today’s santa fe city guide update comes from san francisco artist lisa neimeth. lisa created our original guide to santa fe in 2008 and has so graciously updated this incredible guide with new shops, eateries and places to stay, as well as a list of fantastic annual events! thanks lisa for your beautiful tour of santa fe!–stephanie
*to preserve the original guide’s url, we’ve made these changes to the original guide. so some of the comments you see below will be from the original posting back in 2008. *
CLICK HERE for the full guide after the post!
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to re-visit the guide I did on Santa Fe two years ago–it gave me the opportunity to explore Santa Fe again with new eyes and to see this town as if for the first time. While I do not live in Santa Fe (I live in San Francisco)-I am a frequent visitor and plan on spending at least 3 months a year here up north a bit- in Abiquiu–to work in my soon to be built ceramic studio there.
But I love being here in this town with its fantastic light, diverse interests, great food and just a general feeling of what it is like to be contemporary but living in a very old western town.
It is no wonder so many movies are filmed here these days–not only is the landscape breathtaking, but the talent that exists here is broad and compelling.
Lots goes on in this town all year and it is fantastic to visit during all 4 seasons–I just returned from a beautiful snowy time there–but do relish those warm dry desert summer days the best….
So since this is the oldest capital city in the USA, celebrating its 400th anniversary this year-things do not change too much or too quickly, so much from my 2008 guide is still valid. That said-because there is such a high concentration of art lovers, scientists, artists and a culture that supports linking the arts to just about everything–there is always a new movement afoot—
I am going to update any changes as well as add in some of the new places, eateries, shops and up and coming little enclaves that will be worth checking out.
The newest good news is that the town is moving beyond the plaza walls–the plaza is the “heart” of old Santa Fe and is beautiful, and well worth visiting. But for locals and visitors alike–there are lots of new things happening south of the plaza in little nooks and cranny neighborhoods that are really nourishing some younger art and design movements. With the opening of the new Railyard mixed use area as well as the Railrunner train that goes from Albuquerque to Santa Fe in one hour–brings an emphasis to a formerly industrial area and spreads the action further into where a large part of the population of Santa Fe lives.
So read on for what to explore in old and new neighborhoods in Santa Fe as well as fabulous things to do as day trips. This is a truly magical area with so much to tempt your imagination–a mix of historical wonder greeting the contemporary.
Welcome to Santa Fe, New Mexico–a beautiful city set in the high desert mountains at 7000 feet. This is a great town-lots of history–and a unique tri-cultural feel–incorporating the Native American, Hispanic and Caucasian inhabitants. With this comes a great combination of ancient worlds segueing into the hip modern world. Once I started spending time here, I was hooked and now visit often and try and work here and do clay in the summers. Living in San Francisco, Santa Fe is the perfect antidote to urban, coastal living or anywhere else you may live!
Art has always been a big part of this area with one of the first artist colonies formed in Santa Fe in the early part of the 19th century formed by folks fleeing New York City and the East coast to “heal” themselves in the dry, clean air. Once these artists came here they were so struck by the incredible beauty and spectacular landscape…and cheap rents…they stayed and began a long tradition of artistic pilgrimages to this area to capture the intense beauty and fascinating culture. Georgia O’Keeffe being one of the more well known among these people who really came to symbolize the mysterious ethereal beauty that lurks here. So of course, when the artists come, everyone else soon follows, sometimes rendering a place more touristy, trendy and of course, more expensive. Santa Fe boomed in the 1980’s and 90’s with “Santa Fe style” and Ralph Lauren galore. The city is retreating from that a bit these days and really trying to move into the 21st century with modern art, design and more complex and innovative restaurants. What you have now is still the same charm and mystique but with some more edgy art and design movements afloat. What I love about Santa Fe is that you can experience so many different things here–eat great food, take a hike, get a fantastic massage and outdoor hot tub, wander through some great museums and galleries, shop for beautiful Native American and Hispanic artifacts and explore new design and art events– all in one day! There are also great deals on hotels to be had here since there are so many hotels around. More details about that later.
The city has a few main areas that will be covered here and are all within walking distance or at least a short drive from each other: the Plaza-the first settled town in the US (1610)–the end of the Santa Fe Trail and the heart of Santa Fe; Guadalupe Street/Railyard/2nd St–the “new” area where modern galleries and design shops are popping up; and Canyon Road-the original “art street”, on the periphery is Cerillos Road, a bit out of the center of town and includes many of your basic box stores on the southern end, but closer to town has some great old neon motels and some great local spots.
In the Plaza Area:
Centered around the main plaza are sweet small streets teeming with shops-some touristy, others unique and interesting. Here are some of the better ones:
• Seret & Sons: 224 Galisteo Street 505.988.9151: beautiful old rugs, doors and other architectural elements artifacts from around the world
• Carpinteros: 217 Galisteo St 505.982.2258: elegantly hand-crafted furniture in the Spanish tradition.
• Sequoia Collections: Galisteo St 505.982.7000: unusual furniture made of reclaimed woods and metals; lovely, funky paintings from emerging artists.
• Native American vendors: line up under the Plaza overhang daily and sell authentic Native American jewelry and other items. If you want to buy jewelry-do it here–you are buying direct from the artisans who make it.
• Doodlets- 120 Don Gaspar Ave 505.983.3771: crafts, novelty items, hand made paper goods
• Jett-101 Old Santa Fe Trail 505.988.1866: unique jewelry from local and national artisans
• Ortegas—101 W. San Francisco St 505.988.3585: historical trading post carrying contemporary and older native American jewelry
• Papergami-213 W. San Francisco St 505.982.3080: beautiful Japanese papers and paper items
• Mira-101 W.Marcy St 505.988.3585: really fun clothing jewelry and decorative objects
• Design Warehouse– 101 W. Marcy St 505.988.1555: fantastic furniture and home store-great website too
• Back At The Ranch– 209 East Marcy St 505.989.811: custom made, vintage and really original cowboy boots
• Todos Santos- 125 E. Palace ave 505.982.3855; chocolatier and confectioner -with beautifully crafted candies–gilded milagros
• Poem- 125 E. Palace Ave 505.820.7884: tabletop, paper and other eclectic home decor items
• Patina- 131 West Palace Ave 505.986.3432 www.patina-gallery.com: hand crafted jewelry and decorative objects
• Onorato– 109 ½ E.Palace Ave 505.984.2008: great bedding, linens and housewares
• Shiprock- 53 Old Santa Fe Trail 505.982.8478 www.shiprocktrading.com: home furnishings-contemporary and antique
• Char- www.chardesigns.com 104 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505.988.5969: classic Santa Fe style here in custom and hand made clothing and amazing jewelry designs
• SStein Design— local handcrafted bags and wallets. By appointment to come to the local factory—worth the trip!
• The Rainbow man- www.rainbowman.com- fun vintage Native American and Hispanic folk art, tableware, jewelry, photographs
• Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse 202 Galisteo St-www.collectedworksbookstore.com
Where to eat:
• Pasquals—103 East Water St 505.983.9340: a do not miss in Santa Fe-great New Mexican food, funky Mexican folk art interior and a cool gallery upstairs where you can purchase micaceous clay cook pots. This is a Santa Fe landmark–lines out the door, but well worth the wait.
• SantaCafe– 231 Washington Ave 505.984.1788: classic Santa Fe restaurant—refined and located in a beautiful back patio spot.
• Tia Sophia’s:210 W. San Francisco St 505.983.9880: great New Mexican breakfasts, long lines, but moves fast!
• Plaza restaurant: New Mexican coffee shop
• La Boca-72 W.Marcy st 505.982.3433:fabulous modern Spanish tapas
• El Meson-213 Washington St 505.983.6756: more fab tapas with a great bar and music
• La Fonda-100E.San Francisco st 505.982.5511: oldest hotel in US–great interior-murals, fun bar with famous margaritas, music and snacks;great rooftop bar open during summer–great views!
• La Casa Sena: 125 E.Palace Ave 505.988.9232: beautiful courtyard in the summer-great drinks and appetizers
• The Shed: 1131/2 E.Palace Ave 505.982.9030; classic New Mexico food-historical building
• Rooftop Pizzeria-60 E.San Francisco St 505.984.0008- great view of the mountains, really good pizza, salads
• Coyote Cafe/Cantina—132 N. Water St 505.983.1615 -classic Santa Fe restaurant rooftop cantina open in warmer months for lunch, drinks
• Pink Adobe/Dragon Well Bar—406 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505.983.7712: great lunch/dinner drinks, fun bar.
• Rio Chama– Santa Fe, bar, restaurant, patio–is where the lobbyists hang out during the legislative session (I got to sit next to Sam Shepard here a few years back–BIG thrill!)
• Matador–San Francisco and Galisteo St-funky bar–fun, local
• Kakawa Chocalate House–1050 E.Paseo de Peralta–interesting chocolate drinks and combos
• Restaurant Martin-526 Galisteo-new hot spot in town from old hand chef/owner—fabulous!
And don’t miss: Museum of Contemporary Native Art, The Lensic Theater (great concerts, performances),Georgia O’Keefe Museum-located off the Plaza and the newly opened New Mexico History Museum–a fabulous way to learn of the local history, Palace of the Governors–located on the plaza, Center for Contemporary Art up on Old Pecos Rd for great films, lectures.
Just west of the main plaza area is this fun shopping, eating area that also includes the developing Railyard area.
• Spanish Table-109 N. Guadalupe St 505.986.0243: eclectic collection of housewares and culinary delights from Spain
• Cielo Home and Cielo Tabletop- 316 Guadalupe 505. 992.1960: 2 stores carrying wonderful combination of tableware, home furnishings and other housewares
• Gypsy Baby– 318 Guadalupe St 505.820.1898: high end baby/kids store
• Double Take at The Ranch 321 Guadalupe 505.820.7775- vintage clothing, boots, jewelry and household items–very fun
• Santa Fe Pottery @ Double Take- 323 Guadalupe: local and national artisans working in contemporary pottery
• Sanbusco Center- a small “mall” but with some interesting shops–jewelry, textiles–worth breezing through
• Mindy and Clyde Cupboard Company- 407 S. Guadalupe 505.982.0901: vintage restaurant and railroad china, tablecloths and other fun items– like an outpost of Fish’s Eddy in NYC
• Casa Nova– 530 S. Guadalupe 505.983.8558: great mix of international housewares, art and design services
• Moss-530 S. Guadalupe St 505.989.7300: contemporary furnishings–amazing indoor/outdoor furniture
• Antique Warehouse: 530 S. Guadalupe 505.984.1159: Mexican Doors and Ranch furniture
• Santa Fe Clay- 1615 Paseo de Peralta 505.984.1122: studio and gallery showcasing nationally renowned contemporary ceramics for show and sale
• Rainbow Gate-320 Sandoval 505.983.8892: unique locally made dinnerware shop. All work is made on the premises and boast lots of color!
• Cowboyz–S. Guadalupe–great vintage cowboy shirts–cheap cheap
Where to eat around here:
• Zia Diner– 326 S.Guadalupe St 505. 988.7008 : : classic diner food New Mexican style-breakfast, lunch, dinner
• AquaSanta- 451 West Alameda 505.982.6297: a splurge well worth it–amazingly crafted “slow food” and very cool setting in old adobe–lunch, dinner
• Mauka- 544 Agua Fria 505.984.1969-amazing, innovative Asian cuisine-lunch/dinner
• Cafe Dominic-320 S. Guadalupe St : coffee, lunch
• Aztec Cafe-317 Aztec St: local coffee spot, wireless
• Sage Bakehouse-535 Cerillos rd-amazing baked goods and sandwiches
• Corazon– 401 S. Guadalupe st–bar, nightclub–great happy hour/snacks–real local color
• Tommasitas- 500 S. Guadalupe St 505.983.5721-classic New Mexican fare
• La Stazione- 530 S. Guadalupe St 505.989.3300: lunch, dinner, nice views of the mountains best for drinks
• Flying Star–at the railyard–great diner food
• Vinaigrette-709 Don Cubero Alley– www.vinaigretteonline.com-fresh greens, great meals
While you are here-make sure to visit the interesting new galleries that are all around the Railyard Area-many have Friday night openings: (Box Gallery, William Segal, Tai Gallery, Gebert Contemporary to name a few). Plus, the Farmers Market’s permanent home is here now–a must visit on Saturdays–a real Santa Fe scene–great food, music , crafts. The new indoor FLEA is also open now across the street from the farmers market at the railyard–open sat/sun–fun vintage–real flea market stuff.
Other cool things in the new Railyard area:
• Site Santa Fe-1606 Paseo de Peralta www.sitesantafe.org–cutting edge museum/gallery–Biennial coming this summer (2010)
• Santa Fe Complex- www.sfcomplex.org –experimental space for art and science ventures
• Warehouse 21- 1614 Paseo de Peralta www.warehouse21.org – gathering place for youth art programs, exhibits, events
Side trip from here to 2nd Street and beyond:
This area is really blossoming with live/work spaces, cafes, galleries and look out for more happening here ongoing:
• Meow Wolf Artist Collective- www.meowwolf.com–1800 Second st–young artist collective engaging in shows, events, installations, concerts, “throwdowns”-a peek into what’s very new and innovative in the youth art scene here–no howling coyotes with bandanas here!
• Linda Durham Gallery- www.lindadurham.com-1807 Second St
• Cafe Phenix www.cafe-phenix.com 1414 2nd st– great breakfasts, coffee–crepes
• Tree House www.treehousepastry.com 1600 Lena St–nestled in the Lena St lofts–yum salads and baked goods–have the pupusas for breakfast!
• Chocolate Maven-821 W. San mateo Rd www.chocolatemaven.com–not just chocolate but great meals too
• Santa Fe Art Institute- 1600 St Michael’s Drive www.sfai.org –readings, events and exhibits
• Pacheco Park–a little ways beyond the Railyard and 2nd st is another developing design cluster:
• Victoria Price Art and Design 1512 Pacheco Street-Bldg B 505.983.2625: interior designer’s eclectic collection of art, home design, accessories
• Santa Fe Modern Home 1512 Pacheco Street: modern design and furnishings
Side trip to Cerillos Road:
• Jackalope– 2820 Cerrillos Rd 505.471.8539: a fun sprawl of a store with a mix of furniture, pottery, textiles in a bazaar like setting (don’t miss the glass blowers and prairie dogs right in the middle of the grounds!) neon motels and local lore-just soak it in on your drive through!
• While you are here stop by the Tecolate café 1203 Cerrillos Rd. 505.988.1362: for a hardy breakfast of blue corn pinon pancakes or check out the Counter Culture café 930 Baca St: for breakfast, lunch and dinner, located off Cerrillos road in an up and coming neighborhood.
This is classic Santa Fe–this street of galleries, shops and restaurants is one of the original “Art Streets” in the US–it is filled with historic adobes and is totally walkable from end to end.
• C gallery-708 Canyon Rd 505.986.1221: terrific contemporary art and home furnishings
• Curiosa-718 Canyon Rd 505.988.2420: wonderful gem of a store with tableware, jewelry and unusual art for home-bird and nature themed
• Nathalie– 503 Canyon Rd 505.982.1021-very cool fashion and home furnishings of the southwest and france
• Karen Melfi Collection-225 Canyon Rd 505.982.3032: sculpture and design shop
• Cielo Bed and Bath-702 ½ Canyon Rd 505.995.8008: another outpost of this lovely home store
• La Mesa de Santa Fe-225 Canyon Rd 505.984.1688: Wonderful original tableware and house art
• Pachamama-223 Canyon rd 505.983.4020: terrific collection of vintage and contemporary Latin American folk art
• Jane Sauer’s 13 moons gallery-652 Canyon Rd 505.995.8513: nationally and international clay, fiber,metal and glass art
This is the street to just walk up and down and just explore the multitude of galleries, to many to mention here, that line Canyon road–they often have Friday night openings with wine and cheese and a chance to stroll between 5 and 7pm.
Where to eat:
• Downtown Subscription-376 Garcia St 505.983.3085: locals coffee hangout with every magazine imaginable!
• The Tea House- 821 Canyon Rd 505.992.0972: serene and inviting for breakfast and lunch. amazing muffins, salads, sandwiches and an incredibly extensive tea list. Wonderful rock garden—great after a day of walking around!
• Geronimo– 724 Canyon Rd 505.982.1500: high end bustling Santa Fe restaurant housed in a restored adobe–this is serious.
• El Farol-808 Canyon Rd 505.988.3823: fun Spanish restaurant with flamenco nights and lively bar scene.
Other things to do near downtown:
• Ten Thousand Waves– about ten minutes up the ski basin road from the plaza is this serene collection of outdoor hot tubs private and group ones–all in a beautiful alpine setting.
• Tesuque Flea Market-about 20 minutes north of town near the famous Santa Fe Opera House (if you go in the summer-check out the opera—you can score $10 SRO or splurge for a real seat and take in world class opera in a gorgeous setting.
• DeVargas Mall- 181 Paseo de Peralta just north of the plaza—yes, another mall, but this is an old-fashioned one and has 2 great stores worth visiting: Surrender Dorothy- super fun clothing, shoe and bag store; Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe -505-988-3394-wonderful kitchen and tableware store—has it all.
• Museum Hill: Up about 5 minutes from the plaza on Old Santa Fe Trail perched above town, are five terrific museums well worth a visit, especially the International Museum of Folk Art. There is a bus that runs up here from the plaza. Beautiful spot and a great orientation to the history and folklore of the area.
Santa Fe Ski Basin: in winter–a low key but beautiful ski area–just 20 min from downtown!
• Abiquiu–an hour north of Santa Fe lies one of the most beautiful landscapes–worth going to for a roam around. And don’t miss visiting Georgia O’Keeffe’s home here open to the public by reservation (and make the reservation well in advance!) from March through November. It is well worth seeing her simple, yet elegant home filled with a wonderful collection of 20th century furniture and art. You can also checkout Ghost Ranch–small dinosaur museum and great hiking
• Taos-another great art town about an hour north of Santa Fe (a subject for another guide!) galleries, shops, restaurants, great skiing
• Galisteo- gorgeous landscape a half hour east of Santa Fe; home of Bruce Nauman and the late Agnes Martin, cool town, sweet hotel/restaurant
• Turquoise Trail–instead of taking I-25 from Albuquerque to Santa Fe–take I-40 to route 14–known as the turquoise trail. Have fun riding through Madrid and Cerillos-old mining towns now home to galleries and cafes. Cerrillos is where they filmed Young Guns back in the 80’s and is still mighty cool-check out the great old bar there–you may share a pint with ol’ Pee Wee
• Tent Rocks– beautiful natural spiral rock formations in the Cochiti reservation half way between Albuquerque and Santa Fe–well worth a stop for a hike
• Pueblos– http://www.newmexico.org/native_america/pueblos/index.php visit the 19 Native American pueblos in the area–fascinating peek into living history–there are annual ceremonies that the public is welcome to–check the schedules.
• Chimayo and the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos–historic healing church and road trip worthwhile to explore hispanic wood carving traditions and crafts indigenous to this area
Where to Stay:
If you go, check out www.hotels.com or go on www.craigslist.org for New Mexico/ Santa Fe and go to vacation rentals. There are some great deals to be had of varying types of accommodations–centrally located. Hotels out on Cerrillos Rd tend to be cheaper, but a little removed from the central area. Another resource is www.vrbo.com—vacation rentals by owner—you can find houses and condos here for rent. There are three great local resources for information about what is going on in town. On Wednesdays the Santa Fe Reporter comes out–a free weekly with lots of great information. On Fridays the PasaTiempo is inside the New Mexican-the local paper and gives you a rundown of all weekly happenings. Also THE Magazine- a monthly free publication you can find in newspaper boxes on the street corners-has all the information about gallery openings, museum shows and restaurant information as well.
You can fly into Albuquerque—and drive an hour north to Santa Fe—you can really get away with not even renting a car as there are great shuttles from the ABQ airport straight to Santa Fe. And now with the Railrunner train.
that you can catch from Albuquerque and goes directly to downtown Santa Fe–there are many transport options.
Visit Santa Fe at any time of year—there is always something going on and each season is absolutely gorgeous!!
Check for local events and in summer don’t miss these amazing annual events:
International Folk Art Market 7/9-11/10
Indian Market 8/21-22/10.
SOFA West will also take place in Santa Fe this summer 7/8-11 exhibiting Sculptural and Functional Objects
So make your plans and have fun!