25 Things To Do When Visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico
Photo Credit: Marc Romanelli

Photo Credit: Marc Romanelli

25 Things To Do When Visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico

Cuisine , hotels , Santa Fe , United States , wine
Maggie J.
Maggie J. Apr 28, 2022

Feel the magic in the air with these 25 things to do in when visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. Walk into a portal to discover a new kind of art and maybe even solve a mystery. Eat at Black owned restaurants and enjoy some world famous, Hatch green chile. Explore mystical limestone, hand-carved caves.

Related: 25 Things To Do When Visiting Fairbanks, Alaska

Deep rooted culture and traditions are found in Santa Fe and locals are happy to show you their ways. New Mexico has been known also for its artist and hippy colonies and overall their free thinking souls. While Santa Fe itself is known as, ‘city different’ and its naturally welcoming vibe toward the LGBTQ+ community shows it is different. In a good way!

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There are at least 25 more things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico than is on this list. So, be sure to do more research on the area before sealing in all of the plans. There are so many ways to enjoy this city and every season has something unique to do. Christmas time offers a walk down Canyon Road, singing carols house-to-house with locals and visitors. Sipping cocoa and eating cookies along the way. Visit the Botanical Garden in the summertime to learn about the flora and fauna of New Mexico. See the aspens change from green to brilliant oranges and yellows in the autumn. Pick pinon nuts in the Fall. This list has many, but not all, of the things there are to do in Santa Fe.

1. Meow Wolf

 

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An old bowling alley turned into the most mind-blowing interactive immersive art instillation. Meow Wolf, House of Eternal Return, is a collaboration with at least one hundred different artists, designers, writers and videographers,  lighting experts and volunteers.

Walk into a house, open the fridge and walk into the light. Be transported to another dimension as you work to solve a thrilling mystery to help find a missing family.

2. Haiku Pathway

Sitting at the local community college is the Haiku Pathway. The path leads visitors on a poetic journey with over 30 different haikus along the path. “The mix of poems… describe the site’s surroundings, from mountains to student life, but are also a mix of whimsy, reflection, and humor.”

3. The Plaza

The Santa Fe Plaza, or the Square, has been the center of action in Santa Fe for centuries. Native Americans lay out their blankets on the ground and sell their jewelry under the shade of the adobe building that was once the governor’s palace. Art and native festivals take place here, as well as many dances and parades. Teens even gathered here to find out where the weekend parties were going to be. Today, you can find clothing stores, galleries, restaurants and the governor’s palace museum.

4. Madrid and Cerrillos

Visit the small towns of Madrid and Cerrillos to see what life was like in the cowboy days. Go back in time and visit the soda shop in Cerrillos and the mine in Madrid. Park your car, or your horse. There’s spaces for both in these tiny towns.

5. Santa Fe Opera House

 

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The Santa Fe Opera House is another world-renowned feature of Santa Fe and New Mexico overall. The open-air opera house invites some of the best opera singers from around the world to perform on their stages.

Take a behind the scenes tour before the big night and see one of the most dazzling parts of the opera house, the costume shop. Enjoy opening night dinner at The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. Then, head to the opera for a night of fantastic performances.

6. Navajo Fry Bread

A mix of a tortilla and a sopapilla, fry bread is served in Santa Fe in two ways. Either with honey and butter, or as a meal with meat, beans, cheese, onions and lettuce. A hard-to-find treat, this is one of the best foods in town.

7. Hand-Carved Limestone Caves

A tour of Ra Paulette’s hand-carved caves will leave visitors amazed. Over a span of 25 years, the artist carved the soft limestone walls to create masterpieces in 14 caves around the Santa Fe area.

 

 

8. Zozobra

Every year, the people of Santa Fe and thousands of visitors come to see Zozobra, or Old Man Gloom to burn.

Made of trash and recycled materials, this puppet has grown every year, now up to over 50 feet.

Fire dancers surround Zozobra and all of the people put all of their bad emotions and experiences of the year into the puppet before he is set on fire.

It represents a time of renewal, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. What ensues is Fiestas; a three day annual party.

9. Fiestas

After Zozobra is burned, the people party. Fiestas is an annual celebration that includes dancing, eating, shopping, arts, parades and even a royal court.

Fiesta dresses are worn all weekend long as well as big hats and belt buckles. Mariachis play around the Plaza, kids’ dance groups perform cultural dances and there’s even a pet parade where people dress up their animals and parade them around the Plaza.

Find the navajo fry bread, it isn’t easy to find at restaurants in town.

10. Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

The Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen is known for its delicious vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. “Experience delicious global offerings made from fresh, natural, whole foods. Enjoy sustainable wines and diverse regional beverages.”

11. Christmas

 

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Faralitos and luminarias are the highlight of Christmas in Santa Fe.

Instead of Christmas lights, many places decorate with luminarias; small, sand filled brown paper bags with lit candles inside. They are lined along roofs and sidewalks to illuminate the night.

Faralitos, or little bonfires, can be found all down Canyon road. Residents will light these fires, bake bizcochitos and will sing carols during the evenings during the Christmas season. Tourists and residents walk down the road, joining in on bonfires, singing songs, snacking on bizcochitos and drinking hot cocoa.

 

12. The miraculous staircase at Loretto Chapel

 

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The story goes that the Loretto Chapel needed a staircase. So, they prayed for one. A man mysteriously showed up, said he was a carpenter and even brought his own wood. He built the grand spiral staircase with no nails, or any kind of support. Upon completion, he left just as mysteriously as he arrived.

13. Gravity hill

A hill in Santa Fe that is said that if you put a car in neutral facing uphill, that it will creep up the hill instead of coming down. It is said it is a haunted place and that the ghosts of several children actually push the car up the hill. But, science suggests it’s simply an optical illusion.

14. Cross of the Martyrs

 

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The most significant time to go to the Cross of the Martyrs is for the closing of Fiestas. The second Sunday of September is final day of Fiestas. It is closed with a candle light procession up the switchback trail to the tallest point, Cross of the Martyrs. A bell choir and other live music plays while everyone gathers at the top of the hill, beautiful views of Santa Fe and the high desert beyond, surrounding the group. A closing prayer is said and everyone blows out their candles with a moment of silence before walking back down the hill in silence.

15. Hatch Green Chile

New Mexico’s Hatch Green Chile is a world famous chile that is not to be confused with chili. These peppers have a unique flavor and are only harvested once a year.

They are used to top, rather, smother, many New Mexican dishes including enchiladas, stuffed sopapillas and Navajo fry bread.

Grocery stores roast green chile outside during the Fall and they can be purchased for $5 or so a pound. But, wait until Christmas time and the price can go up to $20 or more per pound.

16. Canyon Road

Christmas on Canyon Road is one thing, but walking the road during any other time of year is just as visually pleasing. A famous road for art galleries, what makes it unique is that many of the artists also live on the property. The walk on this road is colorful, romantic and full of art! Look for the famous row of mailboxes!

17. Bishops Lodge

The sprawling Bishop’s Lodge was established over 150 years ago, just outside of downtown Santa Fe. It sits on over 300 acres and is known to be a tranquil spot for a quiet, self-reflecting journey. “Explore our vibrant culture of discovery and expression through nature-driven adventures, visual arts, ancient healing arts, culinary journeys and memorable celebrations.”

Reserve the Kiva Suite for the private plunge pool and decedent bathtub. The seclusion is inviting too, as it is in on one corner of the resort, away from the main lodge.

18. Black Owned, Craft Beer: Honeymoon Brewery

This unique taproom in Santa Fe, New Mexico serves hard kombucha and is Black owned. Honeymoon Brewery explains, “We have created an extremely refreshing take on the complex and effervescent nature of Kombucha by marrying beer and Kombucha brewing techniques. The result is a sessionable gluten-free beverage that’s tart, delicious and which delivers a satisfying ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of 5.5%.”

19. Upaya Zen Center

A Buddhist monastery Upaya Zen Center. The grounds are open to the public to wander and enjoy. Do some quiet self-reflection in the the Wayring Temple.

20. La Casa Sena and La Cantina

Have drinks and appetizers at La Cantina while tapping those feet to Broadway musicals sang by the waitstaff.

Move to the dining room, La Casa Sena, for es cargo, lamb chops and more. A night of entertainment and top notch cuisine.

21. Brunch at Cafe Pasqual's

 

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Café Pasqual’s is a tiny restaurant right in the downtown area. Brunch is absolutely amazing and on brand with all things Santa Fe. Local cuisine with a unique flavor. Visit the art gallery upstairs before heading to the Plaza.

22. Santa Fe Botanical Gardens

A walking tour of the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens is a nice afternoon activity. Visit the orchid gardens and the three acres of natural flora and fauna of the high desert. Stick around for Shakespeare in the Garden, bring chairs and blankets and watch a play in the Botanical Garden.

23. Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

Perched about the town of Santa Fe, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe has an inviting spa, sprawling suites and plenty of activities. Antonio Barrios, the resort’s concierge recommends, “Our very own adventure architect, Hans Loehr is uniquely qualified to guide you through the land, cultures, history and heritage of Santa Fe and its surroundings.”

24. Black owned and Operated, Anthony's Grill

Dig into dinner in Santa Fe at the Black owned, Anthony’s Grill. James, the owner, can be found behind the counter almost every day. Customers say he is a great guy and savvy business owner.

25. Stuffed sopapillas

 

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Stuffed sopapillas are a highlight of New Mexico cuisine. Sopapillas are generally had as a dessert option. Try them stuff for a full meal.

Beans, chicken and cheese are inside the sopapilla. Then, it is covered with more cheese, lettuce and tomatoes and smothered in red or green chile. Or, get it ‘Christmas’ which is both.

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