Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum

#5 in Best Things To Do in Santa Fe
Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum picture
ivanastar/Getty Images

Key Info

105 W. Palace Ave.

Price & Hours

$12 for adults; free for kids 16 and younger
Hours vary, see website for details

Details

Museums, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Constructed in 1610, the Palace of the Governors was the original capitol of New Mexico. The adobe structure 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 National Historic Landmark 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. The palace has been closed for renovations since early 2019, so plan to check the website before you visit to ensure it's open.

Outside, Native American craftspeople sell handmade souvenirs, jewelry and more. Meanwhile, the New Mexico History Museum (situated behind the Palace of the Governors) features a variety of exhibits showcasing the Land of Enchantment's fascinating past. Displays include artifacts from Native American history, the Spanish Colonial period and the Mexican period. You can learn about the renowned Santa Fe Trail (the 19th-century transportation route connecting Missouri to Santa Fe) and the Museum of New Mexico Press.

Recent travelers said they gleaned a great deal of knowledge from visiting this site, noting that not only did the guides offer insights into the building's past and New Mexico's history but the vendors also educated them on the different crafts and wares for sale (and weren't too pushy, either).

Sitting on the Santa Fe Plaza, the Palace of the Governors and New Mexico Museum of History are both open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (and on Mondays in the summertime). Admission is $12 for out-of-state visitors and $7 for New Mexico residents, and children 16 and younger can enter for free. What's more, free docent-led tours are available daily. The Palace of the Governors also offers a downtown walking tour from April through October for $12. For more information on tours, schedules and more, visit the 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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