Santa Fe Uncovered: A Culinary and Cultural Guide to New Mexico's Artistic Heart

Travel Advisor Gillian Spatz in a purple dress outside house with green walls.
Curated By

Gillian Spatz

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  • Santa Fe

  • New Mexico

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Local food

  • Foodie

  • Entertainment

Old-West style streets leading up to an ornate Spanish Cathedral in the heart of Downtown Santa Fe (Photo by Nick Castelli)
Curator’s statement

As a traveler, I find Santa Fe uniquely captivating for its rich blend of culture, art and history. The city's vibrant blend of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo influences is evident in its architecture, cuisine and festivals. With all of these combined, Santa Fe offers a deeply immersive cultural experience. From the myriad galleries on Canyon Road, to the renowned Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe's art scene is a haven for art enthusiasts like myself. Additionally, its stunning natural landscape, with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop, provides a serene escape, making it a perfect blend of cultural richness and natural beauty.

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Where to stay

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Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

Design-forward ranch with lavish suites perfect for a romantic staycation.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

Located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, Rosewood Inn celebrates the creative spirit and traditions of the region, offering travelers a modern take on Pueblo life.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Bishop's Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection

A soulful and luxurious new addition from Auberge bordering Santa Fe National Forest, with a village-like layout, centerpiece restaurant and mix of suites and standalone casitas.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Travel Advisor Gillian Spatz in a purple dress outside house with green walls.

Unlock perks by contacting Gillian to book your trip.

Things to do

A landscape at sunrise.

City Walking Tour

As an introduction to Santa Fe, take a walking tour of the city. As you embark on this tour, you'll discover Santa Fe's origins as a Spanish colony in 1610. Immerse yourself in its historic architecture, charming streets, delectable cuisine and flourishing art scene by foot. The city serves as a crossroads of Native American, Spanish, Mexican and American influences. You'll learn about its Catholic heritage, including the iconic San Miguel, the oldest church in the United States. Along the way, you'll also hear about a hidden location linked to the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II. The tour culminates near Santa Fe Plaza, where you can explore lively bars and restaurants at your leisure.

Santa Fe Opera

Known for high-end productions, the Santa Fe Opera is a top attraction. It offers an opportunity to experience splendid performances like "The Barber of Seville" and "Tristan und Isolde." A unique aspect of the Santa Fe Opera is the classy tailgating experience before shows.

Canyon Road Arts

A paradise for art lovers, featuring numerous galleries, restaurants and shops. The adobe-constructed buildings add to its charm. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in the city's artistic culture without any entry cost.

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

This museum, combined with the Laboratory of Anthropology, showcases the unique customs and traditions of Native American tribes with roots in New Mexico. It focuses on the artifacts and ways of life of these tribes, emphasizing their enduring strength and cultural identity.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

A striking church with a rich history. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi features riveting architecture, high towers and historical artifacts such as the 17th-century statue of Our Lady La Conquistadora. It's a place that offers an emotionally rich sightseeing experience, regardless of religious affiliation.

Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA)

This museum is another testament to Santa Fe's rich Native American heritage. It offers a deep dive into contemporary Native art, providing insight into the modern expressions and perspectives of Native American communities.

New Mexico Museum of Art

The New Mexico Museum of Art was established in 1917 and is located near Santa Fe Plaza. In a Pueblo-Revival building that embodies New Mexico's rich cultural heritage, it showcases over 20,000 works of American and European art. The collection is particularly from Southwestern artists.

FaraHNHeight Fine Art

FaraHNHeight Fine Art is a gallery specializing in contemporary art from both rising and prominent Native American, First Nations and Indigenous artists of the Americas. Periodic displays of modern Southwestern works by non-Indigenous artists will be available for viewing also.

The Indigenous Art Fair Contemporary

The Indigenous Art Fair Contemporary is set to debut in August 2024, marking the inaugural art fair solely dedicated to Contemporary Indigenous Artists from North America. This event will bring together 30 to 40 carefully curated galleries, each presenting the forefront avant garde artists from their individual programs.

SWAIA Indigenous Fashion Show

The SWAIA Indigenous Fashion shows, initiated at Santa Fe Cathedral Park during the 2014 SWAIA Market, are designed to showcase the talent of Indigenous designers across North America. In response to their growing popularity, SWAIA is expanding this platform into a dedicated fashion week.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, established in 1997, offers an immersive experience of the artist's life and works through curated galleries. Featured art from every era of her career and personal belongings, along with self-guided audio tours that highlight her contributions to American modernism.

Day Trips:

An easy and enjoyable day trip from Santa Fe is a visit to the historic village of Chimayo. It's a scenic 29-mile drive from Santa Fe, taking about 45 minutes. Chimayo is known for the Santuario de Chimayo, an important Catholic pilgrimage center and a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can also explore the town's arts and crafts heritage, particularly at Ortega’s Weaving Shop.

Other options include:

Jemez Spring: Reachable in under two hours, this village is known for its scenic high-altitude prairies and offers a tranquil escape from the city.

High Road to Taos: This scenic drive through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains offers breathtaking landscapes and access to several interesting destinations, including the Abiquiú home and studio of Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as the dramatic landscapes of Ghost Ranch and Bandelier National Monument.

Ghost Ranch: About an hour's drive from Santa Fe, Ghost Ranch offers a 21,000-acre retreat that was once the home and studio of Georgia O'Keeffe. The area is known for its unique landscapes and rich artistic history.

Each of these destinations provides a unique experience, showcasing the natural beauty and cultural richness of the region around Santa Fe.

Places to eat & drink

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Santa Fe Brewing Company: Established in 1988, it holds the distinction of being the state's first craft brewery and has grown to become the largest brewery in New Mexico.

Arroyo Vino Restaurant and Wine Shop: Celebrated for its contemporary American cuisine and fine wines, offering a dynamic seasonal menu and an extensive collection of over 900 curated wines.

Maria's New Mexican Kitchen: Renowned since 1950, Maria's offers authentic New Mexican cuisine and acclaimed margaritas, emphasizing locally sourced ingredients in a casual dining atmosphere.

Dr. Field Goods: Crafted by Chef Josh Gerwin, it features New Mexico's finest ingredients from small family farms, blending comfort food with South American, European, and Asian flavors to deliver exceptional New Mexico fusion cuisine.

Paloma Santa Fe: A lively restaurant offering fresh, authentic Mexican dishes made with sustainably sourced ingredients, complemented by an agave-focused bar. Featuring an extensive selection of freshly-made cocktails and a variety of mezcal, tequila, sotol, and other agave spirits.

Zacatlán Restaurant: Situated near Santa Fe Plaza, it aims to preserve traditional flavors while introducing a novel fusion of Southwestern and Mexican influences, offering a unique culinary experience.

Sazón: Led by Chef Fernando Olea, a James Beard Award Winner, Sazón offers a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Mexican dishes, featuring a select menu of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and specializing in the rich, complex flavors of mole.

La Boca: Led by Chef James Campbell Caruso, a James Beard Award nominee, La Boca offers modern Spanish and Mediterranean tapas in a unique, intimate setting, renowned for its seasonally changing menus.

Palacio Restaurant: Celebrated for its homemade Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, such as pancakes, burritos and chili rellenos, known for its warm service and relaxing atmosphere.

Geronimo: Located in the historic 1756 "Borrego House," Geronimo offers a globally eclectic, seasonally changing menu by Executive Chef Sllin Cruz in an inviting setting with adobe walls and kiva fireplaces.

Need to Know

For more travel inspiration check out Fora Advisor Ashtin Robison's guide, An Enchanted Land: A Santa Fe Travel Guide.

Travel Advisor Gillian Spatz in a purple dress outside house with green walls.

Travel Advisor

Gillian Spatz

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New Mexico.