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Free Things To Do in Santa Fe
- #1View all PhotosfreeCanyon Road#1 in Santa Fe0.8 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
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.
- #2View all PhotosfreeSanta Fe Plaza#2 in Santa FeFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Since the city's founding in 1610, the Santa Fe Plaza has been its cultural hub, hosting bullfights and fandangos. Today, surrounded 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. The plaza, which is a National Historic Landmark, hosts Indian and Spanish markets regularly, in addition to concerts and community gatherings. Any night of the week, the plaza is buzzing with activity with people enjoying restaurants, perusing galleries and checking out souvenir shops. Save a little money to do some trinket shopping while here: Santa Fe Plaza is full of vendors selling authentic Native American crafts, but be wary of the inflated prices.
Visitors say you have to make a point to stop by the Santa Fe Plaza to experience the lively atmosphere, noting that there always seems to be something going on, whether it's a parade, a market or a festival. Recent travelers also suggested taking time to browse the various shops around the plaza, but do warn things seemed a little overpriced. Others said it serves as a great jumping off point for exploring Santa Fe's top attractions, many of which spool out from the plaza.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Santa Fe0.6 miles to city centerFree, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerFree, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
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 and cheeses to cider and tongue-numbing green chile salsa. There is also a snack bar selling coffee and other local treats.
Recent visitors were supremely impressed by this farmers market, especially with the variety of fresh produce and the stimulation of the senses (from colorful veggies and fruits to the aromas of fresh flowers and spices). Others said the market provides a great place to shop for souvenirs, such as jams and salsas. The only downside, according to some travelers, was that the venue was packed with people; many suggested getting there early to avoid the crowds.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Santa Fe0.2 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
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 beginning 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 Revolt – which contains the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.
This historical church receives plenty of praise from travelers and Santa Fe residents alike, with many suggesting that you visit in the evening when the sun is setting to see it cast a golden glow on the exterior of the structure. Visitors said you should stroll through the inside, take in the beautiful stained-glass windows and try to find a docent to help explain some of the history of the church. Tours are usually available when services are not being held.
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