Photo by gettyimages.com/searagen
Adobe. Red chile. World-class museums. Cultural festivals. These are just a few of Santa Fe's masterpieces — and the reasons for its renown.
Polly and Thornton Carswell founded this popular restaurant in 1953, and it's still in the family today. Visitors follow the colorful sign to the secluded Prince Patio of an adobe hacienda for simmering plates of red-chile blue corn enchiladas and can't-miss margaritas. Lines too long to wait? Hit up sister restaurant La Choza just off the Santa Fe Railyard.
This humble diner near the plaza serves big-time tastes. It's regularly ranked in the top spots for the city's best chile, which it smothers on burritos, enchiladas, and stuffed sopaipillas.
A hub of Santa Fe museums, this perch includes the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art — the only in the country devoted to this period of history displaying retablos, bultos, colcha, and other traditional works. The Museum of International Folk Art's 125,000-strong collection makes it the largest cross-cultural folk-art assembly in the world, while the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture details the traditions and modern creations of the American Southwest. Lastly, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian rounds out the bunch with a gallery of contemporary and traditional American Indian art.
New Mexico History Museum
The best first stop for any Santa Fe sojourn, this museum orients visitors to the state's storied past, telling tales of its indigenous peoples, Spanish colonists, Mexican traders, Santa Fe Trail settlers, and counterculture bohemians. www.nmhistorymuseum.org
Sunwest on the Plaza
Belts, buckles, and bolos are only the start of the artisanal accessories and home goods featured at this shop, which has been trading in Santa Fe since 1972.
Wind River Trading Company
Plan extra time to explore the city's largest Native American jewelry story, which boasts 7,000 square feet of floor space filled with Native American jewelry, pottery, and moccasins.
4 Must-See Landmarks
New Mexico Museum of Art
This 1917 museum is a masterpiece of Pueblo Revival architecture, the meeting of Native American and Spanish Colonial design styles. Within, it houses a grand collection of every phase of the state's artistic past, with exhibitions on 20th-century New Mexican sculpture, night photography, and nocturne paintings slated for 2019.
Palace of the Governors
Built to house the first Spanish governor of New Mexico, the single-storied adobe framing the Santa Fe Plaza is the oldest public building built by Europeans in the United States. Over its four centuries of use, it has evolved architecturally and features Pueblo, Spanish, and Territorial elements. It's now an anchor of the New Mexico History Museum campus.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
This cathedral's stone façade, bell towers, and stained-glass windows harken back to the European influence of French-born Archbishop Lamy, who designed the 1886 cathedral. It was built on the site of two former churches, the first of which was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. A statue of the Virgin Mary was removed from the church during the revolt and returned to her place of honor in 1693, where she still sits today.
Inspired by the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, this unusual — at least for New Mexico — architectural landmark is as well known for what's outside as within: a staircase whose builder appeared suddenly and disappeared without payment, leaving the nuns to wonder if it was St. Joseph himself answering their prayers.