I’m a big fan of the desert. Something about the otherworldly and seemingly never-ending landscape, the harsh survival conditions, and the huge temperature swings intrigues me. So, I’d been looking for a reason to explore New Mexico a little more than I already had. And there was one place that was non-negotiable for this trip—Santa Fe. Not only is it a quintessential desert town, it’s a major arts center (which holds its very own appeal for me). As is always the case, however, it would have to be a whirlwind tour because time is never on my side. What did I do with one day in Santa Fe? Keep reading for all the details…
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Get Those Creative Juices Flowing At Café Pasqual’s
My new favorite travel “thing” is hunting down fun area cafés and, in Santa Fe, Café Pasqual’s would be the one. Sadly, it was closed when I stopped by, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add it to your very own itinerary and let me know how it is. It was voted one of the best spots in Santa Fe on Open Table and has a gallery attached to it. It also has a curbside menu, a café shop, and all the amazing curb appeal you’ve come to expect from a Global Debauchery recommendation. Get that dose of caffeine in your system to jumpstart your day! (And circle back to me on it.)
Take A Walking Tour Of Old Town Santa Fe
Santa Fe is sort of the perfect town for a female solo traveler. I felt completely safe everywhere I went. Safe enough to get intentionally lost (between deliberate stops). The side streets are filled with small shops, bistros, and B&Bs, and they’re all basically Insta-ready.
While there’s no shortage of things to see and do in downtown Santa Fe, I particularly enjoyed the three churches—the San Miguel Mission, the Loretto Chapel, and the Saint Francis Cathedral. The Historic Plaza was a nice sitting area as well. I visited all of these on a loop from my hotel to the café to my next stop, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Other stops worth a look and, well, an entire deep-dive are the round New Mexico State Capitol, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, and the New Mexico Museum of Art.
I should mention that Canyon Road was a highly recommended off-shoot as well. It’s just off Santa Fe’s Old Town area and has over a hundred galleries, boutiques, and restaurants in a mere half mile.
Pay Your Respects To Georgia O’Keeffe
If you’re in Santa Fe, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-do. Advanced ticket purchase was required when I went (and it was completely sold out, I might add), so it’s definitely something that requires planning beforehand. I saw a few folks walk away completely disappointed. But not I. (Plus one for my Type A personality!)
Georgia O’Keeffe is one of those rare painters that was actually famous while she was still alive. And she’s a woman, which is additional cool points in my book. She traveled all over the place, but spent summers and eventually retired (and passed away) in Santa Fe.
Much of her most recognizable work is from her time in Santa Fe—the racy floral paintings and the eerie animal skulls in desert scapes. But there was a lot of stuff there I hadn’t seen before, too. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in town!
Grab A Tasty Bite At Tomasita’s Santa Fe
Oh. Em. Gee. So good. I wanted to test out the local cuisine—not to mention the chile, which Santa Fe is famous for—and Tomasita’s was simply delicious. I picked it because it was rated pretty high on all my food apps and, let me tell you—my beef enchilada did not disappoint.
Plus, you get a “free” sopaipilla with honey, and that was about the most heavenly thing I’d ever tasted. To be honest, I had no idea what the honey was for when it arrived, but I Googled it and got it all figured out. And thank goodness because I’ll be salivating over sopaipillas for the rest of my life. Just add them to the list with pasteis de nata in Lisbon.
Wander The Santa Fe Railyard Arts District
While you’re in the area, take a wander around the Railyard Arts District. As I understand it, it’s the latest and greatest arts area in Santa Fe. (If there ever was such a thing, since… everything in Santa Fe is over-the-top artsy. Arts on steroids, for real.)
The Railyard is your typical up-and-coming developed area in City X with galleries, food options, parks… the farmer’s market. …You get it. Good for a stroll and some photo opps.
Then Take On Meow Wolf’s “House Of Eternal Return”
You’re gonna need to be fully charged for Meow Wolf’s “House of Eternal Return,” so enjoy that sopaipilla. Right about now, I’m sure most of you are asking yourselves, “What the hell is Meow Wolf?”
Well, it’s an art collective that got funding from Game Of Thrones‘ George R.R. Martin to buy—and then renovate—a bowling alley in Santa Fe. The result is a massive immersive art exhibit, and a bit like what I imagine a full-throttle acid trip would be like.
The “House of Eternal Return” is where the supposed Selig family once lived. Or, still live and keep going back and forth to. (However you want to interpret it.) Somehow, they discovered a break in the space-time continuum. And the exhibit is what these other dimensions look like. You’re encouraged to explore and interact with everything. You will get lost in the maze of psychedelic cubbies, so plan accordingly.
It’s a great to-do for adults and kids alike and… it’s constantly sold out. So, do plan ahead and purchase tickets in advance. Also, it’s only up and running through November of 2021.
Delight In An Afternoon Gruet Wine Tasting
Yes, thee Gruet. From France. They have a tasting spot right in Santa Fe. Reservations required. But they’ve got a gorgeous patio and tasting room to relax in. And they were having a chocolate pairing when I was there. Like, what more do you even need in this world? …Wine in hand, chocolate melting in your mouth, on some pleasantly sunny Santa Fe afternoon.
And, if you stay at the ridiculously amazing Hotel St. Francis like I did, you can have the wine sent right up to your room. Or even do a private in-room tasting. The world is your oyster.
Soak Up Those Tannins At Market Steer Steakhouse
After a little afternoon relaxation, dine at one of Santa Fe’s best new restaurants—Market Steer Steakhouse. Right next door to Gruet, Market Steer Steakhouse features the incredible cuisine of award-winning chef and New Mexico native, Kathleen Crook. Enjoy any number of creative dishes, including lobster adobo, green chile risotto, and even lemon crème brulee.
And don’t forget to stop by the attached Secreto Lounge for a nightcap when you’re done. World-renowned for its “farm-to-table cocktails” and overall ingenuity in the field of mixology.
And So Much More…
Wow! Did I ever try to pack as much as was humanly possible into a 24-hour visit to Santa Fe. And there’s still so much more to do and see there. There were a ton more art museums to peruse, a ton more shops and galleries, and endless top-notch dining options.
Not to mention all the things to do just outside Santa Fe, like the Turquoise Trail or Bandelier National Monument. Yes, I think you’ll find Santa Fe is well worth a visit. And probably for a couple more days than I stayed for.
Have you ever been to Santa Fe? What were your favorite spots? Add them in the comments section below, or email me via my Contact page.
Where To Stay
I stayed at Heritage Hotels & Resorts’ Hotel St. Francis, which happens to be the oldest hotel in Santa Fe. It’s clean and beautiful and just… quintessential Santa Fe. It’s right in the heart of Old Town and within walking distance of everything. I couldn’t say enough great things about it, and I highly recommend it for your visit to Santa Fe. Kick back, relax, and enjoy!
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