engaging. I would totally recommend them to anyone.
I feel Santa Fe is bit underrated. There’s so much to explore there. Must visit place in the US.
I wonder how do you notice and remember such details and then write them so perfectly. Your blog is like a super blessing. Anyone who have not travelled even out of his city can use your blog and travel safely and confidently. Wonderful. Just amazing. Keep it up. Good to know you. Thanks to instagram.
I must say I am floored by your generous appreciation. Thanks a lot. Travel is much more than just recreation for me and I look at places from a very different and immersive angle. And that’s what I try to share with my readers. If my writing can inspire wanderlust in someone, then my job is done 🙂
your pictures are very nice and from the story line seems you had a lot of fun
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. When I arrived in Santa Fe, I had already been to the most picturesque places of Arizona and California. The benchmark was set pretty high, still Santa Fe delighted me. I am so glad to have visited it.
If you are ever traveling in southern West, you should absolutely visit Santa Fe.
I haven’t venture that way of the sphere yet, and Santa Fe looks like a great place to explore, the hotel looks nice too, and so much to do, something that need checking out.
It was my first time too in that region and I am so glad I took that journey. Travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring unexplored places. I really loved Santa Fe and its people. Inn on the Alameda was fantastic and I would recommend it to everyone.
This is indeed an information packed and detailed guide to Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a very intriguing and interesting place, and there is so much to see and experience. I found The House of Eternal Return to be something I would be really keen to visit, something that has captured my imagination.
Thanks for sharing your generous feedback. I am humbled 🙂 Santa Fe is sensational and truly the city different. I loved everything about it. I had not seen anything before like Meow Wolf and i loved it.
You should definitely check it out.
I really didn’t know much about Santa Fe before reading your article, but you’ve provided me with so much information about what an amazing destination it is! I’d love to go sometime. I think I’d like to go in the fall or spring 🙂
I am so glad you found the article useful. Santa Fe looks sensational in Spring and Fall. Perfect season. You should definitely go that time.
Just realized I’ve actually never read a single article about Santa Fe so it was so interesting to read. Your guide is indeed very useful mentioning all of the important aspects. 300 days of sunlight a year sounds pretty good! I would love to try the local cuisine!
It’s not surprising that many people don’t know about it. In fact just yesterday I was talking to someone and he confused New Mexico with Mexico. Both New Mexico and Santa Fe are really underrated.But it’s really worth visiting.
I am glad you found my article useful. Their food is wonderful. Paradise for foodies.
Thanks a lot. I am glad you found the article useful.
This is such a detailed guide! Really well put together and helpful. I love that you have even included information about the seasons to visit. Thank you much for this!
I am so glad you liked my article. Thanks a lot for the appreciation. In my mind seasons information is very important as it can make or break your trip 🙂
Santa Fe is one of my favorite US cities! It’s been a few years sine I’ve been and I’m planning a trip sometime this year to bring my daughter. I love their architecture, the local markets and food. Such a great weekend getaway!
That’s so nice to know that you love Santa Fe too. I agree with so much happening in the city, it’s a great place to visit in every season.
That’s a nice and comprehensive guide on Santa Fe. Hope to visit sometime 🙂
I shall be saving this link for future to help me plan , whenever it happens.
Thanks a lot, Nisha. Santa Fe was really a beautiful discovery. I really loved my time there. Can’t wait to go back. You must plan a trip to Santa Fe. You’ll love it.
Love your post Archana…and this really inspires me to make another trip to US, especially to New Mexico 🙂
Your pictures are so beautiful too…kabhi humare saath bhi ghoomne chalo 🙂
Thanks a lot for your kind words. I am so glad you got inspired to visit New Mexico. That’s the best compliment I could ask for.
And I would love to travel with you again. You are such an amazing company.
Ive not heard much about this place however after reading this I really want to go. When people say Mexico I automatically think Cancun but knowing there is soo much more to see in different places. I also think that its amazing that there is free transport round the city! I love this as where I come from everything costs money, nothing is free!
It’s so good to stay in hotels that feel like home. Glad you could live in one in Santa Fe. Loved this comprehensive guide – will surely help us plan our trip in future!
Santa Fe really has my attention now. The train service (and basically all transportation) seems so comfortable for public transport. The Alamada Hotel seems great, especially the complimentary wine and cheese!
Outstanding story there. What happened after? Thanks!