How to Have the Most Epic Day in Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, New Mexico, nestled near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is a city with a lifetime’s worth of experience and adventure to offer. Luckily for visitors short on time, Santa Fe can also be experienced in just a day if you know the ins and outs of what to see and do.
While known primarily as an “arts” town, Santa Fe is much more than just that. History, outdoor adventure, breathtaking vistas, rollicking entertainment, and sumptuous retreats all abound in Santa Fe. Our 24-hour Santa Fe itinerary will help you plan the perfect day in the beloved Southwest city.
Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital and offers many types of entertainment for tourists. The main vacation season runs from late May until early September, but there are always things to do year-round, including the skiing available from late November until spring.
Tourists visit New Mexico for many different reasons. Some of these might include great shopping, the life-changing, and relaxing spas, casinos, or golf courses. For visitors desiring nightlife, that can also involve clubs, lounges, and other such activities.
Weather in Santa Fe
The air is clean in Santa Fe and the climate is favorable with summer highs reaching the 80s and occasionally the 90s, and nights can be cooler. Winter sees temperatures of around 30 degrees. The city is 7,000 feet above sea level and is located in a mountain range, so although thoughts of “Santa Fe” and “very hot” are often synonymous in the minds of travelers, be aware it can be considerably cooler.
1-Day Itinerary for Santa Fe, New Mexico
Now for our breakdown of the best things to see and do during your day in Santa Fe! We’ll start with an overview itinerary of how we recommend spending your day, followed by additional ideas and attractions.
How To Spend One Day In Santa Fe, NM
- Visit the Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art is a museum offering over 130,000 artifacts housed in four wings. The Girard Wing is where folk art from over 100 countries is found in an exhibit called Multiple Visions: A Common Bond.
More unique artifacts will be seen in the Hispanic Heritage Wing, The Bartlett Wing, and The Neutrogena Wing.
Craving a different type of museum experience? Start your day at one of Santa Fe’s other museums. These include the Museum of Fine Arts, The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, and Rainbow Man.
- Shop Along Canyon Road
If shopping for artwork and souvenirs is on your Santa Fe itinerary, a stop by Canyon Road is a must.
This colorful neighborhood in Santa Fe is home to more than a hundred art galleries offering contemporary art, Native American and Tribal Arts, jewelry, and other types of arts and crafts.
- Grab Some Southwest Cuisine
One notable thing about visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico is the food you can taste.
The cuisine of the state has been influenced by the food of four cultures. These include not only American and Native American, but also Spanish and Aztec influences. Santa Fe boasts many top-quality restaurants offering southwest cuisine for tourists to experience.
For lunch, cafes and food trucks may suffice, but for dinner, we recommend a fine dining establishment around downtown Santa Fe. A couple good ones to try are Radish & Rye or Geronimo; reservations strongly encouraged!
- Ride the Santa Fe Southern Railway
For an unforgettable afternoon, take a freight train ride through the desert, visitors can buy a ticket on the Santa Fe Southern Railway.
The four-hour train ride tour from Santa Fe to Lamy allows riders to see some incredible countryside scenery and wildlife. Dinner tours are also offered on certain days.
- Evening Arts Performances
Evening in Santa Fe also offers many things for visitors. For a concert, dance show, or readings, check what’s on the calendar at Santa Fe’s performing arts center, the Lensic.
A stop by the planetarium at Santa Fe Community College is also a great place for stargazers.
Other Things To Do During Your Day In Santa Fe
Something that visitors to New Mexico often do not realize is that the Pueblo people are still very active here.
In fact, there are 19 pueblos in New Mexico, with eight of them located near Santa Fe, and visitors are welcome at some of their events. Travelers should check ahead to see if there will be a Pueblo event (especially the feast day celebrations) that will be open to visitors while you’re there.
Feast days honor the patron saint of the pueblo and are held on the same day each year. Each pueblo offers dances and ceremonies with costumes and songs and makes for a memorable experience during your time in New Mexico.
Read More: 10 Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the USA
Many visitors to this city will want to visit the Loretto Chapel and its “miraculous staircase.” One of the mysteries that make the staircase “miraculous” concerns 360-degree turns on the staircase with no visible support. Legend says it was also built without nails, just pegs, and that St. Joseph himself may have been the carpenter.
If a visitor’s trip to Santa Fe is to include skiing, there are some great ski resorts near the city offering fabulous slopes during ski season.
Three of the resorts to check out are Taos Ski Valley, Angel Fire Ski Resort, and Ski Santa Fe.
If your preferred sport is biking or hiking, try the Winsor Trail in the Santa Fe National Forest. The trail is two and a half miles in length. Another great place to see the splendid outdoors of Santa Fe and New Mexico is the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, which is under National Park Service care.
El Rancho De Las Golondrinas
El Rancho de las Golondrinas is a living history museum covering 200 acres where you will find guides in period costume and working the ranch life of early Spanish Colonial New Mexico.
Hours for this museum are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., but only Wednesday through Sunday and June through September. (This is for the self-guided tour. Arrangements need to be made for guided tours from April through October.)
If your visit to Santa Fe is planned for the third weekend in August, be sure to make your reservations as far ahead of time as possible. That is when the Indian Market takes place and the hotels fill up rapidly. The annual Indian Market is the biggest event that is held in Santa Fe. Over a thousand Native American artists gather to show their art and craft work.
Enjoy Your Trip to Santa Fe!
Santa Fe, New Mexico is an eclectic and vibrant town brimming with things to do, see, and be. Regardless of your goal or inclinations, there is something for everyone, whether it be day, night, indoors, or out. Arts, dining, rugged outdoor adventure, pampered indoor luxury—no matter how you slice it, Santa Fe is the place to be.