It was difficult to pick the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico because this southwestern town offers so much.

Santa Fe, founded in 1610, has been around more than 400 years. It is the second oldest capital city in the Unites States.

The iconic Route 66, runs through the historic New Mexico capital and the old Santa Fe Trail opened an international trade route between Santa Fe and Missouri in 1821.

The city is a mecca for food-lovers with more than 400 restaurants. It has 250 galleries and a great collection of museums to explore cultures and traditions of the area.

Santa Fe became a designated UNESCO Creative City in 2005 because of its rich cultural achievements.

We fell in love with the adobe-style architecture of Santa Fe and its warm welcoming atmosphere.

Santa Fe also made our list of top picks for the most romantic places to stay.

COVID-19 Updates

Plan ahead before making any travel plans in the area.

COVID restriction are being eased. Fully vaccinated people will no longer be required to wear a mask. COVID-safe practices are in place for the state of New Mexico.

Tourism businesses including accommodation, restaurants and attractions have different requirements.

Check with each establishment before visiting as some will require advanced purchase of tickets.

Find out more.

Santa Fe posts a what is open now guide for visitors check it before you go.

Best things to do in Santa Fe

1. Explore Canyon Road Santa Fe

The creative collection of unique artists along Canyon Road is impressive. Visit the colorful art galleries on Canyon Road and plan to attend one of the many artist workshops.

Canyon Road offers more than 100 art galleries, artist studios, boutiques and places to dine on the mile-long section.

One of more than 200 art galleries on Canyon Road Santa Fe, New Mexico Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

There are more than 100 art galleries on Canyon Road Santa Fe, New Mexico Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Explore the many art galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Explore the many art galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Explore the many art galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Explore the many art galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

2. Take a Santa Fe City Tour

The city tour we chose left from the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue next to Santa Fe Plaza. The tour leaves just about every hour and tickets can be bought on the spot.

Transportation is on a small 18 passenger bus.

Take your own self-guided tour or participate in a guided walking tour led by experienced guides to discover more about the history, unique foods, and landmarks.

3. Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum houses the largest collection of one of the most remarkable American artists, Georgia O-Keeffe, of the 20th century.

Works on display date from 1901-1984.

To visit the museum tickets must be purchased in advance and tickets sell out quickly. You can learn virtually about Georgia O’Keeffe. Find out more about O-Keeffe from anywhere.

Georgia O'Keeffe on the Ranch, 1960. Artwork by Tony Vaccoro. This print is hanging in the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Georgia O’Keeffe on the Ranch, 1960. Artwork by Tony Vaccoro. This print is hanging in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Two examples of Georgia O'Keeffe's works of art hanging in the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Two examples of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works of art hanging in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is one of the top things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

A visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is one of the top things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

4. Institute of American Indian Arts – Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

The IAIA Museum holds the largest collection of contemporary Native art in the world.

The museum is located in downtown Santa Fe and tickets must be purchased online in advance.

Learn about the exhibits.

Outside the colorful IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. A visit to the museum is one of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Outside the colorful IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. A visit to the museum is one of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Outside the colorful IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. A visit to the museum is one of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Outside the colorful IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. A visit to the museum is one of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

5. Cathedral Basilica St Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi opened in 1886. The Roman Catholic church is an example of Romanesque Revival architecture. The current church replaced an older adobe church built the same year Santa Fe was founded,1610.

In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the church to a Basilica because of the historic role it played in increasing Catholicism in the region.

Take a virtual tour of the Basilica.

The Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Roman Catholic Church is an example of Romanesque Revival architecture. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Inside the Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Inside the beautiful Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

6. Browse the Santa Fe Markets

The heart of downtown Santa Fe is a shoppers paradise for everything southwestern. There is a huge selection of handmade and fine Native American jewelry. Look for silver and turquoise pieces.

You will find beautiful woven items for the home or to make a fashion statement, along with sculptures, ceramics, pottery, art, and glass works.

International Folk Festival Market

The International Folk Festival Market is held every year in July. The market features handmade traditional folk art traditions from international artists around the world. Tickets for 2021 must be purchased in advance with timed-entry.

Santa Fe Artists Market

The Santa Fe Artists Market is held at the Santa Fe Railyard every Saturday from March until December.

Spanish Market

The Spanish Market is held at the historic Santa Fe Plaza, annually in July.  It is the oldest and largest juried Hispanic Art Show of its kind.

Indian Market

The Santa Fe Indian Market is held annually in August at the historic Santa Fe Plaza. The 99-year-old event showcases Native American art. In 2021, the market will be held August 21 and 22. Tickets are limited with timed-entry.

Markets in Santa Fe - Southwestern artisans sell their wares at the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Southwestern artisans sell their wares at the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Window display of the Original Trading Post in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Window display of the Original Trading Post in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The Original Trading Post in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The Original Trading Post in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

7. Explore the historic Santa Fe Plaza National Landmark

The historic Santa Fe Plaza National Landmark is located in the the centre of the Santa Fe Historic District.

The plaza has a history of more than 400 years. From this spot, New Mexico was proclaimed a territory of the United States in 1846. The 1821 Mexican War of Independence ended here; and the Pueblo Indians claimed victory over the defeat of the Spanish colonists during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

This location is also where the Santa Fe Trail stated.

Explore the Santa Fe Historic District. It is one of the top things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Explore the Santa Fe Historic District. It is one of the top things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

8. Indulge in a Southwestern cooking class

Try your hand a making some of your favourite Southwestern menus or watch a demonstration at the Santa Fe School of Cooking . Learn about new culinary traditions of New Mexico and regional flavours of the Southwest.

Cooking classes are offered in person or virtually.

9. Brewery Trail

Discover new favourite brews at local craft microbreweries on the Santa Fe Brewery Trail.

Here are a few notable ones to check out:

  • Honeymoon Brewery the first brewery in the Southwest to produce Hard Kombucha/Kombucha Beer.
  • New Mexico’s oldest and most award winning brewery, Santa Fe Brewing, has several taproom locations.

10. Taste your way through the Margarita Trail

The Santa Fe Margarita trails offers some of the best margaritas found anywhere. The tequila based cocktail is usually mixed with an orange liqueur and lime juice, served in a glass rimmed with salt.

The self-guided tour offers 45 different stops to choose from. Pick up a Margarita Trail Passport from any downtown Santa Fe Visitor Center. Collect stamps for prizes. There is a limit of two stamps per 12 hours.

Top attractions near Santa Fe, New Mexico definitely worth a visit

Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark

Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.

Taos Pueblo is home to the Red Willow People. The lands have been continually inhabited for 1,000 years.

The entire Pueblo is constructed of adobe with the main building likely dating 1000-1450 AD.

Tours are available every 20 minutes. Photographs of the people who live here are not permitted without permission.

Find out more about Taos Pueblo.

Taos Pueblo is one of the top things to see near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico TRUE

Taos Pueblo  is one of the top things to see near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico TRUE

Rio Grange Gorge

The remarkable Rio Grande Gorge area of New Mexico offers great natural outdoor opportunities to explore, from white water rafting, hiking, and thermal hot springs to crossing over one of the top 10 highest bridges in North America.

Find out more about this area, the significant geological features, and the role it has played over the years training astronauts.

The Rio Grande Gorge as viewed from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The Rio Grande Gorge as viewed from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

White water rafting Taos Box on the Rio Grande River is one of the top things to do near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico True

White water rafting Taos Box on the Rio Grande River is one of the top things to do near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico True

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is an hour from Santa Fe. It offers a chance to see ancestral Pueblo ruins from more than 10,000 years ago.

From May to October, access is by shuttle bus leaving from the White Rock visitors centre. The shuttle is not running during COVID.

Bandelier National Monument cliff is one of the top things to do near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Bandelier National Monument cliff is one of the top things to do near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Bandelier National Monument is one of the top things to see near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico True

Bandelier National Monument is one of the top things to see near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico True

Pecos National Historic Park

Pecos National Historical Park houses the remains of the Pecos Pueblo, 1717 Spanish mission church, and a civil war battlefield, Battle of Glorieta Pass.

Pecos National Historic Park is one of the top places to visit near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico True

Pecos National Historic Park is one of the top places to visit near Santa Fe New Mexico. Photo: New Mexico True

Where to stay in Santa Fe

Las Palomas Inn

We stayed at Las Palomas Inn.

The adobe style architecture created a wonderful atmosphere and character for the entire property making it a perfect match for a great romantic southwestern experience. The charming one bedroom casita couldn’t have been any better.

The stay included a complementary breakfast buffet, downtown shuttle service, homemade cookies, parking, and WiFi. Every room has a gas or wood burning fireplace.

It was an easy walk to downtown Santa Fe and the historic Santa Fe Plaza. The Las Palomas Inn was close to restaurants, galleries, and markets.

Hotels –  Search for accommodation in Santa Fe by using Booking.Com and any commissions earned will help keep this website running.

Los Palomas offers comfortable adobe-style accommodations while staying in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Los Palomas offers comfortable adobe-style accommodations while staying in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Where to dine in Santa Fe

The list of worthy contenders serving New Mexican fare provides no shortage of great restaurants for food-lovers to try

Terracotta Wine Bistro

Terracotta Wine Bistro is located in a 19th-century charming adobe building in the historic district near Las Palomas Inn and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

It has two patios: a small one in front and a back open courtyard.

The bistro offered a Happy Hour on wine all day long until 6 p.m. and a 3 course Prix Fixe menu daily. Be sure to check their website for the latest offerings.

We liked the atmosphere so much we came here twice during our short visit to Santa Fe.

In 2018 and 2019, Terracotta Wine Bistro won the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence.

Terracotta Wine Bistro in Santa Fe, New Mexico has wonderful food and a great selection of wines. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Terracotta Wine Bistro in Santa Fe, New Mexico has wonderful food and a great selection of wines. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Casa Chimayo Restaurant

Casa Chimayo Restaurant features traditional, authentic New Mexican cuisine, and some favourite recipes handed down from the previous owner, Don Timoteo’s grandmother.

This restaurant was featured on a segment of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Here is a complete list of dining options.

Inside Casa Chimayo Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Inside Casa Chimayo Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Fast Facts about Santa Fe

  • Nearby Taos Pueblo is the oldest continually inhabited community in the USA.
  • Santa Fe holds the world’s largest market for Native American Art. The Indian Market is held on the third weekend in August every year. It brings 1000 artists from 100 tribes together.  Find out more at the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.
  • Santa Fe’s elevation is 7,200 feet. It sits high in the southern corner of the Rockies.
  • The sun shines in Santa Fe for 320 days of the year.
  • Santa Fe was founded in 1610.

Best time to visit Santa Fe

Santa Fe can be enjoyed year-round. The fall brings amazing fall colors in the nearby mountains.

In the winter, it is a favorite destination for skiers for its powdered snow.

Discover the best road trip from Tucson to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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