Santa Fe Activities
Canyon Road Galleries
Walking along this half-mile stretch of galleries in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the surest way to take in as much of Santa Fe’s local art scene as possible. Native American art, historical and contemporary Latino art, and international folk art all coexist as part of an array of more than a hundred shops showcasing paintings, sculpture, hand-made jewelry, and pottery. Some of the spots are kitschier than others, but it’s just as much about the scenery as it is about the art: You’ll stroll alongside huge chestnut trees that have shaded the trail since the mid-19th century, along with hidden courtyards and musical fountains.
Jean Cocteau Cinema
418 Montezuma Ave., Plaza
Local celebrity George R. R. Martin purchased this 1970s-style movie theater a few years ago, and after renovating and upgrading the place began curating one of the most progressive cultural calendars in the city. The single-screen plays a wonderful selection of avant-garde and indie films, including midnight screenings Friday and Saturday nights, and there's live music on Mondays. It's a major hangout for the city's younger set.
207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Plaza
Legend has it that when the Loretto Chapel was first built, the choir above the main space could only be accessed by a rickety ladder, because the tiny church was so tight on space. In hopes of a better solution, the Sisters of the Chapel prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters—a few months later, an unnamed craftsman arrived and built a beautiful spiral staircase, only to leave without giving his name or asking for payment. Today, architects and mechanics consider the staircase to be a structural marvel, as it contains two full rotations with no central support (not to mention that it was built entirely using wooden pegs, with no hammers or glue of any kind). It's just a few blocks off the Plaza, so plan to stop in when you're making your way through town. P.S. The bar at the Loretto Hotel next-door is a great place for a drink after.
1352 Rufina Circle, Siler
This high-tech, immersive art experience is bankrolled by none other than George R.R. Martin, which really tells you something about the imaginative wonder that lies within. Two years after Martin bought the former Silva Lanes Bowling Alley in 2014, Meow Wolf’s artist collective opened the space’s landmark permanent exhibition: a two-story, 20,000-square-foot Victorian house built to scale, replete with secret passageways, a cave system, and a narrative involving portals to other worlds and a break in the space-time continuum. Equal parts jungle gym, haunted house, and art installation, the exhibit is great for kids (and curious adults, too). The complex also doubles as a performance space, an education center for children, and a makerspace.
Santa Fe Opera
301 Opera Dr., Tesuque
From this opera company’s stunning open-air theater, you can see the Jemez Mountains to the west, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, and rolling hills to the south (and amazing visiblity of the night sky once the sun sets). While you could certainly justify going for the views alone, the opera is top-notch: You can catch world-class contemporary and classic works every season.
Aspen Vista Trail
Aspen Vista Picnic Ground, Hyde Park Rd., Santa Fe
This easy little out-and-back is a local favorite since it's a relatively easy climb (a little less than four miles total) with a rewarding view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. To find the trailhead, put the Aspen Ski Basin picnic area into your GPS and head into the mountains. It's best in the fall, when the aspens are changing colors. Photos: Sophie Kuller
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
Pajarito Plateau, Cochiti
A volcanic explosion roughly six million years ago gave us this geological marvel: cone-shaped “tent rocks” 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe. The three-mile hike takes you first through an arroyo surrounded by the canyon walls, and a small climb punctuated by juniper trees, before rewarding you with amazing views of the national monument and the surrounding area. Parking is straightforward—there’s a lot at the beginning of the trail ($5) with restrooms and picnic tables.
Tesuque Pueblo Rt. 4, Tesuque
This eensy village (the population maxes out at 800) just north of Santa Fe is actually on the National Register of Historic Places, as there's been a pueblo here since 1200 A.D. Now, it's most often cited for its fantastic flea market, which is a great place to pick up inexpensive rugs and turquoise, if you're willing to barter. Just check with your concierge in advance, as the town closes to the public a few days a year. So long as you're making the drive, stop for a some sightseeing around Camel Rock, a camel-shaped rock foundation that's a quirky local attraction.
100 Old Santa Fe Trail, Plaza
Smack in the middle of downtown Santa Fe, this market square is the bustling heart of the city. In 1821, it served as the final destination for wagons completing the 800-mile Old Santa Fe Trail from Independence, Missouri. These days, you can count on the Plaza to be a busy hub of Native American and Spanish markets, annual events, community gatherings, and concerts. You could certainly spend an afternoon exploring the shops, galleries, and restaurants that line the streets—as well shopping for turquoise from the local Native American traders selling handmade jewelry on the sidewalk.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
The Lensic, 211 W. San Francisco St., Plaza
As the name suggests, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) has two home cities, a hybrid business model that allows two small (but highly creative) cities that might not be able to support a full ballet company on their own to experience high-quality contemporary ballet for half the year. They often commission original new works, which means—to both communities' great delight—you never know what's going to be on the calendar. What's more, the company values community outreach and education, offering dance schools in both cities.
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