- New Mexico
Tucked away in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, New Mexico’s capital city of Santa Fe combines rich culture and long history that predates the founding of the U.S.
Established as a Spanish colony in 1610, it’s the oldest capital city in North America and the oldest European community west of the Mississippi River. The high desert terrain also makes for hot summer days, but winters get enough snow for some of the best skiing in the U.S. Southwest. Here’s your guide to get the most out of your weekend in Santa Fe.
Start your trip in the historic Plaza, the heart and center of the city as established by the Spanish based on town planning rules and ordinances that were established in 1573 by King Philip II. Looking north, you’ll find the Palace of Governors — the longest continuously used building of its kind in the U.S. — to the east is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. When you’re finished soaking up all of the unique architecture, grab dinner and a beer at Draft Station.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
You’ll want to stay close to the city center to truly experience the history and culture of the city. Have breakfast in the center at Plaza Cafe, known for as an American-style diner with a New Mexican flair.
After breakfast, you’re in the right place to explore heart of Santa Fe, where Spanish, Native American and Mexican cultures blend together. In the square, you’ll find regular markets that sell pottery, silver and turquoise and events throughout the year, including Fiestas de Santa Fe, the Spanish Market, the Santa Fe Bandstand and the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Nearby, you’ll find key museums unique to Santa Fe: The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum dedicated to the beloved U.S. artist’s life and legacy; the New Mexico Museum of Art, the oldest art museum in the state; and the New Mexico Museum of History, the newest of the museums attached to the Palace of Governors, covers the area’s 500-year-old history.
After wandering the museum of your choice, be sure to stop at the Shed for authentic New Mexican cuisine.
Experience an evening at the Santa Fe Opera’s Crosby Theater about 12 kilometers outside of the city center. The unique open-air theater has long been celebrated for its acoustics. Audience members simultaneously enjoy a show as well as views of the Jemez Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Foothills to the east.
Santa Fe Opera's Crosby Theater
Grab a breakfast burrito before you head for the hills: Santa Fe’s proximity to foothills makes for the perfect morning on the trails hiking or mountain biking.
Take the free Santa Fe Shuttle to see more of the city. If you’re up for exploring more museums, head to Museum Hill. Here, you’ll find the popular Museum of International Folk Art, home to the largest collection of international folk art in the world; as well as the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian dedicated to Native American history, art and culture. Nearby, be sure to see the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
If you’re looking to unwind after morning activities, pick up your guide to the Santa Fe Margarita Trail — which includes a “passport” — at the Santa Fe Visitor Center, or any of the 31 Margarita Trail participating restaurant. Participants can get up to two stamps in their “passport” per day.
Spend the evening exploring Canyon Road. Though only 1.5 kilometers long, the strip packs in over 100 galleries and boutiques. It’s considered to be one of the most concentrated street of art galleries in the world. Grab dinner at the Compound Restaurant — an old adobe home that was once a part of group of houses in the former McComb Compound — the perfect place to toast a perfect vacation.
Extend your New Mexico trip with a tour of the state’s five ancient wonders.
Canyon Road in Santa Fe
More experiences nearby
New Mexico to Arizona
House of Eternal Return
Ra Paulette's Hand-Carved Caves
5 Historical Sites in New Mexico
5 Historical Sites in New Mexico
A Weekend in Santa Fe
An Insider's Guide to Native New Mexico