About Santa Fe, New Mexico

St. Francis Cathedral Basilica

St. Francis Cathedral Basilica

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.

The Inn at the Loretto, Santa Fe's most photographed building, takes its inspiration from Taos Pueblo. Karen Meredith 2010

The Inn at the Loretto, Santa Fe’s most photographed building, takes its inspiration from Taos Pueblo. Karen Meredith 2010

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.

Santa Fe Festival

Santa Fe Festival

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.

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.

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