A Perfect Weekend in Santa Fe

Art spaces, wellness retreats, and fine restaurants await, along with 22 miles of trails to reward hikers and cyclists with stellar vistas of New Mexico’s legendary landscapes, including the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Rio Grande River. The city’s epicenter, known as the Plaza, offers dining, window shopping, and Americana treasures. Start your visit with our A Perfect Day in Santa Fe guide, and then go a little deeper with the following recommendations.

Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
The popular Dale Ball Trails system offers 23.4 miles of interconnected high-altitude desert trails in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where piñon and juniper forest greet sturdy ponderosa trees as you ascend to higher altitudes. The system passes pretty close to town, and navigation is simple thanks to clear trail markers. If you’re so inclined, follow the steepest path along the ridge to the top of Picacho Peak. The reward for your hike is a breathtaking 360-degree view.
228 E Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
After helming two restaurants in Los Angeles, native Santa Fe chef John Sedlar returns to his grandmother’s New Mexican cuisine at Eloisa. The whitewashed, minimal, brick-exposed space serves as a temple for savory empanaditas, sopes, tamales, posole, tortillas made with fresh masa, and creative jicama and guacamole tacos with flower petals. To sip, tequila and mezcal cocktails are crafted by Dede Roybal, a bartending genius. You won’t be disappointed. All dishes are expertly and artistically plated. Afterward, stretch your legs walking around downtown Santa Fe—Eloisa’s locale couldn’t be any more convenient.
710 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA
Spend some time on Museum Hill visiting the Museum of International Folk Art with its awesome Alexander Girard collection, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and its stocked basement trading post of Native American wares, and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Unlike museum gift shops that sell replicas of artworks or mass-produced souvenirs, the museum shops here often carry original works of art for sale, so buying here can make you a collector, too. After all that culture, you’ll be famished, so swing by the Museum Hill Cafe for a light snack.
100 E San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
With its historic pueblo-inspired architecture and Spanish Revival style, this landmark Santa Fe hotel looks like it dates back much earlier than 1922, when it was designed by two of the area’s top architects: Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter and John Gaw Meem. And, in fact, despite the imposing building’s relative youth, the legacy of La Fonda dates back to the 1600s. An inn or hotel has stood on this site since the city’s founding at the end of the Santa Fe Trail.

Now, as one of the city’s most iconic luxury hotels, it presides over the historic Plaza and boasts some of the best views of the city and surrounding mountains and desert. Thanks to a complete (and completely faithful) renovation in 2013, rooms are now bright and airy, outfitted with handcrafted furnishings, local artwork and textiles, energy-efficient casement windows, and all the luxuries expected of a modern grande dame. The fine-dining courtyard restaurant is one of the most romantic dining destinations in town—trumped only by the rooftop Bell Tower Bar, whose sunset views and margarita menu draw locals and in-the-know visitors alike. Throw in a heated outdoor pool (open year-round, a rarity in Santa Fe) and a decadent spa, and it’s no wonder that La Fonda has maintained its reputation for superlative hospitality for so long.
1800 Upper Canyon Road
The artist Randall Davey (part of the Santa Fe Art Colony) painted and worked at this former studio turned National Audubon Society on Upper Canyon Road. The land is now a preserved wildlife sanctuary (with a vast variety of birds like the goldfinch) with several trails and a cultural, educational and historical center. Take a hike with stellar views and later tour Davey’s home and art studio with various personal effects. Closed in the winter. And, make sure to call ahead for times when the house is open.
1607 Paseo De Peralta
Don’t miss strolling around the impressive Santa Fe Farmers’ Market with its glorious abundance of beautiful and colorful produce, artisanal soaps, flowers, cheese, grass-fed meats and of course, peppers for miles—both electric-green and bright red (local Chimayo, Velarde, and Socorro varietals). Open: Saturdays year-round, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Tuesdays during warm weather.
200-220 East Palace Avenue
This newly opened store, a pared-down collection of Scott Corey’s large Santa Fe Vintage (on the outskirts of town), is “the” place to shop for amazing vintage pieces like flannels, jean jackets, gold-rimmed aviators and African indigo Mali cloth pieces. The shop showcases both vintage jewelry and gorgeous pieces by co-owner Julienne Barth.
301 Opera Dr, Santa Fe, NM 87506, USA
This brilliant, partially covered amphitheater offers views not only of the stage but of the stunning Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountain ranges in the distance. The world-renowned opera company presents five works in repertory each summer. Book well in advance, and don’t miss the elegant tailgating in the parking lot (some participants go as far as white table linens and sparkling wine) before the performance. A picnic can be ordered (at least 48 hours in advance) for pick-up two hours before performances, or you can cobble together your own basket of goodies from local restaurants. Tablecloths not included.
500 Sandoval Street
Brought to you by the fine-dining folks at the gourmet-minded State Capital Kitchen, this highly touted food truck called Gnar (short for gnarly, or awesome) carries farm-fresh delights from chefs Arthur Martel and Mark Connell. Decked out in artist David Santiago’s fierce female-centric portraits, the tiny kitchen doles out affordable grub like stuffed waffle-pressed sopaipillas or Wagyu beef burgers alongside heaping bowls of pho. Afterward, wash everything down with thick chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry milkshakes.
544 South Guadalupe Street
Head to the edgy Santa Fe Railyard District—just a 20-minute walk from the plaza—to browse the various contemporary galleries that have taken up residence there. Stroll through the small parks, enjoy a meal at offbeat Southwestern eateries like La Choza and Tune-Up Café, and of course, visit the bountiful farmers’ market to check out the local produce and, in season, the famous Hatch green chile peppers.
21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
Your stay in Santa Fe is not complete until you’ve visited the serene 20-acre Ten Thousand Waves. Though nestled in the high hills among Santa Fe’s piñons and junipers, the wooden walkways and lanterns will make you feel as close to Japan as if you’d hopped a plane. Splurge on the spa’s deep stone massage and salt scrubs, or opt for a warming herbal wrap with an add-on foot soak. Bliss is your reward. After you’ve had time to unwind, enjoy a meal at the on-site Izanami, which serves izakaya-style food using sustainably raised beef, pork, chicken, and organic vegetables. A note to the modest spagoer: All baths are clothing-optional except the communal tub in the hours after 8:15 p.m., when bathing suits are required.
105 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
The entire north side of Santa Fe’s downtown plaza is taken up by the 1610 Palace of the Governors, the oldest continually occupied public building in the United States. Its front adobe facade is completely shaded, and in this “portal,” the Native American Vendors Program has been operating for over six decades. A daily lottery ensures a rotating selection of artisans from the various pueblos throughout New Mexico. Yes, there might be some “finer” pieces available in the chic boutiques elsewhere in Santa Fe, but here, in the shade of a four-century-old adobe building, you can meet the artists and even haggle a bit. Be respectful, though—these are not cheap trinkets made in a sweatshop abroad: The crafts and the jewelry are usually made by the person with whom you’ll be conversing. (An interesting side note: The Palace was taken over in 1680 and occupied by Native Americans during the Pueblo Revolt until 1692, when the Spaniards returned. This is the only government seat in the U.S. to have ever been taken over by Native Americans. It then served as the residence of the governor during the Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. territorial regimes, until 1907. In 1912, New Mexico became a U.S. state. Today, the Palace serves as a museum.)
1352 Rufina Cir, Santa Fe, NM 87507, USA
Fans of Stranger Things will undoubtedly gravitate toward the quirky Meow Wolf experience. A former bowling alley—a 20,000-square-foot space—becomes the House of Eternal Return, an immersive art-installation-storytelling experience influenced, no kidding, by the mind of George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and operated by an art collective of almost 200 “creators.” Guests are encouraged to find clues of what happened to a missing family by sifting through various diaries and opening a series of doors—including those of appliances like a refrigerator and a washing machine. Don’t like audience participation? Worry not. Simply go along for the journey through an all-encompassing dream world complete with high-tech visuals: kaleidoscopic laser beams, jungle gyms, and musical treats, like a synthesizer made from dinosaur bones.
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