What a week we had in Santa Fe! My husband and I hit the road for a book research trip in the City Different. My next novel is set in Santa Fe, a place of fantasies for many, but it had been thirty years since my last visit. So we plunged in ~ with culture, arts, food, margaritas, walks and runs, cooking class. Plus, some quiet moments sitting in coffee shops where I just took in the vibes of beautiful, spiritually-rich Santa Fe. Thanks to many conversations with locals and some really great Satellite Sisters about where to go and what to do/eat/see, I feel like we got a really great sense of the place. It’s a special city, for sure.
It’s hard to beat the Santa Fe Tourism Website for starting your planning to The City Different, as they call Santa Fe in all the press materials. Complete, thorough and well put together, this is the place to start planning, booking and researching your trip. All the links you need for lodging, food, activities and museums are here. Plus, great day trip suggestions like the one we took to Chimayo. I signed up for the newsletters a year ago when I started thinking about this book and I’ve loved the inspiration that arrives in my inbox periodically. If Santa Fe is on your list of must-see cities, then put yourself on the email list. Canyon Road, the art gallery hub, also has a good site to check out here.
Tip: Get your lodging reservations early. Summer is very busy, as is Fall, Halloween and all of December. Plus, throughout the year, Santa Fe has many special cultural events that bring large crowds to the city. This is not really the place for last minute booking. Six weeks before our trip, we booked a fabulous VRBO off Canyon Road that suited our needs, but the owner told us she was booked out for five months solid. We had lucked into a cancellation. Start planning now!
I can not recommend a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking enough. I loved my three-hour demonstration class in traditional New Mexican cooking and would take another in an instant. The magic of New Mexican meals mixed in with lore, history and cooking tips. Plus, an amazing meal at the end! ( The best Chiles Rellanos and Sopaipillos I ate in Santa Fe were at our end-of-class lunch.) The gift shop can’t be beat, either. Bring a friend for extra fun– but I had a terrific time on my own. Information on cooking classes, walking tours and online store here.
Chocolate & Cashmere – Satellite Sister Cheryl said this was her favorite store in Santa Fe. And now it’s one of mine too. It features stunning cashmere magic and spectacular chocolate. It’s the ultimate “buy on vacation” store and I did. Because a cashmere poncho will look fabulous on my book tour for my Santa Fe book, right? Find the website here.
Cielo – An arts collective on Canyon Road featuring both Santa Fe and Peruvian Artis. Truly, I could have bought everything in this store: Ceramics! Textiles! Jewelry! Cutting Boards! Art prints and cards! Honestly, everything was special and lovely and I’m already regretting teh napkins I didn’t purchase. Next time, Cielo. At the “top” of Canyon Road in a beautiful space. Worth the walk to the top of the street. Find the website here.
Beadweaver of Santa Fe – As the name implies, beautiful beads and jewelry making supplies. Clearly, a wonderful store for readers and creators. Plus, other special gifts items.I don’t craft, but I do love beads so I bought a lovely handmade necklace by one of the owners. In a shopping area downtown near Kaune’s, a very good gourmet grocery store. Find the Beadweaver’s website here.
Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee Shop – Every great downtown needs a great bookstore and Santa Fe has a lovely one in Collected Works. I’ll admit, I went in here to see if they carried Lost & Found in Paris so I could sign it. (They didn’t. But maybe the next one which is set in Santa Fe!) But they had a wonderful collection of other titles, especially in the area of Santa Fe history. Children’s books as well. Plus, an inviting coffeeshop. Do stop in! Find the website here.
There are literally too many restaurants to mention in Santa Fe. (The chef at Sazón literally won the James Beard Award while we were there.) Like a visit to New Orleans, you could spend your entire vacation eating and drinking. (We didn’t) But, if you’re looking for suggestions, here is a list. And another. And one just for chile spots. Foodies, you know what you have to do: start your research and make reservations! Yes, there were hour waits at places for lunch on a Wednesday! (But worth the wait for local favorite La Choza) We weren’t there for the food like some, but enjoyed a few stand-outs during the week. Loved the paella and the vibe of one of Santa Fe’s oldest spots, El Farol. The newer and modern Optuntia Cafe in the Rail Yard district had a great selection of plants and the best avocado toast I have ever had. Next time, we’ll plan ahead and get a spot at Paloma, which was charming and romantic and a long wait mid-week, but locals recommended it as a favorite.
Tip: Many/Most Santa Fe restaurants close early on Sunday nights (8 pm) and are closed Monday and/or Tuesday. We arrived late Sunday night and were grateful to the restaurant at the Hilton for staying open until 10. On Monday, we had a delicious meal at Thai on Canyon, one of the few spots open near us and not fully booked. If you arrive early in the week, be prepared and make reservations ahead of time.
So much art everywhere. And fantastic art. World class contemporary art that you can take home with you! Or just look at and dream. Santa Fe is a one of the top art markets in the, second to New York City. The gallery scene is impressive and you could easily spend three days wandering in and out of the galleries on Canyon Road, in downtown and the RailYard. The gallerists are friendly and there didn’t seem to be any pressure to buy, just to enjoy and appreciate. We did pick up a piece at Ventana Gallery, a stunning rememberance of our time in Santa Fe.
The Museum line-up includes the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the International Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. The list of arts & culture activities is endless. Check out all the resources here.
Tip: The gallery hours are loose! Not many are open on Mondays and Tuesdays and the hours can vary on the other days of the week. Plan accordingly. Museums are also closed one or two days and week and many require advanced ticketing. In addition, some museum are undergoing construction wit limited galleries open, so check website for the latest information.
Plan early! Book your lodging. Make lunch and dinner reservations. Get your tickets for the museums.
A lot of restaurants, museums and galleries are closed Monday and/or Tuesday.
Remember the altitude at 7200 ft and adjust accordingly.
Hydrate! Moisturize! Hydrate! Moisturize! Bring your own water bottle for sure. And powerful sunscreen & moisturizers.
Portions are huge, even at fine dining establishments! Like comically large! Order with caution.
More Satellite Sisters podcasts & posts about Travel
We Love New York! 13 Travel Must-Dos in the Big Apple. Listen and read here.
Let’s Get Lost & Found in Paris with Cookbook Author and Foodie Extraordinaire Patricia Wells. Listen and read here.
An Insider’s Guide to Pasadena and the Rose Parade! Read it here.