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Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Learn more about Santa Fe, New Mexico using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Santa Fe, New Mexico so great!

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City Guide

Santa Fe, founded in 1607, is the capital of the state of New Mexico in the United States. With an elevation of 7000 feet, it is not only the United States' oldest state capital but its highest. With a population of about 70,000, it's not the largest capital, but that's part of its charm. Santa Fe is consistently rated one of the world's top travel destinations for its confluence of scenic beauty, long history (at least by American standards), cultural diversity, and an extraordinary concentration of arts, music and fine dining.


Santa Fe was once the capital of Spain's, and then Mexico's, territories north of the Rio Grande, but its visible history extends far back into time beyond the arrival of the Spanish; it is thought to have been the site of Puebloan villages that had already been long abandoned by the time the Spanish arrived in 1607. It became the state capital when the territory of New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912.

In the early 20th century, the area attracted a number of artists, such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. The region remains important on America's art scene. The arrival of Igor Stravinsky and the founding of the Santa Fe Opera, one of the world's leading opera companies, had a similarly invigorating and enduring influence on the musical community. Many people go to Santa Fe for spiritual gatherings and to practice meditative arts at the many spas and resorts that are in and around Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is rooted in paradoxes. On the one hand, it is one of the United States' oldest cities (by some reckonings the oldest), and many residents can trace their roots, and property holdings in town, back to the 17th century. On the other hand, it has also been the target of a teeming influx of wealthy immigrants in the last 30 years or so that has spurred a great deal of new construction and created outrageous prices for real estate -- and drastically elevated taxes on old family properties, many of which are owned by families that can't afford the taxes. The tension between new and old, rich and poor, etc., is a persistent undercurrent in the community. These and other factors (not the least of which is a well-deserved reputation as a haven for flamboyant characters) contribute to one of Santa Fe's enduring and proudly-worn nicknames: "The City Different."

Much of the city's attractiveness, from both scenic and cultural perspectives, arises from its setting in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This location produces a mild continental climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are pleasant, with day-time highs usually in the 40s (Fahrenheit), often "feeling" warmer due to the sunny conditions. Snow varies wildly from year to year; some winters see almost no snow, while others will have several individual storms dropping a foot or more each. (The sun and high altitude mean that roads usually aren't clogged too badly, even by the big storms, for more than a day or two, as the snow melts rapidly.) Spring, usually dry and moderate in temperature, is still probably the least pleasant time to visit from a weather perspective, because of strong winds. Early summer (June, early July) is hot and dry, with highs around 90, but gives way around mid-July to a truly delightful climate as summer, monsoonal thunderstorms peel off the mountains and cool the afternoons down. Bring rainwear if visiting in July or August. The monsoons typically die out in early September leading to a fall with dry, sunny days and clear, crisp evenings; first frost is usually in October, with snow starting to stick in the mountains at about that time.

One caution: the elevation is high enough to challenge the lungs of the visitor freshly up from sea level. It's wise to spend your first day here on relatively sedentary activities (museums, walking the downtown area) and move to more active things after you've had a little while to acclimatize.

Get in

By plane

Commercial air service into the Santa Fe Airport (IATA: SAF) exists but is distinctly limited. If entering New Mexico via the larger Albuquerque airport, simply rent a car and drive, as there is currently no commuter air service connecting these two airports. You can also take one of the shuttle buses such as Sandia Shuttle, which will pick you up at the Albuquerque airport and drop you off at one of a handful of locations in Santa Fe. The flights directly into Santa Fe all originate instead in Denver.

By rail

The major Amtrak route across the Southwest approaches but does not enter Santa Fe. The nearest Amtrak station is at Lamy about 15 miles south of town on US Highway 285. Shuttle-bus service is available from Lamy to Santa Fe and is coordinated with Amtrak's Southwest Chief train.

By car

Santa Fe lies along Interstate 25, which skirts the city. Be suspicious of weather conditions if coming to Santa Fe on this road. Santa Fe is nearly 1500' (half a kilometer) above Albuquerque, and on I-25, most of the elevation change is on a single long, steep hill known as "La Bajada." La Bajada hill is hairy to drive during winter snowstorms and is frequently closed for periods of several hours. North of town, I-25 goes over a moderate pass along the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains before heading out into the plains; this too can be closed during blizzards, although La Bajada is the main problem.

If conditions are good and you're not in a hurry, consider using back roads as an alternative to I-25 if coming from Albuquerque. State road 14 passes along the east side of the Sandia Mountains and through the quaint little towns of Madrid and Cerrillos before joining the interstate just south of Santa Fe.

Travelers following the Route 66 itinerary should note that Santa Fe was on the "original" Route 66, although it was bypassed during the 1930s as a result of some curious political shenanigans and the much shorter, "modern" Route 66 didn't go anywhere near here. See the "Original alignment in New Mexico" section of the Route 66 article for tips on how to get here "authentically." Coming from points east, you might also consider entering town via the Santa Fe Trail itinerary, which shares roads with the Route 66 itinerary near Santa Fe.

Get around

Santa Fe has a small but vibrant downtown that is not only walkable, but walked, often, by many people late into the nights, particularly in summertime when the tourists flood in. Parking can be a significant problem during the summer and is not exactly easy to get at any time of year, but look for parking lots (fee) near St. Francis Cathedral, Sweeney Center, and between Water and San Francisco Streets west of the Plaza. If in town for the Santa Fe Indian Market, plan on parking a loooong way from downtown and taking a shuttle, e.g. from De Vargas Mall. Limited, but improving, public transportation is available at other times via Santa Fe Trails, the city's bus service.

The main roads through town are St. Francis Drive (US 84/285) from north to south, Cerrillos Road (NM SR 14) from the downtown area southwest to I-25 and beyond, Old Santa Fe Trail and its offshoot Old Pecos Trail from downtown southeast to I-25, and St. Michaels Drive and Rodeo Road and its offshoots, both connecting Old Pecos Trail and Cerrillos east to west. Most outlying attractions are accessible via one of these roads. The downtown area is a remarkable rat's warren of small roads that you really don't want to drive on; park your car and walk. Streets there tend to wander (Paseo de Peralta, one of the main roads in the downtown area, almost completes a loop) and, even when apparently rectilinear, are not necessarily aligned to true north/south/east/west.

If you're bound for the Santa Fe Opera from Albuquerque or points south, consider taking the Santa Fe Relief Route (NM SR 599), which leaves I-25 south of the Cerrillos Road exit, bypasses most of Santa Fe, and meets US 84/285 just south of the Opera. This can be a good way of getting to lodging and restaurants on the north side of town (e.g. Gabriel's, cited below) as well; although it's a few miles out of the way, the much less chaotic driving, particularly around rush hour, provides considerable compensation.


Like many towns initiated by the Spanish, Santa Fe has a central square that is a gathering place for all types. For hours of entertainment, pull up a bench and people watch; you'll rapidly gain an appreciation for how the "City Different" nickname applies. Especially nice in the summer evenings as the temperatures drop (although rain may drop as well) and the people come out.

The Santa Fe Southern Railway offers sightseeing railroad rides from the railroad station in the middle of town, to Lamy to the south (with the Amtrak station). The good news is that there are several departures, some involving food service (check the web site), and the train itself is interesting and colorful. The bad news is that the route that it follows, although advertised by the railway as featuring "the subtle beauty of the high desert," is generally not as scenic as the really scenic high country to the north and east, or simply walking around the downtown area. Fares start at $32 round-trip for adults, with discounts for seniors and children.


Santa Fe has a variety of interesting museums, most in the downtown area and easily reached on foot. Museum Hill, south of downtown, is accessible via public transportation. The first five listed below are sub-units of the Museum of New Mexico, for which you can buy a shared pass that allows access to all five museums within a four-day period. If you only have time for one, individual passes are available.

  • Palace of the Governors, 105 E Palace Ave (on Santa Fe Plaza), +1 505 476-5100. Tu-Th, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-8PM. The oldest public building in the United States, this 17th-century building houses a historical museum and museum shop, the latter with better Hispanic crafts than Native American. $7 (free Friday after 5PM).
  • Museum of Fine Arts, 107 W Palace Ave (just west of the Palace of the Governors), +1 505 476-5072. Tu-Th, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-8PM. It has been outflanked by the O'Keeffe Museum to some extent, but has a somewhat more diverse, although still New-Mexico-centric, collection. The Museum's St. Francis Auditorium is one of the primary venues in town for concerts, particularly of a classical or folk flavor. $7 (senior/youth/resident discounts, free Friday after 5PM).
  • Museum of International Folk Art, 706 Camino Lejo (on "Museum Hill"), +1 505 476-1200. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. $7, with several discounts and occasional free days; discount pass for Museum of New Mexico applies.
  • Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, 750 Camino Lejo (on "Museum Hill"), +1 505 982-2226. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. $6 (discount pass for Museum of New Mexico applies). Newest of the Museum Hill museums.
  • Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, 710 Camino Lejo (on "Museum Hill"), +1 505 476-1250. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. $7, with several discounts and free admission on occasion; discount pass for Museum of New Mexico applies. Includes the Laboratory of Anthropology.
  • Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, 217 Johnson Street (just north of downtown), +1 505 946-1000. M-Tu, Th-Su 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-8PM. Devoted to the 20th-century artist who settled near Abiquiu, a small town north of Santa Fe. $8 (senior/youth discounts, free Friday nights after 5PM).
  • Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, 704 Camino Lejo, Toll-free: 800-607-4636. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. The only one of the Museum Hill museums that is not part of the Museum of New Mexico. Excellent Native American art collection, with a quaint little gift shop, the Case Trading Post, that sells superb examples of Native arts that reflect the quality of the collection. Frequent special events. Free.
  • Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, 108 Cathedral Place (downtown across the street from St. Francis Cathedral), +1 505 983-8900. The Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) is a long-standing Santa Fe institution that also sponsors the Santa Fe Indian Market (see under "Do"/"Festivals"). Its museum is in an old building on the National Register of Historic Places and is open M-Sa 10-5, Su 12-5.
  • Rancho de los Golondrinas, 334 Los Pinos Road (well outside the center of town), +1 505 471-2261, Fax: +1 505 471-5623, [14]. June-Sep W-Su 10AM-4PM. A "living history" museum portraying Spanish colonial days. In May you'll be dodging swarms of bored children on school field trips; visiting in the fall is better. Adult $5, Children 5-12 $2 (more during special events).
  • Santa Fe Children's Museum, 1050 Old Pecos Trail (a mile or so south of downtown), +1 505 989-8359, Fax: +1 505 989-7506, W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Many participatory exhibits and various accessible critters. $4; adults should be accompanied by children (sic!).


  • There are several photogenic churches in town, most of them open for visits during daylight hours when no church services are in progress (please be respectful and don't attempt flash photography):
    • St. Francis Cathedral, 213 Cathedral Place (downtown area). One of the "must-see" places in town. A tip for the photographer: the main facade faces west, so photographing the exterior (including several striking sculptures such as the one at the top of this page) tends to be most rewarding, atypically for Santa Fe, in the middle of the day, particularly the afternoon.
    • Loretto Chapel, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail. Intriguing legend attached.
    • San Miguel Mission, 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, +1 505 983-3974. Su 1PM-4:30PM, Summer M-Sa 9AM-4:30PM, Winter M-Sa 10AM-4PM. Thought to be the oldest surviving mission church in the United States. Admission: donation.
    • Santuario de Guadalupe, 100 Guadalupe (downtown area). A favorite musical venue.
    • Scottish Rite Temple, 463 Paseo de Peralta (north of downtown but within walking distance of the Plaza). Startling, bright pink.

The Miraculous Staircase

Santa Fe's origins as a venture of early Spanish colonists have made it the home of a number of legends, myths and stories mixing indigenous and Catholic themes, one of the most famous being the legend of the Miraculous Staircase. The choir loft at Loretto Chapel is reached by a winding staircase with two complete revolutions, and no obvious means of support; it looks like it floats in the air. Legend says that a mysterious carpenter built this staircase single-handed in the 1870s, then vanished without a trace before he could be paid or even identified. Some say that this carpenter was none other than St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters, come to earth. When you visit Loretto Chapel, take a good look at the staircase and decide for yourself whether it requires divine intervention to stay intact.

  • The State Capitol Building, corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta (south of downtown), +1 505 986-4589. Self-guided tours M-F 7AM-6PM, call for guided tours. One of the country's most unusual and striking state capitol buildings, and is usually open to visitors during working hours. It's known locally as "the Roundhouse," and even a casual look will tell you why. Free.
  • An enormous number of Santa Fe structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. Rather than recapping the whole list here, visit the web site. A good way of sampling the Historic Places is to start at the Plaza (itself one of the designated places) and work your way out. At least 40 places on the Register can be reached conveniently from here.


There are many movie theaters spread around the city, and lots of art houses that play some of the more off-beat and humorous movies. A concentration of them can be found near the Sanbusco Center just south of the Plaza area.



Santa Fe hosts a seemingly unending series of community fairs, festivals and celebrations, of which the most characteristic is the Fiesta de Santa Fe. This grand city-wide festival is held over the weekend after Labor Day in mid-September, after most of the summer tourists have left (and has been described as Santa Fe throwing a party for itself to celebrate the tourists leaving!). The celebration commemorates the reconquest of Santa Fe in 1692 by the Spanish after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Fiesta opens with a procession bearing a statue of the Blessed Virgin known as La Conquistadora to the Cathedral of St. Francis. Revelry starts with the Thursday night burning of Zozobra, also known as "Old Man Gloom," a huge, animated figure whose demise at the hands of a torch-bearing dancer symbolizes the banishing of cares for the year. Prepare for BIG crowds - this event is not for the faint of heart and can be downright scary for small children! The crowning of a queen (La Reina) of the Fiesta and her consort, representing the Spanish nobleman, Don Diego de Vargas, who played a key role in the founding of the city, is a matter of great local import. Revelry continues through the weekend and features such events as the hilarious children's Pet Parade on Saturday morning and the Hysterical/Historical Parade on Sunday afternoon. A Fiesta Melodrama at the Community Playhouse effectively and pointedly pokes fun at city figures and events of the year past. The Fiesta closes with a solemn, candle-lit walk to the Cross of the Martyrs.

A few of the other festivities during the year, arranged in (usual) chronological order through the year, are:

  • ArtFeast, Edible Art Gallery Tour, February 22-25, 2007
  • Santa Fe Community Days, mid-May
  • Santa Fe Plaza Arts and Crafts Festivals, mid-June and Labor Day weekend
  • Rodeo de Santa Fe, late June-early July
  • Santa Fe Wine Festival, usually first weekend in July, located at Rancho de las Golondrinas, taste and enjoy some of the finest wines in New Mexico in the beautiful outdoor setting of a living history museum
  • International Folk Art Market, early July, a huge gathering of folk artists from around the world showing their work on the Milner Plaza at Museum Hill
  • Summer Antiquities Show, July
  • Santa Fe Jazz Festival, mid- to late July
  • Summer Spanish Market, late July in the Plaza
  • Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, with a series of internationally known musicians, July and August
  • Mountain Man Rendezvous, mid-August, Palace of the Governors
  • Santa Fe Indian Market. This annual mid-August event is the most significant Santa Fe festival for tourists and collectors. The entire downtown area is filled with vendors of American Indian arts and crafts, ranging from $10 tourist trinkets on up to breathtaking works of the highest quality. It advertises itself as the world's largest show for Native American artisans, and the description is probably accurate; an artisan who wins one of the top prizes in the juried competitions here is "made" as a significant folk art figure. Lodging is tight, so if you're attending, make plans early -- Indian Market weekend in 2007 is August 18-19.
  • Thirsty Ear Music Festival, August-September, Eaves Movie Ranch
  • Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta, in late September, pairs wines from vintners around the world with the spicy foods for which Santa Fe is known. Winemakers' dinners, special tastings and the Grand Tasting on the Santa Fe Opera grounds make for a vintage weekend! This event is a sell-out for Santa Fe, so lodging is at a premium - reserve early.
  • Santa Fe Film Festival, early December; the web site is usually updated in the fall to reflect the coming offerings
  • Winter Spanish Market, early December
  • Las Posadas, a pre-Christmas commemoration of Mary's and Joseph's search for lodging taking place outdoors on the Plaza
  • Farolito Walk, a Christmas Eve walk around the historic areas of downtown Santa Fe, throughout which have been set farolitos, small brown bags filled with sand and a votive candle, to light the way for the Christ Child
  • Winter Antiquities Show, late December

In addition, many of the Native American pueblo communities nearby schedule dances and other ceremonies to celebrate specific feast days throughout the year that welcome tourists (along with a few that are for tribe members only).


Santa Fe is an important center for music and musical groups, the most illustrious of which is the Santa Fe Opera. The opera house is on US 285 on the north side of town and is partially "open air," so that opera goers get attractive views of the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos as an additional backdrop to what's on stage. The Santa Fe Opera is known around the world for staging American and even world premieres of new works, the operas of Richard Strauss, and promising new artists on their way up (and, to be fair, one or two aging superstars each season who are on their way down, not up). Opera season is the summer, with opening night (tickets are almost impossible to get) usually around July 1 and the last performances in mid-August. (Bring a light jacket/wrap and an umbrella to the later performances; the open-air nature of the house can make August performances nippy and drippy, although seats are protected from the rain.) Many performances sell out well in advance, so book early. (KHFM radio, frequency 95.5 MHz, airs a "ticket exchange" that may be helpful in finding tickets to sold-out performances, if you find yourself in town on the spur of the moment during opera season; they currently stream their broadcast on-line at, so you can check the ticket exchange even before you arrive.) People-watching here can be as much fun as the opera itself; you'll see folks in the most expensive formal wear sitting next to others in jeans, which is typical of Santa Fe. Dressing up at least a little from jeans is a good idea, though.

Other important musical/performing-arts venues in town are:

  • Armory for the Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail; mainly theater.
  • GiG, 1808 Second St., +1 505 989-8442, a spinoff (they describe themselves as a "stepchild") of the Jazz Festival; coffee-house environment with jazz, folk music, etc.
  • Greer Garson Theatre, 1600 St. Michael's Drive, +1 505 473-6511. On the campus of the College of Santa Fe; visit the web site to see what's playing there. Comfortable, with good acoustics.
  • James A. Little Theater, 1060 Cerrillos Road. On the campus of the New Mexico School for the Deaf, remarkably enough.
  • Lensic Performing Arts Center, 225 W. San Francisco Street, box-office phone +1 505 988-1234. A converted movie theater with a pleasant atmosphere. As with most downtown sites, parking can be a pain, but there is a parking garage a block west that's usually OK in the evening.
  • Paolo Soleri Theater, 1501 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 989-6300. An outdoor amphitheater at the Santa Fe Indian School, popular for events in spring, summer and fall.
  • St. Francis Auditorium, at the Museum of Fine Arts (see above).
  • Sweeney Center, 201 W. Marcy (just north of downtown). The main convention center; all the ambience of a warehouse, but lots of seating for when big-name groups come to town.
  • In addition, many churches host concerts of various kinds, among them St. Francis Cathedral and the Santuario de Guadalupe downtown, and the remarkable Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community far out on the south side of town (11 College Avenue) -- extraordinary acoustics at the latter.

Some of the musical groups using these spaces are:

  • Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. A professional ballet company that splits its time between Santa Fe and Aspen, Colorado. Three or four performances a year, usually at the Lensic.
  • Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco/Institute for Spanish Arts. Internationally renowned Spanish/flamenco dance and music, summer season; they also offer classes (+1 505 955-8562 for class information).
  • Musica Antigua de Albuquerque. Many groups based in Albuquerque do performances in Santa Fe as well; this one specializes in music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, performed with period instruments as well as voices.
  • MusicOne: The Santa Fe Concert Association. Not a performing group but rather the body that brings in many visiting artists.
  • Sangre de Cristo Chorale. One of the best of the many "community-based" choral groups drawing on the enormous pool of skilled singers in northern New Mexico. Two repertoires per year (usually Christmas, with a well-regarded dinner concert, and spring), as well as special events throughout the year.
  • Santa Fe Desert Chorale . Fully professional choral music, with summer and winter programs, including works specifically commissioned for the ensemble.
  • Santa Fe Pro Musica. Chamber orchestra, multiple performances from September through April.
  • Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus. Classical and contemporary works performed September through May, including interpretive lectures and occasional youth concerts.
  • Santa Fe Women's Ensemble. A 12-voice choral group, performances Christmas and spring.
  • Serenata of Santa Fe. Yet another choral group with a September-to-May schedule.

There are others; if you hear one you like, add it.


As one might expect from its location between mountain and desert, Santa Fe is rich in outdoors activities, particularly hiking and cycling. Most are slightly outside town itself and are covered in the "Get out" section and pages cited there, but a few in-town possibilities:

  • Old Fort Marcy Park and Prince Park Commemorative Walkway, 300 Kearney Ave., is an in-town (one really can't call it "urban") park suitable for a short hike to begin getting your cardiovascular system adjusted to the 7000-foot altitude.
  • Santa Fe River Park runs along the so-called Santa Fe River (it rarely has more than a trickle of water), with access convenient along the south side of the downtown area. You'll share the path with myriad walkers, bikers and boarders.
  • The campus of St. John's College, 1160 Camino Cruz Blanca, is the starting point for several hikes of lengths ranging from 2 to 7 miles, the latter being the ascent of Atalaya Mountain, one of the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos that rises just east of town. Park at the visitors' parking lot and choose your hike. (Note: if you get lost on these or one of the other trails nearby, take solace from the fact that St. John's College is also the home of a nationally-recognized search and rescue team.)
  • Much of the route of the Santa Fe Southern Railway (see above under "See") is also hikeable. There are trailheads on Rabbit Road (continuation of Old Pecos Trail on the south side of I-25) and on County Road 660 ("Nine Mile Road"). Needless to say, keep an eye out for trains.

Note: if you're cycling, thorn-resistant tires and tubes are almost mandatory owing to the ubiquitous "goat's head," a weed whose seeds seem custom-made to puncture bike tires. A well-regarded bike shop is Rob and Charlie's, 1632 St. Michaels Drive, +1 505 471-9119. They have just about everything you'll need for riding in the area, including recommendations, but unfortunately, they don't have rental bikes. For rentals, try Mellow Velo (formerly Sun Mountain Bicycles), 102 E. Water St., +1 505 982-8986, they also offer guided rides on some of the mountain-bike routes in the mountains. For hiking, trail running and climbing goods and services, check out Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works, 328 S. Guadalupe St., +1 505 984-8221.


  • Santa Fe is probably the best place in the world to shop for specifically American Indian arts and crafts. How to proceed depends on what your goals are and how much you want to spend. If your goal is to obtain mementos of no great intrinsic value, check out the Native American vendors on the "Portal" (accent on second syllable) in front of the Palace of the Governors; the jewelry and pottery is inexpensive (of course, you get what you pay for) and its authenticity is guaranteed. Pickings may be a bit thin on Sundays, and the vendors pick up and go home after 5:30. A word of warning: do not patronize the similar vendors on sidewalks out around town unless you know they're OK. If they're not on the Portal, there's a reason, and one common reason is that they're passing off non-Indian junk as authentic. Some authentic artisans may be off the Portal, but caveat emptor.
For higher-quality (and -priced) Indian art that you'll feel good about when you get it home, galleries cluster around the Plaza. Three reputable ones (there are more) are
  • Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, 221 W. San Francisco, +1 505 986-1234, Summer M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 12PM-6PM; Winter M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su closed. Small, but high quality
  • Packard's, 61 Old Santa Fe Trail (at the southeast corner of the Plaza), +1 505 983-9421, Toll-free: 800-648-7358, Fax: +1 505 984-8174, An old standard with an excellent, diverse collection and some "Anglo" work as well
  • Ortega's on the Plaza, 101 W. San Francisco, +1 505 988-1866.
There are other good ones as well; if you find one that you think offers particularly good value for dollar, please expand this list. You can spend as little as $100 for a small piece, or spend more money than you have for something that's literally one-of-a-kind.
  • If you have any interest at all in "Anglo" art, make sure you walk down Canyon Road (an easy stroll from downtown), which is full of unique, quirky and just plain fun art galleries. Other galleries are west and south of the Plaza in the downtown area itself. A small sampling to give you a sense of what's there (note that opening hours at these can be somewhat erratic and are not always posted):
    • Allan Houser Gallery, 125 Lincoln Ave., +1 505 982-4705. Focuses on the work of the prominent 20th-century American sculptor. Tours of his compound are available on a reservation-only basis; call +1 505 471-1528 for details.
    • Gabriel Gallery, 6 Banana Lane (off US 285 north of town), +1 505 455-9230. Paintings, sculpture, jewelry; across the parking lot from the excellent Gabriel's restaurant (see below), and combines well with a meal there.
    • Gerald Peters Gallery, 1011 Paseo de Peralta, +1 505 954-5700. Open M-Sa 10AM-5PM. One of Santa Fe's "high-end" galleries, with works by some famous artists (Hurd, Remington, Miro, etc.), bearing six-digit price tags in some cases. If you're looking for inexpensive "souvenir" art, look elsewhere, but the serious art collector should definitely check this one out.
    • Klebau Photography Gallery, 220 E. Santa Fe Ave., +1 505 954-4777. The proprietor of this photography-oriented franchise is also deeply involved with Santa Fe's classical-music scene, and may be able to give you tips on what's playing if he's there (buying something doesn't hurt, of course).
    • Nedra Matteucci Fine Art, 555 Canyon Road, +1 505 983-2731. Traditional paintings and sculpture by contemporary European and American artists.
    • Nedra Matteucci Galleries, 1075 Paseo de Peralta, +1 505 982-4631. M-Sa 8:30AM–5PM. Another gallery by the well-known Santa Fe entrepreneur, this one with an emphasis on 19th- and 20th-century work, including a number of works from the art colony at Taos.
    • Shidoni Arts, Bishops Lodge Road (at the outlying village of Tesuque), +1 505 988-8001. M-Sa 9AM-5PM. 8 acres of sculpture garden display the diverse and eclectic -- some would say peculiar -- work of the locally-celebrated Shidoni Foundry, along with furniture, ceramics, photography, etc.
    • William R. Talbot Fine Art, 129 W. San Francisco St. (upstairs), +1 505 982-1559. Specializing in antique maps and prints.
    • Winterowd Fine Art, 701 Canyon Road, +1 505 992-8878. Open M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 12PM-4PM. A reasonable (if comparatively conservative) example of the many Canyon Road galleries; friendly and helpful service.
This listing barely scratches the surface of the art scene in Santa Fe; the community phone book lists over six pages of galleries. There are some tourist traps among them, but far more good stuff than tourist junk. If you see a gallery you like, add it to this list.
  • There are quite a few specialty stores for toys and lots of book stores, most of which are in the downtown area.
  • On the west side of the city there are many outlet malls (e.g.) and card-holder-only stores like Sam's Club. Nearby on Zafarano Road, there is a large gathering of newer upscale stores like Border's and Starbucks. These exist despite the long suffering Villa Linda Mall which underwent an image makeover in the middle of 2005 and renamed itself "Santa Fe Place." This image makeover is the butt of many jokes among the local population. The other enclosed mall in town, De Vargas Center north of the downtown area, has fallen on hard times in recent years, although there's a decent Mexican restaurant there (see under "Eat").
  • A Santa Fe institution is the flea market just north of the Santa Fe Opera along highway 285. It's open on weekends except during the winter, and offers cut-rate shopping for just about anything you can get elsewhere in town. Visit to look for random memorabilia (although you may wonder why you bought them when you get home!) and also for some entertaining people-watching.


Santa Fe, and the rest of New Mexico, is known for its huge and spicy plates full of Southwestern food. Restaurants in Santa Fe run from expensive haute Southwestern to down-home fast-food style plates, where you will be asked "red or green" (chile). You can try a mix of both red and green chile peppers by asking for your dish "Christmas style" (although that will make you look like a gringo). However, Santa Fe also has a number of excellent restaurants offering other cuisines -- possibly too many of them, in fact, as the highly competitive marketplace forces even some very good ones out of business before their time. It is almost impossible to overstate the dining possibilities here; they far outstrip those in most American cities ten times Santa Fe's size. As with several other New Mexico towns, restaurants in this description are broken into the sub-categories "New Mexican" (which, note, is not the same as "Mexican" by any means) and "Other." Meals (exclusive of drinks and tips) will usually cost $10/person or less at the "Budget" places, $10 to $25 at the "Mid-range" ones, and more -- sometimes much more -- at the "Splurges." Note that many Santa Fe restaurants are somewhat "casual" as regards business hours; if a place doesn't have hours listed below, inquire locally as to when it's open, as the hours may change erratically.

New Mexican

There are so many good New Mexican restaurants in town that a description here can barely scratch the surface. A note on red and green chile: half of the writers on New Mexican food claim that green chile is hotter than red, while half claim it's the other way around. In reality, the best authority on the spiciness of the chile at the particular restaurant you eat at is the restaurant itself, so if you're concerned about the chile being too hot, simply ask; you'll get a straight answer far more often than not. One thing that's definitely true, however, is that green tends to be fleshier than red, and adds a bit more substance to the dish, independent of the heat level.


  • The local Woolworths on the Plaza is said to be the birthplace of the "Frito Pie"; it has since been replaced by the Five and Dime, 58 E. San Francisco, +1 505 992-1800. The original chef is purported to still serve them there. The Frito Pie consists of a Fritos corn chips topped by meaty red chile and cheddar cheese, with onions and jalapenos as a garnish, served in the original Frito bag.
  • The Shed, 113 1/2 (sic) East Palace Avenue, +1 505 982-9030. The quintessential New Mexican lunch spot. In a little plaza off East Palace Avenue in the heart of the downtown area, recessed off the street and hard to find, but worth the effort to poke around the several side plazas until you locate it. Its sister restaurant La Choza, 905 Alarid Street, +1 505 982-0909, is open evenings and is on an obscure side street close to the main drag of St. Francis Drive, well outside the downtown area. Both serve "traditional" New Mexican food (enchiladas, stuffed sopaipillas, etc.) in a rustic setting. Lunch entrees from $7 or so at both, dinners from $9.
  • Cafe Dominic, 320 S. Guadalupe, +1 505 982-4743, is a relatively new entry near the beautiful Santuario de Guadalupe. A breezy, informal place with an artsy-craftsy atmosphere. Open 7 days for all meals, but try this one particularly for breakfast; the breakfast burritos and Santa Fe omelettes with green chile are excellent. Breakfast from $5 or so.
  • Diego's, in DeVargas Mall, 564 N. Guadalupe St., +1 505 983-5101. A down to earth local hangout on the north side of town, with excellent local fare. Many compare it favorably to Tomasita's, and you can get in without waiting for an hour. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's in a mall, it's excellent.
  • Felipe's Tacos, 1711-A Llano Street, +1 505 473-9397. Huge burritos, tacos and very, very authentic Mexican food for as little as two dollars. It's located only a few blocks from Santa Fe High, so after school can be a little crowded, but it's worth the wait. Open Mon-Sat, closes at 4:30.
  • El Merendero (Posa's), in two locations: 1514 Rodeo Rd, +1 505 820-7672, and 3538 Zafarano, +1 505 473-3454. This is primarily a catering/retail-sales outfit (delivery throughout town, sometimes delivering very large orders, as well as by parcel) of long standing and good reputation, but has recently opened two fast-food-style outlets for their wares. It's definitely not fine dining, but a reasonable representative of basic New Mexican fare for those in a hurry. 7 days, lunch and dinner; entrees $5-10.
  • Plaza Cafe, 54 Lincoln Ave., +1 505 982-1664. An old standby a stone's throw from the vendors on the Portal. Open 7 days for all meals, but particularly recommended for lunch, although it's crowded.
  • Tia Sophia's, 210 San Francisco St., +1 505 983-9880. Breakfast and lunch 7 days; much loved by locals for breakfast.
  • Tortilla Flats, 3139 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 471-8685. A well known New Mexican establishment with typical Santa Fe fare. Frequented by many locals, another great stopping point for a quick meal or a casual dinner. Open 7 days; hours "subject to change" but listed as 7AM-9AM Su-Th, 7AM-10PM F-Sa. Less than $10.


  • Tomasita's, 500 S. Guadalupe (just south of downtown in an old railroad station), +1 505 983-5721. Considered by many to serve the definitive "traditional" New Mexican food. Expect to wait, as it's enormously popular. Entrees around $9-11, but splurge a little and get the sangria too.
  • Blue Corn Cafe, in two locations, 133 Water Street downtown, +1 505 984-1800; and 4056 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 438-1800. Lunch and dinner 7 days a week. A curious combination of New Mexican cuisine and a microbrewery.
  • Maria's New Mexican Kitchen, 555 W. Cordova Road, +1 505 983-7929 (reservations accepted, but many walk-ins), prides itself on margaritas, but the traditional New Mexican cuisine is also good, if a bit heavier than at Tomasita's. Lunch and dinner 7 days. Parking, though ample, is a pain to get to; approach from the east, on Camino de los Marquez rather than Cordova.


  • La Casa Sena, 125 E. Palace Ave., +1 505 988-9232, is an example of "Southwestern" cuisine -- the merging of traditional New Mexican preparation and presentation with more modern, creative ingredients (sometimes a little too creative). Open 7 days for lunch and dinner; reservations recommended.
  • Coyote Cafe, 132 W. Water St., +1 505 983-1615 (reservations recommended, can be placed on-line), is another highly-regarded "Southwestern" dining experience, although there has been a recent tendency for chef Mark Miller to use his restaurant to engage in puffery on behalf of his big-city franchises elsewhere. It's still an excellent restaurant, if an expensive one -- $50 per person for dinner, including wine/dessert and tip, is not unusual. Don't let the typos on their web site put you off; the chef is much better at attention to detail than the webmaster.
  • Gabriel's, on State Road 285 (exit 176) north of town (past the opera) near the outlying village of Pojoaque; +1 505 455-7000 (reservations advised but not essential). Lunch M-Sa, dinner seven days, hours vary. As much "Old" Mexican as New Mexican. The guacamole appetizer is fantastic, as are the fajitas. Dinner with guacamole and sangria will cost $25 or so. The art gallery across the parking lot is worth a look too, when you're done with your meal.
  • Ore House on the Plaza, 50 Lincoln Ave., +1 505 983-8687. Lunch 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM; dinner from 5:30 PM. Combines Northern New Mexico cuisine and steakhouse offerings, with balcony dining on the second floor. Reservations strongly recommended, as it's crowded during tourist season. The cantina (bar) is a popular watering hole as well.


Santa Fe has plenty of standard chain restaurants (Olive Garden, Outback, Red Lobster, etc.), but why bother? There are enough excellent "local" ones that you can save your trips to these more ubiquitous eateries for cities less well-endowed from a culinary point of view. All restaurants below are uniquely Santa Fean in their character and cuisine.


  • Bobcat Bite, 420 Old Las Vegas Highway, +1 505 983-5319. An utterly unpretentious burger joint on the way into town from the east, far from the downtown area. Nothing fancy here, just huge and tasty burgers, etc., in a setting that evokes a 1950s small-town diner. No credit cards accepted, unless they've changed policy recently. Lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Saturday.
  • Chopstixs, 238 N Guadalupe St, +1 505 820-2126 , a fast-food, take-out or dine-in Chinese restaurant. Built into an old gas station, it looks like the kind of place that you should stay a mile away from, and that's what makes it so good. Be careful during the school year at lunch time, as this is a popular high-school lunch spot.
  • Dave's Not Here Restaurant, 1115 Hickox, +1 505 983-7060. Local hangout featuring burgers with a New Mexican flavor. Open 10-10 (10-9 winter hours) except Sundays. The location, near the main St. Francis Drive artery, is more convenient for the through traveler than to downtown.
  • Pyramid Cafe, 505 W. Cordova Rd., +1 505 989-1378. In a strip mall on Cordova Road south of downtown; 11 am - 9 pm 7 days according to current information, but hours seem to vary. Good Greek/Mediterranean lunches. Nothing fancy, just good, casual food. Don't bother with reservations, but call to check on hours. Lunches from $5 or so; occasional belly-dancing entertainment. Now also open in Los Alamos if your travels take you in that direction.
  • Santa Fe Baking Company, 504 W. Cordova Rd., +1 505 988-4292, is across Cordova Road from Pyramid and offers tolerable sandwiches, soups, etc., for lunch, but don't go just for the lunch (or breakfast); grab a dessert while you're there, these being what it's known for. Can be very busy at lunchtime on weekdays, with chaos on all quarters. Call-in orders welcome.
  • Santa Fe Steamer, 3242 Cerrillos Rd., +1 505 438-3862. M-Sa 11AM-9PM. Seafood, breezy and informal yet with attentive service. The fare is quite good considering that the nearest ocean is about 500 miles away; some creativity. Portions are not large, but in a weight-conscious age, they're large enough.
  • Upper Crust Pizza, 329 Old Santa Fe Trail, +1 505 982-0000 (seriously), is widely considered to serve the best (American-style) pizza in town. Free delivery, but if practical, consider dining in instead; Old Santa Fe Trail is one of the main tourist drags, and you get a chance to combine pizza munching with people watching.


  • India Palace, 227 Don Gaspar Ave., +1 505 986-5859, and India House, 2501 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 471-2304. Surprisingly excellent Indian cuisine, both operated by the same family, with essentially identical menus. India Palace is more "atmospheric," India House more convenient (better parking), and the sag paneer at both is to die for. India House may have entertainment for some dinners. Hours at both sites: 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10PM, open 7 days. Figure $15-20 a head, and worth every penny.
  • Mariscos La Playa Restaurant, in two locations: 537 W. Cordova Rd., +1 505 982-2790, and 2875 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 473-4594. An example of the difference between "Mexican" and "New Mexican" cuisine; these restaurants definitely are the former, with an emphasis on seafood prepared as in Old Mexico. (You definitely won't find the Pulpo -- octopus -- dishes on the menu at their New Mexican counterparts!) Nothing special as regards ambience/presentation, but good, authentic food. Lunch and dinner, W-M (closed Tuesdays).
  • Mu Du Noodles, 1494 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 983-1411, features noodle/pasta dishes from around the world, but most of the dishes are from China or Southeast Asia. Parking can be a challenge.
  • Pasqual's, 121 Don Gaspar, +1 505 983-9340. An old standby in the downtown area. As with many Santa Fe restaurants, the menu blends New Mexican cuisine with more traditional American fare. Open 7 days for all three meals (reservations recommended for dinner, which approaches "Splurge" territory), and recommended particularly for breakfast, when it's far better value for dollar than the restaurants at the several nearby hotels.
  • Pink Adobe, 406 Old Santa Fe Trail, +1 505 983-7712. A long-time Santa Fe standard, near the downtown area. A mix of continental and New Mexican cuisine that borders on "Splurge" territory. Dinner 7 nights, lunch M-F.
  • Pranzo Italian Grill, 540 Montezuma Ave., +1 505 984-2645, may be the best Italian restaurant in town. In the Sanbusco Center just southwest of downtown. Lunch and dinner 7 days; reservations advisable. Expect it to be loud.
  • Chinese food is a weakness (at least relatively speaking) in Santa Fe, but the unpretentious Wok, 2860 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 424-8126, has some supporters. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-9:30PM, closed Sundays.


  • 315, 315 Old Santa Fe Trail, +1 505 986-9190. A restaurant whose name is also its street number. Reservations advised. French/Continental cuisine in a sidewalk-bistro-like setting. Good wine list, and save room for the creme brulee dessert. You can easily drop $50 a person here and feel good about it. Dinner 7 nights; lunch schedule unclear.
  • Bishop's Lodge Restaurant, Bishop's Lodge Road, +1 505 819-4035 (reservations). At the pricey Bishop's Lodge Resort (see under "Sleep"/"Splurge"), north of downtown on the way to the village of Tesuque. One of the few "Splurge" restaurants that offers three meals a day, including a Sunday brunch. Eclectic cuisine, basically American.
  • The Compound, 653 Canyon Rd., +1 505 982-4353. Located on Canyon Road near the art galleries. Although the Compound once enforced a dress code of jacket and tie, new chef/owner Mark Kiffin eliminated any formal dress requirement. Southwestern cuisine. Lunches M-F, Noon-2; dinner nightly beginning at 6; entrees from $25-40; reservations strongly advised.
  • Geronimo, 724 Canyon Road, +1 505 982-1500. Another fine restaurant amid the galleries. The menu tends toward Continental but is entertainingly diverse and changes frequently. Brunch(?) and dinner 7 days. Dinner reservations are recommended and can be placed via the (unnecessarily ostentatious) web site. $40 per person will get you an excellent dinner.
  • El Mesón, 213 Washington Ave., +1 505 983-6756. Spanish cuisine, well prepared and attentively served; the paella is excellent. Diners used to sangria New Mexico-style may find this restaurant's version a bit dry. Tu-Sat 5 pm - 11 pm; live entertainment most evenings. Expect to pay $40 per person or more.
  • Santacafe 231 Washington Ave., +1 505 984-1788. One of Santa Fe's big-name restaurants, and you probably pay a little extra for the celebrity, but the American/Continental fare is creative and well presented, with attentive service. Lunch and dinner seven days (hours vary); Sunday "brunch" 11AM-2:30PM during the summer. Expect to spend around $50 per person.
  • The Old House Restaurant 309 W. San Francisco, +1 505 995-4530. AAA Four Diamond restaurant that Zagat honored as New Mexico’s best. Contemporary global cuisine featuring seasonal and regional ingredients, with Southwestern and Asian influences. The wine selection earned Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Opens at 5:30pm nightly for dinner. Expect to spend around $50 per person.
  • Tulips, 222 W. Guadalupe, +1 505 989-7340 (reservations). Santa Fe is full of unpretentious, little-advertised, yet good hole-in-the-wall restaurants that nobody has heard of, and this one is better than most. American-meets-Continental cuisine; the elk tenderloin is marvelous. Portions can be a bit small, but in an overweight age, that's not such a bad thing. Quieter than some of its competitors, which can be a relief. Expect to spend upward of $100 for dinner for two with wine and dessert. Dinner only, Tuesday through Sunday.


What to drink

Two of the ubiquitous alcoholic beverages in Santa Fe are the familiar margarita and the possibly-less-familiar sangria, a wine-based concoction incorporating fruit, more commonly associated with Spain and Central America. Most of the better New Mexican restaurants in town have their own house sangria; it goes well with New Mexican cuisine, and is claimed by some to be a useful antidote if the spicy food gets the better of you. It's considered much more of a day-to-day beverage here than in many other places.

Much of the beer consumed in the community is imported from Mexico, and there are also a few microbreweries. If you're sticking with non-alcoholic beverages, a tip: Many locals advise against having soft drinks with New Mexican food, instead preferring iced tea. This preference is based on the belief that carbonation in drinks (including beer) tends to accentuate the spiciness of the chile peppers and cause the spicy component to hang around in the throat, while iced tea mutes it. Do the experiment, or at least have your designated driver do it.

Where to get it

  • Most of the hotels in the downtown area have bars and lounges that are geared to the traveler, with all that that entails. However, the bar of the St. Francis Hotel, 210 Don Gaspar Ave., +1 505 983-5700, is one of the best places for people-watching in all of Santa Fe. The crowd tends to be more sedate here than at some other places.
  • The Inn on the Alameda, 303 East Alameda, +1 505 984-2121, includes in its rates an afternoon wine and cheese reception, and, with its location at the base of Canyon Road, offers an easy way to relax after a day of gallery-hopping.
  • Changes in New Mexico laws during the 1990s led to the development of casinos at a number of nearby American Indian pueblos. The closest to Santa Fe are along US 285 on the way to Pojoaque. Big-name acts occasionally appear and liven up the night life, although you're as likely to catch a falling star on his/her way down-and-out as a current, lively act. The two listed here may run shuttle services connecting to the major in-town hotels; inquire locally as to availability.
    • Camel Rock Casino, US 84/285 (10 miles north of town), +1 800 462-2635,
    • Cities of Gold, US 84/285 (15 miles north of town in Pojoaque), +1 505 455-3313,
  • Several of the local-style bars can be found on Cerrillos Road and St. Michaels Drive, if you'd prefer to avoid the touristy places. Warning: some of these can get rowdy, and DUI is a problem in the area as well.
    • Green Onion Sports Pub, 1851 St. Michaels Drive, +1 505 983-5198. Advertises itself as "Sports Bar/Family Dining," and is less seedy than many of the other bars on the main drags.


Most Santa Fe hotels, motels and B&Bs are in one of two areas: downtown (near the Palace of the Governors and Plaza) or on Cerrillos Road, the commercial main drag. The distance of the Cerrillos Road hotels from the downtown attractions isn't significant from a purely physical point of view; the most distant ones (near Villa Linda Mall) are still within a couple miles of the downtown area, which can be reached quickly by car or shuttle bus. However, the atmospheric distance is enormous. Downtown has the fabled Santa Fe ambience of a sleepy old Western village frozen in time and transported to the 21st century (with, of course, a few modern amenities and nuisances added, like cars), while Cerrillos Road has the "ambience" of a shopping district in a suburb of a major city. In compensation, hotels on Cerrillos Road tend to be less expensive on an amenity-for-amenity basis. When deciding where to stay in Santa Fe, give particular thought to the balance of ambience and economy that fits your needs.

"Budget" lodging (if any) will start at less than $75 a night, "Mid-range" from $75 to $150, and "Splurge" greater than $150, with some of the luxury suites, etc., ranging far upward. A warning on the "Budget" and "Mid-range" classifications: Santa Fe hotels and motels are prone to very substantial seasonal variations in availability and price. A hotel that may look like "Mid-range" during off season (spring, fall exclusive of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta week, usually in early October) may be "Splurge" material during ski season and the summer, particularly around significant events such as the Santa Fe Indian Market, Fiesta, opening weekend of the Santa Fe Opera, etc. Check carefully on rates when booking; most of the more important hotels/motels have informative web pages.


Budget hotels and motels in Santa Fe are few and far between. The economy-rate chains Holiday Inn Express, Motel 6 and Ramada Limited all have franchises in town, but it's not clear that any can really be considered "budget" lodging. Try one and write it up here.

  • Santa Fe International Hostel, 1416 Cerrillos Road, +1 505 988-1153. Part of the American Association of International Hostels. Places like this in Santa Fe tend to lead a precarious existence; it would be a good idea to call and verify that they're still there before you plan on staying there.


  • There are a number of bed and breakfast establishments beyond the ones shown here. For more information, try Bed & Breakfast Accommodations, +1 800 632-2627. Rates vary not only seasonally but also with the room, as each establishment will have a range of room sizes and accommodations; larger and more luxurious rooms are likely to reach the "Splurge" category.
    • Casapueblo Inn, 138 Park Avenue, +1 505 988-4455. Casapueblo is is one of the newest downtown inns. Located in Santa Fe's historic downtown area (Plaza).
    • Dancing Ground of the Sun Bed and Breakfast, 711 Paseo de Peralta, +1 505 986-9797. One of several B&Bs relatively close to the downtown area.
    • Pueblo Bonito, 138 W. Manhattan, +1 505 984-8001. Another downtown B&B.
    • Water Street Inn, 427 West Water Street, +1 505 984-1193. And another.
    • Zona Rosa Suites, 429 West San Francisco Street, +1 505 988-4455. Each one, two and three-bedroom suites is appointed with a Kiva fireplace, saltillo tile floors, and viga ceilings.
    • Dunshee's B&B and Casita, +1 505 982-0988. A small B&B near the Canyon Road art district.
    • El Farolito Bed and Breakfast, 514 Galisteo Street, +1 888 634-8782. Within easy walking distance of downtown and the Plaza. Authentically furnished casitas and great gourmet breakfasts -- the chicken-and-apple-sausage quiche is worth the trip in and of itself.
    • Alexander's Inn, 529 E. Palace Ave., +1 505 986-1431.
    • Delmar En La Cienega, 50 Entrada La Cienega, +1 505 471-6498. Wonderful, atmospheric B&B with great breakfasts. 10 miles south of town on I-25 but a quick drive into the city.
  • Most major hotel chains have franchises in Santa Fe, mainly located outside the main tourist areas. A few on Cerrillos Road removed from downtown, hence better value-for-dollar if you don't mind the distance:
    • Hampton Inn, 3625 Cerrillos Rd., +1 505 474-3900. Notable for accepting (attended) pets.
    • Holiday Inn, 4048 Cerrillos Rd., +1 505 473-4646
    • Quality Inn, 3011 Cerrillos Rd., +1 505 471-1211. They claim to offer free transportation to the train station, which is no small distance away. Check it out.
There are many others on Cerrillos Road; try one and describe it here.
  • Several of the classic downtown hotels/lodges approach "Splurge" status, particularly during peak periods, more for their locations than for their quality. A couple of the more reasonably priced ones:
    • Inn on the Alameda, 303 East Alameda, +1 505 984-2121. Between the Plaza and the galleries of Canyon Road, an ideal location for exploring the attractions downtown. The Inn includes in its rates a lavish continental breakfast and afternoon wine and cheese reception. Pets under 30 pounds accepted in dedicated pet rooms with a nightly deposit. Seasonal rates range from $120 to $375.
    • Hotel Santa Fe, 1501 Paseo de Peralta, +1 505 982-1200. A little more distant from the Plaza than some of the others, hence a little less expensive (singles from $99 depending on season), and still within comfortable walking distance of most of the good stuff.
    • Hilton of Santa Fe, 100 Sandoval St., +1 505 988-2811. An old standard, one of the few downtown hotels that doesn't raise its rates during the tourist season (singles from $129). No longer an "elegant" hotel, but not bad at all. A great place for conferences too.
    • St. Francis Hotel, 210 Don Gaspar Ave., +1 505 983-5700. Atmospheric, and close to the downtown attractions. Good, if sedate, people-watching at the bar (see under "Drink"). On the National Registry of Historic Places. Singles from $116; rates increase during the summer.


  • Bishop's Lodge Resort, on Bishop's Lodge Road north of town, +1 505 983-6377. A full-service resort (tennis courts, summer children's program, etc.) in a peaceful setting away from the hubbub of the Plaza, but not so far away as to be inconvenient. Extreme seasonal variations (factor of 2!) in room rates; summer is seriously expensive, with singles possibly starting at over $300.
  • Eldorado Hotel & Spa, 309 W. San Francisco (2 blocks west of the Plaza), +1 505 988-4455. A large and spectacular property convenient to the downtown attractions. Rooms are well done and atmospheric. The Old House restaurant was honored as Zagat's top pick for dining in New Mexico. Lively lounge with frequent live entertainment, and many amenities. The parking fee for guests is annoying, but nobody's perfect. Nidah Spa is in the hotel.
  • Inn at Loretto, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, +1 505 988-5531. One of numerous downtown hotels that trade heavily on their proximity to the attractions; not the best of the lot, but not bad. From $229, with substantial seasonal variations.
  • Inn of the Anasazi, 113 Washington Ave. (just northeast of the Plaza), Tel (505) 988-3030. This four-star Santa Fe luxury hotel offers fine dining, a business center, and Southwestern style boutique accommodations. Rooms from $200, seasonal variations.
  • La Fonda Hotel, 100 E. San Francisco St. (on the Plaza, at the end of the Santa Fe Trail), +1 505 982-5511. The quintessential Santa Fe hotel, with the Plaza on one corner, beautiful Saint Francis Cathedral across the street, and several interesting and not-too-touristy shops on the premises. They have their own parking garage, no small advantage in the downtown area. Rooms from $219, with (atypically for downtown hotels) no seasonal adjustments; occasional package deals.
  • Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat, outside town on Los Pinos Rd., +1 800 955-0028. Has spiritual gatherings, spa and conference facilities in a far more rural, rustic setting than most Santa Fe lodging.


There are several commercial campgrounds in town (Los Campos de Santa Fe RV Resort, Rancheros de Santa Fe, Santa Fe KOA, Santa Fe Skies RV Park), but the camping is much more rewarding along the road to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. There are several campgrounds in Santa Fe National Forest on this road, and there is also good camping at the very pretty Hyde Memorial State Park between forest and city. If you're planning on using the national-forest or Hyde Park campsites, make sure you have enough clothing and bedding to stay warm; they're in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and get cold at night.


The Internet cafe phenomenon is not yet well entrenched in Santa Fe, but the Zele Cafe, a coffeehouse at 201 Galisteo, +1 505 982-7835, claims to offer wireless access (bring your own laptop). Open 7:30-7:30 Fridays and weekends, 7:30-6:30 otherwise. The Pyramid Cafe (see above under Eat) also claims to offer free wireless access. Watch this space, as other coffeehouses are likely to join the party. Most of the major hotels offer wideband service to guests.


  • Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa and Resort, 3451 Hyde Park Road (on the way to the Santa Fe Ski Basin), +1 505 982-9304. A Japanese bathhouse (spa) with communal and private hot tubs, body wraps, several schools of massage, facials, etc., that can feel incredibly good after a day of skiing. Reservations strongly recommended, and mandatory if you're getting a massage or comparable treatments. Mainly a "day spa," but there are a small number of rooms for overnight stays, in the "Mid-range" to "Splurge" class.
  • More pedestrian resources for the traveler (laundromats, grocery stores, auto repair shops, etc.) tend to congregate along St. Francis Drive, St. Michaels Drive and Cerrillos Road. If you look for these services downtown (Plaza area), you'll pay extra for them without getting anything special in terms of goods and services; get away from the glamor district and save some money.

Stay safe

Santa Fe is a fairly "safe" city as regards violent crime, despite the widely-publicized occurrence of occasional "hate crimes" frequently involving homosexuality. In reality, the crime rate, with the exception of residential burglary (a definite problem in town but one unlikely to affect the traveler), is not high compared to other American communities of comparable size, and the visitor is very unlikely to have any crime-related problems. Some of the bars can get a little rough, with ethnic tensions frequently a factor despite the city's multicultural nature; simply don't stir up trouble and you should be OK. Otherwise, public areas are generally quite safe, and are well yet unobtrusively patrolled by the city police.

Much more of a problem is automobile safety, for several reasons. Many of the roads were built during a slower-paced, less-populous time, and lack the carrying capacity for the current crowds. Northern New Mexico has serious problems with drunk driving, and Santa Fe is not exempt from these, particularly late at night. Another factor is an inexplicably high density of bad drivers and/or decrepit vehicles with poorly secured cargo; natives often speak of having a "New Mexico moment" when something falls off the back of a pickup or trailer and into the roadway in front of an unsuspecting driver. This is a good place to practice your defensive driving, particularly along St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road (the intersection of these two has been voted the most dangerous intersection in all of New Mexico). Running red lights is one of the state pastimes, and reaches its zenith in Santa Fe; be extremely vigilant when pulling away from an intersection when the light changes. On the positive side, most motorists are fairly tolerant (if not always aware) of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Finally, be alert for signs of health problems associated with high altitude, particularly if you venture out of town toward the mountains. Most often a severe headache may occur, and simply going to lower altitude may help relieve the pain (a trip down La Bajada to the reservoir will usually do it). Also pay attention during hikes and bike rides. The dryness of the air combined with physical exertion will often leave you not sweating through your clothes even if it's 85 degrees out, and many people won't realize they are working hard without that. Dehydration is a common issue for visitors-bring more water than you might otherwise.

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Native Americana

One of the major contributors to Santa Fe's fame is the large number of American Indian pueblos (towns) nearby. Several are important centers for folk art; most permit visitors at dances and other tribal ceremonial events; and from a more contemporary perspective, several host casinos with gambling, night life, etc. There are also, however, some pueblos that jealously guard the privacy of their residents and admit visitors only grudgingly, if at all. Nearly all pueblos charge a fee for photography, video, sketching, etc., as an attempt to mitigate the impact of tourism on the private life of the inhabitants.

Some of the nearby pueblos that are accessible to the public, at least on occasion, are ("A" denotes a primary folk-art center, "C" means casino, "D" means dances or other ceremonials open to the public):

  • Cochiti Pueblo -- southwest of town, A/D
  • Nambe Pueblo -- north, D, pleasant campground and waterfall
  • Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly San Juan Pueblo, and still so listed on many maps) -- north, A/C/D
  • Pojoaque Pueblo -- north, C/D, not much there but an interesting museum and gaudy casino
  • San Ildefonso Pueblo -- northwest, A/D, a major pottery center
  • Santa Clara Pueblo -- northwest, A/D, another major pottery center
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo -- southwest, A/D(?), excellent for pottery and jewelry
  • Tesuque Pueblo -- north, C (note: pueblo itself is closed to the public)

See also the articles on North Central New Mexico, Central New Mexico, Taos and Española (New Mexico) for pointers to more distant pueblos (note: the likelihood that a pueblo will welcome visitors generally falls off with distance from Santa Fe).

Dances and ceremonials take place throughout the year, but one not-to-be-missed special event is the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Annual Arts and Crafts Show, held in mid-July at one of the pueblos, frequently Ohkay Owingeh. Many of the artisans use this event as a "tune-up" for the Santa Fe Indian Market the following month, so that both quality and quantity of the available work are quite high, yet the prices are often considerably better than for comparable (sometimes the exact same) work at the Indian Market. The 2007 version will be at Ohkay Owingeh on July 21-22; be prepared for heat and dust, wear comfortable shoes, and feel entirely free to avoid the noisome casino just outside the parking lot.


  • Taos, known for arts and crafts as well as a superb downhill ski area, is about two hours north of Santa Fe.
  • The Enchanted Circle is a scenic (but long) drive that includes Taos and Eagle Nest.
  • Santa Fe National Forest is nearby and offers abundant outdoor recreational opportunities. The Santa Fe Ski Basin is a short distance outside town, in the high country of the forest (seriously high -- even the base of the runs is above 10,000', so think carefully whether you want to go there if you have respiratory problems or are prone to altitude sickness). In addition to the obvious skiing, the lifts often operate during the summer, taking visitors to near the top of 12,000'-plus Tesuque Peak for great views. The road to the ski area goes through an aspen grove with spectacularly golden foliage (and hordes of people looking at the trees -- don't expect privacy) in the fall, and several trails lead into the national forest from trailheads along the way. Some of the trails turn into interesting Nordic ski tracks in the winter.
  • Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is just south of town near Cochiti Lake in the central region, and is covered in that region's article. Many guidebooks of the area omit this little gem, which is open for day use ($5/vehicle) and includes a trail through a short but spectacular bit of slot canyon. Highly recommended for the hiker with half a day to spend.
  • A trip to Los Alamos and nearby Bandelier National Monument is a great excursion from Santa Fe. If you want to make a day of it, you can continue on into the Jemez Mountains and Valles Caldera National Preserve (plan ahead, as the Preserve's more interesting activities require advance reservations).
  • If you're not tired of the art scene by the time you leave, head south on SR 14 to Madrid, an old mining town turned art colony, significantly lower-key than Santa Fe itself. Albuquerque lies beyond, with its own attractions; getting to Albuquerque via SR 14 is slower than the direct route on I-25, but compensates with far reduced traffic and nice scenery.

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