Santa Fe’s sophisticated art galleries, award-winning restaurants and luxury lodgings are major draws for travelers, and this captivating Southwestern town is loaded with attractions for families. But the area’s appeal extends beyond the city’s limits, where the great outdoors of northern New Mexico beckons.
Think of it as a two-for-one vacation destination, where your clan can visit art galleries or kid-friendly museums one day and go whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande the next. To make the most of New Mexico in just one trip, check out this guide to discover art and history in Santa Fe and explore the great outdoors with a high-desert getaway.
How to Get to Santa Fe
- Drive about 70 miles northeast from Albuquerque International Sunport.
If you’re not in a rush, take the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (State Road 14), which connects Albuquerque to Santa Fe, serves up views from the top of Sandia Crest and winds through old mining towns now booming with local arts and crafts, museums, culture and more.
Experience History & Art in Santa Fe
The Plaza & Downtown
The Santa Fe universe revolves around its centuries-old Plaza. By day, the leafy town square buzzes with tourists, street performers and locals grabbing lunch. In the evenings in July and August, the Plaza’s free Santa Fe Bandstand concerts make for fun family nightlife, featuring food vendors and tunes of all types.
Across the street, dozens of Native American vendors sell handmade jewelry, pottery and art on the porch of the adobe-style Palace of the Governors. Completed in 1610, the original capitol of the Spanish colonial Nuevo México province is the oldest public building in the U.S. and houses the New Mexico History Museum, featuring special, rotating exhibits.
Other must-see downtown attractions include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art and the iconic Romanesque St. Francis Cathedral. Art fans will enjoy the half-mile stretch of upscale galleries along the famed Canyon Road, where kiddos might also get a kick out of the outdoor kinetic wind sculptures at the Mark White Fine Art Gallery & Sculpture Garden.