Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a vibrant artistic and cultural destination with no shortage of things to do. Known as the oldest capital city in the United States, Santa Fe boasts a rich history and spectacular architecture that blends Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences.
From world-class museums and galleries that showcase Santa Fe’s thriving art scene to delicious Southwestern cuisine and exciting outdoor adventures, there are endless possibilities for making memories during your visit.
The best way to experience the heart and soul of Santa Fe is simply to take a stroll downtown and absorb the colorful adobe buildings, shop for artisan crafts at the Plaza, and chat with the locals.
With its beautiful mountain setting, rich traditions, and lively creative spirit, Santa Fe offers an unforgettable travel experience.
Here are things that you can do in Santa Fe, NM.
Museums and Galleries
Santa Fe is home to over 75 art galleries and museums, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which houses the artist’s iconic artworks. The Museum of International Folk Art holds a vast collection of folk art worldwide.
Santa Fe offers award-winning Southwestern cuisine utilizing chiles, blue corn, and other local ingredients. Take a cooking class or food tour to sample dishes like green chile stew, blue corn pancakes, and bison burgers. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is a great place to try local delicacies.
Soak in Santa Fe’s rich history by visiting the Loretto Chapel with its miraculous spiral staircase, the Palace of the Governors dating back to the early 1600s, and the Cross of the Martyrs, the oldest monument in the US.
Santa Fe provides easy access to hiking, biking, horseback riding, rafting and more. Highlights include hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and along the Dale Ball Trail System right in town.
Santa Fe hosts a variety of exciting annual events that attract visitors from around the world. In July, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market showcases traditional artisans from over 50 countries.
August brings the world-famous Santa Fe Indian Market, where Native American artists display pottery, jewelry, textiles, and more.
September is the Traditional Spanish Market featuring colonial-style art. Contemporary Hispanic artwork is displayed during the Contemporary Hispanic Market in November.
Music lovers enjoy the Santa Fe Bandstand free summer concerts and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In September, the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta celebrates local cuisine and wine.
These beloved annual Santa Fe events offer something for everyone.
Santa Fe is renowned for its thriving art markets, where visitors can find a range of unique creations. The Santa Fe Farmers Market on Saturdays offers food, crafts, and entertainment. The Railyard Artisan Market on Sundays features local artists and crafters.
On weekends, the Santa Fe Flea Market provides antiques, vintage items, and more. Gallery walks like First Friday give a behind-the-scenes look at new exhibits.
Popular outdoor art markets bring hundreds of artists downtown during the summer months. Galleries display regional artwork and traditional Hispanic, Native American, and contemporary pieces.
With abundant art markets, Santa Fe offers many ways to experience local talent.
Music and Cultural Festivals
Music and cultural festivals help make Santa Fe a vibrant destination. From June to August, the Santa Fe Opera season presents acclaimed productions in their open-air theater. Performance Santa Fe in July hosts dance, theater, and more.
Music from Angel Fire in August is a chamber music festival. The Santa Fe Renaissance Fair transports visitors to the medieval era. Free concerts fill the Plaza on weekends and in venues like the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
The Santa Fe Indian Market and Spanish Market also incorporate music and dance. Visitors can experience New Mexico’s culture through these lively festivals and concerts in Santa Fe.
Excursions from Santa Fe
Santa Fe serves as an ideal home base to explore the surrounding areas of New Mexico. Historic towns, ancient pueblos, stunning national parks and monuments, hot springs, and more are just a short drive away.
Popular day trips include Taos, known for art galleries, and the deep Rio Grande Gorge. Bandelier National Monument offers cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.
Chimayo is home to the Santuario de Chimayó and weaving traditions. For adventurers, whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande River provides thrills. Or relax in the mineral pools at Ojo Caliente. With easy access to diverse landscapes and cultures, fascinating excursions from Santa Fe abound.
Santa Fe is the perfect jumping-off point for memorable day trips showcasing New Mexico’s beauty. Just 30 miles away, Bandelier National Monument’s scenic mesas and canyons feature ancient dwellings carved into the rock walls. The historic town of Chimayo offers the sacred Santuario de Chimayó and local weavers.
Taos is known for its art galleries, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and Taos Pueblo. For wellness, soak in the mineral pools at Ojo Caliente hot springs. Go wine tasting in the vineyards around Albuquerque.
Adventure seekers can white water raft on the Rio Grande River. With the turquoise skies overhead and the red earth below, day trips from Santa Fe lead to diverse landscapes and experiences.
Santa Fe has a lively nightlife scene with bars, restaurants, music venues, and more. Historic watering holes on the plaza offer a taste of the Old West. Funky art district hangouts serve craft beer and cocktails. Low-key mezcal bars and high-end steakhouses line the streets.
On weekends, dance clubs and live music joints get busy. Santa Fe nightlife has something for everyone, from intimate wine bars to hopping clubs.
Bars and Restaurants
The bars and restaurants of Santa Fe showcase creative cuisine and craft drinks. Chef-owned restaurants fuse Southwestern, Mexican, and global flavors using regional ingredients. Specialty mezcalerías and tequilerías serve artisanal Mexican spirits.
Gastro pubs pair inventive dishes with New Mexico brews. Upscale eateries within hotels and resorts provide a luxurious ambiance.
The tasting rooms of nearby wineries offer wine flights. Santa Fe’s dining and drinking options are diverse, from casual bites to fine dining.
Santa Fe hotels range from cozy inns to sprawling resorts, many with bars and eateries open to the public.
Boutique hotels mix Southwestern decor with craft cocktails in chic lounges. Luxury spa resorts have elegant restaurants and lively casino bars. Downtown hotels deliver easy access to the plaza’s dining and nightlife.
Hotels with vibrant bars and restaurants provide convenience and an atmosphere for experiencing Santa Fe after dark.
Music and Entertainment
Live music fills Santa Fe’s nights at intimate nightclubs, rowdy honky-tonks, and concerts in parks and amphitheaters during summer. The opera season brings renowned productions. Performance art spaces host plays, readings, and more.
Native dance and musical acts represent New Mexico’s cultural traditions. Jazz combos, bands, and rock groups play on weekends.
From classical to contemporary, Santa Fe’s music and entertainment scene has broad appeal.
Final Verdict: Things To Do In Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe is a top destination for arts, culture, and outdoor activities. Must-visit attractions include the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Meow Wolf, Palace of the Governors, Canyon Road Arts District, and Santa Fe Plaza galleries, which showcase the city’s thriving art scene.
Hiking, biking, rafting, and skiing in the surrounding mountains and parks offer outdoor fun.
Historic and cultural sites like the Loretto Chapel, Puye Cliff Dwellings, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi provide a window into Santa Fe’s storied past.
Foodies will enjoy the Santa Fe Farmers Market, restaurants, chocolate shops, wineries, and breweries.
Seasonal events like art festivals, Native American feast days, and summer concerts surround Santa Fe’s diverse offerings. Santa Fe has something for all travelers with rich culture, art, nature, and heritage.
I’m Usama Ali. A Content Strategist, copywriter, and editor with over 10+ years in writing. I love to explore the beauty of the world and write about all the personal experiences I have, find the best deals of hotels, and write reviews on hotels after getting surveys, travelling to hotels, and also give tips and tricks to save money on tours using motel.com’s blog.