Santa Fe is a small but extremely cute town with a lot of character and killer food. Aside from the food, it's probably most known for the plaza, which is a great (albeit expensive) place to get SW gifts and jewelry. Needless to say, there is also a ton to do in the surrounding city. We recommend renting a car and exploring as much as you can. Here are our recommendations:
Santa Fe Motel and Inn. This motel is extremely affordable and within walking distance from the plaza. The rooms are spacious and have many cute details all over the property; from the dried peppers in the above photo to little SW tiles hanging in the rooms. The breakfast is free and plentiful and served in a little SW decorated space with a burning fireplace to keep you warm on cool desert mornings.
Eat & Drink
New Mexico is home to quite a few vineyards. We recommend checking out the cute and quaint Estrella del Norte winery. We love their dessert mole wine. It's spicy and pairs perfectly with a little chocolate on the side.
Jambo Café, an African restaurant by head chef Ahmed Obo, is such a town highlight! Ahmed is so kind and humble and happy when people stop by and visit with him. We recommend ordering the combination plate (which includes chicken curry, goat stew, and coconut lentils) so you can try a bit of everything, which is all savory and delicious!
Café Pasqual's is located by plaza shopping, so you can stop in while you are browsing the stores. It's the best place to get your SW food fix! You can't go wrong with anything on the menu although our insider advice would be to get the chicken breast sandwich.
The Shed is an extremely popular spot to visit while in Santa Fe. They serve some of the best red chili and margaritas in the city and the space is extremely cute with outdoor seating. It can be extremely busy so be prepared for a wait if you are arriving at a popular time. If you can't get in, try La Choza, its sister restaurant, which is equally good and less known by the tourists.
Ojo Caliente Hot Springs is about 50 miles north of Santa Fe. You can stay here at it's hotel, but you can also just visit for the day. They have eleven different pools (with four different minerals!) all of varying temperatures and they even have a mud pool, where you cover yourself in mud, let it bake on you in the sun and then soak in a mud pool. It's wonderful and relaxing.
Bandelier National Monument is where you can see dwellings from the ancestral pueblo people dating back 11,000 years and a variety of their Petroglyphs (cave drawings). It is truly incredible and can easily be seen following a short hike.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. This hike is fairly easy (it gets a little steep towards the end, but it's mostly flat) and takes your through unique slot canyons with views of the interesting cone-shaped rock formations. It's a must. We recommend going early to avoid the heat and crowds.
Meow Wolf. It is hard to explain this place. It's part art installations and part mystery solving and the whole thing is just a trip. Go into this experience with an open mind and plenty of time to explore. The show changes from time to time, but regardless of what is currently there, it's worth a visit.
Take the Turquoise Trail south from Santa Fe to the cute town of Madrid. There is a small strip of road lined with the cutest art shops and restaurants. Check out Sugarman's Little Chocolate Shop for some amazing chocolate bark.