Four-Star Mission-Style Hotel on National Register of Historic Places
Since around 1610, when it was the site of a busy Spanish fort, the plaza square downtown in Santa Fe has been the city’s social and cultural center. Nicknamed “the heart of Santa Fe,” the plaza today is home to a central park and lined with restaurants, monuments, and upscale shops. One block from the plaza is the Hotel St. Francis, a restored missionary-style hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It welcomes guests with graceful adobe archways and furnishings handcrafted by local artisans. While you’re here, you can take free Santa Fe walking or shuttle tours, which depart every day from the lobby, to learn about Santa Fe’s nifty old buildings.
The Hotel St. Francis has an expansive veranda—called the Loggia—that overlooks the street; you can sit here to sip afternoon tea. The Loggia is connected to Secreto Bar, where cocktail mixologist and blogger Chris Milligan is behind the counter. Milligan shakes up award-winning drinks such as the Spicy Secreto, comprised of Cabana Cachaça, St.-Germain, fresh cucumber, lime juice, and cane syrup and served in a glass rimmed with red-chili salt. For dinner, head to Hotel St. Francis’s onsite restaurant, Tabla de Los Santos. It serves unique Southwestern fare, such as local chicken seasoned with chilies and a native-foods platter with tamales and produce from local farms.
In the classic queen room, you’ll have views of old Santa Fe, and the larger deluxe rooms look out over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Both types of rooms feature furniture handmade by Santa Fe artisans, as well as restored rough-hewn floorboards that have existed at the hotel since it was built.
Santa Fe, New Mexico: Old West Architecture and Fiery Southwestern Cuisine
Santa Fe's vibrant mosaic of cultural influences includes pieces of Native American, Latino, and western traditions. You can get an idea of the city's varied background by visiting Santa Fe Plaza, which has served as the city center for more than 400 years. On a walk through, you'll see old buildings made of adobe, the red brick-like material that defines much of Santa Fe's architecture. Centuries of colorful southwestern artwork are also on display in the New Mexico Museum of Art, which is located in the Plaza.
Fiery chili is the signature flavor at many restaurants in Santa Fe, which earned a place on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Food & Wine Destinations in the United States in 2011. It's worth it to sign up for a walking food tour of the area, which has sprung up with popular eateries, each offering its own spin on zesty southwestern cuisine.
For more than 300 days a year, Santa Fe soaks in sunshine. Such consistently great weather, paired with New Mexico’s varied terrain, makes the region ideal for hiking and biking. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains have peaks that stand over 13,000 feet high, and they're traced with trails that wind past picturesque meadows filled with Indian paintbrush, purple lupine, and undomesticated landscape painters. From late fall to early spring, up to 300 inches of snow falls on the slopes of the mountains, which offer miles of downhill-skiing and snowboarding trails.