5 Reasons Santa Fe is Worth a Visit Any Time of Year
We like Santa Fe, New Mexico but we’ve been told multiple times that its only a summer destination…we politely disagree.
Santa Fe (Spanish for Holy Faith) is the oldest capitol city in the United States and known for its rich history, artistic culture, and of course being the most visited city in New Mexico.
Summer may seem like the most enticing time to be in here, especially if you’ve seen Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, rightfully so as everything is greener, but the town is much busier. We say if you’re in the vicinity, it’s worth a stop any time of the year. Here are five Santa Fe stops we found that are great no matter what the season!
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Dedicated in 1886, the adobe and French-Romanesque Cathedral is one of the city’s most recognized and photographed landmarks. While we did snap a few photos, it’s the labyrinth that caught our attention. A word of advice, show up before 4:30pm if you want more than just a glimpse of the inside (which is all we got).
Blue Corn Café and Brewery
We love New Mexican fare and this café hit the spot dead on! We are big fans of locally-grown ingredients, authentic flavors and a nice kick of spice. The combo plate, green chili sauce and beer delivered on all fronts (totally made up for our Taos food misses). We suggest the Cerrillos Road location (the brewery is here) and sitting at the bar, it’s a great place to mingle with locals and fellow travelers.
We are always in search of a good, locally roasted cup o’ joe and that is exactly what the crew at Iconik delivered. They have a vintage vibe that goes beyond the décor with a vintage 1923 roaster. It’s wild to think that you can still use a roaster from the 20’s much less connect it to a computer to ensure the perfect roast. We left with a good coffee buzz and 3 bags of coffee…and I’m sad we didn’t purchase more.
Constructed in the 1870s, this Gothic structure once served as the Loretto Academy, operated by the Sisters of Loretto. However, what was initially a design flaw (no way to get to the choir loft) is now a mysterious carpenters “miraculous stairway”. It contains 33 steps in two full 360-degree turns, with no center or side supports. After completing the stairway, the carpenter disappeared without receiving payment for his work. However, if you want to see the stairs today it will cost you a whopping $3 because it’s privately owned and operated. The only downside is the staircase is no longer mysterious as they had to add rails for “safety”, oh well, it’s still interesting to see in person.
Finding excellent ethnic food is no small task and judging from the awards displayed on the walls, we aren’t the only ones that feel this way. This place is tucked away in a generic looking shopping center and wouldn’t exactly catch your eye in passing. But we all know the hole in the walls are some of the best finds. Owner-Chef Ahmed Obo is from Lamu which is a small island off the coast of Kenya where his mother taught him how to make the unique cuisine he serves today, and yes it’s very tasty.
Blue Mesa Alpaca Farm
Bob & Louise Hazen run a true working ranch. Aside from the farms namesake Alpaca’s they also raise and train mini mules (we didn’t even know such a thing existed before), Haflinger and Rocky Mountain horses. They’re a sweet couple that love running their farm store, giving farm tours, and teaching children and adults about Alpaca’s.
If you’re an RV’er like us, Bob and Louise allow free overnight stays to Harvests Host members. So, you can spend the whole day on the farm, explore Santa Fe and earn extra Wild Camping bragging rights.
Bonus Stop – Random Brontosaurus
Along I-25, also known as the Dinosaur Trail, sits a family of Brontosaurus and one strong T-Rex. When we talked to the young girl who lived on the property and asked “why the dinos”, she gave a ‘duh’ response of “because we live on dinosaur trail”. Worked for us! To add a cherry on top of her interesting dino family, she also told us her favorite place in town is the Cathedral Basilica. What a fantastic answer for a girl no older than 15 with dinosaurs in her front yard!
We happened, by chance, a short stay in the state park where we tent camped. It just so happened to be Fall annnd it just so happened that the poplars were changing. Wow, what a sight. Also, so happens, a festival of sorts, was going on in the plaza. We were on our way back to Oklahoma after a trip to California. We didnt expect our timing to award us with all these unexpected surprises…serendipity at it’s finest. (Although tent camping was quite cold. The night temps were 32ish.)….ah, yes, thanks for reminding me of our Wild West Adventure. *smile*
…Hyde Memorial State Park, I meant to say. :-/
We love Santa Fe and are presently at The Santa Fe Skies RV Park for a month. The park has great views and is conveniently located between Madrid and downtown Santa Fe. Canyon Rd has so much to offer….. great galleries and the Shed and the Cowgirls. …great restaurants. We visit twice a year and always see something different. …make sure you visit Bandelier National Monument. ….33,677 acre’s preserving the homes and territory of the Ancestrial Pueblo People.
Thanks for sharing Jay, we can’t wait to visit again and hit more of the places we missed the first time around.
On my list to see with my husband, Myleah our sweet big horse dog and 17 rescues kitties when my husband retires in five years. I know it sounds crazy, but we can not leave our babies only after rescuing them so I am in the planning stages now looking for viable ways to make it work traveling with a bunch of animals in an RV. Thanks for the posts you guys!
My husband and I were seriously considering raising alpacas here in Tennessee, but we decided we would be starting about 25 years too late, as it does take a while to build up a good herd.
Yeah, I hear it can be a real hit or miss business but either way they are great lawn mowers and super cute!
New Mexico in general and Santa Fe in particular is on my list of places to visit if/when we start full-timing.
Walt, what’s with the if/when? What’s holding you back? Are you thinking of joining us on the water vs land?
The main two things holding me back are an autistic teen-aged son whose future we are still preparing for and a wife who is not quite ready to retire. Me, I’ve been ready to hit the road for five years. 😀
When we do head out, it will be one if by land (as it were). We hope to find a 35-36 foot coach and see as much of this country as time and money will allow. I don’t think I could convince my wife to head out on the water, tempting as that sounds.
I agree on Santa Fe being not only a summer destination. Thanksgiving weekend hosts the lighting of the Trees in the plaza. The square packs with people drinking free hot chocolate and cookies in the dark with bands playing. Then at the appointed time the crowd counts down like the ball is dropping at the big apple, and all the lights in all the trees go on at the same time. It’s really romantic and fun. It’s a lovely city year ’round.
Awe, that sounds lovely! Maybe we will join in someday for a T-day weekend, thanks so much for sharing!
We were there in April several years ago and loved the art galleries on Canyon Road (and other places), the Pinot Nut Brown Ale at The Shed, and the bed and breakfast (whose name now escapes me). Would LOVE to return!
No better time than now to visit! Thanks for sharing Susan.
Seriously. Santa Fe has about a thousand more reasons to be there in any season. I was only there once and have always wanted to go back. Even to live there!
It does have lots of reasons to visit…sadly, we couldn’t fit the whole town in one blog post so we decided to go with a few of our personal faves. 🙂
Ten Thousand Waves!!!
Looked it up and this spa looks like a great retreat!
Were there in late April. The Blue Corn was fun. We loved Cafe Pasquale (best Chile Relleno ever!) and also the downtown library.
We haven’t been to cafe pasquale yet but it has been recommended by lots of people. It’s on our list for next time (as I do love a good chile relleno).
I live in Albuquerque and visit Santa Fe regularly for all the reasons you mention. You should pop down to Albuquerque as well–less than an hour south of Santa Fe. We have lots of cool things here as well! Com’ on down!
We had to skip ABQ but we did get to try one of the beers from there…it’s on the list for our next NM adventures.
Headed there in July for the International Market Art Festival. We love Santa Fe.
The art scene is pretty amazing! You’ll have to let us know how the festival is.
We LOVED Santa Fe and can’t wait to return. Beautiful town. Lots of art and great food! Canyon Rd is full of art galleries. My favorite artsy place was Madrid, just 20 minutes outside of Santa Fe on the Turquoise Trail. Also the location at the end of the movie Wild Hogs that starred John Travolta. My husband and cousin enjoyed riding the extensive bike trails around the town.
Awesome Debbie, thanks for sharing.