The desert has always been a home for outdoor adventure, influential artistry, and mouthwatering cuisine, but there’s one city that has it down to a specialty. New Mexico’s capital city, Santa Fe, is the United States’ second-oldest city, boasting a melting pot of American Indian and Spanish culture. On your visit to Santa Fe, you can take in stunning pueblo architecture at the Palace of the Governors, enjoy convenient access to the Santa Fe National Forest and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, or laze under 325 days of annual sunshine.
We asked our team at Vacasa for their must-see spots to relax, eat, and play when vacationing in Santa Fe. Here are our recommendations for where to eat and stay, what to see, and even fun things to do with kids. Book your stay, pack your bags, and get ready to relax—we’ve got your Santa Fe travel plans on lock.
Rise and shine in the morning with breakfast at Iconik Coffee Roasters, with a hip, welcoming vibe and a delicious horchata latte to start your day. By the afternoon, swing by Canyon Road for a pick-me-up drink at El Farol, a famously historic bar offering tapas and entertainment including live music and flamenco dancers. As the sun sets in the desert, it’s time to grab dinner at La Choza, where you can enjoy flavorful authentic New Mexican cuisine, like Chili Relleno and sopapillas.
Some of the best ways to experience Santa Fe are through its outdoor activities, including hitting the slopes of Ski Santa Fe in the winter or indulging in Spence Hot Springs’ soothing waters and scenic views. Santa Fe’s rich history is inseparable from its tradition of art and craftsmanship, so don’t miss must-see stops like the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture to better understand the area’s cultural landscape and admire masterpiece after masterpiece. Music and architectural buffs will delight in sightseeing the city’s landmarks, such as the Loretto Chapel and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, or even catching a show at the renowned Santa Fe Opera House.
There are plenty of things to do with kids in Santa Fe, including touring the one-of-a-kind Meow Wolf’s explorable art experience, which features rotating exhibits of immersive light shows, unique immersive multimedia art, and music festivals. Take your little ones back in time with a day at the living museum, El Rancho de las Golondrinas, where they’re sure to love the water mill, ranch animals, and festivals with live dance performances. Santa Fe Plaza is the gathering place of the city, where visitors can scope out art and trinkets from vendors for a souvenir, and the Santa Fe Farmers Market makes a great family-friendly activity to feel the hum of the city and pick up tasty treats.
Whether hitting the slopes or exploring downtown, the fun all begins with a Santa Fe vacation rental. Here, you’ll find stunning adobe or ranch-style homes and condos, abundant with Old World charm and room for your crew. Search by amenities like fireplaces, balconies, and mountain views to find a perfect home base for your trip away.
Kids of all ages will love Meow Wolf’s one-of-a-kind explorable art experience, with immersive light shows, multimedia exhibits, and music festivals. El Rancho de las Golondrinas offers a chance for kids to go back in time to New Mexico’s ranching roots through its living museum. In town, the Santa Fe Farmers Market is a great family-friendly outdoor spot where kids can see artist and vendor stands, pick up a souvenir, and get their energy out.
Santa Fe is known for its history in arts and crafts, so don’t miss out on stops like the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, and the Santa Fe Plaza to take in the city’s modern thriving art community. If you’re looking for adventure, make sure to explore Ski Santa Fe, the Sangre Cristo Mountains, and Santa Fe National Forest. The city has so many architectural treasures to enjoy as well, including the Loretto Chapel, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Frances of Assisi, and the Santa Fe Opera House.
With Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos only 45 minutes away from Santa Fe, it’s worth spending a day exploring the area’s rich history and preserved archeology sites of Ancestral Puebloans. For more fun outdoors, take the two-hour trip to Jemez Springs to soak in healing natural hot springs, enjoy surrounding waterfalls, or indulge in a spa day. Taos and Angel Fire make great day trips to take in the scene on and off the slopes, as well as tour world-photographed historic churches and peruse local shops.