Sunset over Santa Fe (Photo courtesy of Tourism of Santa Fe)
The City Different has a knack for bringing art to life with live music, premier films, and cultural dance. Recognized as a center for arts and culture, Santa Fe ranks as the country's third largest art market and the third largest State Museum system (twenty major museums) in the country. In just a two-square-mile area including Canyon Road, Downtown, and the Railyard, you will find over 250 art galleries with fine art ranging from traditional to contemporary. Be sure to download the Santa Fe Art Experience app to locate galleries and discover the most comprehensive guide to what the arts districts of Santa Fe have to offer.
In Santa Fe you will also find popular museums such as the New Mexico Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, New Mexico History Museum and Palace of Governors, and the 4 world class museums (Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art) as well as the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens on famed Museum Hill (location of our social!). If all that was not enough, Santa Fe is also home to the world-famous Santa Fe Opera and other performing arts ranging from jazz to flamenco, chamber music, and live theater. At any time of year visitors can enjoy some of the world’s best voices, see international dance and theater groups, and hear speakers and celebrated musicians from all over the world. The art scene in Santa Fe is truly unparalleled and passionately represents the culture, history, and traditions of the Southwest.
The Santa Fe Trail was historically used by traders to bring goods and essentials to the southwest. Fast forward to modern day, Santa Fe has become known as a shopping mecca where shoppers can find Native American artwork and unique handmade items of delight in small boutiques, trading posts, and large open air markets.
Summer is the ideal time for market enthusiasts with the International Folk Art Market (July 12-14, 2020), Spanish Market (July 25-26, 2020), and Southwestern Association of Indian Arts (SWAIA) Indian Market (August 15-16, 2020) all taking place within a six-week period. On most days you can also find local Native artisans selling authentic and unique pieces of pottery, textiles, jewelry, and art under the portal at the Palace of the Governors and other unique shops throughout the city (you may even see them in the hallways of Buffalo Thunder!).
Santa Fe Railyard and Plaza Downtown (Photo courtesy of Tourism of Santa Fe and Cafe Pasqual's)
While not part of the official social program, the NSREC 2020 committee (and locals) highly recommend families and adventurists to visit the one-of-a-kind Meow Wolf for an immersive, interactive art experience and hiking along the trails and ancient cliff-dwellings of Bandelier National Monument. Other great family-based attractions include El Rancho de las Golondrinas (living history museum), children’s museums, Prescott Gallery & Sculpture Garden, and the various outdoor activities. These attractions and many others make Northern New Mexico and Santa Fe a wonderful place for families. Please see below for specific information on many of these places.
Festival of the Harvest El Rancho Los Golondrinas (Photo Courtesy of golondrinas.org)
For the outdoor enthusiast, Northern New Mexico provides year-round hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding amongst the beautiful backdrops of mountain trails and the Rocky Mountain foothills as well as historical sites. One family-favorite place to enjoy the outdoors is Bandelier National Monument (more information below). For bird lovers, it is recommended to hike through Santa Fe Canyon reserve where you will find around 140 species of birds. The great outdoors and open sky also allow everyone to relax and enjoy activities such as golf (3 nine-hole golf courses on-site as well as others in the area), white-water river rafting in the Rio Grande, hot air ballooning, and fly-fishing. For those that enjoy the spiritual healing of the mind, you can also find many yoga retreats or classes that are held inside and outside. On the other extreme, adventurists can find popular rock-climbing destinations in Diablo Canyon and Pecos River Canyon. As you can see, there is something outdoors for everyone!
Cuisine (and the Santa Fe Margarita Trail!)
Rated in Travel + Leisure as America’s #5 Best Cities for Food, Santa Fe has also earned a stellar reputation with food-lovers ranging from local New Mexican flavors to authentic world cuisines in recent years. With over 400 restaurants with something for everyone, this is a food lover’s paradise. It is highly recommended to try the authentic New Mexican cuisine that uses the famous red and green chili! Santa Fe also has an award-winning year round Farmers Market and cooking classes for visitors to learn secrets from local chefs.
At the end of the day, partake in the Margarita Trail (instructions to download the app can be found at SantaFe.org) and get your passport stamped at one of the 30+ participating bars and restaurants. The app's interactive map lists all participants where each location on the Trail has their own unique Santa Fe flavor and signature margarita recipe. With a Passport or app, participants will receive a $1 discount on the signature specialty margarita offered at each site (there’s a limit of two stamps per day). Passport stamps also make you eligible to earn prizes. The Santa Fe Margarita Trail Tour was recently recognized as one of the 10 Best Food and Drink Trails to Explore according to Pop Sugar.
For those that prefer, there is also a booming craft beer scene in Santa Fe (and Albuquerque) with a variety of award-winning, delicious choices to choose from.
At the Themed Entertainment Award–winning Meow Wolf, families and adventurists will have an immersive, one-of-a-kind, and interactive art experience. Meow Wolf opened its doors to huge acclaim in 2016 after being converted from an old bowling alley and has been a game changer ever since. Known for the multidimensional mystery house known as the House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf contains interactive art exhibits that has mysteries to solve, secret passages, portals to magic worlds, and of course a surreal art experience that will transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and imagination. Meow Wolf has quickly become Santa Fe’s number one tourist attraction as word has spread about its appeal to visitors of all ages. The exhibits have been collaboratively created by more than 100 local artists and sprawls over 20,000 square feet. Meow Wolf has a café and bar onsite (which conveniently serves one of the Margarita Trail Drinks) for a snack as well as dining options nearby that also typically include Food Trucks. Meow Wolf is a wonderful way to spend a day or half day in Santa Fe! It is strongly advised to pre-purchase tickets online as Meow Wolf is very popular. Also note that strollers are not allowed inside the Meow Wolf exhibit areafor those with very young children.
Meow Wolf (Photos courtesy of Tourism of Santa Fe)
In the Santa Fe area, there are both novice and advanced courses that range from mountain to high-desert landscape. This includes municipal courses open to the public and private, PGA-rated nine hole courses and championship Jack Nicklaus Signature courses. One of the more popular and affordable choices is the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe Golf Course which has 360-degree panoramic mountain views and scenic high-desert landscape. There is also the Towa Golf Club at the Buffalo Thunder Resort that includes 3 nine-hole golf courses.
Photos courtesy of Hilton SF Buffalo Thunder
As we know, Santa Fe has plenty of sunshine, but maybe less well known is the healing energy of the area. There are many spas around that visitors can go to reduce their stress, anxieties, and worries. From muscle-relaxing soaking tubs and volcanic clays to herbal and reflexology body/healing treatments to Zen-like meditation in nature, you will find it in Santa Fe. Each spa in the area (including the one at the Buffalo Thunder Resort) has a distinctive Northern New Mexico atmosphere. In fact, you will be able to find 3 of the top 10 best hotel spas right in this area according to USA Today.
Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument (established February 11, 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson) is a 33,677-acre National Monument near Los Alamos that is great for hiking and exploring ancient Native American cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. Both children and adults love everything the monument has to offer where you can spend a few hours or an entire day hiking the many trails that wind through the National Monument (more than 70 miles of hiking trails have been built). The monument covers 50 square miles (130 km^2) of the Pajarito Plateau in the Jemez Mountains. With an elevation change over one mile that starts at about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) along the Rio Grande to over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) at the peak of Cerro Grande on the rim of the Valles Caldera, the scenic landscape is remarkable.
Reminders of the past are everywhere in the park from the ancestral pueblo homes to the kivas (ceremonial structures) to the rock paintings and petroglyphs. Along the 1.2-mile (1.6 km) "Main Loop Trail" from the visitor center (this trail is mostly paved), you will be able to see homes built out of rock structures on the canyon floor as well as cavates produced by voids in the volcanic tuff of the canyon wall which were further carved out by humans. Off the main trail, another trail leads to the Alcove House (formerly called Ceremonial Cave). The Alcove House is a shelter cave produced by the erosion of soft rock and contains a small, reconstructed kiva that hikers may enter via ladder.
Of historical note, Bandelier National Monument was closed to the public for several years during World War II because the Bandelier lodge was used to house Manhattan Project scientists and military personnel.
Cliff dwelling at Bandelier National Monument (Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock Royalty-free stock photo)
Santa Fe Plaza and Historic Downtown
The Santa Fe Plaza was built in 1610 and is the site of the oldest public building in America, the four-centuries-old Palace of the Governors. Today, the Plaza is surrounded by historic buildings that include shops, world-class museums, art galleries, and restaurants. This historic area is completely walkable, with winding streets filled with pueblo-style architecture. One can also find local Native artisans selling their family-made jewelry, pottery, and handicrafts under the portal of the Palace of the Governors. Some of the popular sights in the area include the St. Francis Cathedral, San Miguel Mission, and the intriguing spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel. The Plaza also hosts art markets, festivals, parades, and music events throughout the year. If you are in the area around sunset, you may consider going over to the Cross of the Martyrs.
Santa Fe Opera
Sitting atop a mesa with stunning views of rugged mountains, rolling hills, high desert landscape, and limitless horizon, the Santa Fe Opera is the perfect mix of nature and art that leaves a lasting impression. The Santa Fe Opera came into existence as we know it in 1956 when John O. Crosby took over the property. Prior to becoming the Opera, the site was used as a pinto bean plantation, a mink farm, a pig farm, and a rustic guest ranch. In 1957, the opera began producing magical productions with unparalleled acoustics that has attracted opera goers from across the globe. There have been over 2,000 performances of 170 operas by 85 composers at the Opera which has included 16 world premieres and 45 American premieres. The casts of these productions are drawn from the world’s most talented artists. According to the USA Today, the Santa Fe Opera is one of the 10 best outdoor music venues.
El Rancho de los Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows)
El Rancho de los Golodrinas is a great place to take children. The Southwest's Premier Living History Museum is located just south of Santa Fe and sits on 200 acres of rural farming land. Today the museum preserves the history, heritage, and culture of 18th and 19th century Northern New Mexico. On the grounds, you will find everything from original colonial buildings dating back to the early 1700s to other historic buildings of Northern New Mexico that have been reconstructed. You will also find villagers dressed in historic styles and “living” life as it was lived on the frontier in early New Mexico.
El Rancho de los Golodrinas (Photo Courtesy of golondrinas.org)
There are several places to visit within driving distance of the conference that may be of interest to guests who wish to take a road trip. Described below are some of the more popular “day trips”.
High Road to Taos
To experience the best of both worlds, we suggest taking the scenic "High Road" to Taos and on the way back, take the "Low Road" to Santa Fe. The 56-mile High Road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the trip back (total just over 100 miles from Santa Fe) will take around 4 to 7 hours depending on the number of stops you take, and the time spent at each of those stops. On your way to Taos you will experience the high desert, mountains, forests including Carson National Forest, small farms, wind-carved hoodoos of the badlands, and tiny Spanish and Pueblo Indian villages. There are also many historical and religious sites along the way such as Talpa’s little church of Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Largos del Rio Chiquito, Fort Burgwin (known for the Taos Revolt against U.S. occupation), and El Santuario de Chimayó and its two historically significant chapels – the Lord of Esquipulas Chapel which houses el pocito, or the small pit of Holy dirt, and the Santo Niño de Atocha Chapel. At the end of the High Road, visit the villages of Talpa and Ranchos de Taos where you will find the Saint Francis Plaza.
On the way back from Taos, you can take the “Low Road” which runs parallel to the Río Grande. Along the way you will see several pueblos, including Ohkay Owingeh, the city of Española, and the Los Luceros Historic Property – one of New Mexico’s most scenic and historically significant properties. The path along the Rio Grande has always been an artery of commerce and was once a stop along the Old Santa Fe Trail and before that one of the final stops on El Camino Real.
Los Alamos is a short 45-minute drive from Santa Fe and is the home of Los Alamos National Laboratory. While visitors cannot tour the labs, they can visit the Bradbury Science Museum which tells the story of the Manhattan Project at the top-secret research facility. In addition to the Bradbury Science Museum, there is also the Los Alamos History Museum, Los Alamos Nature Center, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and several art galleries including Fuller Lodge Art Center.
Northern New Mexico is not only home to the famed Georgia O’Keeffe museum, there is also O’Keeffe Country which includes the beautiful mesa village of Abiquiú (AB-i-cue) where O’ Keeffe took up residence. Visitors can tour her residence about 45 miles northwest of Santa Fe with advanced reservations through the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. The tour starts at the Welcome Center in Abiquiú and then proceeds 10 miles North to O'Keeffe’s home and studio in Ghost Ranch. Surrounded by multilayered cliff walls, red hills, and mesas, Ghost Ranch is the 21,000-acre retreat and education center that was the subject of many O’Keeffe paintings.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is approximately an hour south of Santa Fe near the Cochiti Pueblo. As the name suggests, this monument has incredible cone-shaped rock formations that were formed millions of years ago through volcanic activity. Tent Rocks National Monument has a three-mile recreational hiking trail that ranges from 5,570 to 6,750 above sea level and is great for everyone from hikers to horticulturists to bird watchers.
Those that visit the scenic Turquoise Trail will immediately know why that name was chosen – the ancient turquoise mines. Also in the area south out of Santa Fe on Highway 14 are the small mining towns of Cerrillos and Madrid (MaDrid). These mining towns are funky, colorful artists’ communities with art galleries, restaurants and unusual shops to stroll through.
Native American Pueblos
Eight Native American Pueblos (that includes twenty-two tribes) are located in Northern New Mexico: Nambé, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque (location of Buffalo Thunder), San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos, and Tesuque. On the pueblos of Taos and Santa Clara, tourists can visit the Puye Cliff Dwellings. Visitors are also welcome at most annual dances, events, and feast day celebrations with information about public events on the SantaFe.org website. The influence of the Native American Pueblos on Northern New Mexico can be seen in everything from the Pueblo architecture to the arts, food, fashion, and culture. For information and etiquette about visiting one of the Northern Indian Pueblos open to the public, go to SantaFe.org or the website of each individual Pueblo.
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad: Best Train in America
Climb aboard a coal-fired steam engine for a memorable 64-mile day trip you’ll never forget. During this train ride, you will go through steep mountain canyons, high desert, and meadows as you meander between the Colorado and New Mexico border. This Western scenery that will be seen can only be viewed from the train’s exclusive route. Trains depart daily from Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. A luxury motor coach chauffeurs you back to your starting point at the end of the ride. Visit www.cumbrestoltec.com for more information.
Jemez Mountains (Jemez historic site)
The Jemez National Historic Landmark is located just outside Albuquerque and Bernalillo and is home to beautiful prehistoric and historic sites. The landmark includes the stone ruins of a 500 year old Indian village (considered one of the most impressive ruins in the Southwest) and the San José de los Jemez church dating to around 1621. You will also find the village of Giusewa (Giusewa is a Towa word that refers to the many hot springs nearby) that was built by the ancestors of the present-day people of Jemez (Walatowa) Pueblo. There is also a 1,400-foot interpretive trail that winds through the site ruins!