Things to do in Santa Fe
If there's any doubt that Santa Fe is a prime destination for art lovers, Canyon Road trumps it. Stretching eastward from the Santa Fe Plaza, Canyon Road is home to a slew of art galleries selling renowned artwork from famed artists such as Fernando Botero and cultural treasures like hand-woven Navajo rugs and Southwestern wood carvings. The street itself is also a feast for the eyes: many of the galleries found here are housed in historic adobe buildings laced with brilliantly-colored flowers, and the spicy odor of chili peppers oozes from the doorways of top-notch eateries like Geronimo Restaurant and Compound Restaurant. If you're not sure where to start, tag along on a walking tour of Canyon Road's attractions
Santa Fe Plaza
Since the city's founding in 1610, the Santa Fe Plaza has been its cultural hub, hosting bullfights and fandangos Today, flanked by numerous ancient buildings like the San Miguel Mission and the Palace of the Governors, the Plaza continues to be the epicenter of Santa Fean affairs, from live music to September's Santa Fe Fiesta. Any night of the week, the plaza is buzzing with activity for you and yours, from restaurants, to galleries and souvenir shops. Save a little money to do some trinket shopping while here: Santa Fe Plaza is riddled with vendors selling authentic Native American crafts.
Having moved from the East Coast, Georgia O'Keeffe was inspired by Santa Fe's blazing landscape, and soon her portrayals of New Mexico earned her a reputation as one of the top Southwestern artists. Even those with just a minor love of art should stop by this museum, housed within a former adobe Baptist church and featuring the largest O'Keeffe collection in the world: more than 1,000 drawings, paintings and sculptures (including Jimson Weed andFrom the Plains) as well as another 2,000 works by her peers.
Palace of the Governors
Constructed in 1610, the Palace of the Governors was the original capitol of New Mexico. It was the site of the only successful Native American uprising, which took place in 1680, and it has been in public use longer than any other structure in the country. Today, the Palace of the Governors showcases 400 years of the state's history (officially as part of the New Mexico History Museum) with the help of such artifacts as a stagecoach dating back to the days of the Santa Fe Trail and an altarpiece made in 1830 for a church in Taos. You can also peruse exhibits on Native American life and culture; visitors are invited to check out ancient storage pits that necessary food items like corn and barley were once stored. Outside, Native American craftsmen sell handmade souvenirs.
Santa Fe Farmers Market
No matter your reason for visiting Santa Fe -- whether it be to see the art or ski the slopes -- set aside some time to check out the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Open throughout the year, you'll find dozens of vendors selling everything from locally grown produce, flowers, cheeses, cider and tongue-numbing green chile salsa. There is also a snack bar selling coffee and other local treats.
Museum of International Folk Art
Of all the museums that make up the New Mexico History Museum group, this one is probably the most unique. Southwestern art is definitely represented, but the Museum of International Folk Art also showcases more than 100,000 objects and has interesting displays representing daily life in societies all over the globe.
St. Francis Cathedral
Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing
If you're an architecture buff, take some time to check out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Located a block east of the Santa Fe Plaza, this breathtaking Romanesque cathedral stands out among the city's adobe skyline. Constructed in 1869, the cathedral's main purpose was to help bring Catholicism to the Southwest. Sitting next to the cathedral is the small adobe chapel -- all that remains of a previous church that was destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Rebellion -- which contains the oldest representation of the Madonna in the United States. If you're planning a summer trip to Santa Fe, make sure to stop by the cathedral during June and July's annual Feast of Corpus Christi.
La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site
New Mexico's American Indian heritage is strong. Many visitors ask about visiting a pueblo while in Santa Fe. Visit one of the ancestral pueblos, abandoned for centuries, or a site where you can view petroglyphs. These messages carved on rocks by indigenous people long ago were rich with meaning: a kind of ancient graffiti that conveyed messages. One of the most accessible and prolific sites is the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site about 20 minutes southwest of the Plaza. They've recorded over 5,000 glyphs in this area. Look for a gravel parking lot identified by a small BLM (Bureau of Land Management) sign. Most of the petroglyphs are located at the top on the edge of the escarpment, though you'll pass some on the way up. These are archeological treasures. Don't climb on the rocks or write on them. Don't take any souvenirs from the site -- just look and marvel. (505-954-2000)