Just dare us to keep collecting reasons for you to love Santa Fe. We’ll do it!
Let’s start with what’s new for 2023!
1. Santa Fe Tops Travel Lists
Don’t just take our word for it—we have garnered lots of third-party praise to prove The City Different is a fantastic destination. We feel we earn each and every accolade due to the authenticity of our culture, history, architecture, cuisine, and the wonderful experiences in our vast outdoor spaces, however, we blushed particularly red when readers of both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure gave Santa Fe the honor of the #3 spot in their best US cities lists! Even better, TravelAwaits placed The City Different in the #1 spot. Both Booking.com and Condé Nast Traveler chose Santa Fe among many far-flung, exotic destinations as an exciting place to travel in 2023, with Booking.com writing, "From skiing during the winter months to exploring some of the 1.6 million acres that make up the Santa Fe National Forest in spring and summer, there’s so much to experience in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Renowned as an art city, there’s also a variety of galleries and museums to visit, from textiles and folk art at the Museum of International Folk Art to the inspiring work by Georgia O'Keeffe at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum."
2. New Events!
Photo of Día de Muertos by Bryce Risley
The City Different is always imagining new ways to celebrate its rich heritage and its culture as an arts destination, and 2023 arrives with more to enjoy. Plan your trip around the inaugural Art + Sol Winter Arts Festival, February 11–19, which showcases live symphony, song, chamber music, theater, chorus, and jazz in venues across The City Different. And PrintSantaFe comes to town for a month-long festival in April to celebrate the 500-year-old tradition of ink on a surface, compliments of longstanding PrintAustin. Revel in the statewide celebratory New Mexico Cocktail Week, June 2–10, when participating Santa Fe bars and restaurants host high-quality cocktail experiences, as well as educational seminars and signature events about the fine art of mixology. And, finally, do not miss the second annual Día de Muertos, October 27 & 28, a Day of the Dead celebration on the historic Santa Fe Plaza with music, decorative ofrendas (Spanish for altars), face-painting, a candlelit procession, and more.
3. Exhibitions at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Exhibition Installation Photography, Radical Abstraction. December 2022. Photo by Brad Trone. © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.
The Northern New Mexico landscape was certainly a muse for midcentury artist Georgia O'Keeffe, who died in Santa Fe on March 6, 1986, and it seems there's always more to learn about her. Launching in December 2022 at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe are two exhibitions you don't want to miss. "Making of a Life" runs through March 27, 2024 exploring the artist’s identity as a “Maker” and showcasing art and objects that represent O’Keeffe’s way of living and creating, including books, furniture, artist’s materials, clothing, and accessories. In "Radical Abstraction" (through October 30, 2023), explore O'Keeffe's less well known engagement with abstract work.
4. Chile Friday at the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta
The 32nd annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta will host its newest facet—Chile Friday, a chance to put the spotlight on New Mexico’s hero ingredient in its rightful place alongside margaritas and craft beers.
5. New Vladem Contemporary Art
Located in the popular Railyard District, the New Mexico Museum of Art has expanded into a second exciting location called the Vladem Contemporary, which will feature contemporary and post-war artwork. The 35,000-square-foot exhibition space, a former 1930’s brick-and-steel warehouse, allows for large-scale installations, multimedia projects, education, and performance-based works that are central to 21st-century artistic practice. The architecture is equally 21st century!
6. 2nd Annual Santa Fe International Literary Festival
The second annual gathering (May 19–21) for the literati and their like has renamed itself Santa Fe International Literary Festival to reflect their commitment to a more global community of authors, exploring all manner of important societal issues through lunches, lectures, and walking tours. Authors include Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan talking about The Candy House and A Visit From the Goon Squad; Gillian Flynn, master of the literary thriller, will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of her seminal novel Gone Girl; Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong; Ojibwe writer, critic, and academic David Treuer; the legendary John Irving, winner of both the National Book Award and an Academy Award; Zambian author and Harvard professor Namwali Serpell will discuss her prizewinning debut novel, The Old Drift, and her latest, The Furrows; Ingrid Rojas Contreras will address her stunning new memoir, The Man Who Could Move Clouds; and the much celebrated Moroccan writer Laila Lalami, author of the prizewinning The Moor’s Account, The Other Americans, and Unconditional Citizens.
7. New Sky Railway Themed Trains
Santa Fe's Railyard District gets more exciting by the day! In its second year, Sky Railway, Santa Fe’s adventure entertainment train, resurrected from refurbished Santa Fe Southern Railway engines, is your ticket to a curated culinary, theatrical, playful, environmental, astronomic experience as it rolls along the 18-mile stretch of track between Santa Fe and Lamy depots. Get your tickets for any number of fun themed rides, including The Stargazer, the St. Patrick's Day train, one of the local craft beer takeovers, a jazz or flamenco immersion, or a murder mystery! Any choice is a good one and the wide-open landscape never disappoints. And speaking of depots, Santa Fe’s recently renovated historic depot at the terminus again welcomes visitors who have questions about where to go and what to do in The City Different.
Now, on to what’s always tried and true.
8. 320+ Days of Sunshine
With our sunshiney day average far exceeding that of the national average (205!), chances are nearly guaranteed that you will have beautiful, blue sky weather, no matter which of our distinct four seasons welcomes you. With our semiarid climate, you’ll love the low humidity. With our small population, you’ll love the freedom to move about without the hassles of traffic or long lines. And you can expect some of the cleanest air you’ve breathed in a long time.
9. Santa Fe Farmers’ Market
Since the late 1960s and the early days of the farm-to-table movement, farmers have gathered on Saturdays in the capital city of Santa Fe to sell their produce. And today is no different, except that now more than 150 vendors from 15 different counties gather each Saturday year-round in their very own building and space at the Santa Fe Railyard to sell their fresh food! (A robust market happens on Tuesdays, too.) The Farmers’ Market mornings are a highly social scene, definitely the place to be, not only because buying locally from growers you know is a healthy personal choice, but because Santa Fe is a community that believes in supporting small farms and sustainable agriculture. Swing by for a just-plucked tomato, some fresh flowers, or a muffin made with local ingredients.
10. Very Walkable
Santa Fe is proud of its distinctive neighborhoods, each offering a welcome window into our culture. Most are best seen on foot, so you do not miss the allure of a shop window, the spontaneity of an outdoor sculpture, or the smell of the chile wafting through a door. Try the half-mile-long Canyon Road and its charming adobe homes transformed into 100+ galleries, restaurants, and shops. Or the burgeoning Railyard District with its contemporary lofts, galleries, museums, and breweries, its community garden and 10-acre park.
11. Native American Artisans Portal Program
Every day from 8:30 am to 5 pm under the portal of the Palace of the Governors on the Plaza, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States, you can interact with and purchase art from artisan vendors of 23 federally recognized Native American Tribes, Pueblos, or Nations in New Mexico. More than 1,500 artisans are authorized to participate, each having demonstrated technical mastery of their chosen craft, including pottery, some textiles, and jewelry made of traditional materials such as turquoise, coral, and silver.
12. Extensive Outdoor Terrain, including More than 300 Miles of Hiking Trails
Amid the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, the Rio Grande Valley to the south and west, and the Jemez Mountains for your sunsets, enthusiasts can often ski, bike, hike, fish, and paddle, all in the same week. From the mountain slopes of Ski Santa Fe to the foothill trails of Santa Fe’s Dale Ball Trail system and the waterways of Northern New Mexico, there is an abundance of beautiful terrain, access to which can be just minutes from the historic Plaza.
13. Santa Fe Opera
Since 1957, newcomers and opera lovers alike return each year for world-class productions by one of America's premier opera festivals. Revel in extraordinary performances by international operatic superstars under a dazzling Santa Fe summer sky. Set in a peaceful and rugged high desert landscape, the venue is an architectural wonder and there’s not a bad seat in the house. The 2023 season (July 30–August 26) features Tosca, The Flying Dutchman, Pelléas and Mélisande, Rusalka, and Orfeo.
14. Home of the Original Meow Wolf
A darling in Santa Fe, the original Meow Wolf, designed to deliver immersive, interactive experiences to transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration, is the brainchild of an artist collective with support from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin. Come see the award-winning House of Eternal Return, more than 70 rooms in a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, and art exhibits along with an all-ages learning center, a cafe, store, and bar! New rooms are always in development, including Virgil Ortiz’ new room Sirens: Secret Passkeys & Portals (pictured above).
15. Ski Santa Fe
Located just 16 miles from the heart of downtown, Ski Santa Fe offers some of the finest ski slopes in the Southwest, and some of the fluffiest snow. The mountain sits at a base elevation of 10,350 feet and reaches a peak elevation of 12,075 feet with expansive vistas of all the beauty that is Northern New Mexico, plus terrain for every skill level with 86 trails (more if you make your own through the trees!). The rental shop is well equipped, as is the on-site retail shop. Choose from two eateries with outdoor decks for soaking in the rays while refueling with delicious regional dishes.
16. The City Different’s Distinctive Architecture
In the early 1900s, the “City Beautiful Movement” was sweeping the United States and all state capitals were invited to join. Officials in Santa Fe knew their city was already beautiful, and that their unique and historic “Santa Fe Style” just needed codifying. In 1912, as New Mexico became a state, Santa Fe released a style preservation plan. Drawing on its heritage and architectural roots, the city decided to fully embrace the Pueblo-Spanish architectural look that originated with the Pueblo Indians—the area’s First Peoples—and the more linear Territorial style. This is the aesthetic you see today.
17. Established Filmmaking Destination
New Mexico is a growing hub for the film industry, particularly with the presence of Netflix nearby, and five Western sets. Be a film tourist guided by the film office’s handy maps depicting the sights of major films and shows made in New Mexico. Or sit back and celebrate with the Santa Fe International Film Festival (October 18–22), The Santa Fe Film Festival (February 17–26), or the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival.
18. 250 Galleries, 20 Museums, Dozens of Art Markets
Santa Fe has been a top art market for decades with 250 galleries, 20 museums, several immersive art experiences, and dozens of art markets, including Indian, Spanish, and International Folk Art. Come to poke around, network, collect, or just learn more! Santa Fe’s prized and prevailing creative culture has always had a positive influence on its citizens and the local economy, and of course, it’s inviting for visitors as well! Don’t just take our word for it: Santa Fe was ranked #7 in a Travel + Leisure article listing titled "The 10 Best Cities in the World for Art Lovers" based on a money.co.uk study.
19. Feast Days & Dances at the Eight Northern Pueblos
The Eight Northern Pueblos are cultural treasures, dating back more than one thousand years, and every Santa Fe visitor should see at least one of them through a public celebration. Feast Days and Dances are scheduled throughout the year at Nambé (Nanbé Ówingeh), Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan), Picurís, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos, and Tesuque Pueblos. Remember to observe the etiquette and protocols of each tribe, and please keep in mind photography is not allowed more often than not. Call ahead to confirm.
20. Home to Dozens of Award-Winning Restaurants
Without a doubt, you can eat very well in Santa Fe! Here you will find the only AAA Four Diamond restaurants in the state of New Mexico—Geronimo on Canyon Road, Terra at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, Sazón near the Plaza, and Sassella next to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. As well, you can enjoy the foods of eight nominated and winning James Beard Award recipients, including “Best Chef: Southwest” Chef/Owner Mark Kiffin of the Compound Restaurant (in 2005) and Chef/Owner Fernando Olea of Sazón (in 2022) who both received top honors. And, Sazon and Geronimo again topped Tripadvisors Travelers’ Choice Awards’ fine dining list, while Ten Thousand Waves’ restaurant Izanami made OpenTable’s list of the "100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in America for 2022." Truly all Santa Fe chefs are artists, always honing their craft, and integral members of our community, heralded for their talent, ingenuity, and service. For a look at many of our fine culinary destinations in one spot, flip through our Santa Fe Dining Guide.
21. The Destination for Chile
In 2021, New Mexico produced 51,000 tons of chile, with an estimated value of $45 million, making it the top cash crop in the state. While most of the magic happens 250 miles to Santa Fe’s south in the “Chile Capital of the World,” Hatch, New Mexico, across the state, restaurant owners and individuals alike eagerly await the arrival of the autumn crop to replenish their troves. “Red, green or Christmas?” is a question you should expect to be asked when you order New Mexican fare. Just ask your server which option packs the most punch or answer “Christmas,” meaning a combination of green and red, perfect for those seeking the best of both worlds. Read more here.
22. Ski in the Morning and Golf in the Afternoon
Santa Fe enjoys a wide range in elevation from 7,000 feet downtown to 12,075 feet at the top of Ski Santa Fe, so you might imagine there is also a range in temperature and climate. Locals are known to catch the 9 am chairlift up the slopes, squeeze in a half-dozen runs, and make a 2 pm tee time at The City Different’s public course Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, dressed in an insulated wind shell, perhaps a beanie, and a large grin.
23. Living History of Anglo, Hispanic, Mexican, and Native American cultures
As the oldest capital city in North America, Santa Fe is endlessly studied as an exemplar of Southwestern culture. Through centuries of trade and governance, it has evolved from a mix of Native American, Hispanic, Mexican, and Anglo cultures into an inclusive, dynamic multicultural destination that today attracts all types of people hungry for something different. Pueblo Feast Days, Santa Fe Fiesta, and other traditions have roots older than the United States, but newer traditions, such as the annual Burning of Zozobra—Old Man Gloom—and the Christmas Eve Canyon Road Farolito Walk have become equally representative of and important to Santa Fe.
24. Santa Fe Margarita Trail
Taste more than 40 of the best margaritas in the world at Santa Fe’s most popular bars and restaurants. Each locale has created an original, signature margarita, steeped in story for the Santa Fe Margarita Trail. Track your progress with the paper Passport, available for purchase at any of the three Visitors Centers in Santa Fe or at participating restaurants or by downloading the app.
25. Small, Easily Accessible Airport
Fly directly into the Santa Fe Regional Airport from Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix via American Airlines and Denver via United Airlines. It’s hassle free, convenient, and minutes from downtown Santa Fe.