Santa Fe (New Mexico)
Santa Fe, founded in 1607, is the capital of the state of New Mexico and its principal tourist destination, renowned for its confluence of scenic beauty, long history (at least by American standards), cultural diversity, and extraordinary concentration of arts, music and fine dining. With an elevation of 7000 feet, it is not only the United States' oldest state capital but its highest, sitting at the foot of the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountains. And with a population of about 70,000, it's not the most populous capital, but that's part of its charm. This is not a capital that bustles with politicians but one that bustles with tourists, who flood the narrow streets around the town's plaza in the summer months to take in the beautiful adobe architecture, the unique cultural heritage, and the spectacular art that make Santa Fe one of the world's top travel destinations.
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 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 inflated 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 Santa Fe's uniqueness.
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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 on relatively sedentary activities (museums, walking the downtown area) and move to more active things after you've had some time to acclimatize.
If entering New Mexico via the larger Albuquerque airport, simply rent a car and drive, as there is currently no commuter air service connecting the two airports. You can also take the Rail Runner commuter train (see below) or 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.
A commuter rail line, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects Santa Fe to Albuquerque and surrounding communities (from downtown Albuquerque you can catch a shuttle to the airport, ABQ). There are currently three stations open in Santa Fe: the Santa Fe Depot at the Railyards on Guadalupe Street near the Sanbusco Center, the South Capitol station off Cordova Road between Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive, and the NM 599 station at I-25 and NM 599 southwest of town. The Santa Fe Depot is the most useful for sightseeing, as it puts you in the historic downtown area within relatively easy walking distance of the plaza, with a shuttle circulating around the downtown area if you don't want to walk. The South Capitol and NM 599 stations are meant more for commuters and are of little use to sightseers. The Rail Runner runs daily, although service can be limited outside the weekday rush hour periods. Fares are based on how far you ride; a day pass will usually be in the range of $5–$10. Tickets can be purchased online or from ticket agents on the train.
The major Amtrak route across the Southwest, the Southwest Chief, stops at Lamy about 15 miles south of Santa Fe off US Highway 285. The once-daily trains stop in Lamy mid-afternoon, and a shuttle van service can take you to Santa Fe. The station in Lamy has an old cafe car serving lunch, food vendors on the platform, and picnic tables beneath shady cottonwoods. Travelers with bicycles may find the shuttle van to Santa Fe is unable to transport their bicycles unless special arrangements have been made; an alternative is to send any luggage ahead via the shuttle and ride the bicycle - there's a federally designated rail trail along an unused rail line between Lamy and Santa Fe, but between the Amtrak station and US 285 you must travel via the road, then north on US 285 to the trailhead.
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 occasionally closed for periods of several hours. East of town, I-25 North 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.
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.
There is no long-distance scheduled bus service into Santa Fe. The nearest Greyhound stop is in Albuquerque, at the Alvarado Transportation Center in downtown. From there, the most convenient option to Santa Fe is to take the Rail Runner train, which stops right next to the bus depot.
Both New Mexico Park and Ride and the NCRTD provide commuter bus service on weekdays with routes that connect Santa Fe to surrounding communities. Additionally, the NCRTD operates the Taos Express weekend service to Taos and the daily Mountain Trail route up Hyde Park Road between Santa Fe and Ski Santa Fe.
Outside of the downtown area (consisting roughly of the blocks surrounding the Plaza as well as the adjacent Railyards district and Canyon Road), a car is definitely your best bet and will be all but necessary for visiting any of the more far-flung attractions (e.g. the Opera, the mountains, any of the nearby pueblos). However, if you're only staying for a couple of days, you can certainly get by without a car with what the small but vibrant downtown has to offer; it is very pedestrian-friendly and walked, often, by many people late into the evening, particularly in summertime when the tourists flood in.
Limited, but improving, public transportation is available via Santa Fe Trails, the city's bus service. Phone: +1 505 955-2001. Bus fare is $1, a day pass costs $2, and a 31-day pass costs $20; youth under 18 ride free, half-fare for seniors/disabled. Buy fare or passes from the bus driver (cash only, exact change required).
The most useful route for tourists are:
- Route M runs between the Santa Fe train depot, downtown and Museum Hill. This bus runs every hour from roughly 7AM-8PM on weekdays and 10:30AM-6PM weekends.
- The free Santa Fe Pickup shuttle runs in a circle between the Santa Fe train depot and the downtown area. Shuttles run every 10 minutes between 6:30AM-5:30PM on weekdays, 8:30AM-5:30PM on Saturdays, and 10AM-5:30PM on Sundays. They also run a second route between the State Capitol, Canyon Road, and Museum Hill every half-hour 10AM-5:30PM daily.
Parking can be a problem during the summer, but look for parking lots (fee) near St. Francis Cathedral, the new Convention Center, and between Water and San Francisco Streets west of the Plaza. If in town for the Santa Fe Indian Market, plan on parking away from downtown and taking a shuttle, e.g. from De Vargas Mall.
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 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. Take extra care for pedestrians and cyclists, many streets have sharp turns.
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 as well; although it's a few miles out of the way, the much less chaotic driving, particularly around rush hour, provides considerable compensation.
Once you get to Santa Fe, consider taking a tour of downtown. Several companies offer open-air tram tours, like Loretto Line Tours (available in the parking lot of the Loretto Chapel). These tours last about 1.5 hours and give you a sense of the architecture, culture and history of the downtown area.
Like many towns initiated by the Spanish, Santa Fe has a central square, the Plaza, 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.
Santa Fe has a variety of interesting museums, most in the downtown area and easily reached on foot. Four of the biggest in Santa Fe (the Palace of the Governors, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture) are sub-units of the Museum of New Mexico, for which you can buy a shared pass for $20 that allows access to all four museums and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art within a four-day period. If you only have time for one, individual passes are available.
The following is a list of museums in the downtown area:
- Palace of the Governors / New Mexico History Museum, 105 E Palace Ave (on Santa Fe Plaza), ☎ +1 505 476-5200. Daily 10AM-5PM, closed M Nov-Apr (open Fridays 5-8PM May-Oct and first Friday of each month Nov-Apr). The oldest public building in the United States, the Palace of the Governors is a 17th-century building that once served as the main capitol building and now houses an excellent historical museum and shop, with exhibits on the history of the building and a functioning antique print press. Behind the Palace is the New Mexico History Museum, with three floors of exhibits on the history of New Mexico, including numerous artifacts from the prehistory to the present. Local Native American artists sell their work beneath the portal facing the Plaza. $9 adults, youth 16 and under free; Fridays after 5PM free.
- New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 W Palace Ave (just west of the Palace of the Governors), ☎ +1 505 476-5072. Daily 10AM-5PM, closed M Nov-Apr (open Fridays 5-8PM May-Oct and first Friday of each month Nov-Apr). Though it has been outflanked by the O'Keeffe Museum to some extent, this museum 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. $9 adults, youth 16 and under free; Fridays after 5PM free.
- Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, 217 Johnson St (just north of downtown), ☎ +1 505 946-1000. Daily 10AM-5PM, F open until 7PM. Devoted to the 20th-century artist who settled near Abiquiu, a small town north of Santa Fe. Only free after 5PM on the first Friday of every month, and only applies to New Mexico residents. $12 adults, $10 students, youth 17 and under free.
- Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 108 Cathedral Pl (downtown across the street from St. Francis Cathedral), ☎ +1 505 983-8900, toll-free: +1-888-922-4242. M, W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM, closed Tu. The Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) is a long-standing Santa Fe institution that helps to promote the Santa Fe Indian Market (see under "Do"/"Festivals"). Their museum holds a superb collection of contemporary Indian art. Adults $10, students and seniors (62+) $5; discounts for New Mexico residents and tribal members.
- SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo De Peralta, ☎ +1 505 989-1199. Th, Sa 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-7PM, Su noon-5PM. A private contemporary arts venue with an ongoing schedule of exhibitions of artists who merit international recognition - this is really cutting edge stuff. $10 adults, $5 students/seniors, free for ages 18 and under; free on Fridays and Saturday mornings.
Museum Hill, south of downtown, is home to a collection of art and culture museums in the foothills overlooking Santa Fe. While not within walking distance of downtown, it is accessible via public transportation (Santa Fe Trails Route M, from the plaza area, or Santa Fe Pickup museum shuttle from the state capitol).
- Museum of International Folk Art, 706 Camino Lejo (on Museum Hill), ☎ +1 505 476-1200. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Of particular delight in this museum is its massive Girard exhibition, which contains many large, colorful displays of toys, nativity scenes, textiles, model villages, and traditional arts from around the world. The museum also features a superb collection of local Hispanic art as well as a good roster of changing exhibits. Home of the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market held in July (see under "Do"/"Festivals"). $9 adults, youth 16 and under free.
- Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, 710 Camino Lejo (on Museum Hill), ☎ +1 505 476-1250. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. A large museum with American Indian artworks and exhibits on their culture and history, including a rather superb collection of pottery and displays of both historic and contemporary Indian life. $9 adults, youth 16 and under free.
- Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, 750 Camino Lejo (on Museum Hill), ☎ +1 505 982-2226. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM; open M May-Sep. A small but splendid museum which showcases many Hispano artworks and artifacts from the original Spanish settlers of the area. The museum also sponsors the annual Spanish Market (see under "Do"/"Festivals"). $8 adults, under 16 free.
- Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, 704 Camino Lejo (on Museum Hill), ☎ +1 505 982-4636, toll-free: +1-800-607-4636. Daily 10AM-5PM. 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. $5, students/Native Americans/under 12 free, first Sunday of each month free.
There are also a couple other museums outside the plaza area (but not on Museum Hill) that are very much worth checking out:
- 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, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W, F-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-6:30PM, Su noon-5PM. Many participatory exhibits and various accessible critters both inside and out; the indoor area holds several construction toy areas and a bubble-making area, while the outdoor area features a garden and greenhouse with plenty of kid's activities available. $7.50.
- Rancho de los Golondrinas, 334 Los Pinos Rd (well outside the center of town), ☎ +1 505 471-2261, fax: +1 505 471-5623. Jun-Sep W-Su 10AM-4PM. A massive outdoor "living history" museum portraying Spanish colonial days, with reconstructions of a village, farms, orchards, a vineyard, and a large water mill. In May you'll be dodging swarms of bored children on school field trips; visiting in the fall is better. Adult $6, senior/teen 13-18 $4, children 12 and under free.
- 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 Pl (downtown area), ☎ +1 505 982-5619. One of the "must-see" places in town, with an impressive interior and beautiful art both inside and out. A tip for the photographer: the main façade faces west, so photographing the exterior (including several striking sculptures out front) tends to be most rewarding, atypically for Santa Fe, in the middle of the day, particularly the afternoon. Free; donation.
- Loretto Chapel, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, ☎ +1 505 982-0092. M-Sa 9AM-4:30PM, Su 10:30AM-4:30PM. Built in 1878 and modeled after the Gothic Sainte Chapelle in Paris. An intriguing legend - The Miraculous Staircase - is attached below and serves as the highlight on the church. The Loretto is also a popular romantic wedding venue. $3.
- 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, the San Miguel is a rather simple but lovely adobe structure. Behind the mission, along the narrow alleyway, is a small structure whose owners claim it to be the "Oldest House in the U.S." built by Europeans; a claim which though inaccurate reflects the long history of the site. Admission by donation.
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.
- Santuario de Guadalupe, 100 Guadalupe (downtown area), ☎ +1 505 988-2027. M-F 9AM-4PM, Sa/Summer 10AM-4PM. A favorite musical venue, the Santuario is an excellent example of Spanish Colonial architecture and contains a superb collection of religious artworks. Free.
- Scottish Rite Temple, 463 Paseo de Peralta (north of downtown but within walking distance of the Plaza), ☎ +1 505 982-4414. A startling, bright pink Moorish-style building modeled after the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
- 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; 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.
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 20–22, 2015.
- 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
- Santa Fe 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 (in the Plaza). late July.
- Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. July and August. With a series of internationally known musicians.
- Mountain Man Rendezvous (Palace of the Governors). mid-August.
- 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 in town on Indian Market weekend, so if you're attending, make plans early—Indian Market weekend in 2008 is August 23–24.
- Thirsty Ear Music Festival (Eaves Movie Ranch). August–September.
- Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta. 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. This event takes place in mid December and is a truly unique experience. The audience "participates" in the play by holding candles and following Mary and Joseph in their search for lodging. El Diablo (the devil) appears on rooftops throughout the plaza and hurls insults at the crowd, which responds in kind. This is a wonderful family event.
- 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 online, 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. Pre-performance "tailgate dinners" in the parking lot, as though you were attending a football game or such, are part of the tradition and color; you can bring your own, or see under "Eat/Other/Splurge" below.
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 Dr, ☎ +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 Rd. On the campus of the New Mexico School for the Deaf, remarkably enough.
- Lensic Performing Arts Center, 225 W. San Francisco St, ☎ +1 505 988-1234. Box-office. 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 Rd, ☎ +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 New Mexico Museum of Art (see above).
- 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 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.
- Juan Siddi Flamenco Theatre Company. Santa Fe's premier flamenco troupe performing six nights a week June through September.
- Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco/Institute for Spanish Arts. Internationally renowned Spanish/flamenco dance and music, they also offer classes (+1 505 955-8562 for class information).
- Moving People Dance. A contemporary dance company that throws the annual Santa Fe Dance Festival each June.
- 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.
There are several movie theaters and art houses spread around the city that play Hollywood flicks as well some of the more off-beat movies. In addition to the year-round offerings, film enthusiasts should check out the Santa Fe Film Festival, held every year in early December.
- First-run Hollywood films can be seen at UA DeVargas Mall Cinema in the DeVargas Mall and at the Regal Cinemas on Cerrillos Road at Zafarano Drive (the later of which is newer and can screen 3D films).
- The Lensic Performing Arts Center (listed above) occasionally holds a screening in addition to their regular performing arts lineup.
- Jean Cocteau Cinema, 418 Montezuma Ave (west of Guadalupe, around the corner from the Santa Fe Depot), ☎ +1 505 466-5528. Plays a mixture of Hollywood, classic, and indie films.
- The Center for Contemporary Arts, adjacent to the Armory for the Arts (listed above), plays a good selection of indie films and documentaries.
- The Screen, 1600 St Michaels Dr (on the campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design), ☎ +1 505 473-6494. Screens a selection of foreign, indie, and art house films.
- Violet Crown Cinema, 1606 Alcaldesa St (in the Santa Fe Railyards), ☎ +1 505 216-5678. A brand new movie house which plays first-run Hollywood films. All seats are reserved (reserving online ahead of time is recommended) and there is a full-service restaurant and bar in the building, with the option of taking your food into the theater. Food is prepared on order, so if you want to eat while watching the movie, be sure to arrive well ahead of screening.
As one might expect from its location between mountain and desert, Santa Fe is rich in outdoor activities, particularly hiking, cycling, and horse riding. Most are slightly outside town itself and are covered in the "Get out" section and pages cited there, but there are a few in-town possibilities:
- There are a number of great trails around town:
- The Cross of the Martyrs is a good short walk, located on a hill just northeast of Downtown. From Paseo de Peralta, the paved walkway ascends to the top of the hill, where a cross honoring the Spanish martyrs of New Mexico has been placed. Unfortunately, getting to the entrance to the trail involves uncomfortably close proximity to car traffic, as one has to walk along a narrow but extraordinarily busy street on very narrow sidewalks, but the view of Santa Fe makes it all worth it. Old Fort Marcy Park, at 300 Kearney Ave, is just around the corner a short walk from the cross, and 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.
- The Santa Fe River Park runs along the so-called Santa Fe River (it rarely has more than a trickle of water), with access convenient to the plaza area along Alameda Street, which cuts through the downtown area between the Plaza and the State Capitol. You'll share the path with myriad walkers, bikers, and some boarders and horse riders.
- 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.
- A trail along the railroad to Lamy south of Santa Fe can be hiked, biked, and ridden on horseback. It is a nationally designated Rail with Trail, and plans are underway to further develop its trail facilities. It's paved from the Railyard to Rabbit Road (continuation of St. Francis Drive on the south side of I-25), continuing as a dirt path along the tracks to Lamy. Needless to say, keep an eye out for trains.
- The Santa Fe National Forest covers the mountains east of town and offers abundant outdoor recreational opportunities. Ski Santa Fe is a short distance outside town, at the end of NM 475 (Hyde Park Road) 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.
- Geocaching has become popular in Santa Fe, as might be expected from the general atmosphere of the city. The geocaching.com web site lists hundreds of caches in and near town, sufficient to keep even the most ardent cacher busy for a while. One caution: Santa Fe's reputation as a playground for the rich and famous has created a number of closed and gated neighborhoods, many of them quite intolerant of trespassers and aggressively patrolled. If your route to a cache leads you to a closed gate, take it seriously, and either look outside the perimeter for your quarry, or seek a different cache.
- Horse riding is available at several stables on the west side of town, and at Bishops' Lodge (see below under Sleep). If you have your own horse, or contract with an outfitter, your choice of places to ride is enormous. Popular trail systems in the Santa Fe area include the Santa Fe National Forest, Pecos Wilderness, Caja del Rio, Cerrillos Hills Historical Park, and Pueblos (access requiring a permit). A little farther afield is Los Alamos, Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the Carson National Forest.
- White-water rafting is excellent on the nearby Rio Grande and Rio Chama north of town, with trips ranging from easy half-day floats to taxing multi-day outings. Kokopelli Rafting Adventures, 551 W. Cordova Rd. #540, +1-800-879-9035, is one of several good outfitters operating out of Santa Fe; other good ones can be found along the road to and in Taos. Reservations are a must, particularly during peak season (usually June to early July).
- 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 132 East Marcy St., +1 505 995-8356; they also offer guided rides on some of the mountain-bike routes in the mountains.
- Golf and other sports are less accessible in Santa Fe than in some other cities, as many of the golf courses are either private and reserved for residents of adjoining gated communities, or out of town at one of the nearby pueblos and in Los Alamos. Santa Fe Country Club, Country Club Road (off Airport Road), +1 505 471-0601, is a "semi-private" course that welcomes the public and includes tennis courts; call for tee times. Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, 205 Caja del Rio Road, +1 505 955-4400, is the "municipal" course in town—well, almost in town, as it's off the Santa Fe Relief Route a good eight miles from the Plaza. Golf in Santa Fe is "challenging;" the altitude may tire you (although the thin air may also help the ball fly farther and straighter), and weather can interfere, with strong winds in the spring and afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. Still, Santa Fe is a great place to get outside, and that includes golf and other sporting activities.
- Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Rd, ☎ +1 505-955-4000. Contains three swimming pools, an ice rink, a gymnasium, and a fitness center.
Santa Fe is a designated UNESCO Creative City and is one the best places in the world to shop specifically for Native 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. Some reputable ones (there are more) are:
- Allan Houser Gallery, 125 Lincoln Ave. Suite 112, ☎ +1 505 982-4705. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Showcases sculptures, drawings, and paintings by Allan Houser. A sculpture garden south of Santa Fe with more work by Houser is open for tours.
- Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, 100 W. San Francisco, ☎ +1 505 986-1234. Summer M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 12PM-6PM; Winter M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su Noon-5PM. Museum quality Native American pottery.
- Blue Rain Gallery, 130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, ☎ +1 505 954-9902. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, closed Sun. Specializing in contemporary Native American art, including pottery, paintings, glass sculpture, jewelry and mixed media.
- Lyn Fox Pueblo Pottery, 640 Canyon Road, ☎ +1 505 577-0835. Specializing in fine historic Pueblo pottery from the eight northern pueblos, including Native American clay pots, dough bowls, vases, olla pots, and storyteller pottery.
- Steve Elmore Indian Art, 839 Paseo de Peralta, suite M (between Palace & Alameda), ☎ +1 505 995-9677. 10AM-5PM daily. Specializing in Native American antiques with an emphasis on historic Pueblo pottery, Navajo weavings, kachinas, and old pawn jewelry.
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):
Only in Santa Fe...
Another chapter was added to the weird, wonderful lore of the "City Different" in August 2007, when one of the many jewelry and art shops in the downtown area suffered a midnight break-in by -- no kidding -- a mountain lion. You won't have to compete for goods with this aesthetically inclined beast, however, as it was tranquilized by Fish and Game officers, removed, and released in the wilds of northern New Mexico.
- Axle Contemporary, variable locations and hours; check website for daily updates, ☎ +1 505 670-5854. A mobile gallery of contemporary art, featuring works on paper and installation in a beautiful custom-retrofitted 1970 aluminum stepvan. Art by both established and emerging New Mexico-based artists.
- Chuck Jones Gallery, 135 W. Palace Ave, ☎ +1 505 983-5999. Hours apparently "flexible". Amid the galleries featuring the scenic and cultural beauty of the Southwest and Native Americana, you can find this one featuring the "beauty" of ... Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner!? This gallery memorializes the great cartoon artist and his successors in animation art, with many originals. Not what you might think of as typical of the Santa Fe art scene, but highly entertaining.
- Gerald Peters Gallery, 1011 Paseo de Peralta, ☎ +1 505 954-5700. 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.
- Glenn Green Galleries, 136 Tesuque Village Rd (in Tesuque, 5 miles north of the Plaza), ☎ +1 505 820-0008. M-Sa 10AM-5PM; Sunday by appointment. Established in 1966, 5 acre sculpture garden and gallery. Contemporary sculpture, paintings, prints and wall art by artists such as Allan Houser (whom the gallery represented from 1974-1994), Khang Pham-New, Eduardo Oropeza, Melanie Yazzie, etc.
- 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).
- Manitou Galleries, 123 W. Palace Ave, ☎ +1 505 986-0440, toll-free: +1-800-283-0440. M-Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM, Su 11AM-5PM. One of the relatively few Santa Fe galleries open 7 days a week. Mid-range ($100 to $20,000) work, mainly with a Southwestern theme; nice bronzes.
- Mark White Fine Art, 414 Canyon Rd, ☎ +1 505 982-2073. Daily 10AM-5PM. Meditative wind sculptures. Inside the gallery you can view radiant and unique paintings on metal.
- Mill Fine Art, 530 Canyon Rd (East section of Canyon Road), ☎ +1 505 982-9212. 10AM-5PM. Exhibiting primarily contemporary and minimalist artwork.
- Nedra Matteucci Galleries, 1075 Paseo de Peralta, ☎ +1 505 982-4631. M-Sa 9:30AM–5PM. A gallery by a well-known Santa Fe entrepreneur, with an emphasis on 19th- and 20th-century work, including a number of works from the art colony at Taos.
- Shidoni Foundry, 1508 Bishops Lodge Rd (in the outlying village of Tesuque, north of Santa Fe), ☎ +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.
- Waxlander Gallery and Sculpture Garden, 622 Canyon Rd, ☎ +1 505 984-2202. Daily 9:30-5:30PM. Contemporary artists led by Phyllis Kapp.
- William R. Talbot Fine Art, 129 W. San Francisco St (upstairs), ☎ +1 505 982-1559. Historic maps, regionalist prints and paintings.
- Winterowd Fine Art, 701 Canyon Rd, ☎ +1 505 992-8878. 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.
- In downtown Santa Fe there are quite a few specialty stores for toys, book stores, clothes and a variety of other stores with handmade goods such as purses and jewelry.
- On the south side of the city there is an outlet mall at the intersection of I-25 and Cerrillos Road and a large gathering of newer, big-box stores like Best Buy and Target on Zafarano Road near Cerrillos and Rodeo Roads, across the road from the enclosed Santa Fe Place mall. A second (and slightly smaller) enclosed mall, the DeVargas Center, is located at Paseo de Peralta and Guadalupe, just north of the downtown area. Within the downtown area proper is the Sanbusco Center, a partially-enclosed mall with mostly upscale shops, anchored by a Cost Plus World Market.
- A Santa Fe institution is the Tesuque Pueblo 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". 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.
- Santa Fe Farmers Market, 1607 Paseo de Peralta (Paseo de Peralta at Guadalupe), ☎ +1 505 983-4098. The Santa Fe Farmers Market represents over 100 active vendors and features hundreds of different agricultural products. To further meet Santa Fe's demand for fresh, local produce, the Market began operating year-round in 2002, and with more and more farmers using extended growing techniques, the "off season" becomes more successful every year.
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.
- Five and Dime, 58 E San Francisco St, ☎ +1 505 992-1800. The former Woolworths on the Plaza was said to be the birthplace of the "Frito Pie"; it has since been replaced by the Five and Dime. 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 jalapeños as a garnish, served in the original Frito bag.
- The Shed, 113½ E Palace Ave, ☎ +1 505 982-9030. M-Sa 11AM-2:30PM and 5:30PM-9PM. 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. They operate a sister restaurant, La Choza, at 905 Alarid St. It 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. Reservations are recommended. Lunch entrees from $7 or so at both, dinners from $9.
- Felipe's Tacos, 1711 Llano St, ☎ +1 505 473-9397. M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 9AM-6PM. 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.
- Posa's El Merendero, 1514 Rodeo Rd (secondary location at 3538 Zafarano Dr, ☎ +1 505 820-7672. M-Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 8AM-3PM. 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. Entrees $5-10.
- Plaza Cafe, 54 Lincoln Ave, ☎ +1 505 982-1664. 7AM-9PM daily. An old standby a stone's throw from the vendors on the Portal. Open for all meals, but particularly recommended for lunch, although it's crowded.
- Tia Sophia's, 210 W San Francisco St, ☎ +1 505 983-9880. M-Sa 7AM-2PM, Su 8AM-1PM. Breakfast and lunch daily; much loved by locals for breakfast.
- Tortilla Flats, 3139 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 471-8685. Su-Th 7AM-9AM, F-Sa 7AM-10PM. 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. Less than $10.
- Tomasita's, 500 S Guadalupe St (just south of downtown in an old railroad station), ☎ +1 505 983-5721. M-Sa 11AM-10PM. 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, 133 Water St (secondary location at 4056 Cerrillos Rd), ☎ +1 505 984-1800. 11AM-10PM daily. A curious combination of New Mexican cuisine and a microbrewery.
- Maria's New Mexican Kitchen, 555 W Cordova Rd, ☎ +1 505 983-7929. M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa-Su noon-10PM. Margaritas are a specialty here, but the traditional New Mexican cuisine is also good, if a bit heavier than at Tomasita's. Parking, though ample, is a pain to get to; approach from the east, on Camino de los Marquez rather than Cordova.
- Tabla de Los Santos, 210 Don Gaspar Ave (inside the Hotel St. Francis), ☎ +1 505 992-6354. M 7:30AM-11AM, Tu-Th 7:30AM-2PM and 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 7:30AM-2PM and 5PM-10PM, Su 7:30AM-1:30PM and 5PM-9PM. New Mexican cuisine with great tasting pork chops and chile rellenos. Great views of the Plaza.
- La Casa Sena, 125 E Palace Ave, ☎ +1 505 988-9232. M-Sa 11:30AM-3PM and 5:30PM-10PM, Su 11AM-3PM and 5:30PM-10PM. An example of "Southwestern" cuisine—the merging of traditional New Mexican preparation and presentation with more modern, creative ingredients (sometimes a little too creative). Reservations recommended.
- Coyote Cafe, 132 W Water St, ☎ +1 505 983-1615. 11:30AM-close daily. Another highly-regarded "Southwestern" dining experience, although there has been a recent tendency for chef Mark Miller, (however Mark Miller sold the Restaurant to a group of employees); 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. Reservations recommended.
- Luminaria, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail (inside the Inn at Loretto), ☎ +1 505 984-7915. 7AM-2PM and 5PM-10PM daily. Enjoy views of the Loretto Chapel and Old Santa Fe trail while dining.
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.
- Chopstix, 238 N Guadalupe St, ☎ +1 505 820-2126. Su-F 10:30AM-8PM. 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.
- Pantry Restaurant, 1820 Cerrillos Rd (corner of Cerrillos & 5th), ☎ +1 505 986-0022. M-Sa 6:30AM-9PM, Su 7AM-9PM. Delicious food served in a diner-type setting. The waitstaff are super friendly, and the portions are humongous. The customers fill the small front quickly in the mornings, but seats are often available at the bar (which serves delicious milkshakes, even before noon). $5-$10.
- Pyramid Cafe, 505 W. Cordova Rd (in a strip mall on Cordova Road south of downtown), ☎ +1 505 989-1378. Daily 11AM-9PM. 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. M-Sa 6AM-8PM, Su 6AM-6PM. 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 Bite, 311 Old Santa Fe Trail, ☎ +1 505 982-0544. Tu-Th 8AM-8PM, Fri-Sat 8AM-9PM, Sun 8AM-5PM. Inside of Garrett's Desert Inn. Known for their green chile cheeseburgers.
- Tune-Up Cafe, 1115 Hickox St, ☎ +1 505 983-7060. M-F 7AM-10PM, Sa-Su 8AM-10PM. Occupies the space formerly "Dave's Not Here." Local hangout featuring the owners' Guatemalan cuisine with a New Mexican flavor. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The location, near the main St. Francis Drive artery, is more convenient for the through traveler than to downtown.
- Upper Crust Pizza, 329 Old Santa Fe Trail, ☎ +1 505 982-0000. Winter daily 11AM-10PM, summer daily 11AM-11PM. 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.
- Whole Hog Cafe, 320 S. Guadalupe, ☎ +1 505 474-3375. Daily 11AM-8:30PM. A barbecue chain centered in Arkansas and Louisiana, but with two New Mexico outlets (the other is in Albuquerque); fast-food-meets-steakhouse format, but the BBQ is high-quality by any standards. Try the "Volcano" BBQ sauce (you'll have to ask for it at the counter) and see if it's hotter than the New Mexican cuisine elsewhere in town. If it blows you away, sauce #3 also has some kick and is tasty. Lunches (handy as it's in the pandemonious Cerrillos Road shopping area) from $5.05.
- Cowgirl BBQ, 319 S. Guadalupe, ☎ +1 505 982-2565. M-F 11AM-Midnight, Sa 10AM-Midnight, Su 10AM-11PM; Drinks served until 1:30AM M-Sa, midnight on Sundays. Santa Fe mainstay where tourists and locals alike flock for some semblance of nightlife in Santa Fe. Decent food, 4 red pool tables ($12/hour, 7'), decent prices, and live music every night, except Mondays- Karaoke. The BBQ ain't bad, either.
- India Palace, 227 Don Gaspar Ave, ☎ +1 505 986-5859. Daily 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5PM-10PM. Second location: India House at 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. Figure $15–20 a head, and worth every penny.
- Marisco's La Playa, 537 W. Cordova Rd, ☎ +1 505 982-2790. Daily 11AM-9PM. An example of the difference between "Mexican" and "New Mexican" cuisine; this restaurant definitely serves 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.
- Mu Du Noodles, 1494 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 983-1411. Dinner Tu-Sa from 5:30PM. Features noodle/pasta dishes from around the world, but most of the dishes are from China or Southeast Asia. Parking can be a challenge. Ambitious cuisine for New Mexico, although perhaps equally ambitiously priced.
- Pasqual's, 121 Don Gaspar, ☎ +1 505 983-9340. Breakfast and lunch daily 8AM-3PM; dinner daily from 5:30PM. An old standby in the downtown area. As with many Santa Fe restaurants, the menu blends New Mexican cuisine with more traditional American fare. 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. Daily 11:30AM-9PM. A long-time Santa Fe standard, near the downtown area. A mix of continental and New Mexican cuisine that borders on "Splurge" territory.
- Pranzo Italian Grill, 540 Montezuma Ave (in the Sanbusco Center), ☎ +1 505 984-2645. Su 12PM-10PM, M-Sa 11:30AM-3PM and 5PM-11PM. May be the best Italian restaurant in town. Reservations advisable. Expect it to be loud.
- Wok, 2860 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 424-8126. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-9:30PM, closed Sundays. Chinese food is a weakness (at least relatively speaking) in Santa Fe, but this unpretentious place has some supporters.
- 315, 315 Old Santa Fe Trail, ☎ +1 505 986-9190. Lunch F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner Su-Th 5:30-9PM, F-Sa 5:30-9:30PM. 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 crème brûlée dessert. You can easily drop $50 a person here and feel good about it.
- The Compound, 653 Canyon Rd, ☎ +1 505 982-4353. Lunch M-F Noon-2; dinner daily beginning at 6PM. 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. Entrees from $25–40; reservations strongly advised.
- Geronimo, 724 Canyon Rd, ☎ +1 505 982-1500. Daily 5:30PM–9:30PM. Another fine restaurant amid the galleries. The menu tends toward Continental but is entertainingly diverse and changes frequently. 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. Tu-Sa 5PM-11PM. 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. Live entertainment most evenings. Expect to pay $40 per person or more.
- Las Fuentes, 1297 Bishop's Lodge Rd (at Bishop's Lodge Resort), ☎ +1 505 819-4035 (reservations). Daily 7AM-9PM. 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 Old House Restaurant, 309 W. San Francisco (in the Eldorado Hotel), ☎ +1 505 995-4530. Dinner nightly from 5:30PM. 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 and a great wine selection. Expect to spend around $50 per person.
- Osteria d`Assisi, 58 S. Federal Pl (three blocks north of the Plaza), ☎ +1 505 986-5858. Lunch M-Sa 11AM–3PM, dinner nightly from 5PM. If Pranzo (above) isn't the best Italian restaurant in town, this one may be. Prices range from about $10–12 for a simple Neapolitan-style pizza to $70 or more for a grand 5-course dinner with wine (come hungry and expect to leave full), or anything in between.
- Santacafe, 231 Washington Ave, ☎ +1 505 984-1788. Lunch daily 11:30AM-2PM, dinner daily from 5:30PM; brunch Su 11AM-2:30PM. 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. Expect to spend around $50 per person.
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. Visitors should note that the high altitude may increase sensitivity to alcohol.
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.
- Secreto Lounge, 210 Don Gaspar Ave (inside the Hotel St Francis), ☎ +1 505 983-5700. 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. Two great guys to look for here, Daniel and Chris, both award winning mixologists.
- Inn on the Alameda, 303 E Alameda St, ☎ +1 505 984-2121. Included in its rates is an afternoon wine and cheese reception, and with its location at the base of Canyon Road, it offers an easy way to relax after a day of gallery-hopping.
- Second Street Brewery, 1814 2nd St, ☎ +1 505 982-3030. Su noon-10PM, M-Sa 11AM-11PM for food, later (closing time unspecified) for the bar. Brewpub, with live music most evenings Thursday-Sunday and art exhibits (this is Santa Fe, after all) at other times. Note that they've been fined in the past by the state of New Mexico for permitting consumption of alcohol off grounds, so they may be sticklers for keeping your drink on-site. There's also a secondary location, Second Street Brewpub at the Railyard, at 1607 Paseo de Peralta #10 (behind the Farmer's Market).
- 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.
- 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.
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. Of course, the converse is true as well, meaning you can stay at a "Splurge" hotel in the off-season months of November through February at a really low price. Check carefully on rates when booking; most of the more important hotels/motels have informative web pages, and better hotels should give you the best price themselves, instead of letting discounters underprice them.
Budget hotels and motels in Santa Fe are few and far between. The economy-rate chains all have franchises in town, but it's not clear that most can really be considered "budget" lodging. Try one and write it up here.
- Comfort Suites Santa Fe, 3348 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 473-9004. An entirely non-smoking hotel. Complimentary breakfast buffet.
- Holiday Inn Express Cerrillos, 3450 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 474-7570. This one actually is a long way from downtown, and the "ambience" of Cerrillos Road is nothing to write home about, yet not bad.
- Santa Fe International Hostel, 1412 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 988-1153. An independently owned, traditional hostel and boarding house offering dormitory accommodations and private rooms. It has been around for several decades and is still going strong. Offers a lot of free food, well beyond a continental breakfast, pay phones, laundry facilities, maps, a lounge, and internet use (for an additional daily fee).
- Santa Fe Sage Inn, 725 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 982-5952, toll-free: +1-866-433-0335, fax: +1 505 984-8879. A no-frills "motor lodge" with surprisingly quiet and comfortable rooms given the low rates. Closer to the downtown attractions than other Cerrillos Road lodging. From $50.
There are a number of bed and breakfast establishments beyond the ones shown here. 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. In addition to B&Bs, one can also rent furnished homes, large or small ("casitas") which allows you to prepare at least some of your own meals, and enjoy a little more space, both indoors and outdoors. Here are a couple of agencies, followed by classic bed & breakfast choices.
- Alexander's Inn, 529 E Palace Ave, ☎ +1 505 986-1431. Vacation rentals in the downtown area.
- Aqui Santa Fe, 17 Bishop's Lodge Trail, ☎ +1 505 984-8885, e-mail: email@example.com. A small but select group of luxuriously furnished and equipped houses and casitas, some with art collections, all with gourmet kitchens, Frette bedding, fireplaces, patios or gardens. From $200/night.
- Chapelle Street Casitas, 209 Chapelle, ☎ +1 505 780-3221. A collection of 30 cottages, houses, and casitas all in the only residential neighborhood inside the Plaza
- Casa Cuma Bed & Breakfast, 105 Paseo de la Cuma, ☎ +1 505 216-7516, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM to 5PM, check-out: 11AM. Nice B&B with mountain views, full hot gourmet breakfast and just 4 blocks to the Plaza.
- Pueblo Bonito Inn, 138 W Manhattan Ave, ☎ +1 505 984-8001. Secluded behind its thick adobe walls, Pueblo Bonito Inn is a true historic bed and breakfast.
- Zona Rosa Suites, 429 W San Francisco St, ☎ +1 505 988-4455. One, two and three-bedroom suites, each appointed with a Kiva fireplace, saltillo tile floors, and viga ceilings.
- Dunshee's B&B, 986 Acequia Madre, ☎ +1 505 982-0988, fax: +1 505 982-1547, e-mail: email@example.com. A small bed and breakfast near the Canyon Road art district.
- El Farolito Bed and Breakfast, 514 Galisteo St, ☎ +1 505 988-1631, toll-free: +1-888-634-8782, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 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.
- El Paradero Bed and Breakfast Inn, 220 W Manhattan Ave, ☎ +1 505 988-1177, toll-free: +1-866-558-0918, e-mail: email@example.com. On a quiet downtown side street. Gourmet breakfasts and afternoon teas.
- Casa Del Toro Santa Fe Bed and Breakfast, 229 McKenzie St, ☎ +1 505 715-6861, toll-free: +1-866-476-1091, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A compound of adobe cottages. Hot breakfast served every morning.
- Santa Fe Motel & Inn, 510 Cerrillos Rd, ☎ +1 505 982-1039, toll-free: +1-800-930-5002, fax: +1 505 986-1275, e-mail: email@example.com. Located near the Railyard District. Complimentary hot breakfast, free wireless.
Most major hotel chains have franchises in Santa Fe, mainly located outside the main tourist areas. A few are removed from downtown on Cerrillos Road, hence have 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.
- 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; non-chain options include:
Several of the classic downtown hotels/lodges approach "Splurge" status, particularly during peak periods, both for their locations and their quality, but a splurge is frequently worth the expense for those who want an authentic Santa Fe experience. A couple of the more reasonably priced ones:
- Don Gaspar Inn, 623 Don Gaspar Ave, ☎ +1 505 986-8664, toll-free: +1-888-986-8664, fax: +1 505 986-0696. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11PM. A short walk to the Plaza, galleries, spas, unique shops, and wonderful restaurants. The gardens and courtyards surround the three houses that comprise the Inn and cover half the block. The Inn offers 10 spacious suites and rooms. $105-$355.
- Inn on the Alameda, 303 E Alameda St, ☎ +1 505 984-2121, toll-free: +1-888-984-2121, fax: +1 505 986-8325, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 12noon. As the closest hotel to the art galleries of Canyon Road, the Inn offers an ideal location for exploring all the attractions of the Santa Fe Plaza area, with its setting at the edge of one of the city's nicest residential areas. resulting in a more peaceful hotel stay. Spread across three acres, this is downtown Santa Fe's most value-added property, with a lavish complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon wine and cheese reception served daily, free parking and wi-fi access, and parking and local and toll-free calls all at no charge. Two pets under 100 pounds are accepted in dedicated pet rooms with a non-refundable nightly deposit. Seasonal rates range from $159 to $599, with January and February being the most affordable time to splurge on a stay at this cozy inn.
- 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, and still within comfortable walking distance of most of the good stuff. Singles from $99 depending on season.
- Hilton 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. No longer an "elegant" hotel, but not bad at all. A great place for conferences too. Singles from $129.
- Hotel St. Francis, 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. Was renovated just recently and reflects a Franciscan Missionary style.
- Lodge at Santa Fe, 750 N St. Francis Dr, ☎ +1 505 992-5800. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 12PM. Just north of the city but only 3-5 minutes from the Plaza. Every summer they feature the Juan Siddi Flamenco Theatre Company live performances. Complimentary shuttle downtown, an onsite restaurant, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, complimentary Wi-Fi, and event spaces.
- Bishop's Lodge Resort, 1297 Bishop's Lodge Road (north of town), ☎ +1 505 983-6377. A full-service resort in the beautiful Tesuque Valley features horseback riding, spa, tennis courts, summer children's programs,and more in a peaceful setting away from the hubbub of the Plaza, but not so far away as to be inconvenient. Complimentary shuttle to and from the Plaza. Rates from $199, seasonal variations.
- Eldorado Hotel & Spa, 309 W San Francisco St (two 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. Nidah Spa is in the hotel.
- Inn and Spa at Loretto, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, ☎ +1 505 988-5531. Art galleries and a full service day spa, in addition to the lodging. From $229, with substantial seasonal variations.
- Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, 113 Washington Ave (just northeast of the Plaza), ☎ +1 505 988-3030. 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.
- La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, 330 E Palace Ave, ☎ +1 505 986-0000, toll-free: +1-866-331-7625. 157-room boutique resort and full-service spa offering adobe-style rooms and suites, many with fireplaces and patios. Located downtown and two blocks from the historic Plaza, art galleries, and shopping.
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.
Santa Fe is a fairly safe city as regards violent crime, despite the widely publicized occurrence of occasional hate crimes. 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. The most common problems are headache and/or feeling tired may occur, drinking more water or going to lower altitude may help (a trip down La Bajada to the reservoir will usually do it). Also pay attention during hikes and bike rides, remember you are at 7,000 feet—sunscreen is important, even in the winter. 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. Some visitors report increased sensitivity to alcohol due to the altitude.
The Internet cafe phenomenon is a relatively recent arrival in Santa Fe, and new outlets are popping up fast enough that it's hard to keep track. Check back on this list occasionally, as it's expanding.
- Java Joe's, in two locations: 2801 Rodeo Road, +1 505 474-5282, and 2430 Cerrillos Rd. (College Plaza), +1 505 471-5637. 7AM - 7PM (5PM Sundays) at the Rodeo location, 7AM - 9PM at College Plaza. Coffeehouse first, Internet cafe second, but fun.
- Several of the more casual restaurants are joining the Internet party. Santa Fe Baking Company and Pyramid Cafe (see above under Eat) also claim to offer free wireless access. Most of the major hotels offer wideband service to guests.
- Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa and Resort, 3451 Hyde Park Rd (on the way to the Santa Fe Ski Basin), ☎ +1 505 982-9304. A Japanese bathhouse 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.
- The Spa at Loretto, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, ☎ +1 505 984-7997. Full-service day spa at the Inn at Loretto.
- Tone, 901 W. San Mateo Rd, ☎ +1 505 989-8552. Advertises itself as "Body and Face for Women;" more massage, facials, etc. Several of the hotels in town also offer spa services.
- 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 glamour district and save some money.
- SpaNomad, ☎ +1 505 490-0591. A mobile massage service featuring Indian head massage, Hawaiian lomi lomi, Thai massage, body wraps and several other styles of massage in your own hotel or vacation rental. Mainly a "traveling spa," but SpaNomad also has trainings in Indian head massage and provides massage at several local events.
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. For more detailed info on each pueblo, see the New Mexico Pueblos page.
Among the nearby pueblos, Cochiti Pueblo and Santo Domingo Pueblo are southwest of town off I-25, both centers of folk art, with Santo Domingo excellent for pottery and jewelry. North of town, there are a couple of pueblos along US 84/285; Tesuque is the closest to Santa Fe and has a casino, but the pueblo itself is closed to the public. Continuing north takes you to Pojoaque, which has an interesting museum and gaudy casino. Further beyond off the main road is Nambe Pueblo, which has a pleasant campground and waterfall, while San Ildefonso Pueblo is located off the main road to Los Alamos and is a major pottery center. More pueblos are located in the vicinity of Española and Taos even further north.
- Taos, known for its art colony, the iconic Taos Pueblo, as well as a superb downhill ski area, is about a two hour drive north of Santa Fe. The trip up is quite scenic, with a couple excellent drives possible; see the North Central New Mexico page for detailed directions.
- Pecos is a small town about 20 miles east of Santa Fe just off I-25, and is the home of the Pecos National Historic Park, a small NPS site that preserves the ruins of an abandoned Indian pueblo and Spanish mission from the 17th century, as well as the Glorieta Pass Battlefield, site of a major Civil War battle in the West.
- 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.
|Routes through Santa Fe|
|Pueblo ← Pecos ←||N S||→ Algodones → Albuquerque|
|Española ← Pojoaque ←||N S||→ Merges with → Pecos → Santa Rosa|
|Española ← Pojoaque ← Merges with ←||N S||→ Merges with → Jct W E → Roswell|
|END ←||N S||→ Madrid → Cedar Crest|