“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”  - John Steinbeck

While many towns lull into hibernation during the winter months, Santa Fe vibrates with life. Picturesque snowdrifts blanket adobe walls. Laughter and conversation surround crackling kiva fireplaces. The spicy aromas of piñon and cedar permeate the air. Deep relaxing pueblo drumming echoes northern New Mexico. And flavorful pots of posole and green chile stew transport you back to grandma’s cozy kitchen. Food & Wine proclaims, “Winter is the perfect time to explore Santa Fe and discover all of its wondrous offerings.” We locals couldn’t agree more!

Winter in The City Different is, well, different. In a city blessed with a gorgeous array of winter scenery, you’ll often find lunchtime temperatures 30 degrees warmer than our crisp mornings, and sunshine during a snowfall is not uncommon. Few things match the sublime sight of light rays dancing between giant snowflakes.

Santa Fe’s 300 days of sun, brilliant skies, and dramatic sunsets offer a colorful playground for outdoor recreation. Enjoy winter sports like downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and hiking just minutes from the Plaza in the Santa Fe National Forest. Then rejuvenate your spirit after a long day of snowy adventure with a soak in one of Santa Fe’s spas or naturally healing hot springs in the area.

If rugged trails and thrilling slopes aren’t your forte, don’t fret. Santa Fe blends international style and old-world charm that warms spirits all year long. There is a myriad of inspiring ways to stimulate your senses without breaking a sweat. Indulge in the diverse visual arts scene with a peaceful walk down Canyon Road, home to more than 100 galleries and studios. Or visit one of Santa Fe’s acclaimed museums, like the legendary Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.  If you’re a cultural adventurer, you should note that winter is the only time of year you can observe pueblo dwellers perform traditional Feast Day dances, just a short drive from downtown Santa Fe.

One thing locals take special pride in is the fact that on a cold day you will find warmth and comfort in Santa Fe’s soul-stirring cuisine. Here, chile is more than an ingredient — it’s a way of life. Sample traditional Southwestern fare at family-owned restaurants, walk on the wild side with a tour of our quirky food trailers, or melt away stress with traditional cacao elixirs and delicate, hand-rolled truffles on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. With a tempting mix of Native American and Spanish culinary traditions, and an abundance of authentic local foods, Santa Fe is a foodie’s winter paradise.

Locals will tell you that Santa Fe is a wonderful place to visit year around, but during the winter months there’s something indescribably magical in the air. And to help you feel that Santa Fe warm winter love, here are six must-do’s, field-tested by travel experts and locals alike. They’ll turn your winter into a rewarding adventure in the City Different.

1. Ski Santa Fe

Winter at Ski Santa Fe

(Photo Courtesy of Ski Santa Fe)

Just 16 miles from the heart of downtown Santa Fe, and nestled high in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Ski Santa Fe offers some of the Southwest’s finest skiing and snowboarding. With a base area elevation of over 10,000 feet, Ski Santa Fe is one of the highest ski areas in the country. The mountain’s unparalleled vistas and perfect variety of ski runs makes for an ideal destination whether you’re a first-time skier/boarder or seasoned veteran.

2. Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing

(Photo Courtesy of Santa Fe County)

Winter is a beautiful time to discover Santa Fe’s spectacular mountain areas. With Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing, you can hike or snowshoe the Santa Fe wilderness with one of their expert guides. Outspire has the belief that playing outside has the power to truly inspire people, hence the name Outspire. They invite hikers and snowshoers of all levels of experience.

3. Ten Thousand Waves

(Photo Courtesy of Ten Thousand Waves)

There is no better way to escape the winter chills than by spending your afternoon soaking in an outdoor wooden hot tub. This Japanese-style hot spring resort is tucked away in the beautiful Santa Fe National Forest and will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Find serenity and feel rejuvenated with an herbal wrap, a salt glow, or a therapeutic massage.

4. Sip a sweet chocolate elixir and explore the origin of cacao 

(Photo Courtesy of Kakawa Chocolate House)

Whether you’re into admiring from afar or indulging in sweet decadence, Santa Fe has your chocolate fix covered. Make your way to Kakawa, recently named one of the best places in the world to enjoy hot chocolate, for a warm cup of this traditional elixir. Get hands on as you explore the history of chocolate with a class at Cacao Santa Fe. If you still have a sweet tooth, the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail will allow you to taste until content.

5. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

(Photo Courtesy of Georgia O'Keeffe Museum)

A visit to Santa Fe is incomplete without exploring the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Dedicated to one of the most significant and influential artists of the 20th Century, the museum contains a collection of more than 3,000 works comprised mostly of O’Keeffe paintings, drawings, and sculptures that date back to 1901. After this experience, you’ll find inspiration and a new appreciation for the Southwest.

6. Canyon Road

(Photo Courtesy of TOURISM Santa Fe)

The galleries and restaurants along Canyon Road seem especially warm on a winter day. Canyon Road has been the hub for artists and art lovers for nearly a century. More than 100 galleries, studios, and world-class restaurants make up this illustrious mile-long passage. If you’re lucky enough to catch Canyon Road on a snowy day, adobe walls will be blanketed with thick, white snow, making you feel like you’re in a postcard.