Santa Fe Activities & Attractions

Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico and is praised by travelers for its exceptional scenery, especially around the second week of September when the landscape of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is adorned with yellow-colored aspens. Although sparsely populated, the city is known for its art galleries, festivals, and restaurants. There are over 250 art galleries located in the city, showcasing art from around the world in a range of mediums. Buildings in the area are known for their simple design and Spanish Territorial or pueblo-style architecture, and the city has implemented an ordinance to preserve traditional styles of adobe construction. Enjoy major events, such as the Spanish Market in the summer, where craftspeople from all over the globe come to purchase and sell their Spanish colonial art. The Indian Market in August showcases authentic artwork from over 1,000 artists, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world.

santa fe attractions

Indian pueblos near Santa Fe

You should consider touring the eight Indian pueblos near Santa Fe. The San Ildefonso Pueblo, famous for its distinctive pottery style, is the most scenic. Its annual festival to honor its patron saint is in late January and features traditional clothing and dances. If you have a car, and especially if you are driving north on U.S. Hwy. 84/285 to Taos, be sure and take the Hwy. 503 turnoff at Pojoaque and drive east to Chimayo, site of the Santuario de Chimayo, famous for its dirt thought to have healing powers. At the end of the church parking lot, you’ll find Leona’s, a funky little walk-up where the tamale pie and burritos are exceptional. On the way to Taos, you wind through foothills and into high mountains Hispanic villages like Truchas and Las Trampas. For beautiful woven blankets, stop at Ortega’s in Chimayo, where family members still practice a craft brought to New Mexico in the 1600s by their ancestors.

New Mexico Indian Pueblos
Indian Pueblos in New Mexico

An initial warning: It will be much cheaper to ski all day than venture into Santa Fe’s many tempting shops and galleries. That warning given, more than 250 galleries feature Native American crafts and art, as well as fine art on a par with galleries in New York, Florence or Paris. Local artisans sell their wares on blankets in front of the 390-year-old Palace of the Governors, a long-standing Santa Fe shopping tradition.

Canyon Road

Canyon Road is the world-famous strip of galleries featuring the wonderful art of all styles, for all tastes. The walk from the Plaza area is pleasant. The Waxlander Gallery features wonderful pastel still-life works of J. Alex Potter. Our favorite is Nedra Matteucci’s Fenn Galleries, 1075 Paseo de Peralta, just south of Canyon Road. The day we visited, we counted four Zuniga sculptures starting at $80,000 each. Don’t miss the garden.

Canyon Road
Canyon Road, Santa Fe NM

If you feel a little woozy after pricing Zuniga artwork, head to Cloud Nine Oxygen Bar (410 Old Santa Fe Trail, between Pink Adobe & Rio Chama; 470-3494) for an oxygen-aromatherapy-elixir pick-me-up.

Santa Fe Museums

The museums in Santa Fe are the first-rate. Buy a four-day pass for $15, which will admit you to five of the best: the Museum of International Folk Art (strong in Spanish art of the area), the Palace of the Governors (for local history), the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum Of Spanish Colonial Art. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has its own entry fees.

Site Santa Fe Museum
This is a large contemporary art museum. View various art from various artists, exhibits are constantly changing. Listen to lectures from artists and learn all about their art. Best known for its Biennial celebrations. These provide people with the most extensive visual content. Address: 1606 Paseo de Peralata | Santa Fe, NM | 87501. Telephone: 1 505 989-1199

El Rancho de Las Golondrinas
Open since 1972, this museum has preserved the Spanish Colonial way of life. Located on a large two hundred-acre lot just outside of Santa Fe. View and learn about a molasses mill, water mills, blacksmith shop, winery and the vineyards. Offers group tours for a minimal fee. Address: 334 Los Pinos Road | Santa Fe, NM | 87505. Telephone: 1 505 471-2261

Poeh Museum and Cultural Center
This museum showcases a collection of material and cultural objects pertaining to the ancient pueblo of Pojoaque. Paintings, jewelry, pottery and textiles are among the items on display. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection, the cultural center offers a schedule of temporary art exhibitions. Address: 78 Cities of Gold Rd | Santa Fe, NM | 87506. Telephone: 1 505 455-3334

Institute of American Indian Arts Museum
Has a large collection of Indian Art. Open since 1971, they possess over 6,500 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, graphics, costumes, beadwork, textiles, photographs and more. Many Indian art exhibitions take place. Open year-round, only closed four times a year. Address: 108 Cathedral Place | Santa Fe, NM | 87501. Telephone: 1 505 983-8900

Santa Fe Children’s Museum
Events to help children learn and enjoy themselves. Discover art, science and the environment. Exhibits offer hands-on activities about science. Many programs are offered for children of all ages. The gift shop is sure to keep everyone happy. Purchase books, puzzles, art supplies, T-shirts and more. Address: 1050 Old Pecos Trail | Santa Fe, NM | 87501. Telephone: 1 505 989-8359

Palace of the Governors
Learn all about the history of New Mexico. Constructed in the seventeenth century it contains a library, archives and offers exhibits. It offers a large collection of artifacts from New Mexico’s history, including paintings, glassware, sixteenth-century weapons, and furniture.  Telephone: 1 505 476-5090

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Exhibitions include the most exquisite sculptures from the 1960s through to the 1990s. Artist Anne Truitt creates the sculptures located in the museum. The art changes on a regular basis and offers a wide variety and types of art. Purchase gifts from the Museum Shop, includes posters, calendars, books, and jewelry. Address: 217 Johnson Street | Santa Fe, NM | 87501. Telephone: 1 505 995-0785

Museum of International Folk Art
Featuring over 120,000 objects revolving around folk art. The Girard Foundation Collection is located in the museum and includes 106,000 miniature buildings, streets and marketplaces from over 100 different countries. The museum is divided by category and the categories are assigned a wing of the building. Address: 706 Camino Lejo | Santa Fe, NM. Telephone: 1 505 827-6350

Santa Fe Spas

How can you not indulge yourself in Santa Fe? Compared with many resorts, spas here are almost affordable. Perhaps that’s because there are so many high-quality day spas. Here’s a sampling:

When one of our writers was in desperate need of a body tune-up after a bad landing, High Desert Healthcare & Massage (984-8830), just off the Plaza, worked wonders. The emphasis is on massage and bodywork, and treatments available include Swedish massage, deep tissue and medical massage, Oriental bodywork, reflexology, Ortho-Bionomy, Rolfing, acupuncture and Kotoama life medicine. Therapists will mix and match to suit your needs. Rates for massage and bodywork begin at $42 for a half-hour and increase by quarter-hour to $93 for 1.5 hours.

Ten Thousand Waves
Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe

Soak away your cares and get a massage or a facial or a wrap or glow at the Japanese-influenced Ten Thousand Waves (992-5025, 982-9304). Communal, women-only and private baths/tubs are available. Prices for massage begin at $89 for 55 minutes. A 25-minute salt glow is $49. Admission to the public or women’s tubs is $14. If you really like the place, you can stay at the House of the Moon Lodging, with rates for simple Zen-style rooms running $190 to $215. Fancier rooms are available, too. It’s about 3 miles from the Plaza and on the road from the ski area.

Santa Fe Massage, a day spa with locations at La Fonda (982-5511) and Hotel Santa Fe (982-1200), delivers a multitude of services, including massage, body treatments, and skin-care treatments, all beginning at $45 for 25 minutes. Spa packages are available combining various treatments, ranging from 80 minutes to 2.5 hours. If you’re too pooped to go to them, they’ll come to you for an additional $25, minimum one-hour treatment (949-1166).

A humongous menu of services is available at Sterling Institute (594-3223). In addition to the regular stuff, it offers three-hour signature spa treatments from around the world, combining treatments for body and face or skin (starting at $195). Basic massage is $70 for 50 minutes, a salt glow is $65 for 50 minutes, facials are $50.

SpaTerre (984-7997), at the Inn at Loretto, is a full-service spa offering massage, facial care, body treatments, Indonesian and Thai rituals, and salon services. A 50-minute massage begins at $90; facials begin at $60; 50-minute body treatments begin at $110; ritual treatments begin at $175. Call the Santa Fe Visitors Bureau (505-955-6200; 800-777-2489) for more information on these and other activities.

Santa Fe Hiking Tours

While hiking may seem like a simple feat, there are many aspects to consider. Taking a guided hiking tour in Santa Fe, New Mexico can ensure a successful outing into nature. Use our hiking list below and find Santa Fe hiking trips with certified guides serving a variety of fitness and skill levels. Santa Fe trekking trips also range in duration, from hourly hill walks to multi-day backpacking adventures.

Great Southwest Adventures
Tour company offering custom day-tours, hiking, photography tours, dinner tours and company events such as team building scavenger hunts. Transportation is available with large vehicles. Tour local cities, day and night tours available. Discover the impressive landscapes of Northern New Mexico. All tours are custom made. Telephone: 1 505 455-2700

Outspire provides customized hikes for singles or small groups year-round. Canyons or mountains, leisurely or more invigorating hikes are the choices. Guides can enrich an outing by explaining the flora, geology, and history of the area. Snowshoeing offered in season. Telephone: 1 505 660-0394


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