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Top Ten Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

by Mary Bloch

Santa Fe is one of those magical places that never ceases to captivate me. Native American culture permeates every fiber of the town, from the incredible cuisine and enchanting art to the mesmerizing landscape.

1. Savor Breakfast!

Breakfast is the main attraction for locals and tourists alike. And, if not invented in Santa Fe, this is certainly where the breakfast burrito was perfected. Normally stuffed with scrambled eggs, it often also includes potatoes, bacon or chorizo sausage, and beans. Smothered with cheese and either green or red chile (If you want both, order “Christmas” and sound like a local), there’s nothing more satisfying.

Here are a few favorite places to devour a burrito, heuvos rancheros or any of the other ubiquitous breakfast offerings. Be prepared for a wait on the weekend, but trust me, your patience will be well rewarded!

Café Pasqual’s
Located a block from Santa Fe Plaza (see #2 on the list), this local institution is packed at every meal. You can’t go wrong no matter your selection. Breakfast and lunch feature primarily New Mexican dishes, while dinner offerings are more eclectic and global. Try the Huevos Motulenos, fried eggs on corn tortillas with black beans, sautéed bananas, feta and green chile, a contemporary riff on the more traditional rendition of huevos rancheros.
121 Don Gaspar
515- 983-9340

Tecolote Café
From monstrous pancakes in a variety of flavors to spicy carne adovada (pork cooked in a fiery red chile sauce), and their self-proclaimed “famous” potatoes (thin circles, brown and crisp), breakfast is definitely the thing here. In fact, the restaurant closes at 2:00 p.m., so don’t be late! Since a car is necessary to go to Tecolate, it caters more to locals than tourists.
1203 Cerrillos Road

Horseman’s Haven
Driving in from Albuquerque? Stop on your way to Santa Fe and treat yourself to authentic New Mexican fare, albeit in a truck stop atmosphere. Beware, the chile is hotter here than in more tourist-centric venues (undiluted for its native customers). Ask for the #2 green chile if you want searing heat and pure authenticity. The platters of eggs, potatoes and pinto beans are ample enough for two meals.
4354 Cerrillos Road

2. The Santa Fe Plaza

The Plaza is the cultural and historic heart of the city, a green park surrounded on three sides by shops, and on the other by the Palace of Governors, the oldest public building in the United States. Jewelry and pottery made by Native Americans is spread out on blankets for purchase at very reasonable prices. No visit to Santa Fe would be complete without a stroll through the outdoor hall. In August the Plaza is the site of the famed Indian Market, which draws 100,000 people from around the world.

3. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
This museum is a fitting tribute to one of America’s finest 20th century artists. More than 1000 of O’Keefe’s works are on rotating display here, including her very recognizable flowers and landscapes. For a real treat, make an appointment to visit O’Keefe’s home and studio in nearby Abiquiu. (505/685-4539).
217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico
505-946-1000 or 505-995-1000

4. Canyon Road
Santa Fe has more art galleries than any city of its size in the country, and Canyon Road is where most are located, along with gourmet restaurants, adobe studios and specialty shops. Whether you are looking for an outdoor sculpture or a hand woven rug, chances are you’ll find it on this winding road. Even if you’re only browsing, it’s a treat to bob in and out of the shops to experience what this historic section of town has to offer.

5. The Railyard District
This area is so much more than the depot for New Mexico’s new “Railrunner” high speed train. Recently expanded, it also houses Santa Fe’s farmer’s market, retail shops and SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary art space. It attracts tens of thousands of international visitors a year and is known for cutting-edge, provocative exhibitions.
At the convergence of Cerrillos Road, St. Francis Drive, Guadalupe Street and Paseo de Peralta.

6. Hyde Memorial State Park
Located in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this is a spectacularly beautiful spot for hiking. Trek on well-maintained trails through the evergreens to vistas that seemingly have no end. In the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are favored sports. The entrance to the park is a mere eight miles out of town on the road to the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

740 Hyde Park Road

Santa Fe, NM 87501


7. Santa Fe Opera
Though the summer season is short, the Opera is one of Santa Fe’s most popular events. An open-air ampitheatre affords views of magnificent vistas and mountain peaks. Tailgate prior to a performance, or enjoy a pre-performance buffet that featuring a guest speaker who leads an informative discussion of the evening’s opera.
U.S. 84/285
7 miles north of Downtown
Santa Fe, New Mexico

8. Shidoni Foundry and Galleries
This bronze art foundry, sculpture garden and gallery is a must for serious art lovers. Works by more than 100 of the nation’s most prominent sculptures are displayed on the former apple orchard. Take a leisurely stroll around the grounds (outdoor tables are available for picnicking), or visit the foundry and watch molten bronze being poured into molds. Didn’t bring any food with you? No worries, Tesuque Village Market is just down the street. Part grocery/deli, part restaurant, this funky spot draws an eclectic crowd for the blue-corn pancakes and huevos rancheros, or just a cup of joe.
1508 Bishop's Lodge Road
5 miles north of Downtown
Tesuque, New Mexico

9. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
This incredible geological wonder was put on the map when President Clinton named it a National Monument in 2001. The formations are aptly named and were carved by wind and water out of a layer of ash that was deposited millions of years ago by nearby volcanoes. A short trail allows visitors a close up look at these spectacular rock formations.
Highway 22, Cochiti
40 miles southwest of Downtown
Santa Fe, New Mexico

10. Bandelier National Monument
Seventy miles of trails within the Monument provide access to the ruins of Anasazi cliff houses and pueblo-style dwellings. Climb ladders to get a close-up view of the Anasazi rooms, and witness remnants of Pueblo life in the 1800’s.
Los Alamos, New Mexico
40 miles northwest of Downtown

© Mary Bloch 2009

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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