Bandelier National Monument#10 in Best Things To Do in Santa Fe
For centuries before the United States declared independence, the Southwest was divided into a number of city-states governed by Native Americans. At the Bandelier National Monument, visitors can explore the remnants of one of these settlements. At the base of Frijoles Canyon are a collection of ancient cave dwellings and other stone structures belonging to ancestors of the Pueblo people. You can explore the settlement by following the paved trail through the village and climbing the wooden ladders into the caves themselves. After visiting the monument, take advantage of the surrounding park, complete with more than 30,000 acres of backcountry wilderness, wildlife and more than 70 miles of hiking trails. Travelers say that while it's a bit of a trek to get here from downtown Santa Fe, it's worth it if you're looking to enjoy the outdoors and go exploring. Families with children said their kids loved it, since they can climb up the ladders and check out the cave dwellings. Prepare yourself for exploration by bringing plenty of water and wearing proper hiking shoes.
Located about 40 miles northwest of Santa Fe proper, the Bandelier National Monument is open every day from dawn to dusk. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Between mid-May and mid-October, visitors are required to take a shuttle bus from the White Rock visitor center to access the main visited area of Bandelier National Monument between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., including the visitor center, Main Loop Trail and Falls Trail. Shuttles run approximately every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends. The last shuttle leaves the Frijoles Canyon Visitor Center at 5 p.m. One downside for recent visitors is the wait for the shuttle during peak times, which they say detracts from the experience. Reviewers advise going at less popular times.
A seven-day pass (which includes an automobile permit) costs $25 per car. For more information about tours, activities and free park days, visit the Bandelier National Monument website.
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#1 Canyon Road
If there's any doubt that Santa Fe is a prime destination for art lovers, Canyon Road quashes it. Situated just east of 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 area is touted as an art lover's mecca because of the variety of mediums used to highlight art. Pop into the different galleries (there are more than 100) along the street and you'll find everything from jewelry and pottery to sculptures and paintings. 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, art installations are often showcased outside and the spicy odor of chile peppers wafts from the doorways of top-notch eateries like Geronimo Restaurant and Compound Restaurant.
Recent visitors said the best way to experience this arts district is simply by strolling down the street, adding that it's a wonderful way to experience art without being stuck indoors or inside a single museum. Travelers were impressed with everything from the variety of art to the pueblo architecture and said there are ample opportunities to snap photos of this vibrant site.
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