Friendly guide to Santa Fe and New Mexico

A guide to activities, art, food, sights, and experiences in and around Santa Fe, NM, for friends and family.

Santa Fe and New Mexico have been one of our family’s most enjoyable places to visit. We have compiled a list of recommendations on activities, food, and art in New Mexico for our friends back in 2017. I am re-publishing it here with a few minor changes and hope you will find it helpful when you visit the land of enchantment.


  • Santa Fe Plaza: lovely during the day for sightseeing and shopping for local arts and during the evening for Christmas lights.
  • Meow Wolf: “Immersive Art Installation”, more like a trippy experience in a strange place for a few hours :)
  • Hike: You can find trails within minutes of downtown. Hike up for 30 minutes in the forest, and you will see gorgeous views of a vast open space. From that height, the city (with its adobe buildings) blends in with the land. Dress warm; there might be snow.
  • Santuario de Chimayo is a lovely historic church that people take pilgrimages from hundreds of miles away every year.
  • Taos is a great artistic town. Taos Pueblo is nearby, one of the oldest (1000+ years) inhabited settlements in the USA.
  • You can ski in Santa Fe and Taos.
  • Rio Grande Gorge Bridge: Gorgeous bridge, scenic drive, many tourists, and local stuff for purchasing. It is also on the way to Taos.
  • White Sands National Monument: it’s like its name, a vast desert of beautiful white sand dunes.
  • Bandelier National Monument to explore cave dwellings, culture, and nature.
  • Roswell: Town obsessed with UFOs.


  • Soak at Ten Thousand Waves or Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. Both places offer dining options for a nice dinner for your relaxing evening.
  • Salsa dancing happens year-round, mostly between Wednesday and Saturday nights in various venues (El Farol, The Lodge at Santa Fe, and more).
  • At The Lodge at Santa Fe, world-renowned Flamenco dancing can also be seen seasonally. The previous principal dancer, Maria Benitez, is retired from performing now. However, other well-known artists, including Juan Siddi (at the Lodge), Emi Arte Flamenco, and Entre Flamenco, still perform in town.
  • For further info, here is a link for things to do in Santa Fe.


New Mexico has a unique cuisine influenced by Native and Spanish flavors. Menus may have things familiar from Mexican restaurants, but rest assured, the flavors and preparation are unique to New Mexico (if you go to the right places). Some major ingredients are chili, beans, and tortillas, and New Mexicans are proud of their chili. In any restaurant, they will ask you for your choice of chili, and you can get red, green, or Christmas (mixed).

Delicious things you should try:

  • Piñon Nuts: They are so tasty, raw or toasted.
  • Chili: Take home some locally grown chili for cooking; the flavor and spice of it are complex and delicious.
  • Frito pie: (eat at your own risk) Chili mixed with Fritos. It is tasty but could be explosive.
  • New Mexican enchiladas: baked enchiladas served in square pieces, casserole style.
  • Sopapillas: a local dessert, fried puff pastry served with honey. It is light and delicious.

Nice restaurants:


  • Santa Fe is very well known for its art scene and galleries. If you enjoy visual arts, check out the museums around Santa Fe.
  • Canyon Road is known primarily for modern art, and you can take a lovely walk up and down this historic street in the afternoon.
  • There are many museums on Museum Hill and around the plaza if you want to see traditional New Mexican, native, or international arts.
  • Most weekends on the plaza, the Palace of the Governors has native american artists showing and selling their work (if it’s not too cold).
  • Lots of Lowriders to see everywhere!
  • Listen to talented local artists.
Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following me.