Santa Fe Favorites

  • Favorites
    by keida84
  • Favorites
    by keida84
  • main center just south of the plaza 2 blocks
    main center just south of the plaza 2...
    by BruceDunning

Best Rated Favorites in Santa Fe

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Adobe, adobe, adobe!

    by toonsarah Written Dec 2, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    Favorite thing: When we arrived at our accommodation in Santa Fe the owner of the Chapelle Street Casitas said “And yes, there is a law that everything has to be brown!” The downtown area here preserves a number of old adobe buildings from Spanish colonial times, but at first glance you might be fooled into thinking that all the buildings were old, and all of them adobe. And that’s just what the city planners want you to think. For decades now, all new building in this part of the city has had to conform to the same overall style, although many of the apparently “adobe” buildings that you will see are in fact plaster and stucco, built in the early 20th Century to satisfy this collective vision of what the city ought to look like to appeal to tourists. A city ordinance exists to enforce the on-going homogenisation of the downtown district, requiring that all new buildings, additions and restorations conform to one of two traditional styles:
    ~ “Pueblo Revival” – a mix of styles based on Native American mud buildings and Spanish mud-brick churches
    ~ “Territorial” – a style based on early Anglo modifications of adobe buildings, with additions like wood trim around windows and door openings and decorative friezes on the parapets

    Opinion is divided as to the success of this approach to town planning, and I couldn’t make up my own mind either. When we first arrived I was rather struck by the appearance of the streets around the Plaza, with their uniform colour and (mostly) low heights giving them a very characteristic look. But after a while the uniformity can start to look more dull than distinctive.

    Fondest memory: The secret to appreciating these buildings, I found, is to stop seeing them as a homogenous whole and look for the details that make certain among them stand out. For instance, on Lincoln Avenue you will find one of the oldest adobe houses in the city, which has some very appealing and almost sensuous curves (photo 2)

    Further south, near the Church of San Miguel, is the oldest house of all, which also claims to be the oldest in the US, a claim I found hard to believe (photo 3). Near this is another house with stunning turquoise wooden window frames and shutters, seen in my main photo. Look for architectural details such as these, and you will discover as I did that there is actually much more variety to the architecture of Santa Fe than at first appears.

    +++Next tip!+++

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Gallery hopping

    by toonsarah Updated Dec 2, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Outside a Santa Fe Gallery

    Favorite thing: If you enjoy art of any form you are almost bound to see something that appeals to you in Santa Fe. The city is obsessed, it seems! I read that “Art galleries” take up five pages in the local Yellow Pages directory, and “Artists” have their own heading, with subheadings for painters, sculptors, etc. The best-known area for gallery hopping is on Canyon Road, just south east of the centre (see my separate Things to Do tip), but we found many of our favourites in the streets immediately around the Plaza. These included the stylish Blue Rain Gallery on Lincoln Avenue, with a fascinating mix of paintings, sculpture, pottery and more, and the Galerie Züger on W San Francisco Street which had devoted most of its space to an awesome display of bronze sculptures by Gib Singleton (who also did the Stations of the Cross which we were to see a few days later at the Sancturio de Chimayo). Check out the gallery’s website to see some examples of his work.

    Fondest memory: Perhaps our favourite gallery of all was the Andrew Smith Gallery(www.andrewsmithgallery.com), which specialises in “Masterpieces of Photography”. It was a real thrill to see some of their wonderful images by such famous photographers as Ansel Adams, Annie Liebowitz, Edward Weston, Alfred Steiglitz, Cartier-Bresson and more, as well as to discover some that we didn’t know. I really recommend a visit here – it can be found on the corner of Grant Avenue and Johnson Street, just next to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

    +++Next tip!+++

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo

    Unlimited number of art galleries/culture

    by jumpingnorman Updated Apr 26, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    So many art galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico!

    Favorite thing: Because of the beautiful scenery and the rich history of Santa Fe, there are several artists in town.

    Art galleries are everywhere and it’s almost impossible not to see one of them when you are in Santa Fe.

    The most notable are:
    Canyon Road
    Railroad District and SITE Santa Fe
    West Palace Arts District
    New Mexico Museum of Art
    Georgia O’Keefe Museum
    Museum of International Folk Art
    Institute of American Indian Arts
    Shidoni Foundry

    There is no shortage of places for culture-lovers in Santa Fe! I am not one of them (I just occasionally watch plays and music)…but there is the Santa Fe Opera, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Symphony and Orchestra and the Desert Chorale.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo

    Thinking outside the Box - Adobe Box Houses

    by jumpingnorman Written Apr 19, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Adobe Box Houses in Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Favorite thing: The Adobe houses in Santa Fe are very distinct – these box-like architectural designs are representations of the history of Spanish and Native American cultures using durable adobe which is produced from combining sand, clay, water and fibrous organic matter like sticks or straw.

    The Palace of the Governors is one perfect example of an adobe structure. In the past, the buildings were traditionally made by shaping the mud-based substance into bricks, with supports provided by large logs, called vigas.

    But now, they still retain the box-like buildings but using “faux-dobe” and one of these newer buildings include the New Mexico Museum of Art.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    If It's Winter--It's Cold...brrrrrrrrrrrr

    by VeronicaG Written Jan 31, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Cold Weather Clothes

    Favorite thing: Although Santa Fe is a high desert, it still gets cold in the winter. Be sure to take along a warm outer coat, scarf and gloves. The best advice I received was from Kymbanm on VT who suggested dressing in layers.

    Also, a hood to your parka or hat is necessary, because the wind can make it raw for you while you're outdoors. If you spend anytime at all outdoors, you'll be glad you were dressed to face the elements!

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Singles
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    #1 In Importance!

    by VeronicaG Updated Jan 31, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hydrate yourself!

    Favorite thing: One might think that only in the summer, you would have problems with dehydration. Actually, it's so dry in Santa Fe (even in the winter) you'll be glad you thought to pick up a bottle of water to accompany you on your travels!

    As we visited the sites, browsed the galleries or walked along the shops near the plaza, our throats would become very dry. It seemed we were stopping for something to drink each day aside from breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    Our guide book recommended that one should drink lots of water and we found that to be true--so be sure to drink up!

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Singles
    • Seniors

    Was this review helpful?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    Be Sensible...

    by VeronicaG Updated Jan 31, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Don't Worry About Fashion...

    Favorite thing: Ladies, leave the heels and fashion boots at home...please. When visiting in winter, there are slippery patches on sidewalks and streets.

    Wear footwear with TREADS. Although there is nothing trendy about snow/hiking boots they really help you navigate safely wherever you are hoping to go. Expect snow in the winter in Santa Fe.

    If you're going out in the evening, carry your heels or place them in a bag to change into later.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Seniors
    • Singles

    Was this review helpful?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    I Feel A Little Breathy...

    by VeronicaG Updated Feb 4, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Santa Fe is 7,320 ft. above sea level

    Favorite thing: That's how I felt on the last day of our journey to Santa Fe--why did it take three days to become affected by the altitude? I felt as though I couldn't draw in enough air. I'm told each person is different on how they handle the elevation--Santa Fe is 7,320 feet above sea level. Our guidebook warned that many travelers encounter altitude sickness in this area.

    Happily, as we moved closer to Albuquerque, where the elevation is 5,352 ft. above sea level, I no longer had that problem. Although we followed the advice to take it easy the first two days and certainly did NOT do any mountain climbing, sometimes it can still affect you. So if you're sick to your stomach, dizzy or perhaps feeling like you can't breathe in enough air--these symptoms are probably altitude related.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Seniors
    • Singles

    Was this review helpful?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    Make Friends With The Sun!

    by VeronicaG Updated Feb 1, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Preparations Should Include These!

    Favorite thing: The sun seems so intense in Santa Fe--even in the winter! Be absolutely sure to include a pair of sunglasses AND sunblock as you prepare to explore Santa Fe.

    Although I did take my sunglasses, they broke and I had to replace them there. A brief time lapsed before I found a new pair. Let me tell you, I was a bit blinded by the sun as it reflected off the snow.

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Singles
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    I Recommend This Guide Book...

    by VeronicaG Updated Feb 4, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This guidebook was very helpful!

    Favorite thing: Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe by Zora O'Neill was a great help in introducing us to New Mexico. Some of my historical information was borrowed from this book if I was not able to obtain it from the sites themselves.

    This MOON HANDBOOK cost $16.95 and was published by Avalon Travel. Inside you'll find suggested routes, sights, restaurants, hotels, shopping, maps and other invaluable information. Also, the author's first hand experience added a great deal to this guidebook, making it one of the reasons I'm recommending it so highly.

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Women's Travel
    • Singles

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    listen to the locals

    by richiecdisc Written May 16, 2009

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    beauty is everywhere

    Favorite thing: We loved walking around and looking at the work of local artists. The sculptures are particularly beautiful.

    Fondest memory: Locals can be an invaluable source of information so it pays to talk with them when you can. The Blue Corn Cafe in Santa Fe had a very animated and entertaining bartender. He waxed on about all the things to do in his fair city but we only half listened in part as he was physically all over the place and secondly as we were just stopping for a quick lunch on our way to Taos for a couple days. We planned on coming back on our way south though weren't sure just how much time we'd spend. According to him we could spend days but if our time was limited, to make sure to get up to Canyon Road to check out the galleries. On a six month trip like we were on, it's not always possible to do even minimal research about what to see in every town you'll pass through. I was already overwhelmed with picking out the best brewpubs and hiking opportunities. Aside from that I'm generally pretty happy just wandering around town and taking photos of cool looking buildings of which Santa Fe was blessed with many.

    A few days later after an amazing couple days in Taos, we had decided to try and find Canyon Road en route to Albuquerque, where we planned to spend the night. It was already late afternoon when we arrived but we found the colorful area quickly enough and were glad we had listened to our jittery friend. It was a positively charming area, with lots of great little galleries and some incredibly cool and big outdoor ones too. Sculptures were everywhere and it made for great photos as the sun started to go down. We also went back into the old town to explore a bit more but eventually had to head south to Albuquerque to find a room. It was getting late, the sun was setting and there was another brewpub in Santa Fe that happened to be on our way. One works up quite a thirst taking photos, especially in this dry climate and one never knows what gems the next bartender will divulge.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Road Trip
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo

    The Santa Fe Plaza

    by karenincalifornia Updated Jun 6, 2005

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Plaza in Santa Fe, NM

    Favorite thing: If you've been paying attention to my tips, you've noticed that the directions I give use the central plaza as a point of reference. It is located right in the middle of town and works well as a base for giving directions or a meeting place if, say one of you wants to go buy some fruit for breakfast and your travel buddy wants to get a beer at 7:04 am.

    Fondest memory: The Plaza used to be twice as large at is today and used to be a location for grazing sheep and holding town hall meetings. Today sheep hang out in the suburbs and the city has a real town hall.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo

    The ubiquitous pueblo

    by karenincalifornia Updated Jun 6, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Old town, Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Favorite thing: All construction in Santa Fe follows the pueblo style. Even the bank is a pueblo. New construction cheats, though. The new stuff isn't made with mud. We saw wood supports go up on a building, and on another, it looked like they were using stucco. How California!

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo

    Amazing New Mexican sunsets

    by karenincalifornia Updated Jun 6, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sunset over Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Favorite thing: In the high desert, you will witness the most breathtaking sunsets. It's the combination of the high altitude, clean desert air and frequent thunderstorms. We don't get the same combination in the San Francisco Bay Area, so watching these Santa Fe sunsets was really a treat!

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo

    Institute of American Indian Arts Museum

    by karenincalifornia Written Jun 1, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Institute of American Indian Arts Museum

    Favorite thing: This museum has a large collective of contemporary native art. It is located across the street from the St. Francis Cathedral. The Institute is dedicated to promoting the study of art and culture of all American Indian and Alaskan native people.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Santa Fe

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

82 travelers online now

Comments

Santa Fe Favorites

Reviews and photos of Santa Fe favorites posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Santa Fe sightseeing.

View all Santa Fe hotels