Getting Oriented

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Getting Oriented

Humorist Will Rogers said on his first visit to Santa Fe, "Whoever designed this town did so while riding on a jackass, backwards, and drunk." The maze of narrow streets and alleyways confounds motorists; however, pedestrians delight in the vast array of shops, restaurants, flowered courtyards, and eye-catching galleries at nearly every turn. Park your car, grab a map, and explore the town on foot.

Interstate 25 cuts just south of Santa Fe, which is 62 mi northeast of Albuquerque. U.S. 285/84 runs north–south through the city. The NM 599 bypass, also called the Santa Fe Relief Route, cuts around the west side of the city from Interstate 25's Exit 276, southwest of the city, to U.S. 285/84, north of the city; it's a great shortcut if you're heading from Albuquerque to Española, Abiquiu, Taos, or other points north of Santa Fe. The modest flow of water called the Santa Fe River runs west, parallel to Alameda Street, from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the open prairie southwest of town, where it disappears into a narrow canyon before joining the Rio Grande. There's a dicho, or saying, in New Mexico: "agua es vida"—water is life—and every little trickle counts.

Santa Fe Neighborhoods

The Plaza. The heart of historic Santa Fe, the Plaza has been the site of a bullring, fiestas, and fandangos. Despite the buildup of tourist shops, the Plaza retains its old-world feel and is still the center of many annual festivities and much of the town's activity.

East Side and Canyon Road. One of the city's oldest streets, Canyon Road is lined with galleries, shops, and restaurants housed in adobe compounds, with thick walls, and lush courtyard gardens. The architectural influence of Old Mexico and Spain, and the indigenous Pueblo cultures, makes this street as historic as it is artistic.

Old Santa Fe Trail and South Capitol. In the 1800s wagon trains from Missouri rolled into town from the Old Santa Fe Trail, opening trade into what had been a very insular Spanish colony and forever changing Santa Fe's destiny. This street joins the Plaza on the south side after passing the state capitol and some of the area's oldest neighborhoods.

Museum Hill. What used to be the outskirts of town became the site of gracious, neo-Pueblo style homes in the mid-20th century, many of them designed by the famed architect John Gaw Meem. Old Santa Fe Trail takes you to Camino Lejo, aka Museum Hill, where you'll find four excellent museums and a café.

The Railyard District. This bustling area, also known as the Guadalupe District, has undergone a major transformation in the last decade. The new Railyard Park is a model for urban green space and is across the street from a permanent new home for the vibrant farmers' market. The redevelopment along Guadalupe Street has added dozens of shops, galleries, and restaurants to the town's already rich assortment.

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