Culture, history, art, top-notch cuisine — New Mexico’s capital has it all. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune for an upscale experience. Here is our guide to a luxe, but not too expensive, weekend in Santa Fe.
Art is a major draw in “The City Different,” now home to one of the largest scenes in the United States. And you can't think about art in New Mexico art without thinking 20th-century painter Georgia O’Keeffe, whose work was immensely influenced by Southwestern landscapes. Her namesake museum ($13 admission), which features more than 3,000 works, is just blocks from Santa Fe Plaza, the heart of downtown. For $30, you can also opt for a New Mexico CulturePass to access 15 museums and historic sites. Four of them are in Santa Fe, including the New Mexico Museum of Art.
The most talked about new art experience is the House of Eternal Return, a mysterious Victorian home with interactive, fantastical music and light displays laid out in dozens of rooms and secret portals ($20 admission). Designed and created by immersive art installation collective Meow Wolf — with the help of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin — the 20,000-square-foot space that was once an old bowling alley is now like something out of a neon dream.
Another must-see that’s uniquely Santa Fe is Canyon Road, a winding half-mile strip, tucked into the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the city’s historic district, home to restaurants, shopping, and more than one hundred art galleries and studios. Plan an afternoon of gallery hopping to see established and emerging artists in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, paintings, and mixed media.
Just north of the city, you’ll find the only open-air opera house in the U.S. You can snag a seat for Candide or Madame Butterfly, complete with a Santa Fe sunset backdrop, for as little as $40 per ticket. Arrive early and tailgate like the locals — with a nice meal and some wine — in the parking lot before the show.
Santa Fe is said to have legendary restorative powers, best experienced with an afternoon at the spa. The Four Seasons Rancho Encantado Resort offers a 50-minute altitude adjustment massage to help guests acclimate to the elevation (7,000+ feet) for $150. If you prefer Japanese relaxation techniques, the spa at Ten Thousand Waves is a local favorite. Unwind in the spa's Grand Bath for as long as you’d like for just $25 per person or splurge on the amazing 80-minute, full-body Nose to Toes treatment for $175.
We promise you won’t leave Santa Fe hungry. Our favorite inexpensive place to sample the city’s cuisine is the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. Home to more than 150 vendors, the all-local market is open Saturdays year-round. If you visit in fall, don’t miss the roasting of the hatch green chiles.
You may be surprised to learn that New Mexico is home to the oldest wine growing region in the country. Today, there are more than 60 wineries and tasting rooms in the state. Skip the afternoon margaritas and head over to the tasting room at the Hotel St. Francis to sample a selection of Gruet’s award-winning French-style sparkling wines.
For convenience and style, book a guest room at downtown’s Eldorado Hotel & Spa. The Pueblo Revival building is a short walk to the plaza, and guest rooms start at $132 per night. If you don’t mind staying a little farther from downtown, rooms at its sister property, The Lodge at Santa Fe, are even less expensive — from $72 a night.