The 13 best things to do in Santa Fe

Everyone does a top 10, and many have turned it up to 11. We like to cook, so we decided we’d make it a baker’s dozen of our favorite/the best things to do in Santa Fe.

1. Get Outside!

This one goes first because this is our favorite: Santa Fe is surrounded by public lands that are crisscrossed with really good hiking and biking trails. The Sun Mountain trailhead is about a mile from the The Pecos Trail Inn and the Dale Ball Trails and Atalaya are easily accessible as well. If you want some elevation, head up toward the ski area. 

If that’s not your thing, the area west of town (aka “the Caja”) is really fun to explore, too, especially Diablo Canyon. We even have good fly fishing if working up a sweat isn’t your thing. (Check out High Desert Angler for the lowdown.)

2. Experience the weird at Meow Wolf

The original Meow Wolf was a bunch of artists creating weird installations in mini-malls and pop-ups around town before George RR Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) came along and bought them a bowling alley where they could be weird full-time. This place will delight your senses for hours. Touch everything, look in every nook and cranny and make sure you get here.

3. Walk Canyon Road

Art put Santa Fe on the map and Canyon Road is where it all started. In a short ½ mile or so you can see more art than anywhere in the world. With so many art galleries, you can see any kind of style, from contemporary to Western. Walk up, have an appetizer at El Farol or the Teahouse and then walk back to see the rest.

4. See the miraculous staircase at Loretto Chapel

Legend has it a mysterious man showed up to build a staircase up to the balcony, then disappeared just as mysteriously before he could be paid for his work. And the work is amazing. It’s a must-see.

5. Eat out at the best restaurants in Santa Fe

Santa Fe restaurants run the gamut. You’ll find food from every part of the world and in every price range. Of course, you need to check out New Mexican food. Our chile is so tasty it’s addicting. And yes, it can be a little hot, but it’s generally not too hot unless you’re at a locals-only place like Horseman’s Haven. If that doesn’t work for you, we have tasty burgers, amazing fine dining and everything in-between. 

6. Check out the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

We’re very proud of our farmer’s market, and for good reason. The produce on offer is always fresh and tasty, and there are plenty of really good prepared food stalls, too. And it just feels like part of the DNA of Santa Fe. Then check out the rest of the businesses in the Railyard District for shopping, art, drinks, dining and more.

7. Dance you booty off at the Santa Fe Bandstand

Every night during the summer season the Santa Fe Bandstand entertains visitors and locals alike on the Santa Fe Plaza. The musical acts are typically rock and latin, so you’re probably going to tap your feet, swing your hips and start dancing. 

8. Enjoy (responsibly) the Margarita Trail

The best margaritas in the world are in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Get the passport from the city and start sipping. Just take it slow. The elevation in Santa Fe (7,000 feet) means they hit a lot harder than at sea level. 

9. Explore the Santa Fe Plaza

The plaza is the heart of Santa Fe and has some of the best shopping in town. Start with the native people set up at the Palace of the governors. You’ll find hand-crafted jewelry, pottery and more from the people sitting right in front of you. Prices are reasonable and you know the pieces are authentic because you’ll be buying directly from the maker. 

Other shops on the plaza have bespoke clothing and jewelry, artifacts and a whole lot more. There are plenty of good places to eat downtown, too.

10. Check out the many Santa Fe Museums

Santa Fe has several world-class museums that showcase our history as well as several different kinds of art. Museum Hill is a great place to start as you have four museums together. Our favorite is the Folk Art Museum, but sometimes we just people watch at Museum Hill Cafe. Downtown we like the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts -- it’s fun and funky, kinda like us.

11. Then go to Santa Fe Galleries to find the next great artist

Santa Fe’s art economy trails behind only New York and Los Angeles. Of course there’s Canyon Road, but there are some really cool galleries downtown and tucked throughout town. Check out Keep Contemporary on Lincoln or the many amazing galleries in the railyard district near the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

12. Get your turns in at Ski Santa Fe

In winter you can head up to Ski Santa Fe, which is only 15 miles from town. While the ski area is small by Colorado standards, it is still a great locals mountain, with fun groomers and some really good steeps. Some years the snow is simply amazing. If you’ve never hit waist-deep powder, you simply must. 

Note: If you are driving up after a big snow, make sure you are prepared. Your 2wd Suburban isn’t going to make it without chains. Your front wheel drive car will get stuck without good tires. All wheel drive and 4wd vehicles will be fine. Just don’t be that person who gets stuck in the middle of the road and blocks traffic for hours.

13. Quench your thirst at the many Santa Fe Breweries

For a small town, Santa Fe has some great breweries. Santa Fe Brewing is the biggest in the state, and for a good reason. Their 7k IPA is juicy and hoppy and delicious and best enjoyed at their southside beer hall. Rowley Farmhouse Ales is off the tourist track, but their beers (and food) are worth it for any beer aficionado. On the way-south side of town along the Turquoise Trail is Beer Creek Brewing with some unique brews and really good pizza.