At last, a glorious three-day weekend in Santa Fe the City Different. If you’re like me, you'll want to pack in as much of as you can into these precious moments. So get ready, because I have some suggestions to help you to capture the true essence of what Santa Fe has to offer over just three days. From delicious meals and world-class spas, to museums, shopping, and hiking, here are favorite picks to help you have a trip to remember back at your desk.

Day 1: Eat Breakfast, Ride the Tram, Indulge in Chocolate

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? I would be remiss if I didn't suggest you start your first morning off with a bang. Cafe Pasqual's is quintessential Santa Fe, with bright colored tiles and a festive atmosphere. Locals and tourists alike flock to this legendary joint. Order the huevos rancheros (try both red and green chile) or the papas fritas (scrumptious home fries in chile, cheese, and sour cream). Then, revel in your wise decision, whichever dish you choose.

With your belly full, a great way to explore downtown while digesting is to take a 90 minute Custom Tour by Clarice. These open-air tram rides leave from the Plaza several times a day and are an ideal way to see the sights and hear some history. The tram also picks up passengers at many hotels. The knowledgeable and humorous guides will point out must-see shopping destinations, restaurants, and galleries.

Plan to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum to get a look at the exquisite work of New Mexico's most beloved artist. You can choose a self guided audio tour or a free docent-led tour. There, you will be privy to a new exhibit which opens May 17: "Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land." In addition to the exhibit, the museum maintains a comprehensive permanent collection, as well as a fantastic gift shop and bookstore.

Another schedule to keep an eye on is the Santa Fe Culinary Academy. This renowned culinary school offers diverse one day cooking classes on topics such as gluten-free spring dinners, Thai curries, and puff pastries that are open to the community. Indulge your taste buds while picking up some mouthwatering and innovative recipes from Santa Fe's top chefs.

After all of this touring around, you will probably be ready or a treat. Why not hit the chocolate trail this afternoon? Santa Fe is home to some innovative chocolatiers. Check out my previous blog with tips on how to get your chocolate fix around the city.

Santa Fe Culinary Academy - Chef Rocky Durham demonstrating how to hone a knife's edge on the unglazed edge of a plate

Day 2: Stroll, Spree, Listen and Relax

Start your Saturday off by strolling the Santa Fe Farmers Market, one of the country's premiere farmers markets. Centrally located in the Railyard district, this market is a delight for the senses. Local farmers, bakers, gardeners, and herbalists convene to create a lively, bustling market. Grab a breakfast burrito and an organic coffee, and peruse the bountiful selections. The people watching is great, and be sure to catch one of the ongoing cooking demonstrations utilizing local ingredients. I guarantee you won't leave empty handed. And while you’re at the Railyard, check out the groundbreaking contemporary art at SITE Santa Fe, which is free on Saturdays.

Shopping for produce at the Santa Fe Farmers Market

Of course, after the market, it's time for some retail therapy. While in the Railyard, head over to Chapare for the finest in South American imports including textiles, jewelry, and an impressive selection of woven and embroidered scarves and shawls. Also in the area, stop by the über trendy Daniella Clothing for a wardrobe boost unlike any you are likely to find in the rest of the city.

For the man in your life, make an appointment to see the fine artistry of Randall D. Moore. His collection of silver and gold belt buckles, cuff links, and bolo ties are museum quality with a hint of a contemporary Western flair. For handmade jewelry, be sure to hit the Plaza and walk the length of The Palace of the Governors. There, you will find a vast selection of Native American handiwork such as silver, turquoise, beading, and leather, sold by the artists themselves. It’s a Santa Fe tradition.

Retail shopping in Santa Fe

End your day enveloped in luxury. Treat yourself to a facial or blissful massage at Nidah at the Eldorado Hotel. This deluxe spa incorporates local ingredients like sage and lavender, chocolate, and even gemstones into their treatments. You deserve it.

If you have plans for a three-day trip later in the summer, don't forget to check out the Santa Fe Opera schedule; the season begins June 28. Whether you're an opera aficionado or a complete novice, the world-class performances are not to be missed.

Day 3: Coffee-Fueled Hiking Followed by Rejuvenation and Dinner

Grab some caffeine for your big day ahead at Ohori's Coffee, a local favorite for espresso, coffees, and treats. This should give you fuel to make the short 45-minute drive out to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument for a hike that is sure to be a highlight of your travels. These dazzling rock formations, located within the Pueblo de Cochiti, are a stunning visual and a fascinating study in ecology and history.

There are two trails available. The Cave Loop Trail, rated as easy, is 1.2 miles long. The more challenging route, The Canyon Trail, is a one way, 1.5 mile trek through narrow canyons, eventually winding up to a mesa, with awe inspiring views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Be sure to have appropriate footwear, water, and sunscreen for this fantastic excursion. A must see!

Glorious summit at Tent Rocks National Monument

Once back in town, there is no better way to revive your tired muscles than to take a dip in warm water. Ten Thousand Waves is Santa Fe's world-renowned Japanese style resort. A soak in one of their outdoor hot tubs will relax and rejuvenate your body and soul. A state of nirvana is guaranteed here. See my Healing Waters blog for other spa and local springs you can visit to reward yourself after a day of exercise.

To conclude this lovely day, dine at Luminaria, located inside the Inn and Spa at Lorretto. Whether you choose the three-course happy hour prix fixe menu, available 5-6:30 pm, or one of their signature dishes from the regular dinner menu, dining at Luminaria is an affair to remember. Only top quality meats, seafood, and vegetables are used here to create simple, refined meals that are sure to please your palette. The warm and inviting atmosphere will leave you in no rush to leave, and your day will end with a sense of satisfaction and well-being.

If you want to end your day (or start your night) with drinks or dinner outdoors, you should know some of our city’s most beloved restaurants dish out their best treats on patios, rooftop decks, and secret gardens. High on my al fresco list is Restaurant Martín because I’m partial to umbrellas. That, and duck confit quesadillas, and crab cakes with sweet corn purée and roasted pasilla peppers. I’m also a big fan of the lively scene and Southwest creations on the Rooftop Cantina at Coyote Café. I recommend you start with the Persephone (a pomegranate martini with a touch of cinnamon), followed by Navajo tacos filled with pulled pork, roasted chicken, and ground buffalo. Keep your sunglasses on so no one can see you cry with happiness.

You Can’t See All of Santa Fe in Three Days — But You Can See a Lot

A getaway to Santa Fe is guaranteed to rejuvenate and inspire you. Plan your time to take in the natural beauty, cuisine, art, and culture that make our corner of the world so special. Once you get home, you can start planning your next Santa Fe adventure. Enjoy!


Visiting Santa Fe for Memorial Day Weekend?

Don’t miss these events!


Event: Native Treasures Indian Art Festival

When: May 25-26

Where: Santa Fe Convention Center


Event: Northern New Mexico Fine Arts & Crafts Guild

When: May 25-27

Where: Cathedral Park


Event: Aspen Ballet and Folklórico Annual Spring Recital

When: May 26

Where: Lensic Performing Arts Center