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To do in Sante Fe, suggestions appreciated

Planning a trip to Sante Fe in mid May this year. Will spends 7 or 8 days in the area, planning Sante Fe as home base.
Might include trip to Abiqui to visit O'Keefe homestead. Possible spa visit to 10 Thousand Waves.
Will visit SF galleries, Market and other architectural sites. Also thinking about Taos Pueblo Unesco site.
What should I absolutely NOT miss ? Any suggestions appreciated.

Edited Note: I'm delighted with the food and eatery suggestions, but am worried that I won't be able to get food that is NOT highly spiced. Since I have a high sensibility to spicy food, would it be rude of me to ask the kitchen to eliminate chilis and burning spices from my order? I'm sure the readers here are cringing, but I can not risk a hospital visit.

Posted by
2236 posts

If they ever get around to reopening it, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is about a 45 minute drive from Santa Fe and is a beautiful spot for a hike or a just picnic lunch.
If it reopens in time for your visit it's a very pleasant day out. Check their website at https://www.blm.gov/visit/kktr

Posted by
797 posts

I spent a week in Santa Fe last July; flew down with some family to hit some restaurants we like. We go every 2-3 years. this time we spent 4 hours at Meow Wolf, which was something new to us. Had a great time.

Also took a day and visited the Petroglyphs State Park and Natural History Museum in Albuquerque. If you do this remember it gets very hot in afternoon to be climbing around the rocks. Also very worth doing is a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. the restaurant there is good too.

If they're still open (and with COVID I'm never sure) I'll recommend these places in Santa Fe:

Los Potrillo's
Dr Field Goods Kitchen
Jambo Cafe (Try the goat stew)
Tune up Cafe (for Breakfast)

If you want to get up into the mountains take a couple hours and go up to Angel Fire. Or do the circle route to Valdito, Mora, Las Vegas, and back to Santa Fe.

Posted by
6362 posts

Do not miss seeing the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs.

If you do get to Abiqui and the Ghost ranch dine at Cafe Sierra Negra if its still open. Have a cocktail at La Fonda's roof top bar. Have the BBQ at the Cowgirl Cafe.....

Enjoy yourself.

Posted by
287 posts

I was just recently in Santa Fe, here are my thoughts!

  • Ten Thousand Waves is really an experience, and if you like Japanese food, do not miss the restaurant!
  • Meow Wolf is a pretty common don't-miss recommendation. If you haven't heard of it, it's hard to explain, but it's basically an immersive art exhibit with a mystery at its core.
  • If you go out to Abiquiu, the trail rides at Ghost Ranch are fun. Another suggestion - request permission in advance to see Plaza Blanca. It's an amazing private site owned by Dar al-Islam, and is free to visit, but you must request permission to get gate codes.
  • Santa Fe Discovery walking tours leaving from La Fonda are a nice historical overview.
  • Outspire Hiking - if you are interested in a guided hiking tour, I cannot recommend them enough!!! We used them for snowshoeing and it was such a highlight.
  • In addition to the main section of Bandelier, time permitting, take the drive out to Tsankawi for a fun hike.
Posted by
13524 posts

Santa Fe is our favorite small US city! We've probably been a half dozen times or so and always had a great time. On my to-do list:

Canyon Road galleries walk
Include San Miguel Mission church near the far western end ( 401 Old Santa Fe Trail) and Cristo Rey Catholic Church (1120 Canyon Road) on the far eastern end. San Miguel is very old, although its claim to be the oldest extant church in the US is pretty shaky. Cristo Rey is the largest adobe structure in the country and one of the largest in the world; hand built from approx. 200,000 adobe bricks. It has an amusing creation story involving its enormous 1760's retablo (altar screen).
https://www.visitcanyonroad.com
https://www.cristoreyparish.org
https://sanmiguelchapel.org

Museum Hill
You can spend the lion's share of the day in this collection of museums in and around a central plaza. Included are:
International Folk Museum; the largest collection of folk art in the world. Great fun!

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture: a must for anyone interested in the history/culture of the Southwest’s indigenous peoples. The "Here, Now and Always" exhibit is particularly important (exhibit re-opening in June). Of interest, it owes much of its collection of artifacts to archeologist Edgar Lee Hewett, and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. Both made important contributions to some of our National Parks and Monuments.

Also on the hill are the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and a botanical garden. There's also a cafe which is supposed to be very good, although we've yet to have lunched there. Do note the closure days for all of the museums listed.
https://www.museumhill.net

On or near the city's historic plaza:
New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors, New Mexico Museum of Art and Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi: all well worth seeing however we thought the collection on display at the Museum of Art was surprisingly small.

Take a look at the Culture Pass? A lot of the museums mentioned above are covered by this one:
https://www.newmexicoculture.org/visit/culturepass

Cross of the Martyrs:
A paved climbs up from Paseo de Peralta to a large cross commemorating the deaths of 21 Franciscan friars during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (by the hands of the indigenous people they'd enslaved and abused). Along the way are 20 plaques marking 1600 years of past-to-present Santa Fe history. Walk further up from the cross to the top of the hill to the former site of Fort Marcy. There isn't anything left up there but some scattered mounds of dirt but the vantage point of over the city is a popular sunset-viewing spot. We stay up here at nearby Ft. Marcy Suites, and walk over here with our glasses of wine any evening the skies are clear. You can skip the climb by just driving up here: there is a parking area in Prince Park; see a SF map.

Santuario de Guadalupe (Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe) is another very old and interesting church (LOL, I'm not religious but have a thing for old Southwest churches). It's not far from the Railyard...which has been pretty quiet the last few times we've been in town.
https://santuariodeguadalupesantafe.com

Favorite watering hole for house margaritas and killer green chile chicken chowder: Del Charro Saloon at Inn of the Governors. Definitely not fancy, and a favorite with local waitstaff as it's open later than most other places. https://delcharro.com. Cowgirl was mentioned above; had a decent meal or two there as well as at Maria's New Mexican Kitchen. Santa Fe Bar and Grill at DeVargas Center has been consistently good; http://santafebargrill.com, https://www.abqjournal.com/2477782/santa-fe-bar-amp-grill-a-local-favorite-that-doesnt-disappoint-excer.html.

Will make some day-trip suggestions in the next post.

Posted by
33 posts

WOW ! I'm so impressed with all of the responses to my request for ideas during my visit to Sante Fe. There is so much to see and do and only a week. These suggestions give me a taste for the possibilities. Speaking of "taste", I'm delighted with the food and eatery suggestions, but am worried that I won't be able to get food that is NOT highly spiced. Since I have a high sensibility to spicy food, would it be rude of me to ask the kitchen to eliminate chilis and burning spices from my order? I'm sure the readers here are cringing, but I can not risk a hospital visit.

thanks for all of your suggestions. Diane

Posted by
52 posts

As far as galleries, I recommend Sorrel Sky on W Palace Ave in Santa Fe, and Wilder Nightingale Fine Art just off the plaza in Taos. Also, I would not miss the Taos Pueblo!

Posted by
13524 posts

OK, day trips:

As mentioned above, if Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is open again (on reservation land and closed since start of the pandemic) do that one. Some really nice hikes around very rare conical formations created by ancient volcanic activity:
https://www.blm.gov/visit/kktr

Also previously mentioned, Bandelier National Monument, including the must-do Tsankawi unit. If not much of a hiker, at least do the Pueblo Loop Trail in the main canyon, and Tsankawi is not difficult: ladders mentioned in the park description are not all that long.

https://www.nps.gov/band/planyourvisit/the-main-loop-trail.htm
https://www.nps.gov/band/planyourvisit/tsankawi.htm

On the scenic High Road to Taos:
https://www.newmexico.org/places-to-visit/scenic-byways/high-road-to-taos/

Nambe: Sacred Hearth/Sagrado Corazón de Jesus church: not all that old and has never been open the handful to times we've been by but huge and very photographic, especially nearer sunset. The cemetery is also interesting; the riot of colorful decorations and mementos typical of New Mexican Catholic cemeteries.
https://pojoaquecatholics.com/OurChurches/Nambe

Chimayó: El Santuario de Chimayó and Santo Niño Chapel are interesting and a treat for for the lens. Have lunch or dinner at Rancho de Chimayó.
https://www.holychimayo.us
http://www.ranchodechimayo.com/#welcome2

Los Trampas: San José de Gracia Church. It's never been open when we've been by but the exterior is plenty photographic:
https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/american_latino_heritage/las_trampas_and_san_jose_de_gracia_church.html

San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos:
https://sfranchos.org/national-historic-landmark
https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/american_latino_heritage/san_francisco_de_assisi_mission_church.html

Taos: Yes, the pueblo there, although we preferred Acoma/Sky City near Albuquerque (both currently closed). Also at Albuquerque is Petroglyph National Monument, and Sandia Crest:
https://taospueblo.com
https://www.nps.gov/petr/index.htm
https://www.acomaskycity.org/page/home
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd535719.pdf

We've enjoyed dinner at Lamberts.

Lastly, the Turquoise Trail: We've done it both as a route to SF from Albuquerque and a day trip as far south as Golden (There's another old, oft-photographed adobe chapel there. Yes, I'm obsessed) and back. Stop at tiny Los Cerrillos along the way and have a walk around; a number of movies have been shot here. Madrid (MAH-drid) is a colorful straggle of galleries and gift shops (not all of them open every day of the week) and a couple of restaurants; we like The Hollar. "Wild Hogs" was shot in Madrid.
https://www.turquoisetrail.org/stops/all/P0/
http://www.visitmadridnm.com
https://www.thehollar.com
http://www.cerrillosnewmexico.com

Posted by
13524 posts

As far as spice, there are items that they just can't leave the chile out of, such as stews and chowders, Nachos, you could have them leave the jalapeños off (Del Charro has great nachos). You also don't HAVE to eat New Mexican/ Mexican if you don't wish to; all sorts of cuisines are available in town. But If something looks interesting, you could always ask about the heat level.

Oh and it's CHILE, not CHILI. Comes in red or green. I'm a real sucker for green, so much so that I've sometimes made a real mess of my hankies mopping up my streaming nose and eyes. HA! But don't let that frighten you, OK? 😉

Posted by
33 posts

Kathy,
thanks for the reassuring food comments. I am a foodie, and I know how important the chile ingredient is for the regional taste, but after the experience I had in hospital and dr. warning, I'm shy of the hot stuff.

Posted by
133 posts

We visited New Mexico in November 2018. Santa Fe was great! Suggestions of things we really enjoyed......
Los Alamos...Bradbury Museum....well worth the drive! On return drive to S.F. we went to Bandelier Natl. Monument. Definitely a good stop.

Taos...Drove the high road there, stopping at Santuario de Chimayo. After spending time at the Pueblo and enjoying fry bread (both savory and sweet), we took the low road back, along the Rio Grande River (yes, THAT Rio Grande!). Beautiful flowers along riverbank.

Museum Hill....especially the International Folk Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. You can stop at Loretto Chapel on the way up or back, a short visit, but an interesting church.
The Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe was a big disappointment.
Stroll the central plaza to shop and relax. It is close to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asissi. We attended mass there. It is worth a visit.

We stayed at the Inn of the Governors. I would go back in a minute...rooms were comfortable and charming, the buffet breakfast was terrific, and the ambience in the pub there was lots of fun. Lots of locals go there, and they had a great margarita! You can get a meal there (good bar food menu). We stopped in most nights for a drink and had some great conversations with the locals and the hotel guests. It's a short walk to the plaza, and parking is available.

We also went to Albuquerque (Indian Cultural Center, Balloon Museum, Old Town Plaza), Alamagordo and Las Cruces (White Sands Nat. Monument, the White Sands Missile Range museum nearby), Socorro (the Very Large Array...radiotelescopes), all worth the travel around the state.

On another trip, we went to Chaco Canyon, a uniquely beautiful and moving sight. Gallup is a neat stop for the old west feeling if you are visiting Chaco Canyon. New Mexico has lots to see and do. but with only 7-8 days, I would spend 5-6 in Santa Fe, doing two day trips I mentioned above, and 2-3 in Albuquerque. The drive between the 2 cities isn't too long. We left S.F after breakfast and got to Albuquerque in time to see an afternoon performance of Native American dances at the Indian Cultural Center.

Enjoy New Mexico! I still have a few things to see there (Carlsbad Caverns, the Trinity site, Indian petroglyphs for example). Guess I have to return to the "Land of Enchantment."

Posted by
287 posts

A big yes to Inn of the Governors from me too! Currently they are doing a menu for breakfast instead of a buffet (I'm assuming due to covid), but prepare everything quickly. If you book directly with them they have been offering a daily $15 credit to Del Charro, which can be convenient if you plan to eat or have a drink there later in the day. We had a room with a kiva fireplace and they even provide the wood and fire starting materials for you.

Posted by
13524 posts

On another trip, we went to Chaco Canyon, a uniquely beautiful and
moving sight.

We've done that twice from Santa Fe. It's a LONG day that involves a stretch of unpaved (usually graded) road but a terrific experience. I wouldn't do it with any rain in the forecast, or if you don't have a strong interest in pre-historic indigenous ruins.

https://www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm

Posted by
133 posts

When we went to Chaco Canyon, it was not on a Santa Fe trip, but a southwest Native American journey, which included Canyon de Chelly in Arizona and Mesa Verde in Colorado, plus Monument Valley and the Four Corners. That is a wonderful area to explore. I recommend at least 14 days due to distances (not super long, but long enough). With enough time, you could add on Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef or Arches N.P.s, and a trip through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. (Now I am jonesing for another road trip there!)

Posted by
914 posts

Was at Meow Wolf in winter 2019. I was fascinated by it. The less you know going in, probably the better off you’ll be!

We ate at The Shed just off the plaza. Enjoy the trip! Love Sante Fe.

Posted by
797 posts

One more thing I'll mention; Santa Fe has a major problem with parking meters that take your money and then do not "go green". We had this happen at three different parking spaces in the downtown area. We finally flagged down a cop and showed him video and he admitted it was an issue. FYSA.

Posted by
7750 posts

I live in AZ and have to order food avoiding jalapeños, spice. I do it all the time, never a problem,

Posted by
13524 posts

OK, get around any potential parking meter issues by parking in one of the surface lots or garages (fees for both). Just find them on a map; we've used the one between Cathedral Place/E. Alameda/Paseo de Peralta a couple of times. That said, we stay close enough to center to do most of our getting-about on foot, unless planning on some art or other shopping. As well, if your accommodation is in the center you'll likely have parking provided.

Museum Hill has free lots for the museums there.

For Canyon Road, there's free street (parallel) parking along E. Alameda St, on the North side of the S.F. river, or just walk it from the Cathedral Place/E. Alameda/Paseo de Peralta lot mentioned above. Do understand that it's 1/2 mile of galleries one way so a mile RT to do both sides of the street. Add a bit more for the two churches I'd mentioned above.

Side note: dbriggs1233, you mentioned doing a "market"? Can you be more specific?

If basing for a week, you might want to look at rental apartments? We like the extra room (more than one bathroom is GREAT) and being able to have breakfast without getting dressed for the day. It's nice to heat up restaurant leftovers for dinner too.

Posted by
33 posts

Kathy,
Thanks for the heads up on parking...just to be aware is good. Regarding the "market" mention, I was thinking folk art markets, jewelry markets, celebrations that might sell good...that sort of thing. I did some research and see that there don't seem to be any events held in May, but I'll dig further.

Posted by
46 posts

If you are interested in the markets, Santa Fe has a grower's market at the rail yards on Saturday morning. Along with local produce there are antique markets in the buildings across the tracks and further down some local craft kiosks. Also, check out the La Fonda
Hotel they offer tours of the art and history of the hotel.

Posted by
13524 posts

I didn't see anything for special markets in May either, that's sort of why I asked. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as the big ones, such as the Traditional Spanish and Indian Markets, can bring in many thousands of visitors, and accommodation prices can reflect that. We were there for a week in mid Sept. last year and tariffs, even without a big event, were pretty high. September is still considered a high season month, though, so it was grin and bear it for what we wanted. 😬

Here's a link to info about the Artists Market (Saturdays) at the Railyard that Dona was probably talking about:

https://www.santafeartistsmarket.com

Posted by
20 posts

When we were in the area in 2019 we had a very delicious meal at a place called Vinaigrette. I think they've updated the menu since then, but we really enjoyed it. They're focused on fresh local food and mostly wonderful salads from their farm in Nambe. They have a location in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

It's very different from a lot of the Santa Fe restaurants. We found it refreshing and a nice palate cleanser after several days of hearty spicy food (that we otherwise love)

Here's their website:
https://vinaigretteonline.com/

Posted by
13524 posts

Back again, sorry!
Diane, I just looked at some of your previous posts (always nice to learn more about the folks we chat with here) and see that you'd mentioned that you were over 75 back in 2019, and doing the math... There was concern about dealing with shoe removal at airports?

If you had any mobility issues we should know about, I'm pretty sure you'd have mentioned them? You will want to watch your feet while walking the Canyon Road galleries as the sidewalks can be quite narrow in some places and uneven in others. A number of us had recommended Bandelier National Monument and Tent Rocks (if open), and while the mostly flat, main loop at Bandelier would likely be just fine (you do NOT have to climb any ladders) I don't know as I'd recommend the Tsankawi unit or Tent Rocks if you have any sort of limitations. Just thought it worth mention as i'm wishing your trip to be wonderful, and without any twisted ankles or bruised knees! :O)

More on the Main Loop at Bandelier:
https://www.nps.gov/band/learn/photosmultimedia/mltvt.htm

Posted by
33 posts

I really appreciate concerns about my stamina, flexibility etc. Just an FYI, I have a high energy level and am just fine with visiting Monuments and historic sites. I turned 80 last October and most people think I'm in my 60s. Traditionally, I take at least 3 major trip each year (usually abroad) and scatter in some week-end trips. But since Covid, I have not traveled a lot and now focusing on seeing our country. Since it's my first trip to SF, and only one week, I won't be able to do/ see everything, NOT because of any physical limitations, but because of time.

Every comment and suggestion has been extremely helpful and am grateful for them all.

Posted by
13524 posts

Omgosh. Sure hope I'm as spry as you are 13 years from now!
Please forgive the concern! It was just that previous mention of dealing with shoes on-and-off at the airports that had me wondering a little. :O)

Posted by
3308 posts

Unless something has changed in the last few months, us folks over 75 are exempt from shoe removal in the airport. One of the few good things about getting old.

Posted by
1783 posts

The New Mexico Museum of Art. You'll enjoy that more than the Georgia O'Keefe Museum.