Fun things to do in Santa Fe

  • Interior square of palace
    Interior square of palace
    by BruceDunning
  • Front of the Chapel
    Front of the Chapel
    by BruceDunning
  • December 2012
    December 2012
    by HispanicYob

Most Viewed Things to Do in Santa Fe

  • GeiserGeyser's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Georgia O'Keeffe museum

    by GeiserGeyser Written Apr 12, 2014

    Having a previous understanding of Georgia O'Keeffe and her body of work, I was ecstatic to finally get to see some of her work in person. I appreciated it more because I had learned to emulate her style in art class. I definitely enjoyed the museum, which is free to anyone under 18, and has discounts for students, however, it was smaller than I was expecting. I was lucky enough to be there when the museum was exhibiting some of Ansel Adam's photography of the Hawaiian Islands along with Georgia O'Keeffe Hawaiian paintings. The pieces on Hawaii do no belong to the museum, so they are not a permanent feature.

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

    Was this review helpful?

  • keida84's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Forego the car for few days & go on a Walk About

    by keida84 Updated Jan 19, 2014

    Walk the downtown area of Santa Fe. Keep the car in park and go for a photo safari on foot through Santa Fe's historical downtown area. The sun on a cold winter's day can feel very good and the way it dabbles and plays across the the landscape is incredible. Go for a walk and take your camera. You can go in different directions each time you go out. Everywhere you look is architecture, history and food.

    UNFINISHED DO NOT RATE PLEASE

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Women's Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Day Trip #5: Taos

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The town of Taos is sort of a mini-Santa Fe, with with a plaza and lots of galleries, shops and restaurants but with a bit less upscale vibe. One-time home of Kit Carson, tourist flock here in the summer for the art and hiking, fishing and biking Rio Grande Gorge, Carson National Forest, Wheeler Peak and other nearby recreation areas. In the winter, it's a haven for downhill and cross-country skiers. But not to be missed is Taos Pueblo: a World Heritage site and home to the Taos tribal people for 1000 years. While most members now live in "modern" residences, those who choose to reside in the historic, multi-storied adobe complexes of the old village do so as their ancestors did, in tiny rooms without running water or electricity, hauling water from the river that flows in from sacred Blue Lake and baking bread in traditional outdoor ovens.

    See my Taos pages for more pix and info on the pueblo:

    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/8da3d/cc211/

    You may wander the pueblo on your own but I highly recommend taking one their guided tours for an in-depth explanation of the history and traditions of this fascinating place and its people. See the website for hours, fees, visitor's rules and other information. After your visit to the pueblo, take some time to wander the town's galleries, grab lunch at any one of Taos' many restaurants or a flight at Eske's Brew Pub (great microbrews!).

    A terrific drive back to Santa Fe from Taos is via the scenic High Road that passes through the small towns of Chimayo (see next tip), Truchas, Cordova and others, and provides wonderful panoramas of the area's valleys and mountains.

    http://www.newmexico.org/high-road-to-taos-trail/

    See this site for information on the pueblo:
    http://www.taospueblo.com

    See this site for more information on Taos:
    http://taos.org

    Related to:
    • Beer Tasting
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    3 more images

    Add to Day Trip #5: Chimayó

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Located on the High Road to Taos and originally settled by Spanish colonists in the late 1600's, Chimayó is known for its several families of nationally known weavers, and as having the most-visited church in New Mexico. The Ortega and Trujillo families carry on a tradition of wool weaving that came to the New Mexican territory with the Spanish in 1630 and is now produced by 7th to 9th-generation descendants. Both have shops in town and you can see some of their beautiful works on their websites:

    http://ortegasweaving.com
    http://www.chimayoweavers.com
    http://chimayo.us/PC/Weaving.html#Trujillo

    El Santuario de Chimayó draws 300,000 visitors a year to a hole in the floor (El Posito) that contains dirt said to have miraculous healing powers. The adobe church was built in 1816 on the site of an earlier chapel and has several attached rooms - one containing El Posito - off the main sanctuary where persons claiming to have been cured of various infirmities by the dirt have left piles of crutches, canes, braces and such. One room also contains an icon of the Christ Child (El Santo Niño de Atocha) that some believe to travel about at night working miracles. You'll see hundreds of pairs of baby shoes left by the faithful to replace those he wears out on his nightly journeys.

    The sanctuary has many good examples of traditional New Mexican santos (although some of them are downright creepy), multiple, heavily-festooned altars around the grounds outside, and a giftshop. Reference the website for hours, services and history about the multiple legends surrounding the shrine's mysterious origin. A sign indicated that indoor photography wasn't allowed but a google for images will provide some shots of the interior. I recommend NOT visiting during Easter week, when thousands descend upon this place, unless a pilgrimage is your main reason for making the trip.

    www.elsantuariodechimayo.us
    http://chimayo.us/PC/Points.html#Santuario

    Before or after your visit, Rancho de Chimayó is a great stop for lunch or dinner: very good New Mexican food and they have a really nice patio. They also offer 7 lovely guest rooms, for very attractive rates, which have fireplaces, open onto a courtyard, and include continental breakfast.

    www.ranchodechimayo.com

    More about Chimayo here:
    http://chimayo.us/PC/index.html

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    3 more images

    Add to Day Trip #4: Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    More of a stop-by than a destination, this is one of the highest bridges in the country and has dizzying views, 650 feet down, to the Rio Grande River at the bottom of the gorge: bring the camera! There is a picnic area with big, clean restrooms and covered pavilions on the west side of the bridge, and access to the 9-mile West Rim Trail that runs along the gorge rim between here and the Orilla Verde Recreation Area. You can hike or mountain-bike this trail, and it's a dandy - the best spot for pictures - although also totally unprotected so settle for a safe walk across the bridge if you have little people along.

    As mentioned in the previous tip, this is an easy stop if coming from Orilla Verde Recreation Area on your way to Taos. The bridge is on 64 - just cross to the east side, keep going another 10 miles or so and you're there.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Day Trip #4: Orilla Verde Recreation Area

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We passed through here for a quick hike on our way to Taos and were very glad we did. About 90 minutes from Santa Fe, BLM-managed Orilla Verde R.A follows the Rio Grande through a 7-mile stretch of the Rio Grande Gorge and is a terrific spot for outdoor lovers. Starting from the visitor center in Pilar - about 80 minutes or so north of Santa Fe - a scenic, paved road (State Highway 570) parallels the river to Taos Junction Bridge and then climbs to the rim of the gorge. Along the way are 6 nice campgrounds with shelters, fire grills, water and restrooms, and numerous hiking trails that afford good opportunities for bird and wildlife-watching. The river is also very popular with kayakers, rafters and anglers.

    Trails range from just over 1 mile to 9 miles and vary in difficulty. As we were on a bit of a timetable, we chose the La Vista Verde: an easy, below-the-rim 2.5 miler, round trip, with great overlooks down into the gorge, lots of wildflowers and few petroglyphs here and there. The trail ends at a fantastic overlook with a bench that makes an excellent spot for a bag lunch.

    At the far side of Taos Junction Bridge, the paved road turns to gravel on the climb up and out of the gorge. At the top, you can continue another 8 miles (West Rim Road) to the Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge (see next tip) and then head into Taos - about 10 miles on 64. If you visit, make sure to stop at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center in Pilar for trail guides, permits and such, and reference the website for BLM rules, camping fees and lots more info. Budget travelers, it's a mere $3 per day, per vehicle to park anywhere in the area for over 30 minutes.

    www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/taos/orilla_verde.html

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Camping
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    3 more images

    Add to Day Trip #3: Cerrillos

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Looking at Cerrillos, it's hard to believe that it was once a lively mining community with 21 saloons, 4 hotels, a couple of brothels and a serious shot at becoming the capitol of New Mexico. A ghost of its formerly rowdy self, the few ragged buildings that straggle along main street look much like the set of an old western; indeed, parts of several movies have been shot here.

    Cerrillos is 3 miles north of Madrid on the Turquoise Trail, and is only about 3 blocks long by 3 blocks wide so your visit will be short but definitely worth it for the photo ops and interesting glimpse at a piece of the Old West. I recommend parking the car and taking a stroll to get the best feel of the place and stopping into some of the shops that are actually still open (amazingly). Have a brew at Mary's Bar: a staple of (what passes for) main street for the better part of a century. Hope you like cats…

    http://www.cerrillosnewmexico.com

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Day Trip #3: Mad for Madrid

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    An old mining community that was virtually a ghost town from the mid-1950's to the 70's, Madrid (pronounced "MAD-rid") is now a very funky little art colony with eclectic shops, galleries, a tavern/restaurant (with the longest bar in New Mexico and rumored to be haunted), soda fountain, coffee shop and general store. A far cry from the upscale galleries of Santa Fe's Canyon Road, Madrid's enterprising creative types market their wares in colorful structures ranging from carefully restored to cheerfully ramshackle; it's all part of the charm. Price tags don't look like Canyon Road either - you can actually afford some of this stuff! Part of the Disney movie "Wild Hogs" was filmed here so it's also a biker's hot spot.

    Madrid is about 25 miles from Santa Fe on Hwy 14 - also known as the Turquoise Trail. While a little slower than taking I-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, this route is also more interesting as it wanders through a handful of tiny, tumble-down towns along the way. We got such a kick out Madrid's bohemian, laid-back vibe that it'll be a gotta-do on every drive to Santa Fe.

    See this website for directions and more details:
    www.visitmadridnm.com

    Tip: have a brew and a green chili burger at the Mine Shaft Tavern

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Day Trip #2: Chaco Culture National Park

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    (Note: See my Chaco pages for more on the canyon)

    This is a long day trip from Santa Fe but we've done it twice and would do it again - it's one amazing place. Like Bandelier, nomadic hunter-gatherers roamed this canyon 10,000 years ago but between the years of 850 and and 1250 AD Chaco was the ceremonial and economic center of the San Juan Basin. Massive construction in the form of Great Houses - with many kivas, storage rooms, living quarters and roads stretching out 50 miles in multiple directions - are thought to have provided the ancestors of today's pueblo peoples common routes and temporary shelter when they gathered here for trade and/or religious events. Many of these Great Houses were found to have been carefully sited directionally to solar or lunar points.

    Much of Chaco's function, as well as why it appears to have been abruptly abandoned, remains a mystery but its haunting ruins and beautiful, peaceful landscape make this one of New Mexico's most fascinating and mystical treasures. Remains of Great Houses which may be explored are mostly scattered along the canyon floor with a few more located above the rim, and hikes to the sites range from 1/4 mile strolls from the main loop road to more rigorous, backcountry trails requiring a permit.

    You'll want to get a very early start as the park is only open from sunrise to sunset and it's a 3-hour drive from Santa Fe. Always check the weather before you go as accessing the park involves a dirt road that can be impassable after heavy rain. There's a visitor center with restrooms and drinking water, campground and a museum at the site but no food, gas, ATMs or other facilities. The nearest town is some distance away so make sure your tank is full and bring picnic supplies.

    See the website for details on entry fees, hiking trails, campground and other good stuff to know.

    www.nps.gov/chcu/

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Rosario Cemetery

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This cemetery was very close to our rental so we took a walk through it one evening on our way back from the plaza. It's named for the Rosario Chapel: a small church that was built on the site where Spanish Governor Don Diego de Vargas camped with his army prior to recapturing the city for Spain in 1693. As the story goes, he promised the Virgin Mary a chapel on this spot if his efforts were successful, and a procession to carry an image of the Virgin from the parish church (which is now the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi) to that chapel every single year. These many centuries later, La Conquistadora - an icon of the Virgin that de Vargas brought with him from Mexico - makes her journey every fall from cathedral to chapel, where she resides for the 4 days of Fiesta de la Santa Fe before being returned. The original chapel was demolished and the current structure dates from 1807.

    I find many of the cemeteries of New Mexico to be fascinating as gravesites are often bedecked with masses of colorful flowers, rocks, pictures, knick-knacks, beads, stones and other mementos from visiting families and friends. It's also not unusual to run across homemade grave markings like the few from Rosario I've pictured here; rare in my part of the country and rather more poignant than the usual headstones.


    The cemetery is right next to Albuquerque's National Cemetery and is open from 8 AM - nightfall daily. If you visit, please be quiet and respectful. See my previous tips on the cathedral and festivals in Santa Fe for more on Fiesta and La Conquistadora.

    Cemetery website: http://www.asfcca.org/rosario/rosario.html

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Day Trip #1: Bandelier National Monument

    by goodfish Updated Dec 22, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    See more details on my Bandelier pages....

    Just an hour from Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument is a gorgeous park that offers hiking trails from just over a mile to more rigorous backcountry exploration. Ancient hunters roamed this canyon as far back as 10,000 years ago and you can still see the remains of centuries-old dwellings created by the ancestors of some of today's pueblo peoples. Volcanic ash from a massive eruption a million years ago left a deep, soft layer of rock - called tuff - with pockets that were easily enlarged into the small living alcoves (cavates) that range along the canyon walls.

    The main part of the park is located at the bottom of Frijoles Canyon and here you can access several of the park's shorter trails as well as trailheads for some of the longer. Main Loop trail (1.2 mile RT) is the most popular and meanders along the bottom of the canyon past many cavates (some you can climb into via short ladders), petroglyphs, rock paintings, kivas and the ruin of an ancient village: great for kids! Another ends at a 140-ft climb up a series of ladders to a large alcove with a reconstructed kiva. Falls Trail drops down a series of switchbacks for several miles, past 2 waterfalls, to the Rio Grande, and still others take you through forests, grasslands and along the canyon rim.

    There's a visitor center, restroom facilities, a gift shop and snack bar in Frijoles Canyon, and a first-come, first-served campground near the entrance. See the website for directions, hours, daily fees and lots more information. Highly recommended!

    http://www.nps.gov/band/

    60% of the park was badly damaged in the 2011 Las Conchas forest fire and subsequent flash flooding so parts will take some time to recover but there will be plenty open - including the Tsankawi section which was untouched by either event.

    If you go, Tsankawi, located about 12 miles from the park entrance, is a MUST DO. This is a little-visited but fascinating part of the park that explores a mesa where the tuff is so soft that inhabitants wore deep paths and stairways into the white, chalk-like stone. There are also petroglyphs, cavates, a mesa-top ruin and wonderful views.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    2 more images

    Watch the sunset

    by goodfish Updated Dec 21, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I've no idea what to do with this tip so I'm sticking it here...

    Way up on the 5th floor of the historic La Fonda hotel is the sweetest spot for watching the sun set over Santa Fe. The Bell Tower Bar's outdoor patio is the highest place in the city and only open from late spring to early fall. From this pleasant, low-key aerie above the rooftops you can unwind with a glass of wine, margarita or a soda while dusk falls and the sky turns from azur blue to deep rose and purples. No loud bands, no crazy-drunk tourists, just a really nice terrace to kick back on, relax and enjoy the sky show. Drinks are a little pricey (but worth it) and they have a short menu for nibbling as well.

    Open 4 PM - 9 PM from about May through Sept: check the webtsite for most current info.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Luxury Travel
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    1 more image

    Cristo Rey Church

    by goodfish Updated Dec 21, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It may not be the oldest but Cristo Rey (Christ the King) Church is the largest adobe structure in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. Designed in Pueblo Revivial style by John Gaw Meem and painstakingly constructed by local parishioners from 200,000 adobe bricks, its walls are up to nine feet thick in places. But it's HOW it got to be this gigantic that's so interesting! After much pestering for a church on the city's east side, the beleaguered archbishop said, "OK, but build a small one." And when the parish asked if they could recycle a 1760's altar screen - stashed away since 1888 - he said, "Heck yes. It'll probably save us a few bucks on a new one."

    Unbeknownst to the bishop, the screen - beautifully carved of indigenous stone - is a massive 20 ft. wide by 40 ft. tall and weighs 225 tons.

    To make a long story short, construction commenced to fit the altar screen and when the archbishop came by to see how things were going and got an eyeful of the size of the place, he pitched a holy fit. Happily his tantrum was short-lived when he realized what a labor of love it had been for the people to have built, with their own hands, such a lovely church.

    Cristo Rey lies very close to the east end of the Canyon Road galleries so combine a visit with your art crawl. The church's website doesn't post visiting hours but a stop-by might find the doors open for a peek.

    http://www.cristoreysantefe.parishesonline.com/scripts/HostedSites/Org.asp?ID=6739

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

    by goodfish Updated Dec 21, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When Santa Fe was founded in 1610, the Spanish community built their first church on the same site as this present-day cathedral. The current structure, with the exception of a chapel built in 1807, dates from 1869-87 and should have had two spires on the front but the money ran out before they could be completed. Interestingly, it was also constructed around a third church (La Parroquia) which was torn down from the inside and removed through the doors.

    There are some wonderful old photos of La Parroquia and a drawing of the cathedral's original plan for the facade here:

    http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft72900812;chunk.id=d0e2231;doc.view=print

    The cathedral is built of indigenous yellow limestone and is Neo-Romanesque in design. The stained glass windows, 12 of them depicting the apostles, are from France. An adobe chapel which escaped the demolishment of La Parroquia contains the oldest icon of the Virgin in the United States: La Conquistadora, who is absent for the 4 days of Fiesta de la Santa Fe when she travels to nearby Rosario Chapel. I've mentioned more about her in my previous "Festivals" tip.

    Open daily and entrance is free (donations welcome). See the website for virtual tours, hours, services and a picture of La Conquistadora dressed up in some of her ever-changing finery.

    http://www.cbsfa.org

    NOTE: the appearance of the sanctuary has changed somewhat since these photos were taken. La Conquistadora is also missing from her niche in the altar of Capilla de La Conquistadora (bright spot in center of photo) because the shot was taken during Fiesta de la Santa Fe - when she takes that aforementioned vacation.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Museums!

    by goodfish Updated Dec 21, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Like museums? Santa Fe has them. Art? Check. History? You bet. Culture? Absolutely. Kids along? Yep, there's one for the wee folk too. There's something for everyone and probably not enough days in your trip to see them all. The following website has a snippet about each one and links to individual websites so you can browse your favorite interests and check for hours, admission fees, etc. Look for bargains: some have free days/hours, some ask only for donations, and the state's Museum of New Mexico group offers combo tickets to two or more of their museums for reduced prices - plus young persons under 17 are admitted for free.

    http://santafe.org/Visiting_Santa_Fe/Museums/index.html

    My personal favorites are several in an area they call Museum Hill: Museum of International Folk Art, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. These three, along with the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, are grouped around a courtyard with a shared cafe so are very easy to visit on the same day and all have interesting shops. The Folk Art Museum has the largest collection in the world, and with indigenous people contributing such an enormous piece of the New Mexican story, both Indian museums are a must for gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for their cultures.

    Museum Hill is located a couple of miles from the plaza, on Camino Lejo. Drive southeast on Old Santa Fe Trail and look for the signs. You may also take the Route M bus from downtown for just $1.00 each way; see this website for details:

    http://www.santafenm.gov/route_maps_and_schedules

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Santa Fe Hotels

See all 104 Hotels in Santa Fe

Latest Santa Fe Hotel Reviews

Sunterra Villas De Santa Fe
248 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 19, 2014
Hotel Plaza Real
545 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2014
El Rey Inn
396 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 20, 2014
Inn at Loretto
722 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 20, 2014
Fairfield Inn By Marriott Santa Fe New Mexico
121 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Mar 15, 2014
La Fonda On The Plaza
914 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 20, 2014
Kings Rest Court
55 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Feb 9, 2014
Inn Of The Anasazi, A Rosewood Hotel
371 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 16, 2014
The Lodge At Santa Fe
492 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 20, 2014
El Paradero Bed and Breakfast Inn
685 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 14, 2014
El Farolito Bed and Breakfast Inn
354 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 16, 2014
Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa at Buffalo Thunder
881 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 22, 2014
La Posada De Santa Fe Resort & Spa
342 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 21, 2014
Don Gaspar Inn
218 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 12, 2014

Instant Answers: Santa Fe

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

79 travelers online now

Comments

Santa Fe Things to Do

Travel tips and advice posted by real travelers and Santa Fe locals.
Map of Santa Fe