Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital, is located on a Rio Grande tributary on the snow-covered western sides of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The charming streets, stunning Spanish colonial churches, low adobe houses, contemporary art, and abundance of Native American arts and crafts are just a few of the city’s many attractions.
Furthermore, the mixture of cultural elements from Spanish, Native American, Anglo-American, and Mexican people gives this fascinating and exciting city its eccentric feel.
If you’re planning a trip, check out our list of must-see attractions in Santa Fe, New Mexico:
New Mexico History Museum & Palace of the Governors
At the state-of-the-art, interactive New Mexico History Museum, you can learn everything there is to know about our state’s fascinating history.
Explore a chronology that begins with the Ancestral Puebloans and moves on to the Spanish conquistadors and early settlers of the Santa Fe Trail. Continue your journey through the days of the railroad, the hippie era, the Manhattan Project, and more.
Discover the relics of Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls, a vintage stagecoach, and Pancho Villa among the museum’s tens of thousands of items, maps, paintings, and photos. The state’s oldest museum, the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors, which is housed in the museum complex and is a National Historic Landmark, has exhibits and period chambers that span 400 years of New Mexico’s history.
Additionally, the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library, which houses archive historic documents and materials, as well as the Photo Archives, which house more than 750,000 pictures dating back to the mid-19th century, are other attractions of the site. The complex also has a daily Native American arts market.
Santa Fe Plaza
The Santa Fe Plaza has been the center of the town’s cultural life since it was founded in 1610. This plaza is still the hub of Santa Fean activities, from September’s Santa Fe Fiesta to live music, and is bordered by various historic structures such as the San Miguel Chapel. The plaza, a National Historic Landmark also holds community events, including Indian and Spanish markets and live concerts.
Additionally, the plaza is bustling with activity every night of the week as visitors eat at restaurants, browse galleries, and visit shops selling trinkets.
If you want to experience the town’s lively atmosphere, you have to go to the Santa Fe Plaza. Many of Santa Fe’s greatest attractions, many of which spiral out from the plaza, are thought to be a wonderful starting place for exploring it.
Furthermore, the Santa Fe Indian Market is the perfect place to learn more about Native American contemporary art and cultures. It takes place in August at the Plaza at the same time as other Native American cultural activities happening elsewhere in the city.
After visiting the Plaza, make sure you explore downtown Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Opera House
The open-air opera house, which is 7 miles north of Santa Fe on the site of a former rustic ranch, presents world premieres of works by renowned and up-and-coming opera performers as well as contemporary and classic pieces. If you prefer a more formal setting, take in the opera-themed dinner at the Preview Buffet while you hear an opera expert describe the performance that night.
The Santa Fe Opera House, the state’s top performing arts center, produces a variety of operatic works, from cutting edge performances to traditional classics such as Madame Butterfly.
Tailgating is one of Santa Fe’s most endearing traditions, and it’s a very interesting sight to see. It involves groups of refined theatergoers mingling in the parking lot while eating on fine finger foods.
The opera house offers year-round backstage tours in addition to apprenticeship programs and seasonal performances for all facets of production.
Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art, which was founded in 1953, boasts the biggest collection of international folk art in existence, including textiles, ceramics, baskets, and wood carving in Santa Fe.
Asia, The Middle East, Africa, European and North America, Contemporary Latino and Hispano, and Latin America are the geographical divisions of the collections. Additionally, there are sections on Textiles & Costumes and Spanish Colonial.
The museum’s founder, Florence Dibell Bartlett, laid the groundwork for the collection. This Santa Fe museum has received considerable donations from numerous other people, and the collection has grown significantly over time.
Each year, the museum hosts a number of events and temporary exhibitions. To find out about future events, such as concerts, movies, talks, and other activities, check the calendar.
Santa Fe Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
When visiting Santa Fe, this museum is a must-see. With more than 3,000 of her drawings, paintings, and other unique creations, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum houses the largest collection of O’Keeffe’s oeuvre in the world. Every visit is unique because different sections are always open to the public.
Additionally, the museum holds one-of-a-kind exhibits of O’Keeffe’s work as well as that of other modernists such as Warhol, Pollock, and Levine. The calendar of events includes workshops, lectures, and child-friendly events.
Furthermore, it is in charge of looking after O’Keeffe’s previous residence in Abiquiu, a National Historic Landmark that visitors can explore by appointment.
Ski Santa Fe and Ski Taos Ski Valley
The Rocky Mountains of New Mexico provide the best skiing in the Southwest, whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for challenging steep slopes and mogul runs or a beginner snowboarder looking for leisurely, long runs. Northern New Mexico is a skier’s heaven thanks to the region’s clear skies, warm sunshine, and powdery trails.
With 83 courses for snowboarders and skiers, a base elevation of 10,350 feet, 1,725 vertical feet of skiing, and an average yearly snowfall of 225 inches, Ski Santa Fe is a 16-mile drive from the city center. La Casa Lodge has a food court with grill dishes, pasta, pizza, and other family favorites when you need to refuel. Alternately, you can unwind slope-side at Totemoff’s Bar, where you can get a delicious burger and listen to live music on the outside deck.
Taos Ski Valley in Santa Fe is renowned for having 3,274 vertical feet of some of the greatest snow in the West. Swiss-German ski pioneer Ernie Blake initially spotted the spectacular mountain from his Cessna 1 before the resort opened in 1954.
The Blake family established the resort’s European hospitality, which is still present today with an 80-room mountain hotel and spa.
Santa Fe Farmers Market
Numerous farmers, bakers, artisan cheesemakers, ranchers, and other vendors sell their mouthwatering products to locals and tourists from all over the world at the thriving Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. The year-round market offers fresh vegetables, poultry and beef farmed in New Mexico, artisan cheese, roasted chile, spicy salsa, and more.
It is consistently rated as one of the best farmer’s markets in Santa Fe and the country. Fuel up while you shop with locally brewed coffee, freshly prepared breakfast burritos, explosive donuts, and delectable pastries.
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, one of the focal points of the entire Southwest, was established in 1909 with the goal of preserving the material culture of the Native Americans living in the area, who at the time were going through considerable transition and possible extinction.
Moreover, the JD Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Anthropology, a center devoted to the ongoing study of Southwest civilizations, and the museum were combined in 1947.
Impressive collections of jewelry, pottery, saddle blankets, and basketry are on display at the museum, which also holds regular performances of Native American dances, music, storytelling, and other customs. Additionally, the site is home to sizable archives and research collections that contain images, ethnographic data, and archaeological artifacts.
Santa Fe Loretto Chapel
The Loretto Chapel, situated south of the Santa Fe Plaza, is certainly one of the city’s architectural highlights.
In order to expand the faltering New Mexico educational system, Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy asked the Sisters of Loretto to send seven of its members to Santa Fe in 1850. The sisters welcomed 300 girls to the Academy of Our Lady of Light in 1853, and Lamy honored them by building this Gothic Revival church.
Antoine Mouly, a French architect, created the stained-glass windows, buttresses, and spires that have an uplifting effect on the chapel. A spiral stairway that is entirely made of wood and supported by a concealed center column, giving the impression that it is floating in midair, is one of the most intriguing aspects of the chapel.
According to the legend, a mystery man appeared at the incomplete chapel after the Sisters of Loretto prayed for help in completing the project for nine days. This man completed the ‘Miraculous Staircase’ behind closed doors, vanishing before the sisters could pay or thank him.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
A beautiful example of Romanesque Revival architecture is the Cathedral Basilica, which is distinguished by its square towers, rounded arches, and Corinthian columns. It replaced a previous adobe church that was much older and was constructed between 1869 and 1886.
Our Lady La Conquistadora, a statue of the Virgin Mary, is the last remaining piece of the old church. The statue is the oldest of its kind in America and was first transported to the location in 1626 from Spain.
The interior of the church is simple but spectacular, and it includes elements such as a baptismal font made of Brazilian granite, French-imported tinted glass, and beautiful woodwork.
“House of Eternal Return,” the permanent exhibition produced by a collaborative group of artists, creatively blends a fancy fun house with interactive art installations in the mysterious multiverse of Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf’s crazy voyage starts in a Victorian mansion with a fascinating mystery and swiftly develops into ethereal regions of secret tunnels.
It is housed in a former bowling alley that has been transformed into a massive play park. Don’t forget to visit the joyous gift shop and the frolicking Float Cafe & Bar. You can experience various talks, workshops, and fun concerts throughout the year.
Canyon Road Arts District
Just a half-mile down Santa Fe’s famed Canyon Road, you will see more than a hundred galleries, studios, stores, and restaurants. Discover unique gallery owners showcasing outstanding artwork by international artists.
If you peek into a studio, you might see a jeweler or a painter setting up their tools or adding the last stone to a beautiful bracelet. You can also check out the thriving Friday night art openings on Canyon Road, which have become a tradition.
Did You Like These Santa Fe Attractions?
Are you planning on exploring the various attractions in Santa Fe, NM? This list is a great place to start. From Museum Hill to the Santa Fe Indian Market, the International Folk Art market, and the various art galleries, you’ll be able to experience the rich and diverse culture and history that Santa Fe, NM, has to offer.