If you’re visiting Santa Fe, N.M., you likely know that it has adobe architecture and southwestern cuisine, but it also has an exciting modern side. You’ll find contemporary museums, farm-to-table cuisine and craft cocktails (don’t worry, you can still get a great margarita!)
Read on to learn about all the best things – both traditional and contemporary – to do while visiting Santa Fe.
Where to stay in Santa Fe, N.M.
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado
A few miles from downtown Santa Fe, in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, is this stunning property with 65 rooms (with adobe-style fireplaces), the Terra Restaurant (using ingredients from its on-site organic garden), a holistic spa and an outdoor fire pit for a front row seat to the nightly sunset. The new Adventure Center offers trips to O’Keeffe Country and hiking/biking excursions.
Drury Plaza Hotel
One of Santa Fe’s newest hotels, this full-service property is centrally located downtown adjacent to the 19th century St. Francis Cathedral and has a total of 182 rooms (many with balconies). The restaurant Eloisa is from John Riviera Sedlar with a southwestern/Latin fusion menu. There’s also a rooftop pool and bar with Sangre de Cristo views.
Hotel Santa Fe, the Hacienda & Spa
Santa Fe’s only Native American-owned hotel, this pueblo-style property is just steps from the Railyard Arts District. In addition, the main building has 182 rooms and a lobby done up with Native American artwork and wood-beamed ceilings and a beautiful fireplace. The Hacienda is a secluded wing with 35 luxury rooms and suites, the spa and butler services.
To book and save on these and other hotels with AAA, visit AAA.com/Hotels.
Museums and art in Santa Fe, N.M.
This minimalist art space, in a former beer distribution warehouse, features large-scale installations and contemporary exhibits. A major expansion from New York’s SHoP Architects is expected to open next year. It is located in Santa Fe’s Railyard Arts District (RAD), where you’ll also find modern art and design shops in modern buildings.
If you’re a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe, who spent the last years of her life living and working in New Mexico, this is a must-visit museum. Housed in an adobe building in the historic district, you’ll find many of the American modernist’s flower and landscape paintings. There is also an excellent gift shop with coffee table books and southwestern jewelry.
Santa Fe’s mile-long stretch of Canyon Road is lined with all manner of art galleries, many in historic adobe structures with charming gardens. Stroll the street to see everything from southwestern paintings and prints to Native American sculptures and multi-media installations. There are also craft shops and cafes along the route.
Meow Wolf is a multi-use art complex in an old bowling alley which just opened last month (Game of Thrones writer and Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin is heavily involved with the project). It will offer gallery space, a coffee shop and a permanent art installation—the fantasy-based House of Eternal Return, which has been likened to being inside a sci-fi novel.
Dining in Santa Fe, N.M.
Housed in a super modern industrial-chic building, Modern General is a hybrid café serving organic breakfasts and healthy smoothies and a general store selling kitchen items, cookbooks, garden tools, etc. The owner, Erin Wade, has also opened Vinaigrette, a farm-to-table salad shop with ingredients from her own farm.
The cuisine from executive chef Gaspar de Alba is farm-inspired with a southern twist, with selections like fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, scallop ceviche with jalapeno oil and mesquite-grilled ribeye with chimichurri. The restaurant also bills itself as a bourbon bar with more than 50 varieties including locally made Santa Fe Silver Cayote.
This popular Santa Fe restaurant is housed in an elegant adobe building on Canyon Road and serves contemporary American cuisine. Charred octopus and braised lamb shank are some of the dishes you might find on James Beard Award-winning chef Mark Kiffin’s menu. Sample some of the signature cocktails including a blood orange margarita.
If it’s traditional southwestern food you crave while visiting Santa Fe, you can do no better than this institution. Start off with frozen margaritas and some chips and guacamole, followed by classic dishes like enchiladas (with your choice of red or green chiles) or chile rellenos or quesadillas, along with the utterly addictive sopapillas served with local honey.
Located on the historic Old Santa Fe Trail, this Provencal French eatery incorporates local ingredients into its Provencal-style dishes, which include house-made charcuterie with pickles and mustard and roasted ratatouille with creamy polenta. It also has an excellent wine selection with labels from all over France as well as Spain and South Africa.
Bars and breweries in Santa Fe, N.M.
The Agave Lounge is a surprisingly chic cocktail lounge within the recently restored El Dorado Hotel & Spa, a traditional adobe-style hotel near the Plaza. In addition to specialty cocktails (the margarita list is quite impressive!), tequila flights and a large wines-by-the-glass program, there is also a menu of shared plates (steak tacos, artichoke dip).
This boutique distillery from owner Colin Keegan produces small batch whisky, gin and apple brandy. The main distillery is located about seven miles from downtown Santa Fe but there’s also an intimate tasting room on Read Street (just a few blocks from the Plaza) where you can you can sample the artisan spirits neat or blended into craft cocktails.
The first craft brewery in New Mexico (it’s a ten minute drive out of town) recently completed an expansion and offers tours (on Saturdays) and daily tastings. You can sit in the bar room or outside at one of the picnic tables with flights of beers including the popular Happy Camper IPA and Java Stout.
Do you have any southwestern recommendations? Share them with us in the comments!
Contact a AAA travel counselor to start planning your Santa Fe, N.M. vacation today.