It’s the oldest town in the Southwest, but Santa Fe offers a tremendous assortment of modern sights and attractions intermingled with the historic sites for travelers to explore. Although visitors love to dive into the many cultural destinations on an extended stay, it’s possible to enjoy the best of the city in a single day. This exciting itinerary showcases the best of Santa Fe and leaves you wanting to come back for more.
Enjoy Views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains 7 a.m.
Image via Trover by Celia Luz
In the high altitude of Santa Fe, hiking can prove hard on the lungs, but the paved walkway to the Cross of the Martyrs is manageable even if you haven’t acclimatized. From the top, especially at sunrise, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the city of Santa Fe. The cross at the top honors the Spanish martyrs from the Pueblo Revolt in 1680.
Glimpse New Mexico’s History 10 a.m.
Image via Wikipedia by Asaavedra32
The Palace of the Governors is the oldest public building in the United States and initially served as the capitol building. Explore the beautiful interiors of this 17th-century architectural marvel and simultaneously learn about the history of New Mexico. Exhibits highlight the region’s 400-year history, including Native American history, Spanish colonization, Mexican and American conflicts, and statehood.
Ease Into the Afternoon at Second Street Brewery 12 p.m.
Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell
Take time to indulge in Santa Fe’s laid-back lifestyle. Slip into an easygoing afternoon at Second Street Brewery, a local craft brewery. Sample New Mexico’s famous red and green chile sauces on top of your fries and wash down the spice with a cold house-made beer. Meals here are perfect for sharing, so order several appetizers and don’t rush your meal.
Browse Local Galleries for the Perfect Souvenir 3 p.m.
Image via Trover by Rebecca Pattee
Not far from the main plaza and especially on Canyon Road, you’ll find dozens of galleries showcasing the incredible talent of Santa Fe artists. Stores carry Native American art including jewelry and pottery, Southwestern paintings, and fine art that ranges from detailed prints to contemporary sculptures. Whether you’re a serious collector or simply browsing, you’ll find pieces to suit every taste and budget in Santa Fe.
Enjoy Dinner With a View 6 p.m.
Image via Trover by Jim Nix
When the weather is nice, the best dinner in town is at Luminaria. Prime seating is on the outdoor wooden patio within a lush garden with views of the city’s renowned Loretto Chapel. Not only is the ambiance charming, but the food bursts with flavor. Sample New Mexican cuisine with a tortilla soup starter, enchilada-inspired filet mignon, and tequila lime pie.
Take in the Opera 8 p.m.
Image via Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe is a designated UNESCO Creative City not only for its visual arts, but also the performing arts. Music and theatre performances are held year-round, but the Santa Fe Opera is a preferred choice in the summer. Along with old favorites and world premieres of scores, patrons enjoy the open-air setting of the theatre. Views of the Jemez Mountains add to the background of the stage and stars twinkle overhead by the end of the show.
Must Eat: Dessert with a Twist at the Chocolate Maven
Image via Flickr by enedzel
All the hot spices of New Mexican cuisine are balanced best with something sweet. At the Chocolate Maven, it’s impossible to decide between the freshly made cookies, scones, muffins, and cakes. Wash it all down with their Mayan chile hot chocolate or a chocolate chai tea. Come hungry and plan on taking a doggie-bag of extra treats back to your room.
Relax at a Comfortable Santa Fe Hotel
Image via Wikipedia by John Phelan
With dozens of things to see and do, travelers should spend the night in Santa Fe. There are many great hotels in Santa Fe from $54. The most atmospheric hotels are in downtown Santa Fe, where buildings are frozen in time and the area quiets down after day-trippers return home for the night. Among them, the Inn of the Turquoise Bear from $195 is in an historic adobe estate with gorgeous gardens, a hosted wine and cheese evening reception, and luxury rooms. Visitors who prefer the services of a chain hotel will enjoy the Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, which has all the amenities of brand name hotels with a southwestern flavor to make it unique.
No matter how long you stay, Santa Fe will charm and delight you with its history, bold flavors, and handcrafted art.