Santa Fe, N.M. is a great place to visit for a getaway weekend. It’s only 50 minutes from the Albuquerque airport, with many direct flights, and you can also fly directly to Santa Fe. There is a lot to see in Santa Fe, and a weekend may not be enough time.
Most of the activity in Santa Fe is in the center area known as “The Plaza.” It’s a part of town where you find one restaurant, coffee shop, art gallery, boutique, museum and hotel after another. Even though Santa Fe is inhabited primarily by “starving” artists, prices for tourists for art and lodging seem to cater to the wealthy. Even the museums are expensive to visit. The nice thing is the area is entirely walkable, and there’s no charge for looking.
There must be a building regulation that requires all the structures to be the same sand color and constructed in a box-like adobe style. From the outside, this can look very bland and monotonous, if not typically Santa Fe. Once inside these buildings, the creative decorative style skews toward stunning turquoise, bright colors and symmetrical shapes derived from indigenous art.
You can count on the weather in Santa Fe, except during the deep part of winter. It can also get very hot midday during the summer months. Remember to bring a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. Rain is rare. The dry air takes some getting used to (a moisturizing cream is handy), and some people have a problem getting used to the elevation. But for the most part the agreeable climate attracts many to town.
One of the first places most tourists head to is “Canyon Road,” a street on the edge of The Plaza area where art galleries line the street with a few restaurants interspersed. Here you’ll find all sorts of art, from a studio specializing in tree sculptures, to another concentrating on bears, and everything in between. Movable sculptures predominate in several of the galleries. These weathervane structures are mesmerizing. As you pass each gallery you will be welcomed in to browse and learn about the artists.
Although you can walk to and along Canyon Road, you might want to drive. Except when there is a festival in Santa Fe, during which the number of tourists peaks, there is not a sense of overwhelming crowds and parking is relatively easy to find.
Heading back to the center of the city you should head to the park at the center of The Plaza, known as Historic Plaza. Surrounding this park are three top tourist sights: New Mexico Museum of Art, New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors, in front of which certified-authentic indigenous artists sell their wares in an open-air patio.
Down the street is St. Francis Cathedral, and across from the church is the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art. Each of the museums mentioned would take a few hours to see, which is why there is a lot to do in Santa Fe. And, as mentioned, each museum charges a pretty penny to visit.
Before leaving the cathedral area, try to find the unique chocolate shop, Todos Santos, located in a shopping area where Cathedral Place hits E. Palace Avenue. Here a very colorful display of local chocolates combines with a tasty array of flavors in a typical New Mexico structure that makes for a great photo opportunity. Visiting local shops allows you to soak in the Santa Fe culture. There’s a lot more to enjoy about Santa Fe than art.
We’ve just touched on one part of The Plaza. Watch for more about Santa Fe in an upcoming post.