With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis affecting numerous Santa Fe attractions, we’re considering this a bit of a wish list once things return to “normal”…whatever that is. We do know the best things to do in Santa Fe are always up for debate. Everyone has their own special favorites, their own little secrets. Goodness knows there are more than 25. But these are the ones we’re into right now. 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
This has been our number one for awhile now for a reason. The mysterious multiverse of Meow Wolf brilliantly blends interactive art installations with a fantastical fun house in “House of Eternal Return,” the permanent exhibit created by a collaborative group of young artists. Housed in a former bowling center that’s morphed into a giant play park, Meow Wolf’s wild journey begins in a Victorian mansion with a mind-bending mystery and quickly unfolds into otherworldly realms of tunnel and secret passages. Don’t miss the gleeful gift shop or the playful Float Cafe and Bar. The year-round calendar of events includes workshops, lectures and cool concerts. Read more about their reopening plans.
2. Loretto Chapel
One of the architectual jewels of Santa Fe is the Loretto Chapel, located just south of the Santa Fe Plaza. According to the legend, a mysterious man came to the unfinished chapel after the Sisters of Loretto prayed for nine days for help to complete the project. Behind closed doors the man built the Miraculous Staircase with only simple tools, then disappeared before the sisters could pay or even thank him. Regardless of the origin, the chapel and its staircase are beautiful.
3. Canyon Road Arts District
Stroll Santa Fe’s fabled Canyon Road and in just a half-mile, you’ll find more than a hundred galleries, artist studios, shops and restaurants. Meet fascinating gallery owners exhibiting stellar work by artists from around the globe. Peek into a studio and you might find a painter setting up an easel or a jeweler placing the finishing gemstone on an exquisite bracelet. Check out Canyon Road’s vibrant Friday night art openings, an enduring tradition. This is the very heart of the city’s longtime, lauded art scene. Check out some of our favorite galleries.
4. Ski Santa Fe and Ski Taos
Located 16 miles from downtown, Ski Santa Fe offers 83 trails for skiers and snowboarders, with 1,725 vertical feet of skiing, a base elevation of 10,350 feet and an annual average of 225 inches of snowfall. When you need to fuel up, La Casa Lodge offers a food court with grill items, pizza, pasta and other family favorites. Or, chill out slope-side on the mountain at Totemoff’s Bar, where you can grab a burger and catch live music on the outdoor deck on Saturdays.
With 3,274 vertical feet and some of the best snow in the West, Taos Ski Valley is legendary. The resort opened in 1954 after Swiss-German ski pioneer Ernie Blake first saw the majestic mountain from his Cessna 1. The resort’s European hospitality established by the Blake family continues today, with an 80-room alpine guesthouse and spa. The mountain is open to downhill skiers and snowboarders. Keep a lookout for bighorn sheep
5. Get Outside
Santa Fe is surrounded by open space. Just to the east of downtown Santa Fe is the Dale Ball Trails, with some 30 miles of well-marked trails that criss-cross the foothills. These trails are easy to access from town by bike, and are only a short drive by car. Though hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers all share this system, it never seems crowded, especially by Front Range standards. Just up the mountain is Santa Fe National Forest, a whole different ecosystem and even more trails. If you want something completely different, head toward the Rio Grande and experience cacti, dramatic cliffs and one of America’s legendary rivers.
6. Puye Cliff Dwellings
A National Historic Landmark, Puye Cliff Dwellings once sheltered 1,500 Pueblo people—ancestors of today’s Santa Claran people— who farmed the land and hunted game from the 900s to 1580 A.D. Today, their descendants live 10 miles east, on Santa Clara Pueblo. The first of the ancient pueblos in the Rio Grande River Valley to be excavated, the site consists of split-level cave and cliff dwellings as well as mesa top dwellings and connecting paths and stairways. Guided tours reveal the majesty and mystery of the site and take you to a historic Fred Harvey House built in the late 1800s for tourists traveling by train. The only Harvey House built on Pueblo lands, the building houses an interpretive center and gift shop.
7. Museum Hill
Santa Fe is a celebrated mecca for museum-lovers, but with more than a dozen museums scattered across the city, it’s a challenge to visit them all in in a day or two. That’s why Museum Hill is the perfect place to start your exploration. Situated on a picturesque hill east of downtown, Museum Hill offers stunning views of the city along with four fine museums—the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the renowned International Folk Art Museum. When your museum legs kick in and you need a break, enjoy dining, shopping, an outdoor labyrinth and the fragrant pathways of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, all on the same hill.
8. Santa Fe Breweries
For a small town, we have some great beer in Santa Fe. It all started with Santa Fe Brewing more than 30 years ago. Today that brewery is New Mexico’s largest, producing some delicious brews like 7k IPA, Java Stout and a whole host of other tasty draughts. They recently completed a beautiful new beer hall at their brewery on the south side of town. You definitely need to check it out.
Blue Corn Brewery offers some creative beers that have won awards locally and nationally. Their regular brews are solid every day drinkers and their seasonals show their creativity. And after you check them out, check out some of the other award-winning breweries in Santa Fe. Rowley Farmhouse Ales was the most awarded brewery at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, quite an achievement for such a small operation. Want to learn about the Santa Fe beer scene? Check out our Santa Fe brewery guide.
9. New Mexico History Museum & Palace of the Governors
Discover everything there is to know about our state’s rich and riveting past at the state-of-the-art, interactive New Mexico History Museum. Travel a timeline that starts with the Ancestral Puebloan people then proceeds to Spanish conquistadors and Santa Fe Trail pioneers. Journey on through the railroad era, the Manhattan Project years, the days of the hippie communes and beyond. View Pancho Villa’s revolver, an old-time stagecoach, Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls.’ memorabilia, among the museum’s thousands of artifacts, maps, photographs, and paintings. The museum complex includes the four-centuries old Palace of the Governors, a National Historic Landmark and the state’s oldest museum, with period rooms and exhibits chronicling 400 years of New Mexico history.
10. Santa Fe National Forest
The scenic Santa Fe National Forest sprawls across a staggering 1.6 million acres, containing the headwaters of three rivers as well as lakes and streams offering terrific trout fishing. Ride the Rio Grande on a whitewater rafting trip in summer or take to the powdery slopes of Ski Santa Fe in winter. Fall is beautiful, too, as golden aspens shimmer in the sunlight. With 1,000 miles of hiking trails leading into spectacular wilderness areas, you can explore to your heart’s content, on foot or on horseback. Or join a wildness pack trip. Keep an eye out for spectacular wildlife, including elk, deer and bear.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead