24-Hour Itineraries

Activities include touring Santa Fe museums and galleries, enjoying the award-winning cuisine, pampering and relaxing treatments at local spas, a chance to get to know the area's most famous artist, as well as some beautiful hikes. Choose among them and build your own memorable visit to the Santa Fe area.

Plaza Area and Downtown Museums


Explore the Plazaǃ Start with a stroll down Palace Avenue to the Plaza and stop at the Palace of the Governors, dating to 1610. The oldest public building in continuous use built by the Spanish for government administration, it now houses two museums. One ticket allows access to both the original museum, renovated in spring of 2024 and the New Mexico History Museum. Make sure to connect with Native American artists who sell their own work daily underneath the portal of the Palace of the Governors. In a conversation or two, you can really learn a lot about the ever-changing array of handcrafted items, including pottery, textiles, and jewelry, made of traditional materials such as turquoise, coral, and silver. All pieces are made by the seller or their family, and you can feel confident you are getting high-quality work for a good price since they are selling directly to you. Take some time to explore further as downtown Santa Fe features hundreds of shops where you can find unique clothing, jewelry, art, and an assortment of souvenirs.

Then head for lunch at The Shed, a family-owned establishment, and longtime favorite among locals and visitors for authentic New Mexican cuisine. "What makes it New Mexican?" you may ask. Red and greenǃ Chile makes life worth living for many Santa Feans. Not only is it packed with flavor and vitamin C, its heat ingredient capsaicin has anti-inflammatory properties, can increase your metabolism, and plays a role in many pain relief medications. Green chiles are grown primarily in the southern portion of the state, and arguments abound as to what region grows the best. Most of the hottest (and tastiest) come from Hatch, New Mexico, but fine varieties grow in Socorro. Many, however, would argue that the best red chile comes from Chimayó. Try a dish with Christmas, which means you get both red and green chile. Tomasita's is another great spot featuring Northern New Mexico fare. Both are stops along the famous Santa Fe Margarita Trail, which will guide you to more than 50 signature margaritas in The City Different.

After lunch, consider another small downtown museum—the New Mexico Museum of Art. It features great works by many New Mexican artists, including woodcuts by Gustave Baumann, who made his home in Santa Fe beginning in the early 20th century. Another important museum is just yards away, and visually remarkable for its colorful exterior pillars: The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts is the country’s only museum for exhibiting, collecting, and interpreting the most progressive work of contemporary Native artists.

Now that you are culturally saturated and ready for a libation, head over to the historic La Fonda Hotel. Situated on the corner of the Plaza, the site is that of the city's first inn (La Fonda means inn in Spanish) sometime around 1607. In 1925, the building was purchased by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, which leased the property to the Fred Harvey Company, and it became a Harvey House, one of many in a chain known for their high standards, fine dining, and "Harvey Girls," a staff of exceptionally well-trained waitresses. Check out the beautiful lobby as you head for the bar. During warmer months, enjoy a margarita on the rooftop of the Bell Tower, with its memorable views of the entire downtown. Now, for dinner, walk to Cafe Pasqual's for a cozy, casual atmosphere. Check out the walls, adorned with lively Mexican murals. Year round Pasqual's is packed with locals. Consider sitting at the community table to engage in interesting conversations with regulars.

Loretto Chapel and Canyon Road

Plaza BuildingsAfter breakfast, put on your walking shoes and amble downtown to the Loretto Chapel, built in 1873 for the Sisters of Loretto to house their girls' school. Beyond the breathtaking beauty and uniqueness of the Gothic exterior, step inside to see the famous "miraculous staircase." When the original architect of the building died prior to completing the project, leaving the choir loft inaccessible, the Sisters prayed to St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of Carpenters, and either he himself or a skilled individual sent by him, built a spiral staircase with two 360-degree turns and neither glue, nails, nor any visible means of support. When finished, he disappeared without pay or thanks. A true miracle! Today, the church is a private museum and a popular site for wedding ceremonies.

Afterward, head for Canyon Road—'the art and soul of Santa Fe.’ You will notice Pueblo- and Territorial-style architecture as you stroll the half-mile length of the street, with 100 galleries displaying paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography, clothing, and antiques. The area grew as a mecca for artists beginning in the 1920s, with the presence of Los Cinco Pintores (Spanish for the Five Painters)—Fremont Ellis, Will Shuster, Willard Nash, Jozef Bakos and Wladyslaw “Walter” Mruk—a group of friends and Modernist painters who eschewed the constraints of traditional academic art. Ever struggling financially, they are rumored to have helped one another build adobe homes on nearby Camino del Monte Sol, which earned them—along with the collective avant-garde artist persona—the nickname "five nuts in mud huts."

One of their ideas was to “bring art to the public,” in part because at that time it was rare to sell work outside of a museum. They utilized the front of their homes as studio space, displaying their art on the sidewalks, a tradition carried on by the galleries that line Canyon Road street today.

After the meander up Canyon Road, you have the choice of settling in for a cup of tea at The Teahouse or for a more serious libation across the street at El Farol, a popular spot housed in the same adobe since 1835. Specializing in tapas and Spanish food, the atmosphere is comfortable and friendly, and in the later hours the bar area fills with locals who love to talk and kick it up to live music on the tiny dance floor. Fridays and Saturdays, reserve your spot for the Flamenco Dinner Show.

If the idea of tapas appeals to you, but you are not in the mood for a wild evening, you might prefer the delectable menu at La Boca. These tapas are inspired by the flavors of Spain and the Mediterranean. The creative blending of flavors and ingredients make La Boca a favorite dining choice for locals and visitors alike.

Museum Hill and Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return

Museum HillGet a full dose of art on a spectrum, beginning a visit to Museum Hill. Many maps make it appear to be within walking distance, but it is actually about a 5-minute drive from downtown. There are four museums to choose from: The Museum of International Folk Art, The Wheelwright, Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Spanish Colonial, and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture.

A great place to start is the Museum of International Folk Art, which features a permanent exhibit wing of more than 100,00 pieces of folk art, donated by designer and architect Alexander Girard, who spent his later years in Santa Fe.

(And if you happen to be in town mid-July, a related real treat is the International Folk Art Market, bringing together 150 artisans from far away villages in Africa, Asia, South America and Russia, to name just a few of the 60 countries from which these individuals hail. The largest folk art festival in the world, this market brings a wide array of beautiful crafts, jewelry, clothing and art, as well as international music, dance, and food.

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture showcase antique Native American art, including pottery, beadwork, and jewelry. The Nuevo Mexicano Heritage Arts Museum features objects from Spanish Market artists (1920s to the present) and a percentage of pieces from 1598-1821, with the remainder primarily from 19th-century New Mexico. The museum itself, a historical building designed by renowned architect John Gaw Meem in the 1930s in the Pueblo-Spanish Revival Style, is worth a visit on its own merit.

After a light lunch at the conveniently located Weldon’s Museum Hill Cafe, perhaps you’ve set up a spa appointment for yourself that focuses on relaxing and restoring your weary traveling feet!

Next, get ready for a veritable funhouse: 70+ rooms of immersive art at Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return. This is the OG of the now multi-city franchise, which at its core is the mysterious story of a fictional family's disappearance. With your adventurous spirit, explore for hours and interact with everything you see. This is NOT a 'Do Not Touch' museum. Located on the southside of town, Meow Wolf admits guests via timed entry ticketing, so definitely plan ahead. 

This evening you may want to try the upscale but very comfortable Santacafé, which occupies the historic Padre Gallegos House, built in the mid 1800s. A sophisticated and knowledgeable staff serves consistently delicious contemporary cuisine. Reserve a seat on the patio if you can to enjoy the night skies and garden atmosphere. The bar is elegant and lively.

Georgia O'Keeffe's "Greatest Hits" Day

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Exterior

This day is devoted to Santa Fe's most illustrious artist, the incomparable Georgia O'Keeffe. Because this is such a full day in the dry environment of Abiquiú, book a facial or massage for the late afternoon/early evening to rehydrate your skin and work out the kinks from your day of touring. You will want to book your spa appointment in advance, and more important, you will want to book your tour of the O'Keeffe Home & Studio in Abiquiú and/or tour at Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center, a 21,000-acre property O’Keeffe purchased in 1940, now operated as a non-profit. Visit both websites and plan ahead. Your drive to Abiquiú is about an hour.

Consider a quick stop at San Ildefonso Pueblo. Displayed there are some works of Maria Martinez, the most celebrated makers of the revived "black-on-black" style of pottery. She died in 1980, but her children continue her artistic tradition, producing many fine works themselves.

After that diversion, you are on your way. Either before or after your O’Keeffe tours, make a stop at Bodes General Store. Here you can munch on one of their award-winning green chile cheeseburgers or deli sandwiches. Or, you can sip a latte, buy live bait, get some holiday decorations, Spam, camping supplies, a bottle of wine, groceries, or hunting ammunitions. Bodes, opened in 1890 as a general store, post office, stagecoach stop, and jail, has something for everyone, including gas!

As you head straight back to Santa Fe, being sure to take in the breathtaking scenery along the way, including Abiquiú Lake, the red geologic formations, and the Chama River

Need more Georgia? You might want to stroll down to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, a small museum dedicated to the Modernist artist’s legacy, housing a fine permanent collection of O'Keeffe's work that represents the many periods of her career. Now that you have seen where she painted, viewing her works will be that much more interesting.

Thank goodness that it’s time for your spa appointment now as your body/face will be appreciative of the soothing hands of your therapist!

To round out your "O'Keeffe Day," you might try dinner at the acclaimed Italian Sassella, next door to her museum. Housed in a historic building that harbored Union officers during the Civil War, the restaurant is named after a small town in Italy, known in part for its wine made with the Nebbiolo grape. The executive chef Christian Pontiggia hails from the region.

As you consider this itinerary or build one of your own, the Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide can be an important resource. Also, our Accommodations section will hook you up with a place to call home during your visit, and the Dine section can direct you to our acclaimed restaurants—advance reservations are a wise idea in this town, popular among foodies!