What can I say, Santa Fe was a welcomed surprise! If you can make it, even for the day, you are so lucky to see the great mix of culture, history, food, and views. Santa Fe really exceeded my expectations. While I only stayed for a day, I truly will return after my stay in Old Town Santa Fe.
As I planned my trip to the West, one place along the way that I just had to see was Santa Fe. It is not far off the Interstate and the last time I explored New Mexico I was 12. Santa Fe and nearby Albuquerque was on my radar and after reading this guide I hope it is on yours! After checking out Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 we darted over to Santa Fe. We only had 24 hours to in Santa Fe, but the place truly had a draw that made me want to never leave.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership/collaboration with Eldorado Hotel and Spa and Heritage Hotels. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase or booking, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.Travels of Sarah Fay is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites at no cost to you.
Indulge in “The City Different”
Santa Fe’s magical sparkle makes this place stand out from most; no wonder they call Santa Fe “The City Different” where tweaks of Spanish and Native American cultures meet the Wild West. The old town founded from 1607-1610 is so cute with restaurants, boutiques, cafes, churches. Similar to other Spanish towns, it has a town plaza that is centrally located and close from where we stayed at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa. Santa Fe is a welcomed different pace in terms of adventure in the Southwestern United States as opposed to adventure capitals like Page, Arizona.
Visit Art Galleries and Museums
It’s also developed a reputation as an artsy community, with many galleries and installations and recognized as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Networks since 2005, where you can see some unique art finds. A must see are the Canyon Road Galleries, with over 80 galleries to choose from, it’s quite unique for a good walk or drive. While I did not get to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum its anther great place to visit, I did get to go to the new art collective, Meow Wolf. It was wildly popular and a must see.
One of the major draws for those visiting Santa Fe is shopping in the many art galleries, but I found it just as relaxing strolling through them window shopping on Canyon Road. Whether you want to take a self guided tour or guided Canyon Road Art tour it is worth spending time in this part of Santa Fe.
Experience the Mind Bending Meow Wolf
When you come to Santa Fe, New Mexico you cannot miss Meow Wolf, this crazy art installation started by an artist collective offers a mysterious maze for visitors to explore the House of Eternal Return. Throughout the 70 rooms of this house you will find mind-bending experiences, such as crawling through a fireplace that brings you to another alternate reality or walking through a fridge to go into a closet. As you roam through Meow Wolf, try and solve the mystery of what happened to the family that lived in the House of Eternal Return. This is a fun rainy day activity and will keep you on your toes.
Reserve the passes in advance online because it is popular. Also, you can visit the new Meow Wolf in Denver, and Meow Wolf Megamart in Las Vegas.
Explore Historic Old Town Santa Fe
Staying in the old town area with all the Spanish/Pueblo stucco businesses and homes is quite unique. It makes it feel like a small town, while Santa Fe is actually the 4th largest city in the state. Another interesting feature is the religious influence with the nearby Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis Assisi and the Loretto Chapel; both are historic and great to visit and all is within walking distance from our hotel.
Loretto Chapel is a former Roman Catholic church started by the Loretto Nuns and now servicing as a museum and wedding chapel. There is a well-known spiral staircase that connects the chapel to the choir loft with a mystery man that constructed it in the 1870s after the church architect died and the nuns prayed to get it finished, then he disappeared. Many go to see the cute chapel that is located a short distance from the Basilica. Old Town Santa Fe has charming shops, unique hotels, and some of the best food in the city. Getting around Old Town Santa Fe is also easy since it is very well contained to a few blocks that have little alleys and offshoots that may lead you to an unexpected adventure. A great way to explore the city is by a historical walking tour or food tour.
Where to Stay in Santa Fe New Mexico
While there are many great choices, we were fortunate to stay at the impressive Eldorado Hotel and Spa (owned by Heritage Hotels and Resorts). It is located right in the old town center. Our suite was so stylish with a sitting area, 2 closets and bathrooms, and a large balcony with seating overlooking the pool. The pool is on the second floor and you have views of the town and mountains in the distance.
While I was only here for a day it was a perfect place to cool off during the hottest part of the day. It was quite impressive as was the staff, including Connor at the front desk who seemed to always make sure his guests were taken care of. The hotel had other amenities including a restaurant, bar, lounge area, and spa. If you are lucky to get there on a Saturday they also offered a free yoga class on the outside deck near the pool.On Saturdays the hotel has free yoga.
There are other hotels and properties in the area at various price ranges, including others by Heritage Hotels. However, the Eldorado Hotel and Spa, offered the best location, view and staff making this stay extra special. I can’t wait to return one day since we were only there for a night, but it left an impression and has a special place in my heart.
Where to Eat In Santa Fe, New Mexico
Foodies: Santa Fe offers a variety of cafes, restaurants, making it not only a cultural destination, but also a foodie haven. There were so many food options, including a great selection at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa. The hotel created a social environment at the Paxton’s Taproom, a more relaxed vibe at CAVA Santa Fe with entertainment on the weekends, and Agave Restaurant and Lounge for breakfast and dinner. Since I was only there for one day and wanted to explore the city, I chose to eat out and sightsee in Santa Fe. The manager recommended visiting the popular Tia Sophia, a great Mexican restaurant serving regional favorites, to have brunch. This was right down the main street from the hotel. It was fantastic!
We had the Breakfast Burrito “Christmas” style. Christmas style means you want both red and green chili, the hot and not so hot sauce. It was great. The Blue Corn Pancakes is another great option. This is where you go for local flavors, and a unique experience eating in the historic center of Santa Fe for a reasonable price. It was a friendly staff with fast service and we enjoyed our fast fill up before walking the town. There were various places throughout the old town to eat, so you can’t go wrong.
Looking for great coffee?
A good day starts with a cup of coffee and the geniuses behind Iconik Coffee Roasters will leave you satisfied with your caffeine fix. Iconik Coffee Roasters provide a lot of coffee to local shops even in Albuquerque so if you miss it in Santa Fe try it there!
Henry and the Fish was located only a 3 minute walk from the Eldorado Hotel and Spa. So when my Keurig machine in the room wasn’t cutting it I went for a latte here. The shop is small, but the colorful outdoor tables and the shop located right on main street is the perfect stop before exploring the museums, shops, and churches of Old Town Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Best Time To Visit Santa Fe
The best time to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico would depend on the activities you would like to do. If you want to explore museums, eat at restaurants, and go shopping in Santa Fe the heat of the summer may not bother you. However, if you want the best time to visit Santa Fe for hiking and outdoor activities I would say Spring or Fall for the milder temperatures. In the summer it reaches almost 100 degrees during the day, with cooler temperatures at night due to elevation.
Whose ready to explore Old Town Santa Fe for the day?
In summary, our one-day trip to Old Town Santa Fe was so great and its already calling me back. You must visit if you are in the area or close to Albuquerque, if only for the day, but I recommend a longer stay. Santa Fe has such a great Spanish/Pueblo artsy vibe and such a rich history. Keep in mind the city is the State capital (and the highest US State Capital) and is rather high in elevation (7,000 ft) in the foothills of the southern part of the Rocky Mountains so check the weather when you go in the event it’s cooler in the evening. Being August, it was pretty hot so you may want to consider the time of year you visit. Any time of year you can’t go wrong. Now off to Albuquerque, only 64 miles away, to explore more of New Mexico.
(Another option is Taos, NM an artsy community also only 74 miles away is an option and popular with skiers for the winter months, but that is for a future trip.