Santa Fe: The First 25 Things To Do

The abbreviated version of where to begin the adventure.

Betsy Weber

We actually whittled this down dramatically from our original list in an effort to not overwhelm anyone. One thing is for sure, one adventure will lead you to another, and it won't be long before you have added 25 more things to this list. 

1. Meow Wolf: The newly opened venue for Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf has moved right up to number 1 on our list.  Santa Fe has always been known as an artistic city, but Meow Wolf's creative enthusiasm and dedication to creating "immersive experiences that transport audiences to fantastic realms" has begun to revolutionize the way "Santa Fe Art" is being viewed.

2. The Santa Fe Opera: This Santa Fe venue provides the music experience of a lifetime. An open air theater, it’s a magnificent piece of soaring modern architecture. The productions are lavish and often modern with many of the greatest opera stars exhibiting their skills.

3. Museum of International Folk Art: This world-class facility perched atop the Santa Fe-mous Museum Hill has the largest collection of folk art in the world, thanks to enormous donations by the designer, Alexander Girard, and the philanthropist, Lloyd Cotsen. If you follow outsider art from the world abroad, or want to take a trip within a trip, this is an indelible Santa Fe experience.

4. Folk Art Market: The market encourages intercultural exchange, allowing visitors to buy distinctive artwork directly from artisans. The sales benefit the artists and help sustain their communities worldwide, all while viewing beautiful scenery and delicious food.

5. Canyon Road Arts District: The largest concentration of Santa Fe’s 200 art galleries is located down Canyon Road. It’s a charming, vibrant stroll and prominent signature of Santa Fe.

6. Santa Fe Indian Market: For ninety years, Santa Fe Indian Market has brought together the most gifted Native American artists from the U.S. with millions of visitors and collectors from around the world. The weekend of celebration ranks as the world's most highly acclaimed Native American arts show and as New Mexico's largest attended annual weekend event.


Photo courtesy: Larry Lamsa


7. Spanish Market: Santa Fe is a mecca for Spanish influenced art. Santa Fe's Spanish Market pays tribute to traditional and contemporary Spanish Colonial arts and culture, with several hundred artists selling santos and bultos, handmade furniture, colcha, jewelry, and weavings. Held on the Santa Fe Plaza, the market includes food, live music and dance performances, book signings and more.


Photo courtesy: Artotem


8. Witness the Loretto Chapel’s “helix to heaven.” The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. Concerts here, mainly chamber music, are an extraordinary experience, so look ahead for performances in this small venue.


9. Lensic Performing Arts Center:  The theater itself is a work of art. The performances you’ll see here are among the best in the world!  


10. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: The museum named after one of the most significant artists of the 20th century is here to inspire all current and future generations. The Museum preserves, presents, and advances the artistic legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe and Modernism through innovative public engagement, education, and research. Shortly after your visit here, you will want to visit her home at Ghost Ranch.

11. Santa Fe Farmer’s Market:  Open year round, this vibrant and energetic event is an exceptional way to dive into our community while you’re visiting the City Different. The “agvocate” market that began with a handful of farmers in the late 1960s is now New Mexico’s largest farmers’ market and represents more than 150 growers featuring an amazing array of produce that you won’t see in your average supermarket.

12. New Mexico Museum of Art: The walls of the museum portray a multitude of stories as seen through the eyes of the artists who have been inspired by the people and landscapes of New Mexico. The magnificent building is also a work of art. Take the time to appreciate the detailed murals in the auditorium and courtyard that capture New Mexico history and culture. It’s viewing New Mexico's people, landscapes and history through an artist's eye.

Emil Bisttram, Self Portrait, 1935. Photo courtesy New Mexico Museum of Art.


13. Museum of Spanish Colonial Art: Exhibiting the soul and grace of Spanish life in New Mexico 300, 200, 100 years ago – this place transports you. The rare santos, bultos, furniture and actual recreated rooms of the past will enrich you with soulful beauty.


Bulto by Felix A. Lopez


14. The drama and magic of any of the nearby Historical Landmarks like Puye Cliffs, Pecos National Historical Park, or Acoma Sky City will make a deep impression on you.


15. Traveler’s Market: With many vendors selling goods ranging from Navajo and Oriental Carpets, to unique home furnishings, jewelry, toys for the children, pottery, fabrics, books, oddities and everything in between, this is a unique bazaar for Santa Fe, without the chaos. The merchandise comes from every corner of the world. It’s one of Santa Fe’s best places to have fun shopping.


16. La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site: These messages carved on rocks by the ancient ones are rich with meaning. Located about 20 minutes south of the Plaza, these are archeological treasures.

17. Santa Fe River Park Trail:  When the water runs, it's the supreme example of desert Southwest flora and fauna. When times are dry, the riverbed offers another fun trail to hike. It takes you through the heart of Santa Fe and provides a gorgeous path to walk or bike. It’s a perfect way to get to know Santa Fe’s natural personality.



Photo courtesy: City of Santa Fe


18. Santa Fe Bandstand:  Bringing diverse music to the historic Santa Fe Plaza each summer since 2003, this is where the community gathers to shamelessly shake their collective groove thang. Both local and national bands of a diversity of genres play here. Get there early with folding chairs in hand to claim your prime spot.


 

19. Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park: How did Santa Fe get so lucky with this truly delightful dog park where Fido runs free. Lots of parking, lots of bags, lots and lots of trails to walk. Your pooch will get what he came for. Bring water!


Photo courtesy: Foursquare

20. Cross of the Martyrs Park: One of the top spots for breathtaking sunsets, head to the site of the best west-facing views in the city. Built to be a “symbol of American military control” after the end of the Mexican-American War, read the historic plaques placed along the ascension for a sense of local history.


Photo courtesy: National Park Service


21. Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary: Santa Fe artist Randall Davey left his 135-acre property to the National Audubon Society for educational, cultural, and historical uses, and it’s now home to over 200 species of birds. Wonderful spot for a peaceful, easy hike.


Photo courtesy: BlueHeronBlast.com


22. Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi: Just off the historic plaza, this is an iconic Santa Fe structure, representing the City Different in images found throughout the world – yet, no less impressive when viewing first hand.


Photo courtesy: MortAuPat


23. Ski Santa Fe: Well-known for it’s friendliness and groovy vibe, Ski Santa Fe is also very well organized, from shuttle, ticket booths, and rental areas. Lunch on top of lift 4 is priceless. and the cafeteria on the bottom of the slope is big and serves excellent food.


 

24. Dale Ball Trails: 20 miles of paved and unpaved biking and hiking trails with fabulous desert and mountain views, Dale Ball Trails is one of the very best things about Santa Fe.


Photo courtesy: DownTheGreatDivide.com

25. New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors:  An impressive and unforgettable host to the state’s rich history, Friday’s are free between 5 and 7 pm.


Photo courtesy: GallagherDesign.com