Making the Most of Your Time
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Making the Most of Your Time
It's best to explore Santa Fe one neighborhood at a time and arrange your activities within each. If you've got more than two days, be sure to explore the northern Rio Grande Valley. For the best tour, combine your adventures in Santa Fe with some from the Side Trips section, which highlights several trips within a 60- to 90-minute drive of town.
Plan on spending a full day wandering around Santa Fe Plaza, strolling down narrow streets, under portals, and across ancient cobbled streets. Sip coffee on the Plaza, take in a museum or two (or three) and marvel at the cathedral. The New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors are great places to start to gain a sense of the history and cultures influencing this area. Take one of the docent-led tours offered by the museums. Almost without exception the docents are engaging and passionate about their subjects. You gain invaluable insight into the collections and their context by taking these free tours. Inquire at the front desk of the museums for more information.
On a stretch called Museum Hill, you'll find four world-class museums, all quite different and all highly relevant to the culture of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico. Start at the intimate gem, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, where you'll gain a real sense of the Spanish empire's influence on the world beyond Spain. The Museum of International Folk Art is thoroughly engaging for both young and old. If you have the stamina to keep going, have lunch at the tasty Museum Café and then visit the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and then move on to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. There is a path linking all these museums together, and the walk is easy. The museum shops at these four museums are outstanding—if you're a shopper you could easily spend an entire day in the shops alone.
An easy walk from any of the Downtown lodgings, Canyon Road should definitely be explored on foot. Take any of the side streets and stroll amongst historical homes and ancient acequias (irrigation ditches). If you really enjoy walking, keep going up Canyon Road past Cristo Rey Church, where the street gets even narrower and is lined with residential compounds. At the top is the Randall Davey Audubon Center, where bird-watching abounds.
Another enjoyable day can be spent exploring the hip Railyard District, which is bursting with energy and development from the new Railyard Park and the various businesses surrounding it. The Santuario de Guadalupe is a great place to start. Head south from there and enjoy shops, cafés, art galleries, the farmers' market, and the fun new Railyard Park. If you enjoy ceramics, don't miss a stop at Santa Fe Clay, an amazing gallery, supply store, and studio where dozens of artists are busy at work. The venerable SITE Santa Fe is also here, with its cutting-edge modern art installations.
There are more galleries and shops in Downtown Santa Fe than can be handled in one day. If you've got the time, or if you don't want to spend hours in multiple museums, take a look at our shopping recommendations and go from there.
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