7 Best Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe has earned its name as “The City Different” because of its magical reputation as a hotbed of creativity, a place where the unexpected can surprise you in everyday life. That’s why our list of the top things to do in Santa Fe includes activities and attractions that most people would never anticipate finding in the desert.
Explore Local History
One of the most famous local features is in the Loretto Chapel. Near the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, you can find a renowned spiral staircase. According to legend, St. Joseph himself may have built this miraculous staircase for the nuns in the Chapel of Loretto during the 1800s. The perfect spiral staircase defies the common laws of carpentry by standing freely without any central support of any sort attached. Even stranger, the type of spruce wood used to build it is a special subspecies of spruce that no one can identify. No spruce like this grew anywhere near this chapel, and historians cannot decide where it came from either.
Indulge in Unique Fare
For a local twist on a familiar treat, you can have an incredible Mexican hot chocolate with chilies. The cozy adobe-housed Kakawa Chocolate House on Paseo de Peralta Road near downtown has received awards from Trip Advisor as the top-rated dessert spot in Santa Fe for many great reasons. You can taste samples of the different artisan chocolates they serve, and the hot chocolates and chocolate elixirs are rich, flavorful, and heavenly. Among some of the most-popular creations are the chocolates with different varieties of local red chili peppers, caramel, and other great spices. Along with that, enjoy organic ice cream and tasty treats like brownies that even satisfy those who prefer gluten-free snacks. They also sell packs of their drinks that you can take to prepare at home or give as a special birthday or Christmas present.
Buy Traditional Wares
For fine craftsmanship in turquoise and silver, you won’t find a more creative display of this ancient trade than in Santa Fe’s Indian Market. This annual market is held the weekend after the third Thursday in August as well as a winter market in December. Sponsored by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, this event hosts 1,200 Native American artists from more than 200 federally recognized tribes within the United States and Canada. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone and especially those who love native art. Some of the most priceless pieces go for sale at a live auction, which a selective jury chooses the best artwork for. While jewelry is the main attraction, Southwestern-style fashion accessories of all types and clothing are also available directly from these vendors. Live music and dance performances are also a fun part of the entertainment, transporting you into the heart of Santa Fe’s historical roots. Check the full schedule of market events online and start planning your trip.
Enjoy Natural Wonders
All year round, you can enjoy the natural surroundings as you drive and take in the incredible view. At the top of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountain range that overlooks Santa Fe.
But did you know that during winter months you can go skiing or snowboarding on the nearby mountain? Speeding down this 10,350 foot summit is one of the most-exciting things to do in Santa Fe by far. The Sandia Park Ski Area is open during the heaviest snows of winter, usually around March through April as the weather permits. They have up to 83 trails available depending on the weather conditions and a total of seven lifts. Check out the daily updates on their website for the current news on conditions at the peak. Start at the La Casa Lodge complex at the base of the ski area to get lift tickets, rent skis, or snowboards and refresh yourself with a quick coffee and lunch.
Even if you don’t cruise down the mountainside snow, it’s worth driving up to the top of the mountain just for the live music events during the winter season and to watch the annual “Rail Jam” competition between skiers and snowboarders to show off their personal style.
Treat Yourself to Afternoon Tea
Then when you need some more refreshments, you’re already in the right spot because some of the best tea houses in the city are here too. The Tea House serves many teas that you may have never heard of in beautiful glass mugs with tea infusers that let you watch the tea leaves unfold and release their brilliant colors right in your cup. You’ll love all of the extensive Japanese matcha teas, chais, white, green, and white-tea blends. Plus, they serve some of the best brunches around while you recline on the garden patio.
Walking through this street is the best way to go because of the limited parking spots, so it’s best to get an Uber or hotel taxi to drop you off and then come pick you up when you’re ready to go.
Experience the Local Art World
Of all the things to do in Santa Fe, none of them starts to show you the true scope of the incredible artists around here like a stroll down Canyon Road. Every kind of art—like the modern, classic, abstract, and just plain bizarre—are on display here on Canyon Road in many forms that are sure to surprise you. The best part is that while the quality of the artwork from impressive local artists rivaling Georgia O’Keefe herself is top-notch, most of these establishments are within walking distance of each other in a comfortable, laid-back setting that allows you to relax and enjoy the experience. Check the local paper or online listings to catch the best gallery openings on the weekends for a little wine tasting to go with your immersion into the world of art.
Stay in Luxury Accommodations
As part of the Experiences Collection by Welk Resorts, the Fairmont Heritage Place El Corazon de Santa Fe settles you into the warm, friendly heart of the city with luxurious, homey surroundings. At this location, you’re within only three blocks from the downtown Plaza square, the perfect walking distance to all the best things to do in Santa Fe. The traditional Spanish Pueblo revival style surrounds you with cozy fireplaces, an adobe exterior, open patios beneath the vast, sunny skies, and some of the tastiest Mexican food you’ll ever have.
You’ll find so much to love about making this spot your Southwestern home away from home. The concierge can reserve the best times for your next spa treatment or private dinner, providing great benefits over average Santa Fe hotels. At night, enjoy sitting on the patio next to an outdoor fireplace where you can see more stars than ever since you have no skyscrapers or glaring city lights to hinder your view.
Not a Welk Owner? Find out how you can have access to exclusive resorts like Fairmont Heritage Place El Corazon de Santa Fe and many more by calling 888-418-0125.