3 Days in Santa Fe

3 Days in Santa Fe.post

A lot has been written about Santa Fe, as well as with Taos. And rightly so.  I have visited Santa Fe three times now, each time for a little longer.  I am not usually one who likes the desert.  Give me beach and ocean any day.  But there is something about Santa Fe that draws me back.

Maybe it’s the adobe architecture?   Maybe it’s the people?  I have certainly met some interesting people in and from Santa Fe.  Whatever it is, I know I will return again.  It is one place in the world where I feel almost instantly relaxed.  It’s quiet, despite it being the New Mexico’s capitol city.   There is no light pollution.  You can hear yourself think.  You can feel the creative juices bubbling.

Santa Fe is beautiful, calming and spiritual.  And Taos? It’s an artist’s dream.

Here, I offer you some insights on what to do, how to get around, where to eat and places I recommend to stay, for an unforgettable three day stay.

Updated: November 2018

 Getting To Santa Fe

Santa Fe does have an airport, it is true.  But it’s small, rather obscure and you’ll find it hard to find a flight that flies into it, unless you are a multi-millionaire, with a private jet.

Albequeque Airport on the other hand is one of my favourite airports in the United States and it’s an hour from Santa Fe.  It’s a no brainer really.

To get to Santa Fe,  you can either rent a car or take the light rail, known as the Rail Runner, to Santa Fe. While the Rail Runner sounds attractive, it’s more of a commuter train with limited hours and you have to take a bus from the airport to the Alvarado Transportation Center (ATC).  And it simply gets you to Santa Fe.  As you will see in this post, there’s a lot more to Santa Fe than the downtown area.

 

My recommendation is to to rent a car as there’s a lot to see AROUND Santa Fe that is worth seeing.  From the airport, pick up the Sunport Car Rental shuttle that will take you to the Car Rental Center.

Thrifty is my suggestion as you can rent a Suburu Outback and believe me when I say, it was the BEST rental car I’ve ever had. Perfect for the New Mexico landscape.

 What to Do in Santa Fe and Taos

Santa Fe Adobe Architecture

Santa Fe

The Palace of the Governors:

The New Mexico State Museum, as it is now called, chronicles the history of Santa Fe, the state of New Mexico and the Southwest region. This stunning adobe building was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1960.  There are both guided and self-guided tours of the museum.  They are open 10 am to 5 pm daily, May through October; late on Friday nights.  Cost of admission is $9 for NM non-residents.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Palace of the Governors Artisans

The Plaza

Take the time to walk around the main square in Santa Fe.  You’ll find interesting people to watch and plenty of shops.  You can buy a $500 hand woven blanket, or a pair of earrings made by a local Native American tribe. Native Americans sell their work outside the Palace of the Governors. You’ll find the typical touristy trinkets available, but also some really stunning offerings.  I learned the story of one woman’s tribe while she handmade the pair of ear rings I purchased from her afterwards. This made my Santa Fe experience authentic and inspirational.

Arch around SF

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

As I am one to dabble with drawing and paints, I found this small museum fascinating.  I leisurely wandered the rooms to study the techniques that this talented, independent woman was famous for.

My favourite part of this museum had to be the 30-minute video on her life, showing just how much gumption she had in pursuit of her dreams.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Nedra Matteucci Galleries

For what seems to be a small gallery, this building and its gardens hold a vast collection of works.  As an art gallery,  specializing in 19th- and 20th-century American art, it feels like a museum of important works too.  With friendly, helpful staff to answer questions, this visit is an experience.  Be sure to take a stroll in the back garden as well.  It’s beautifully presented.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Gallery Gardens

Cathedral Basilica St Francis of Assisi

This Romanesque architectural wonder, built in 1886, is more than what is seems at first glance. I am not a religious person, but I’ve found myself inside of the cathedral every time I visit Santa Fe.  I admire not only the architecture, but also the art within.  Inside is an amazing display of Southwestern art and crafts, giving this cathedral a bright, welcoming, spiritual feeling. My lapsed Catholic partner was so moved by the interior that he donated money to help maintain this beautiful building!

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Cathedral

Old Fort Marcy Park

At the top of the hill, behind Canyon Road resides what’s left of Fort Marcy, built by the U.S. Army in 1846 to protect the American presence in Santa Fe.Sadly, only a few mounds of earth remain from where this historic military fort once stood. But, Santa Fe’s roots go much deeper than 1846, as evidenced by the timeline plaques that mark the path of the climb up from Canyon Rd.  For me, this was far more interesting.  Santa Fe is far older, and much richer in history, than I knew.

The place offers a nice lookout point over Santa Fe to the mountains beyond.  It’s a popular spot to watch the sunrise and sunset.  The sky views can be spectacular from here.

Sunset Fort Marcy

The Oldest House in the United States

An 800-year old Adobe house, considered the oldest dwelling in the United States,  was a site I had to check out for myself.  The claim is impressive, and a donation is requested to wander past the gift shop.  To say you’ve seen the oldest house in America is about all you get for your trouble.  There is not much to it. It’s more of a presentation of what life once was.

 

Oldest House in US

Windsor Trail, Santa Fe Ski Fields

The Windsor trail is only about a 20 minute drive from downtown Santa Fe.Located adjacent to the Ski Santa Fe recreation area, it’s a gorgeous hiking trail with dramatic elevation gain.

We spent a couple of hours walking this trail in early November, when the snow was ankle deep in places.  It is an amazing hike, winding thru miles of gorgeous pine and aspen.  It is at a high altitude (over 10,000 feet) so do take water, watch your heart-rate and take it slow.

We weren’t there for a strenuous hike. Just to enjoy the snow and be open to whatever we else we could see.  We watched people ski downhill on the slopes, their dogs following closely behind.  Little kids sledded down the hills, their parents yelling at them to be careful. And we saw a pair of mountain jays digging beneath the snow for something to eat.  We were surprised to see a few cows scrounging for grass beneath the snow near the parking lot.  As we drove back down the mountain, we were lucky enough to spot mule deer just off the side of the highway

Views from Windsor Trail
Snow Hyde Park

Taos

Taos is a place where you can walk around town, spending a few hours just being in the atmosphere.  The adobe buildings are delightful, but the murals painted on them are truly breathtaking.  I loved the ambiance of this place.

Taos –  Millicent Rogers Museum

A beautiful, personal collection of art, pottery, jewelry, and weavings representative of the area.

As their website states, “prehistoric pottery to contemporary jewelry, the MRM is the place to experience all the cultures of the Southwest and under one roof.”

And is very impressive collection indeed!  Cost of admission is $10 (adults) and worth every penny.  Open 10 am to 5 pm daily, although closed Mondays during November – March as well as on major public holidays. Check out the website for the latest details.

Don’t just take our word for it: Reviews

Taos –  Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Drive 10 miles (or 16km) north of Taos to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  Park on the north side for a safer spot to park.  From here, you can walk across the bridge, gazing roughly 600 feet below.  It can get pretty blowy, so on a windy day, hold on to your camera, hats etc… It’s a long, long, way down.  It gets a bit bouncy in the middle too, especially when trucks roar by.    The designers included viewing platforms in the middle to accommodate several people at once.  The views from here are spectacular, both to below, and 360 degrees across the plains.  This is the New Mexico desert at its best.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Taos Gorge

Where to Eat in Santa Fe and Taos

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

Blue corn enchiladas and homemade sopapillas.  Seriously, try the sopapillas.  Light, fresh and delicious. YUM. This is what New Mexico is about. And the margaritas aren’t too bad either.  With over 200+ types of Tequila on offer, it might take you longer to order a drink than it will your food.

I found this place on TripAdvisor, reported to be a local favourite.  The line out the door should have been telling.  I was not disappointed.  Since I’ve first visited, the restaurant has achieved quite a few accolades and is now considered a New Mexican institution.  I’ve visited twice now and have walked away happy every time.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

The Plaza Café

An icon situated on the Plaza square. The food is delicious, the service prompt and friendly.  And you can’t go wrong ordering the Posole, the Blue Corn Piñon pancakes or the Indian Taco. Dishes Santa Fe is renowned for.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Sage Bakehouse

A simple and straightforward place for breakfast, tucked away on Cerrillos Road.  Try the tartines, scrambled eggs on sourdough with avocado. (A must have for Aussies!) Pair the eggs with a delicious bread basket and you’ll be filled up for hours.  Their coffee is fantastic too –  another must for Aussies!

It is the #1 bakery in Santa Fe on Tripadvisor.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Brekky Sage

 Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

Another iconic Santa Fe institution.  Pick up some delicious cheese and deli items for an easy lunch in the park, plaza or in the mountains.  I sampled some beautiful cheeses before deciding on a wonderful bleu cheese and some bitey machego.  The staff here are knowledgeable and will explain the origin and flavor profile of each of the cheeses.  If you are a cheese lover, this is a must do.

Bent Street Deli & Cafe – Taos

When exploring, Taos has a great option for an easy lunch: The Bent Street Deli . Visiting during the lunch rush, I was a little unsure how busy it would be but was seated quickly, with a laugh and a smile.  It seemed like I had fallen into another local favorite.  I ordered the Tamales, which were out of this world!  Watching other diners faces after taking a bite, confirmed they were just as pleased with their food as I was.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

Where to Stay in Santa Fe (Budget to Luxury)

Budget

El Rey Inn

When I travelled through the U.S. with my daughter, I asked for recommendations for our journey. I received recommendations to stay at other great places in Santa Fe, but I went with this one because of the fantastic reviews, which didn’t let us down.  The place is centrally located, and designed in a retro, southwestern style.  The staff were friendly, professional, and extremely helpful (especially when we locked ourselves out of our room).  The rooms themselves were comfortable and large, and the hotel offers some really great amenities. My favourite was the outdoor pool, perfect for an afternoon break from sightseeing.

 

Don’t just take our word for it: Reviews 

Mid-Range

The Lodge at Santa Fe

Designed in a southwest motif, I loved the Lodge and found it to be a really comfortable hotel.  Snowbound in the bar/restaurant, I found delightful conversation with other guests as we waited out the weather.  The Lodge offers a free shuttle to the downtown area, so it’s easy to leave your car behind.  The Plaza is easy to walk around and the return shuttle was a welcome relief for my tired feet after exploring the wonders of Santa Fe.

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews 

The Lodge

Airbnb –  Fort Marcy Apartment

Staying in Santa Fe for a week, this condo was actually one of our favourite Airbnb stays of all time.  This two-bedroom unit provided a full kitchen for making meals and a superior view to the mountains.  The location is convenient to grocery stores including Sprouts, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Smiths and Albertsons.  It also had one of the best (and fastest!) washing machine and dryer I’ve ever experienced.  The king size bed provided for a fantastic night’s sleep after walking easily back and forth to the plaza.

 

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews 

 

(And here is a credit for your first Airbnb stay!)

Airbnb

Luxury

Inn of the Five Graces

Disclaimer:  I have not stayed at this hotel.  HOWEVER, I received recommendations from three people who absolutely raved about this place.  I have it on my list for future luxury stay!

Don’t just take my word for it: Reviews

FiveGraces

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3 days in Santa Fe | Travel Far Enough | Santa Fe and Taos are beautiful, calming and spiritual. Culture springs forth everywhere you turn. Here's your guide for 3 unforgettable days.

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