How to Spend One Day in Santa Fe, NM

Planning one day in Santa Fe offers an enchanting escape for foodies, history buffs, and art enthusiasts. Explore the charming streets and hidden gems as the sun casts a golden glow over the adobe buildings. As you wander through the city, you’ll encounter the beauty of its architecture and the depth of its artistic heritage. Enjoy a flavorful meal at a historic restaurant or marvel at the mysterious Loretto Chapel staircase; no matter where you start, you’ll find that every corner of the city has a story. Let’s journey through a Santa Fe day trip filled with discovery and delight.

Try These Morning Activities in Santa Fe

breakfast dish at a breakfast restaurant in Santa Fe

Breakfast at Cafe Pasqual’s

Kickstart your day with a carefully crafted meal in the vibrant atmosphere of Cafe Pasqual’s. Located a block from the Santa Fe Plaza, this cozy eatery welcomes you with the tantalizing aroma of Old Mexico and New Mexico flavors using organic and sustainable ingredients. Indulge in delectable dishes like the Durango Omelette loaded with diced rosemary ham, scallions, sautéed mushrooms, and aserado cheese for a mouthwatering spin on a classic breakfast favorite.

Every bite delivers an explosion of local flavors complementing traditional recipes. Whether you prefer to start your day with a spicy kick or savor the smooth palette of something sweet, breakfast at Cafe Pasqual’s will leave you satisfied and energized for your day of exploration.

Explore the Santa Fe Plaza

Now that you’re energized, you can take a stroll through the heart of the city, the Santa Fe Plaza. Discover a mix of historic and contemporary crafts from handcrafted Native American jewelry and charming shops offering unique souvenirs of your Santa Fe adventures. Admire the beautiful architecture surrounding the plaza from the historic Palace of the Governors to the charming storefronts.

The Plaza is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s an experience. Engage with local artists, find one-of-a-kind treasures, and soak up the vibrant ambiance that makes Santa Fe so unique.

Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

A short walk from the Plaza takes you to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum bringing the spirit of one of America’s most iconic artists to life. O’Keeffe, known for her vibrant and creative paintings, found inspiration in the landscapes of New Mexico. Her vivid images of flowers, bleached bones, and sweeping desert vistas will capture you as you wander through the gallery.

The museum is more than just a collection of paintings; it also provides insight into O’Keeffe’s life and creative process. Through her paintings, letters, and personal items, you’ll obtain a better understanding of the artist’s connection to the region she cherished. This must-see museum is perfect for art lovers and anyone intrigued by the inspiring powers of the natural world.

Afternoon Adventures and Dining in Santa Fe

Local shop on Santa Fe Plaza

Lunch at The Shed

After a morning of getting to know more about the culture of Santa Fe, dive into another one of the city’s culinary treasures, The Shed. Just outside of the Plaza, this historic cafe has been entertaining both locals and visitors since 1953. Housed in an adobe building with colorful decor, The Shed offers an authentic taste of New Mexican cuisine. 

As you explore the lunch menu, you’ll notice an enticing selection of meals that reflect the region’s robust flavors. Smear their famous red and green chile over enchiladas, burritos, and tamales for an added layer of flavor. Pair your meal with a crisp prickly pear margarita and save space for their delectable mocha cake for dessert. Every mouthful at The Shed celebrates the area’s rich culinary tradition, making it the ideal midday stop for refueling your activities during a day in Santa Fe.

Take a Stroll Down Canyon Road

Ready for another adventure? Canyon Road is a half-mile stretch with over 100 extraordinary art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Immerse yourself in a world of creativity and inspiration as you explore everything from contemporary paintings to traditional Native American and Hispanic artworks. Take your time exploring the different options, interacting with gallery owners and artists, who are frequently available to share insights into their work.
Don’t miss out on visiting prominent galleries like Ventana Fine Art and Blue Gate Gallery. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a casual observer, Canyon Road guarantees a visual feast that will leave you inspired.

Visit the Loretto Chapel

The Loretto Chapel is a famous gothic-style chapel known for its “miraculous” spiral staircase. It is said that the staircase was built by an unknown carpenter who vanished without a trace. Marvel at the twists and turns of the staircase as the stained glass windows cast a peaceful glow over the area. For over a century, the structure of the staircase has piqued the interest of visitors and locals because it makes two 360-degree twists without any visible support. 

As you’re in downtown Santa Fe, add a sense of thrill and mystery to your trip while learning more about the architecture and spiritual heritage during your day trip.

Embrace the Evening Ambiance of “The City Different”

Adobe home near downtown Santa Fe  with lights on at night

Dinner at La Boca

As the sun begins to set over Santa Fe, make your way to dinner at La Boca for a tapas restaurant that brings fresh flavors of Spain to the heart of New Mexico. Prepare for an unforgettable experience in the cozy, vibrant atmosphere of La Boca. The lively crowd and live entertainment are sure to make you feel at home.

When you’re not obsessing over the rustic ambiance, you’ll fall in love with the bold flavors and culinary artistry displayed on the menu. Try out the patatas bravas and experience crispy fried potatoes served with a spicy sherry vinegar and garlic aioli. The gambas al ajillo is another delectable dish featuring sautéed shrimp and served with garlic white wine and butter. Each dish plays an important role in making sure you’re enjoying more than just dinner. You’re witnessing the passion of the chefs leading you down a path of deliciousness!

Escape to the Meow Wolf Art Exhibition

After a delicious meal, embark on a surreal adventure to Santa Fe’s immersive art experience, Meow Wolf! The House of Eternal Return is a fantastical world that blurs the lines between reality and imagination. Discover a different realm from the moment you step through the door. Crawl through the glowing fireplace, open the fridge to find a portal, or play the laser harp. Whether you’re uncovering the narrative or reveling in the sensory overload, Meow Wolf is the place to go to become part of the story where art comes to life.

Where Should You Stay During a Day in Santa Fe?

A day in Santa Fe is packed with delicious food, magnificent art, and one-of-a-kind experiences. There’s no better way to wind down than relaxing in the luxury of a charming vacation rental in the heart of the city. Casa De Santa Fe offers a variety of luxury homes that make an excellent place to stay for your Santa Fe adventures.

Imagine lounging in a private courtyard, enjoying the warmth of a kiva fireplace, or stargazing from your hot tub. With our Santa Fe vacation homes near the plaza and other prime locations, you are minutes away from local attractions and activities. Book your accommodation at Casa De Santa Fe and make your visit truly unforgettable.

Additional Tips for Planning a Day Trip to Santa Fe

  • What to See One Day in Santa Fe: There’s so much to do and see in one day. From hiking in Santa Fe to the most unique attractions, you’ll find yourself wanting to extend your trip.
  • Transportation and Parking Tips: Downtown Santa Fe is very walkable, but if you drive, parking can be found at various public lots around the Plaza.
  • Accommodations: Casa De Santa Fe offers a range of rental homes to fit any need, from cozy casitas to spacious family homes.