Stepping into La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asísi – or just Santa Fe if you want to save a little time – is more like stepping into an oversized pueblo-cross-Spanish mission than an ultra-modern city. What else would you expect from the United States’ third oldest city and the nation’s oldest state capital? Instead of glistening skyscrapers, you’ll find yourself wandering past adobe buildings and picturesque chapels and churches. What you won’t find however is a city that relies too much on its past. Multi-cultural Santa Fe has a thriving arts scene, a growing foodie culture and a sophisticated entertainment scene, it all just all comes with an incredibly charming backdrop.
Back in the heart of the city is the small Downtown area which is centred on The Plaza, once the end point of the 19th Century Santa Fe Trail. The labyrinth of narrow streets are best explored on foot, and this hub of city life is a brilliant place for people watching, shopping, perusing art in the numerous galleries or just soaking in the city’s colourful history, which seems almost palpable. Don’t miss the Palace of the Governors, which runs along the northern edge of the square, the Pueblo Revival-style La Fonda hotel and the nearby Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. This popular Santa Fe attraction celebrates the life and works of the ‘Mother of American Modernism who lived in the town and was inspired by New Mexico’s landscapes. Head east from the Plaza and you’ll come to the half-mile section of Canyon Road that’s a true art lover’s paradise. Numerous galleries line the street exhibiting anything and everything from sculptures to jewellery. And it’s not just the wares that will grab your attention – it’s here that you can witness some of Santa Fe’s finest historic Pueblo architecture with many of the galleries housed in historic adobe dwellings. You can lose hours strolling along the street but trust us, that’s really not a bad thing!
In recent years the once disused railroad warehouses just south of Downtown have been brought back to life in the form of the Railyard District. This is arguably the city’s coolest quarter with independent boutiques, antique shops, bookstores, restaurants and the year-round, twice-weekly Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. A Tuesday or a Saturday morning is the best time to head here for the freshest locally-grown produce in town.
It should come as no surprise that fiery southwest cuisine is the fare of choice here, from hearty homemade to modern fusion. Either way, you can be sure the dishes will have a certain kick to them, owing to the addition of green or red chilies that are a staple in this part of the world. Of course, you’ll also find a wide range of international restaurants serving anything from traditional Italian to East Asian dishes as well as independent cafés and stylish bars.
If you like to get out of the city for a bit of outdoor adventure or you wish to burn off some of your New Mexican indulgences, there are numerous hiking trails in the nearby mountains. Paths range from family- and pet-friendly to strenuous. Winter sports enthusiasts will be happy to know that there is a ski resort – Santa Fe Ski Basin – just 20 miles from downtown. And if you haven’t yet had your fill of culture following a few days in the city, it is well worth heading to one of the surrounding pueblos. A few of these charming hamlets feature captivating folk art centres, while others even have ceremonial events you can attend. One of the most popular nearby villages is Ohkay Owingeh (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo) which was founded around the turn of the 13th Century.
The city’s airport is the Santa Fe Municipal Airport which is located approximately 10 miles from Downtown. Just contact our team and we’ll arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Santa Fe.