Santa Fe soaks in sunshine for more than 300 days a year. Warm rays fall on the capital city’s adobe buildings, baking the colorful southwestern artwork that decorates the town squares. Behind the squares rise the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, their sides carved with trails that wind past meadows filled with Indian paintbrush and purple lupine. Up to 300 inches of snow falls annually on these slopes, forming miles of downhill-skiing and snowboarding trails. This natural splendor—along with a vibrant culture shaped by Native American and Latino influences—has made Santa Fe a top travel destination for decades.
Must-Sees in Santa Fe
- Santa Fe Plaza has served as the city center for more than 400 years. Here you'll see old buildings made of adobe, a clay-like material that defines much of the local architecture. Santa Fe’s downtown is very walkable, and you’ll see people out strolling late into the night.
- New Mexico Museum of Art: Centuries’ worth of colorful southwestern artwork—more than 20,000 pieces—are on display at this early Pueblo Revival–style museum located in Santa Fe Plaza.
- St. Francis Cathedral: Bring a camera to this stunning Romanesque Revival cathedral and its adobe chapel, which dates back to 1610.
- Go hiking: Take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the Santa Fe Ski Area in summer and hike the alpine trails, or trek through the 223,000 acres of wilderness inside Santa Fe National Forest.
The Cultural Scene
- Santa Fe Opera: The city is home to a world-famous opera company, whose performances draw thousands of eager eyes and ears each summer.
- Folk art shopping: Check out the turquoise jewelry and decorative belt buckles at the Palace of the Governors, or head to Canyon Road to shop for local art.
- Year-round festivals: Fiesta de Santa Fe has been held every September since 1712. The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta can also help you get a feel for the city’s rich cultural heritage.
- Hot hot hot: Red and green chili peppers are essential to the piquant cuisine Santa Fe is known for. Green is hotter than red, but both are spicy, tangy, and feature in many dishes, such as blue-corn enchiladas and carne adovada (pork marinated in red chili sauce with vinegar and spices).
- Take a food tour: Walk around downtown and sample the city’s famous cuisine on a guided walking food tour. Several companies offer such tours right from the plaza.
Where to Stay
- Old Santa Fe Inn: Four blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza, this hotel is furnished in old-fashioned pueblo style, with traditional handmade New Mexican furniture and art.
- La Fonda on the Plaza: Upscale boutique hotel right in the plaza, across the street from St. Francis Cathedral. Walk to shops and restaurants or stay back and splash around in the heated outdoor pool.
- The Inn of the Five Graces: Award-winning boutique hotel with mosaics galore, adobe accommodations, and landscaped gardens. Complimentary breakfast and an onsite restaurant and wine bar round out the amenities.