Published: December, 2017
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Santa Fe, New Mexico

But the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend
— Courtney Leary
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Group getaway, City, Desert, Mountains
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: 3-4 DAYS

to & from

Fly into Albuquerque, rent a car and drive about an hour to Santa Fe.

Where to Stay

Where to Eat and Drink

Our trip happened to fall within Santa Fe restaurant week so most places had limited prix fixe menus.

  • The Shed: Best New Mexican Food, great margs, fun very casual atmosphere.
  • Geronimo: Very pretty upscale restaurant in a lovely old house on Canyon Road (near galleries) with inventive French inspired cuisine. Food delicious, service was a bit rough the night we were there... the restaurant was packed and we did not seem to be top priority.
  • La Boca: Authentic modern Spanish food-- tapas style menu. Delicious-fun for a group that likes to share.

What to Do

  • Georgia O'Keeffe Museum: When in Santa Fe, you have to go here. It's a great small museum and 2 blocks from main square. When we were there, there were a lot of photos of Georgia and history of her life as well as works by artists she inspired-- less of her own work than we expected.
  • Canyon Road: A 1-mile + road where 100s of art galleries are located. It's about 1/4 mile from your hotel and is probably the biggest attraction in Santa Fe. Definite must!
  • Tent Rocks National Monument: This is unusual, amazing and worth the trek out of town! About 45 minutes south of Santa Fe, Tent Rocks has a 1.5 mile hiking loop that goes around coned-shaped rock formations (you can go further if you want to do so).
  • Four Seasons Spa: Beautiful spa in gorgeous setting. Book appointments and plan on spending the afternoon relaxing. Follow your treatments by a drink at the bar at sundown-- sunsets are gorgeous from here.
  • Hike: There are hikes all over Santa Fe ask for specific directions from the concierge or grab a map from Mello Velo bike shop downtown. We did not ask and found ourselves wandering somewhat "lost" looking for trailheads.... but enjoying every minute. Hikes that were recommended... that we did not quite find...
    • Atalaya Mtn, 3 miles one way to the summit
    • Picacho: 2 miles one way
    • Dorothy Stewart loop
    • Audubon Center: around the pond is especially nice
    • The Dale Ball Trails
    • Chamisa loop, on the way to the ski basin
  • Shop:
    • Spirit: High end clothing just off the Plaza
    • La Boheme: Beautiful minimalist clothing on Canyon (Margaret is owner)
    • Shipwreck Santa Fe: Vintage and Modern Native American art, including jewelry.
    • Doodlets: Old fashioned gift store, great cards, trinkets...
    • Design warehouse: Cool modern home & design store
    • Garcia Street Books
  • Churches: There are a lot of very old beautiful churches in Santa Fe that are easy to bop your head into when you are out and about including The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis Assisi built in 1850 by Santa Fe's first Bishop and Loretto Chapel built in 1879 and famous for its winding staircase with two 360 degree turns and no visual means of support.
  • Check out Heritage Inspirations  for guided tours including; a 3 hour Architectural walking tour around Downtown and Canyon Road that finishes with a wine tasting at Gruet, trips Bandelier or Tent Rocks, wine tastings, Georgia O'Keefe country, and a Fashionista tour.  We did not have a chance to try personally but this company comes highly recommended.

inside scoop

Santa Fe has many festivals around the arts– good to know when these things are happening and schedule your visit accordingly.

skip it

Albuquerque– there is nothing worth seeing or doing in Albuquerque unless you have an interest in the University. Drive right through.

What to Pack


Saved for next time:

  • Cafe Pasqual’s:  Local’s favorite, organic and New Mexican cuisine. Reportedly the trout hash is off the charts. The atmosphere is a bit hippy-ish. They accept reservations by phone for dinner (which you will need), but not for brunch (if you go for breakfast, go when it opens at 8am).
  • Josephs: Many locals’ favorite for a “nice dinner”.
  • Modern General:   Local scene. Smoothies, healthy breakfasts or lunches, bone broth, yummy sandwiches. Great decor and housewares for sale.
  • Kakawa Chocolate House: Located near the bottom of Canyon Road, a small chocolate house with crazy hot chocolate combinations (chile, lavender, etc). A fun stop.
  • International Folk Art Museum: A really interesting museum that brings in art and artists from around the world. The current exhibition is “Flaminco”. It’s located about 2 miles from the plaza.
  • Bandelier National Monument:  About 45 minutes north of Santa Fe is Bandelier. It is where some of the first documented Native Americans lived (in cave homes). It’s an easy walking tour at your own pace and really interesting culturally (I would recommend only if the weather is decent).
  • Ojo Caliente: About 1 hour north of Santa Fe is a mineral and mud bath spa.
  • Santa Fe School of Cooking: Offers great 2-3 hour demonstration and hands on cooking classes (where you eat what you cook at the end of the class).
  • Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa: For soaking and massage–women’s tub is great and you don’t need a reservation
  • Santa Fe Farmers Market:  Saturday mornings 8-1

Santa Fe, New Mexico - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Anna Davis Says

    Hi – Great write up! Just adding a few additional suggestions (I was a resident of Santa Fe for 10 years and still own a home there).

    Travel: Santa Fe actually has a small airport (SAF) that has nonstop jet service from Dallas and Phoenix (American) and Denver (United).

    Do: While not my thing, probably the biggest newer attraction in Santa Fe is an “immersive art experience” called Meow Wolf. Think of a large dark warehouse with lots of neon and a bit of Alice in Wonderland theme. Not suitable for little kids (too much stimulation).

    Restaurants: Santa Fe is a foodie town. New Mexican food is very different from Mex-Tex and worth trying. Try a green chile burger at the Shake Foundation. Order enchiladas at the Shed, Maria’s or Tomasitas. Order like a local and ask for “Christmas” and your dish will be served with 1/2 green chile and 1/2 red chile sauce. During the summer, the Coyote Rooftop Cantina if a fun place to eat and people watch. Insider tip: The Compound and Geronimos are two of the finest restaurants in town however skip reservations for the main dining room and pony up to the bar instead (both bars serve the same food as the dining room + awesome bar food in a more relaxed setting). Grab a hearty breakfast at Cafe Pasqual’s, Tia Sophia’s, Tesuque Market, Chocolate Maven, or Counter Culture. For crazy craft ice cream including flavors such as green chile try out La Lecharia.

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