Santa Fe Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- It's the Oldest Capital in America The self-proclaimed "Oldest Capital in the U.S." celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010. The history here is very impressive and frequently overlooked.
- It's the Highest Capital in America At 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is elevated well above other state capitals. Note: Altitude sickness can be an issue. Take time to adjust.
- Reservations Surround the Capital These aren't the type of reservations that you call ahead for. New Mexico's American Indian reservations might sound intriguing, but there is not much to see or to do.
Chop up one history lesson -- one part Mexican, one part American -- pour in a large cup of artistic talent, then stir in some spicy chile peppers and whisk it all together in a mixing bowl, and let your creation bake for 400 years. What have you just made? Most likely, something similar to the delectable city of Santa Fe. With a culture based on a variety of unusual ingredients, including Gothic cathedrals, a love for the great outdoors, chili-infused cuisine and a profound emphasis on the arts, this truly is the "City Different." This town also preserves a historic feel -- with Spanish-influenced architecture and buildings that date back to the 16th century -- still, the main reason people visit is for its art. The works artists like Georgia O' Keeffe, Peter Hurd and Miro Kenarov fill the galleries, works that were largely inspired by the city's dramatic, evolving landscape. Anytime you visit Santa Fe, you can find many of these renowned pieces along gallery-lined Canyon Road. For a taste of up-and-coming talent, swing by one of the artisan markets or one of the many craft festivals that the city hosts.
The same landscapes that spoke to O'Keeffe also call to adventurous types. Active travelers hike the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and test the powder at Ski Santa Fe. Need a way to round out your day? Santa Fe is also a great place to taste something different: Take your pick of one of the gourmet establishments clustered downtown.
How To Save Money in Santa Fe
- Look for collectors' items Unless you are looking to drop some serious cash on artwork along Canyon Road, you might be a little disappointed by the kitschy souvenirs that are in your budget. For a truly memorable (and reasonably priced) keepsake, try the artisan markets.
- Avoid seasonal traffic Surprisingly, the biggest force in Santa Fe's tourism industry is not the weather. It's the festivals that determine peak seasons and, therefore, affect the hotel rates. Steer clear of them if you want a cheaper deal.
- Consider other extended stay options If you are staying for a weeklong festival, it might make fiscal sense to rent a small house or apartment, especially in summer when hotel rooms are scarce.
Santa Fe Culture & Customs
Home to pueblo-style architecture, 17th-century churches and myriad art galleries, Santa Fe is a feast for the eyes. If you're looking for party central, this isn't it. Santa Fe and its residents are sophisticated, taking pleasure in gallery window shopping and operatic evenings out.
But don't mistake Santa Feans for being snooty or stand-offish. Because of the city's size, Santa Fe exudes a small-town charm, complete with friendly residents. Don't be afraid to ask for directions -- the crooked streets can be confusing -- or engage in conversation. Dress is casual too, but make sure to bring light layers for sudden temperature changes, which are prone to occur.
Santa Fe Dining
Santa Fe's restaurant scene is incredibly competitive and you're likely guaranteed a great meal no matter where you eat. The city offers a wide variety of international cuisine, but traditional Santa Fe fare is not to be missed. Be prepared to embrace the spicy nature of this city's favorite food and drink, which include pork burritos, chowders and wine margaritas. Brave gourmands flock to New Mexico to try the state's red and green chiles, which are a staple feature in Santa Fe fare.
If you're not a fan of spicy food, Santa Fe boasts a large number of international restaurants, serving everything from French to Indian favorites. Fusion eateries are also popular; recent visitors highly recommend Kohnami on South Guadalupe Street, which serves a mixture of Japanese and Korean food.
Several famous chefs have opened top-notch (and slightly pricey) restaurants in the downtown area, such as Eric DiStefano's restaurant, Geronimo, on Canyon Road. Many of the restaurants favored by visitors and residents alike are located on the outskirts of town on Old Las Vegas Highway.