Santa Fe, New Mexico has long been on many experienced travelers’ must-see list. It shouldn’t take much convincing for you to book a stay in the New Mexican capital, knowing its many delightful offerings but keep in mind that in addition to being the oldest capital in the United States, it’s also the highest in terms of elevation, so in order to acclimate yourself, start your trip off easy by visiting some of these Santa Fe New Mexico top attractions.
The city’s location alone at the foothills of the Sangre di Cristo mountains makes it a great place to escape the madness of city living while its top-rated artistic, cultural, and fine dining scenes make it an exciting option for anyone looking to have a great time. Santa Fe is also a fascinating destination for history buffs. Its prolonged history dating back to its establishment in 1607 makes Santa Fe the oldest capital in the United States.
Santa Fe New Mexico Top Attractions
Palace of Governors
No other building means more to Santa Fe’s history than the Palace of Governors. This 17th century, low-slung adobe complex was once the home of the first Spanish governor. It’s now a museum featuring an excellent collection of Hispanic artwork as well as displays detailing Santa Fe’s complicated past. It also holds the title of being the oldest public building in the country.
New Mexico History Museum
Though technically part of the Palace of Governor’s complex, the New Mexico History Museum deserves a mention on its own, not only because it’s one of the most striking adobe building in the city, but also because of its outstanding collection of artifacts that chronicles the history of the state. Some of the highlights include the first printing press in New Mexico, a gallery featuring Native American costumes, and an assortment of indigenous people’s pottery recovered from different sites all over the state.
Canyon Road Arts District
This is without a doubt, one of the Santa Fe New Mexico top attractions. The city’s reputation as an art lover’s destination is sealed when you peruse through the dozens of galleries that line up the Canyon Road Arts District. There are over 100 galleries, studios, and workshops clustered within a half-mile road and the majority of them are open to the public. It’s a great place to shop for art and souvenirs with a distinctive New Mexican flair. There are also a number of restaurants and cafes you can take a break and grab a bit in case you’re feel peckish,
El Rancho de Las Golondrinas
If you want to learn about the history of Santa Fe without being cooped up indoors, pay a visit to El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, a living history museum that showcases the heritage and culture of colonial New Mexico. It contains 33 historic buildings, some dating back to 1710, and features villagers dressed in period clothing. The museum is housed in a 200-acre land just 10 minutes south of Santa Fe.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Even if you aren’t Catholic, pop around the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to appreciate its well-defined architecture. The church was built in a Romanesque Revival style, which makes it stands out like a sore thumb amidst the countless adobe buildings that surround the nearby Santa Fe Plaza. Nonetheless, it is a striking structure, both inside and out. The church also has a nice courtyard where you can sit down, relax, and watch people pass by.
Another fascinating place of worship that lands a spot in this list of Santa Fe New Mexico top attractions is the charming Loretto Chapel. The chapel was a gift to the Sisters of Loretto who traveled from Kentucky to Santa Fe in 1850 to improve education for young girls. It contains a beautiful, yet intriguing staircase designed by French architect Antoine Mouly. It has no visible support, which encourages the legend that St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters, built the staircase himself. The chapel no longer holds regular services but it is available for weddings and other religious occasions.
Santa Fe Opera
When you choose to spend an evening at the Santa Fe Opera, prepare to be blown away by the scenery from your seat, which is just as dramatic as the opera production itself. The outdoor theater sits in the midst of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountain ranges providing spectators with great views all around. The productions are superb as well often featuring the best artists, singers, and production designers in the business. Their season is short however, with shows only available during the months of July and August so if you’re thinking of catching a performance, make sure to book in advance.