9 Best Things to Do in Santa Fe

Best Small and Mid-Size Cities in the US

We rolled into Santa Fe downright D U S T Y. Dirty, even (I cringe to think what my mom’s best friend, Debbie and her partner , thought when we brought in a bagful of laundry into her house and then took our shoes off.) She was so kind and welcoming and the absolutely perfect hostess that she didn’t even bat an eye or miss a beat, but we were looking, by all estimations, rough in every sense of the word. We were in need of a soft landing after several weeks on the road and boy did we get it. We had the guest room all to ourselves, a guest bathroom, free wifi, a place to do laundry and a home-cooked meal each night. We even got to enjoy her favorite breakfast place and I got to experience my first progressive dinner in her neighborhood. It was so much fun meeting some of her friends and other Santa Fe locals.


Our top things to see, do and eat in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

1. Kasha – Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Slot canyons, gorgeous 360 degree views of the surrounding areas and beautiful landscapes that reminded me of the moon. I’d actually never heard of this place before but Debbie and Ron recommended it and we decided to head there one morning and are still feeling mind-blown.

2. Meow Wolf

Okay, two places in Santa Fe had me mind-blown. Meow Wolf came with really high expectations because several friends had told us how amazing it was and you know how that goes…sometimes things like that can let you down! But it didn’t. It was all that they said it would be and then some. But to be fair, Caroline and I had very different experiences. She wanted to know how the installation was made, how certain pieces were built and I just wanted to lose myself in another world. As far as experiences go, it was one of the coolest things I’ve done. I don’t want to ruin anything for you so all I’ll say is go and do it and then let’s grab coffee and talk about it.

3. The Plaza

This is a must-do even if it’s touristy just because it’s in the center of everything and it’s been the heart of the city for over 400 years. You’ll see all kinds of artists, be able to buy all kinds of jewelry, hand-made goods, blankets, clothing, etc. Though there wasn’t any live music when we were there, sometimes you’ll get lucky. If not, shop til ya drop. Or in our case, don’t but have fun people watching.


4. San Marcos Cafe

Peacocks in the front yard and a cinnamon roll as big as your face that was to diiiiie for (among other things.) Caroline got The Stack which was a stack of french toast, roasted poblano peppers, fried eggs and bacon. I had an egg enchilada with delicious guacamole and cheese and red sauce … as soon as we left I wanted to go back.

5. Georgia O’Keefe Museum

We didn’t get a chance to go here but as Debbie says, “You’ve got to save some things for later so you have good reason to come back!”

6. The Shed

We rolled into the Shed after walking around downtown Santa Fe and grabbed a seat at the bar. Caroline got two cheese enchiladas with Christmas sauce and I got one enchilada and a chicken taco, also with Christmas sauce. It was hot and spicy, one of the spiciest dishes I’ve ever had, but also really, really delicious. We washed it all down with a local IPA. Would I go back there? Definitely.

7. Madrid

This tiny little artist community isn’t too far from Santa Fe. We actually stayed one night there at the Shanti Community where our friend Shelly Johnson has a hipcamp site and wow, if you’re looking for a place to stay that’s off the grid and awesome, give it a look. She has a VW bus, the bus from the movie from Dawn Til Dusk and even a yurt for you to sleep in. For more info, click here.

8. The Spur

There’s a ton of trails for you to choose from in Santa Fe but this one happens to be close to Debbie’s house and have the most AMAZING sunrise views. We ran here both mornings we were in town and the combination of trails and panoramic views was enough to make me wish I lived in Santa Fe.

9. El Rancho de las Golondrinas

We made a new friend, Barbara, while in town and one afternoon she took us to this living museum that she volunteers at! If you happen to go, look her up – she’s about as sweet as they come and very knowledgable about the history and culture of the area. Oh and the drive out there was so beautiful because the cottonwood trees had turned the most striking golden color. We also happened to see a VERY rare motorhome…don’t worry we didn’t buy it haha.



Bonus: Museum Hill Cafe

We had the pleasure of having lunch with our friend Debbie Harmon at the Museum Hill Cafe and it was wonderful! If you’re in Santa Fe, consider putting this on the list. The food is delicious, there’s ample parking and of course there’s four world-class museums! You could literally spend a whole day in this one section. If you do go, be sure to check out the labyrinth that is just a few paces away from the museum. It has a really cool acoustical surprise waiting for you!

The best things to see, do and eat in Santa Fe recap:

We know that’s not ALL there is to do in Santa Fe which is why we’re already eager to return. But this was our list of favorites so far. We’re excited to hear about your own thoughts on this city! Please leave your comments below!SaveSave


Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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