Tag Archives: The Palace of the Governors

About Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is located in northern New Mexico. Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe has an elevation of 7,000 feet.  As a result of our high altitude desert environment, Santa Fe enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine annually, warm days and cool nights and four full seasons.

Santa Fe is an outdoor lover’s paradise.  Nearby mountains that reach over 12,000 ft. provide local residents with downhill and cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities in the winter.  Abundant National Forest land and State Parks surrounding Santa Fe contain deep canyons and colorful deserts for hiking, biking, horseback riding and water sports.  It is no accident that Outside magazine has its headquarters here.  To learn more about the recreational opportunities in and around Santa Fe, visit The Public Lands Information Center.

Santa Fe is the second oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States, first inhabited by Spanish settlers in 1607 and established in 1610 as the capital of Spain’s northernmost territory.  Originally Santa Fe was called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe (The Royal City of the Holy Faith). The famous El Camino Real (the Royal Road), a 1,500 mile trade route which ended in Santa Fe’s Plaza, connected Santa Fe to Mexico City and was in use from 1598 to 1885.  Now the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the United States.

Long before the Spanish arrived, Pueblo Indians were living in the Rio Grande Valley in communal houses with hundreds of rooms, often four or five stories high, with earth floors, adobe walls and flat roofs held together by pine logs (also called vigas).  This method of building structures strongly influenced the settlers who came later.  Santa Fe’s rich cultural history, a blend of Native American, Spanish and Anglo influences, has led to its unique Spanish Pueblo and Territorial style architecture, which is unlike any other city in the United States.  Santa Fe’s unique architecture style is one of the reasons Santa Fe draws over 1,000,000 visitors annually.

Santa Fe’s magnificent quality of light, ever changing skies and colorful, dramatic landscape are responsible for the thriving artists’ community here.  Santa Fe is the 3rd largest art market in the United States in sales volume and boasts nearly 300 galleries and dealers.  East of the Plaza, Canyon Road has the highest concentration of art galleries in the city, and is a major destination for international collectors, tourists and locals. The Canyon Road galleries showcase a wide array of contemporary, Southwestern, Native American, and experimental art.

Not surprisingly, given the importance of art, history and culture here, Santa Fe has over a dozen major museums, mainly located near the Plaza or on Museum Hill.  If you plan to visit more than a few museums, consider buying one of several multi-day, multi-museum passes.  For instance, currently you can buy an $18  Museum Pass good for 4 days of unlimited visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Palace of the Governors, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.  Also available is the CulturePass, currently $25, which allows the holder to visit each of  New Mexico’s 14 state museums and monuments once during a 12-month period.

Opera buffs will enjoy the Santa Fe Opera, which many rank as the second best opera company in the United States, behind only the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Established in 1957 and housed in an architecturally stunning, partially open air amphitheater surrounded by panoramic vistas, it consistently draws famed directors, conductors and singers.  The opera season typically runs from the beginning of July to late August.

The Lensic Theater, located at 211 West San Francisco Street, is an 821 seat theater which was completely restored and renovated between 1999 and 2001, and provides Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico with a modern venue for the performing arts.  The Metropolitan Opera’s live simulcast performances are shown at the Lensic Theater.

With a population of approximately 70,000 people, Santa Fe combines many of the benefits of small town life and wide-open spaces with access to cultural events normally associated with much larger cities.

One of many works of outdoor art displayed in downtown Santa Fe

Traveling to Santa Fe  American Eagle flies three daily roundtrip services between Dallas/Fort Worth and the Santa Fe Airport and one daily flight between Santa Fe and Los Angeles International Airport.

Many visitors traveling by air to Santa Fe fly into Albuquerque, New Mexico first and then make the one hour drive north to Santa Fe either by car or by shuttle.  Sandia Shuttle offers convenient, frequent shuttle services between most Santa Fe hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts and Albuquerque International Airport.

36 Hours in Santa Fe, The New York Times, May 23, 2010

By Fred A. Bernstein
Published: May 23, 2010
This article was syndicated from The New York Times, click here for the original article.

THE Plaza, the heart of old Santa Fe, hasn’t changed much since the Spanish settled here 400 years ago. But surrounding the Plaza is an increasingly cosmopolitan city. Sure, it’s possible to focus entirely just on the historic center, where Native American handicrafts are for sale on every corner.

A Weekend in Santa Fe

But the rest of Santa Fe now offers groovy contemporary art spaces, hot Asian restaurants and a park by a pair of trailblazing architects. Accept that Santa Fe isn’t just tacos and turquoise anymore, and you’ll find yourself loving the New Mexico capital not for what it was, but what it is.

Friday

5 p.m.
1) PUBLIC SPACE

For a beautifully curated introduction to Santa Fe, visit the New Mexico History Museum (113 Lincoln Avenue; 505-476-5200; which opened in 2009 and includes a gripping display about Los Alamos, where the Manhattan Project was conducted in secret during World War II. A large courtyard with ancient walls and shady trees separates the museum from the Palace of the Governors, the Spanish seat of government in the early 1600s and now a small museum of Colonial and Native American history. The two-museum complex is free on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m.

7 p.m.
2) WHITE WALLS AND WINE

You’d have to be crazy to pay for a glass of white wine on Fridays. Canyon Road, which angles up from the center of town, has more than 100 galleries, and there are openings every Friday night. According to canyonroadarts.com, the largest category is contemporary representational (think brightly colored paintings of the desert). Check out Eight Modern (231 Delgado Street; 505-995-0231; where you’ll find the geometric scrap-metal constructions of the Santa Fe artist Ted Larsen. The backyard sculpture garden is a great place to marvel at New Mexico’s amazingly clear sky and savor its piñon-infused air before heading to dinner.

9 p.m.
3) AHI MOMENT

Martín Rios is a hometown boy made good: Born in Mexico and raised in Santa Fe, he apprenticed at the Eldorado Hotel and the Inn of the Anasazi — two local stalwarts — and made a brief appearance on “Iron Chef” before opening his own place, Restaurant Martín (526 Galisteo Street; 505-820-0919)  in 2009. The main draw is the food — dishes like ahi tuna tartare ($14) and duck breast with smoked bacon polenta and Marcona almonds ($25) offer hints of the Southwest, with a dash of global aspiration. But the homey décor makes you want to stick around even after finishing the bittersweet chocolate truffle cake ($8).

Saturday

10 a.m.
4) SPICE MARKET

The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market (1607 Paseo de Peralta; 505-983-4098; dates back a half-century, but it stepped up a notch when it moved to a permanent building in 2008. Everything sold here, including dried chilies, yogurt and grass-fed meats, is produced in northern New Mexico. The market is part of a bustling district that includes the new Railyard Park by the architect Frederic Schwartz and the landscape architect Ken Smith, both Manhattanites whose taste is anything but quaint. As you wander around, be on the lookout for the Rail Runner, a gleaming new passenger train scheduled to pull in from Albuquerque at 11:08 a.m.

Noon
5) SUSTAINABLE SALADS

Santa Fe residents — as you learned roaming the Farmers’ Market — care where their food comes from. No wonder Vinaigrette (709 Don Cubero Alley; 505-820-9205) was an immediate hit when it opened in 2008. The brightly colored cafe has a menu based on organic greens grown in the nearby town of Nambé. Choose a base — Caesar, Cobb and Greek are possibilities (around $10) — then add diver scallops or hibiscus-cured duck confit ($7) for a satisfying meal. Wines by the glass start at a very friendly $6.

2 p.m.
6) RIDING THE SPUR

Thanks to Santa Fe’s sometimes depressing sprawl, it’s getting harder and harder to find wide-open spaces. But drive (or bike) to the corner of Galisteo Street and West Rodeo Road, where there’s a small parking lot — then begin pedaling due south, in the direction of Lamy (about 12 miles away). What starts as an asphalt path morphs into a dirt bike trail that swerves around a 19th-century rail spur. There are some pretty steep hills, but they’re short, and the momentum from a downhill is usually enough to handle the next uphill. (If only life were like that!) The scenery is always gorgeous, especially in late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky. Mellow Velo (638 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505-995-8356; rents mountain bikes starting at $35 a day.

7 p.m.
7) TAPAS WITH STRANGERS

La Boca (72 West Marcy Street; 505-982-3433) is one of downtown Santa Fe’s most popular new restaurants — thanks to its contemporary tapas, plus larger dishes like cannelloni filled with crab, scallop and Manchego ($11). You’ll find yourself sharing tips on what to order — and even forkfuls of delicious eats — with strangers.

10 p.m.
8) REGGAE FOR ALL AGES

Santa Fe isn’t a night-life town, but Milagro 139 (139 West San Francisco Street; 505-995-0139) is helping to change that. A building that had housed a coffee shop was recently converted to a restaurant that becomes a club on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s no cover, and the drinks, including a house margarita called Beginner’s Luck ($5), are delicious. A recent visit coincided with performances by Rubixzu, a local band that performed a blend of reggae and Latin hip-hop to a diverse crowd, aged 9 to 90. For a trendier vibe, head to Meow Wolf (1800 Second Street; 505-204-4651) an alternative art space, or check its Web site for other parties hosted by Meow Wolf artists.

Sunday

10 a.m.
9) FREE-RANGE PEACOCKS

For a big breakfast and an early start, drive south on Cerrillos Road about 10 miles past the Interstate, until you see a handwritten cardboard sign that reads, “Pine wood stove pellets sold here.” You’ve arrived at the San Marcos Café (3877 State Road 14; 505-471-9298). Dozens of peacocks, turkeys and hens roam the property (which also houses a feed store), providing an Old McDonald-like backdrop for crowd-pleasers like eggs San Marcos, a cheese omelet in a bath of guacamole, beans and salsa ($12).

Noon
10) KITSCH TO CONTEMPORARY

If you ever thought that item you found at a roadside stand was one of a kind, Jackalope (2820 Cerrillos Road; 505-471-8539) a sprawling, indoor-outdoor flea market, will disabuse you of that notion. There are hundreds of everything, including punched-copper switch plates and tote bags that depict Michelle Obama smiling on a swing. If you need to shake off the kitsch, head to SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo De Peralta; 505-989-1199) a contemporary art space where the 2010 biennale, focused on moving image technologies in contemporary art, will run from June 20 to Jan. 2, 2011.

1 p.m.
11) YOUR OWN ADOBE

It’s difficult to spend time in Santa Fe without thinking about buying a home (or second home) here. So check out Zocalo (Avenida Rincon; 505-986-0667) a striking development by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. He is known for crisp geometry and super-bright colors — a welcome sight in this city of browns and terra cottas. Consider it real estate voyeurism, combined with a crash course in contemporary architecture.

IF YOU GO

Santa Fe has a tiny airport, which offers nonstop service to and from Dallas and Los Angeles on American Eagle. Most visitors fly into the larger Albuquerque airport, about an hour south. A recent Web search found round-trip fares from Kennedy Airport on Delta, from about $260 for travel in June. Sadly, the Rail Runner doesn’t run to the Albuquerque airport.

The Hotel St. Francis (210 Don Gaspar Avenue; 505-983-5700) billed as the oldest hotel in Santa Fe, completed a top-to-bottom renovation in 2009, and it looks spectacular. Doubles from $120.

The El Rey Inn (1862 Cerrillos Road, 505-982-1931) is a retro-chic 1930s-style motel, with nicely furnished rooms and beautifully landscaped grounds to go along with the kitschy Native American-themed architecture. Doubles from $99.

Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort & Spa (30 Buffalo Thunder Trail; 505-455-5555) is part of a new casino complex, about 15 minutes north of town. Doubles from $159. Hilton also built a less-expensive Homewood Suites nearby (10 Buffalo Thunder Trail; 505-455-9100), with doubles from $109.