Santa Fe is a city located in the state of New Mexico.
It serves as the state's capital city and Santa Fe County's seat.
Known as one of the world’s greatest cities for arts and culture, Santa Fe has centuries of history, dating back to when the indigenous Pueblo Indians occupied its land.
Unlike most states, New Mexico was primarily colonized by the Spanish, giving Santa Fe a unique heritage.
With sprawling art museums and architectural wonders, Santa Fe is a can’t-miss destination in the United States.
Here are the 18 best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico:
Take an Artsy Adventure at Canyon Road
Few places in the world contain as much art as Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, whether contemporary, traditional, or local art.
Over a hundred art galleries, big and small, are present along Canyon Road.
It takes around three to four hours to explore most of Canyon Road.
There are also jewelry shops and restaurants that pay homage to this renowned art district.
Santa Fe’s Canyon Road is one of the best places in the world to appreciate art.
When planning your itinerary, put this on your priority list.
Canyon Road is near the city's heart, connecting to Paseo de Peralta.
Walk around Santa Fe Plaza
Santa Fe Plaza is a historic landmark serving as the city's center.
It’s a great place to walk around and immerse in Santa Fe’s culture.
Many things happen in Santa Fe Plaza, such as street buskers, performances, art galleries, and dining establishments.
If you’re looking for an excellent place to grab a meal, there’s also a highly-rated Plaza Cafe.
Drop by Santa Fe Plaza and marvel at the epicenter of the city’s culture.
It’s along West Palace Avenue.
Visit the New Mexico Museum of Art
If Canyon Road isn’t enough to satisfy your art craving, worry not because Santa Fe has a lot more to offer.
The New Mexico Museum of Art should also be atop your list.
Known for its Southwestern architecture, the building and rooms of the museum are artworks on their own.
Its courtyard is a great spot to take photos of its beautiful exterior.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is at the city's heart, just across Santa Fe Plaza.
Explore the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Close to the New Mexico Museum of Art lies the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, dedicated to one of the most prominent artists in modern history.
Famously known as “The Mother of American Modernism,” plenty of Georgia O’Keeffe’s artworks are displayed in this museum.
Well-known for her vibrant paintings of flowers, portraits, and cityscapes, Georgia O’Keeffe’s legendary creativity will keep your eyes occupied.
There’s also a guided tour here that will significantly enhance your experience.
You can visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, just across the street from Santa Fe Plaza.
Marvel the Architecture at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is one of the city’s best symbols of its deep-rooted Catholicism brought by Spanish colonialism.
The basilica is a great place to appreciate the rich architectural history of Santa Fe.
You’ll appreciate its massive 18th-century interiors highlighted by its stained-glass windows.
The church also has a souvenir shop and tour guides who are happy to discuss the basilica's history.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is along East Palace Avenue, just a few blocks from Santa Fe Plaza.
Take Photos of the Historic Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors is another architectural gemstone with centuries of stories.
Dating back to the 1600s, the Palace of the Governors is the United States’ oldest public building.
The building got its name because it served as the seat of government under Spanish rule.
Now, it’s mainly used as a museum and art gallery.
You’ll see plenty of Native American and colonial artifacts inside.
Whether you’re going inside or not, snap a photo of this historical landmark.
You can find it right across Santa Fe Plaza.
Experience 18th-Century New Mexico at El Rancho de las Golondrinas
On the Southern end of Santa Fe lies El Rancho de las Golondrinas, or “The Ranch of the Swallows.”
This historic village was once a traveler’s economic hub for selling and trading goods during the 18th century.
Now a living history museum, El Rancho de las Golondrinas gives an authentic simulation of life during the Spanish occupation of New Mexico.
One of the highlights is the tour guides, who are dressed in 18th-century clothing and demonstrate several rural skills from centuries ago, such as weaving, hide tanning, and milling.
Few places like El Rancho de las Golondrinas can provide an immersive Hispanic experience.
You can find it along Los Pinos Road—around 25 mins by car from Santa Fe Plaza.
Discover the Ancient La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs
If you’re already in the Southern rural areas of Santa Fe, you may also want to include La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs on your itinerary.
Near El Rancho de las Golondrinas, La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs is a hiking area filled with ancient artifacts.
Drawings and paintings from the indigenous tribes are present on its massive rock formations.
These drawings are believed to date back as far as the 12th century!
The climb has moderate difficulty due to the terrain and lack of guides, so it’s best for adults and experienced hikers.
You can discover the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs along Paseo Real.
Soak in the Soothing Waters of Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort
If trekking isn’t your thing, you can get a soothing spa service at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort instead.
It’s located along Los Pinos Road, close to El Rancho de las Golondrinas.
The resort has various facilities, such as its thermal and saltwater pools and float therapy pods.
They also have several massages highlighted by their Rio Grande Massage, which uses New Mexico’s basalt stones.
If you haven’t found a place to stay, you can also check in at the beautiful casitas and rooms of Ojo Santa Fe Resort and Spa.
Visit Hike Atalaya Mountain
If you’re wondering why Santa Fe is rich in geothermal resources, look no further than Atalaya Mountain, which towers above the city.
Atalaya Mountain is part of Santa Fe County’s Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
The tallest peak overlooks Santa Fe, offering beautiful views of its cityscape.
You can access several trails to begin your hike.
It’s a challenge for beginners but a rewarding experience, nonetheless.
You can begin your hike depending on where you wish to start.
Find trailheads along Camino De Cruz Blanca.
Observe Wildlife at Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary
If hiking isn’t your thing, but you still want to experience Santa Fe’s nature, you can stop by Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary instead.
Located at the foot of Mt. Atalaya along Upper Canyon Road, this nature preserve lets you experience Santa Fe’s diverse flora and fauna.
It’s a fantastic place to conduct birdwatching, as it attracts over 30 different species.
Several trails are easy to follow, and the preserve also has a great view of the Nichols Reservoir.
You can also have a guided tour of Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary, making it an easy choice for your Santa Fe outdoor adventure.
Watch a World-Class Performance at Santa Fe Opera
The Santa Fe Opera is a can’t-miss destination if you’re a music or performing arts enthusiast.
It’s a world-renowned opera house that showcases international and local performances.
Like many buildings in Santa Fe, the opera house has fantastic architecture that rivals those around the world.
Many of its performances happen during the afternoon, as its location strategically shows Santa Fe’s beautiful sunsets and colorful skies.
Located along Highway 285, Santa Fe Opera is only a 15-minute drive north of Santa Fe Plaza.
Learn about World Folklore at the Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a massive space that features folk art from around the world.
With around 80,000 acres in space, this museum contains artworks and artifacts from over 100 countries!
Several themed exhibits are always available in the Museum of International Folk Art, including East Asian, Middle Eastern, and African themes.
Expect to learn a lot about the world’s mythologies and folklore.
The Museum of International Folk Art is located at Santa Fe’s Museum Hills, an area along Camino Lejo where several museums are clustered together.
View Spanish Antiques at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art is located at the Museum Hills well, just a few walks from the Museum of International Folk Art.
It specializes in showing Spanish Colonial artifacts relevant to the history of New Mexico.
Items such as decor, religious statues, paintings, and furniture are beautifully curated in this humble museum.
There’s a lot of folklore and politically driven art here, dating as far as 400 years ago.
If you’re an avid learner of history, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss this one.
Visit the New Mexico State Capitol
The New Mexico State Capitol is unlike other typical capitol buildings across the United States.
True to its Santa Fe roots, the dome-shaped capitol uses authentic Pueblo-style architecture.
There are also various artworks inside and spacious gardens surrounding the building.
Walking here will make you feel like exploring a museum rather than a government building, so take the time to check it out.
The New Mexico State Capitol is at Old Santa Fe Trail.
Tour Santa Fe Railyard Park
Santa Fe Railyard Park is one of the city’s primary recreational spaces for families.
It’s a former railyard, which makes its layout unique compared to other parks across the country.
As you walk along the park, many greeneries and pavements sit on former rail tracks, giving it a striking geometrical look.
Santa Fe Railyard Park is home to many live performances and events.
A farmers’ market also opens there, so keep your eyes peeled!
You can drop by Santa Fe Railyard Park along Cerrillos Road.
Watch the Sunset at Cross of the Martyrs
Cross of the Martyrs is an elevated park that offers stunning views of Santa Fe without the need to hike on foot.
Going there to watch the sunset will give you a serene experience and is the perfect way to end the day.
Known for its centerpiece Catholic cross, the Cross of the Martyrs commemorates the deaths of 21 friars during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.
There are various plaques along the park that you can read to learn about this event and Santa Fe’s history.
You can drop by Cross of the Martyrs located along Paseo de Peralta.
Go Skiing at Ski Santa Fe
If you’re visiting Santa Fe during winter, you can enjoy the snowy areas of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at Ski Santa Fe.
With a base elevation of 10,350 feet, the ski resort offers a massive expanse of land with varying difficulties for you to ski on.
It’s an excellent destination for family trips, with children welcome to ski on more accessible slopes.
Outside winter, you can also hike here and marvel at its beautiful vegetation.
Ski Santa Fe is 16 miles east of the city, located at the Santa Fe National Forest by the end of New Mexico Highway State 475.
Due to its rich cultural heritage and an overwhelming number of museums and art galleries, Santa Fe has become a significant tourist spot.
You’ll spend several days trying to absorb the city’s rich history and penchant for art, as it features thousands of artworks sprawled across several locations.
When you’re done with that, the city also has many interesting outdoor adventures for you to discover.
Use this list of the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to make the most of your trip!