Ahhh Santa Fe, how do I even describe such city? She is simply charming, picture this: an entire city of low, traditional adobe buildings; little shops and boutiques, cafes and restaurants dot the sidewalks, each offering something local and beautiful; multicolored dried peppers hang on the walls, and the scent of spices fill the air; lean streets are crowded with tourists and street food; museums and art studios pop every now and then, and a picturesque church is situated right in front of the plaza.
My stay in The City Different was quite pleasant-definitely one of the highlights of my one-year-trip. I toured around the town for about four days, but that should be a minimum requirement. I´ll be separating Santa Fe into sections-the town can be divided into Plaza and Downtown, Canyon Road, Railyard-Guadalupe District, Southside, and Midtown Innovation District-but I´ll only talk about the sections I visited and add an “Outdoor” option.
Santa Fe´s Early History
The charming town is considered to be North America´s oldest capital, which was founded by the conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta in 1610. Santa Fe is the home of the most ancient public building, continuously occupied, in America, as well as the oldest community celebration-the Santa Fe Fiesta, established in 1712.
Santa Fe was originally occupied by numerous Pueblos; however, the first settlers of Santa Fe were the Spanish soldiers and officials, as well as the Franciscan missionaries in the early 17th century. In 1680, the Pueblo people revolted against the Spanish colonists-the settlers oppressed the indigenous culture and religion, striving to introduce Catholicism to the native-and drove them out of them back to Mexico. Nevertheless, in 1692, Don Diego de Vargas reconquered the region and aspired to make amends with the native. Santa Fe grew and prospered as a city. Consequently to raids and attacks from Comanches and Apaches, the Spanish made an alliance with the Pueblo in order to maintain a successful civil and religious policy of peaceful coexistence.
Plaza and [Historic] Downtown
This gorgeous downtown is where history interlaces with tourism, where old meets new. The entire historic district is composed by terra cotta adobe buildings, each occupied by a coffee shop or a boutique. There are many restaurants which offer local food-Santa Fe is famous for its rich culinary-and they are all great. However, the best part of this district is the art and history! As you stroll through the wide sidewalks you will come across numerous museums: Palace of Governors, built in the 1600s and relates the story of Santa Fe (highly recommended); Museum of Fine Arts, which focuses on Southwest artists, and the Georgia O´Keeffe Museum; Museum of Contemporary Native Art, among many other museums of arts.
The Plaza is the heart of the historic downtown. On summer nights they play live music; additionally, if you are seeking Native American jewelry, there are a dozen tents in one of the far corners (near the Palace of Governors) selling handmade goods. Everywhere you look, you will be able to find a café or a traditional restaurant, a food truck or a delicious bakery-it´s a food paradise! On one of the extremities of the Plaza, the Saint Francis Cathedrals stands tall, and nearby, an outdoor art exposition displays replicas of famous paintings from Prada´s Museum.
A little way off the downtown, you will find the oldest church in the United States-San Miguel Church, built in 1610. The rural adobe church is plain, yet, quite amazing. I highly recommend exploring the interior of San Miguel Church; furthermore, right beside the church, the oldest house in the United States is located.
This little skinny road is Santa Fe´s most famous street and an art lover´s Mecca. On each side of the street art studios, galleries and sculptures can be found by the dozens; additionally, the mile-long road is a great place to stroll around and relax, to check out the artwork or to grab a bite to eat in the charming restaurants (they are located towards the end if the road).
Santa Fe Ski Area
Because my family loves the outdoors, we couldn’t let a good hike pass by, thus, we headed to Santa Fe Ski Area in search for trails. We spent the night in the Ski Area parking lot, in the midst of the wilderness and under the millions of stars. There, we hiked the Nambe Lake Trail-the trail is 6.2 miles long, the elevation gain is 2135 ft, and dogs are allowed-which features a beautiful lake in the end. There are numerous trails to choose from-weather to hike, run, or mt. bike-and they are all quite beautiful.
On our way down the mountain, we passed by a secluded Japanese-inspired spa called Ten Thousand Waves. The spa is the perfect getaway place for those seeking massages, hot tubs, facials, relaxation, and a Japanese-style restaurant.
Here are a few places to visit, but were outside of the districts I explored:
- The Farmer´s Market in Santa Fe is considered to be one of the top ten in the nation, they are open a few days in the week; however, Saturday is the best day to go!
- For those who like Margaritas, there´s “The Santa Fe Margarita Trail” The passport is only $3 and can be purchased in any of the three Tourism Santa Fe Visitor Centers, or the participating bars and restaurants-there are more than 30!
- Meow Wolf is immersive art exhibition-sculptures, paintings, video production, and more-which is highly suggested by locals.