Like anyone with a vivid past, Santa Fe has seen a lot and has the stories to prove it. Located in the high desert and nestled against an inspiring landscape, the capital of New Mexico is now home to one of the country’s most happening art scenes. But it’s not just the art world creating a buzz out West, the entire town is full of a renewed energy evident by the masses of trendsetters flocking to this sandy, Southwest locale.
The unique vibe of the area is undeniable, yet hard to pinpoint. The historical significance of the Native American culture mixed with strong Spanish and Anglo influences are all credited in cultivating the distinctness that is Santa Fe. Locals often speak to the magic of the city, and many claim that magic is what brought the earliest settlers there thousands of years prior to Spain’s arrival in the 1600s.
Whether it’s the iconic landscape, the rich history or the tales of magic, Santa Fe has carved her indescribable mark on our country’s map. And while we might not be able to define what makes the desert town so special, anyone who visits can feel it. Check out these spots the next time you’re out West and see for yourself.
La Reina, El Rey Court
A quick Google search of El Rey Court will fill you in on all the adventures this historic landmark hotel has taken over the years. Today it stands proud as the home of everything hip and happening in the city, a must-see whether or not you stay the night. The people, the décor (oh, the décor!) and even the cocktails served at the famed La Reina bar are Instagram-worthy. La Reina keeps the menu simple with only tamales and popcorn and lets their margaritas shine. Word of advice: Try the ranch water. It’s made with Topo Chico and tequila and a bit of that Santa Fe magic.
Radish & Rye
Santa Fe is a very casual city, and while casual is perfectly acceptable at Radish & Rye, this is the place to go if you’re itching to wear all those great vacation clothes you packed. This restaurant stays true to its farm-to-table concept while serving it up in the chicest of environments. And yes, bourbon is their specialty, but their other specialty is hospitality, and they excel at it.
Everyone knows you haven’t fully embraced a city until you’ve had the quintessential local coffee shop experience. Sky Coffee will give you just that. Located in the Railyard District, the quaint, airy café provides an ideal atmosphere to relax while you sip your latte, complete with the friendliest staff around to help you select the perfect caffeinated beverage. Try the oat milk and definitely grab a doughnut while you’re there – they’re sourced from other local treasure, Whoo’s Doughnuts.
Canyon Road is the main vein of the art district. This quirky half-mile stretch has more than 100 art galleries and shops lining every inch of the street. Pop into ViVO to see Arkansas artist Ann Laser’s teabag project on display. The Teahouse is another Canyon Road can’t-miss. Tea connoisseurs and novices alike will be in heaven. Try the spicy chocolate chai for a great afternoon treat, but be warned, it’s made with cayenne and has a real kick. Have lunch, get your tea to-go and stroll down Canyon for the perfect afternoon.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
By the mid-1920s, O’Keeffe was already considered one of the most important American artists of her time. In 1929, she visited a friend in New Mexico and her life and art took a dramatic turn. After her first trip, she returned every year, eventually making New Mexico her permanent home. This museum’s collection is a beautiful tribute to her life and work. (Don’t skip any of the documentary excerpts!) If you want more, take the trip north to tour her home, a midcentury dream that offers the viewpoints of some of her most famous paintings.
Hotel St. Francis
The Plaza is Santa Fe’s most prominent attraction. Full of restaurants, history, art and amazing shopping, Hotel St. Francis sits amidst it all. With whitewash walls and candles everywhere you turn, the hotel itself feels like a vacation. In the evenings, the lobby is lit by candlelight and filled with chatter and cocktails. Between the stunning interior and ideal location, you’ll instantly see why the oldest hotel in town is still hopping after nearly a century in business.