As far as the American southwest is concerned, Santa Fe will always be on my list. This artists’ haven has a beautiful aesthetic that captures the whims of the region while offering its own unique flair. Compared to other places in New Mexico, it certainly has a more upscale vibe, with an impressive array of restaurants, cafes, and art galleries.
Read on to discover some great things to do in Santa Fe, as well as my favorite restaurants and accommodations:
Best value hotels in Santa Fe
We had high expectations of MeowWolf and (spoiler alert) he didn’t disappoint at all. Created by Santa Fe-based artists, this is an interactive art museum like no other. It’s as original as it is imaginative, full of surprises and one of my favorite things to do in Santa Fe.
Each room is different, from wacky technicolor spaces filled with neon lights and mirrors to oddly shaped cave passages. It’s almost impossible to describe, but I would say it’s a madhouse but in the best way. You have to visit for yourself to truly understand its glory.
Enjoy a salt cave experience
If you are the owner of a Himalayan salt lamp and swear by its benefits, it will be very exciting for you. The Santa Fe Salt Cave is essentially an artificial, indoor, cave-like room lined with pink Himalayan salt crystals. Inside you will find weightless chairs, soothing music, and a soothing atmosphere where you can sit, relax and discover the healing properties of the space.
The salt cave uses halotherapy (salt therapy) to promote well-being. The claim is that salt helps people improve conditions such as “chronic bronchitis, asthma, sinus congestion, COPD, allergies, lung health issues, and skin conditions.”I surprised Garrett with a visit, and we both found it relaxing and interesting.
Art Peep at the Institute of Contemporary Indigenous Arts
This art museum is unique in that it is the only museum in the country dedicated to the presentation of progressive works by contemporary Indigenous artists. The Institute of Contemporary Indigenous Arts is the perfect place to discover the unique voices of the region’s Indigenous artists, with bold exhibitions and stimulating events throughout the year.
Take a walk in the psychedelic caves of Ra Paulette.
Just north of Santa Fe, in the desert, are the secret hand-carved caves of Ra Paulette. This imaginative artist has been chiseling for more than 25 years, creating caves in the sandstone cliffs near his home. Now there are 14 caves, each with its own personality. Some have built-in skylights, while others have intricate patterns and even benches.
Over the past ten years, access to the caves has become increasingly exclusive. One of the only ways to see them is to book a private tour of the Origins Resort.
New Mexican architecture has its own specific style, which you don’t want to miss learning in Santa Fe. Combining venerable techniques such as adobe with Spanish colonial architecture, the city’s buildings tell their story brilliantly.
Not only are the architectural styles remarkable here, but Santa Fe is also home to a famous Acequia (watercourse), which is still used for irrigation. Find out on this awesome Santa Fe architecture and plonk tasting tour.
I love a good botanical garden, and this one will definitely not disappoint you. Since the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is intended to showcase local plant varieties, you will not find lush green lawns or rows of flowers here. Instead, it reproduces the arid environment of the region by highlighting plants that grow naturally in the desert around Santa Fe. You will see a wide variety of succulents, cacti, desert shrubs, and more, with beautiful sculptures nestled between them.
The garden is big enough to spend several hours in and there is little shade, so be prepared with plenty of sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.
See ancient petroglyphs in La Cieneguilla
The La Cieneguilla petroglyphic site, home to one of the largest collections of glyphs in the American West, is a spectacular look back at Santa Fe’s past — and I mean far, far back. Archaeologists believe that some of the petroglyphs date back to almost 8,000 BC.
Finding the glyphs is easy and just steps from the highway on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. You can find here how to get to the site of the petroglyph of La Cieneguilla.
Try the famous chili sauce
You can’t leave Santa Fe without trying at least one of the famous chili sauces here. The new Mexican cuisine has a unique taste of its kind, thanks to these special sauces. There are three main types: red, green and Christmas. However, the chili pepper itself is the same, with green as the less ripe version. The red chillies are ripe and have a sweeter taste. Christmas chili sauce is just a combination of both.
You’ll find new Mexican chili sauce on just about everything from breakfast burritos to steaks, so why not try each one and decide which one is your favorite?
Rafting in the Rio Grande Gorge
If you are looking for an adrenaline boost while exploring Santa Fe, don’t miss the opportunity to go white water rafting in the beautiful Rio Grande Gorge! Each of the rapids has its own name; you can join an expert guide who will tell you everything about each of these exciting rafting tours. While paddling along the river, you may also be able to see wild animals, such as large-horned sheep and large birds of prey.