The Santa Fe Plaza
The Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico in the style of traditional Spanish‐American colonial cities. The plaza, or “city‐square”, was originally, and is still to this day, the center gathering place in town. Many know it as “the heart of Santa Fe”. The landmark has since grown into a playground for many tourists interested in Spanish, Native American, and Mexican cultures, and includes music, design, jewelry, art and dance.
Known to locals simply as the “Plaza,” it is home to annual events including Fiestas de Santa Fe, the Spanish Market, the Santa Fe Bandstand and the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Plaza consists of a central park lined with grass, trees, and benches, which add to the cultural scenery, especially at Christmas time when the Plaza streets and buildings glow with farolitos and the occasional luminarias, and trees glow with lights. Included in the park is an American Indian War Memorial monument as well as a performing arts stage
Canyon Road is an art district in Santa Fe, New Mexico with over a hundred art galleries and studios exhibiting a wide range of art, including Native American art and antiquities, historical and contemporary Latino art, regional art, international folk art, and contemporary art.
Canyon Road is a long, narrow road that leads to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It runs parallel to the Acequia Madre (“mother ditch”), an irrigation ditch dating back to 1680. Prior to Spanish arrival, the road was a footpath between the Santa Fe River Valley and Pecos Pueblo. Canyon Road was once a primarily residential neighborhood. Houses built in the Pueblo Revival style, in accordance with the local Spanish Colonial and Pueblo methods were constructed with adobe walls and courtyards, often as compounds for extended family. Artists were drawn to its beauty, particularly the Los Cinco Pintores in the 1920s. Olive Rush (1873–966) was a prominent early Canyon Road artist who maintained a studio at 630 Canyon, which she donated to the Society of Friends. It is still a Quaker meeting hall today.
Over time, artists created a subculture of artist‐run studios and galleries. Over time, as Santa Fe became more of a tourist destination, Canyon Road became known to the wider world.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Opened in 1997, Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is devoted to the internationally‐known female artist, famous for her large‐scale depictions of flowers, shells and the New Mexico landscape. The 13,000‐square‐foot downtown museum was founded to perpetuate the artistic legacy of O’Keeffe, as well as to study and interpret American modernism as a whole.
The museum is home to a collection of more than 3,000 works, including 1,149 O’Keeffe paintings, drawings and sculptures. Other artists represented at the museum include Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Sherrie Levine and Arthur Dove.
Private events for 20 to 150 people can be held in the museum’s Pueblo Revival building and throughout the foyer, galleries and courtyard. The adjacent O’Keeffe Caf, which serves contemporary Southwestern cuisine with French and Asian influences, can also accommodate private banquets and receptions.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM with extended hours Friday until 8 PM, during which time admission is free. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $4 for New Mexico residents and $4 for students ages 18 and older. Admission for guests under 18 is free.
Santa Fe’s beautiful Loretto Chapel was built from 1873 to 1878. Constructed in the Gothic Revival style and featuring sandstone, porous volcanic stone and ornate stained glass, the chapel stands in stark contrast to the city’s adobe churches. It is believed to be modeled after King Louis IX’s Sainte‐Chapelle in Paris.
Loretto Chapel is most known for its St. Joseph’s Staircase, often referred to as the Miraculous Staircase. Legend has it that when the chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft. Carpenters said that the loft would have to be accessed via ladder, as a staircase would interfere with the interior space. In response, the Sisters of the Chapel prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and on the ninth day of prayer, a man appeared looking for work.
Months later, he completed the circular staircase and disappeared without pay or thanks. Some believe that man was St. Joseph himself.
Today, St. Joseph’s Staircase makes over two complete 360‐degree turns and stands 20 feet tall with no visible means of support. The staircase was extremely innovative for its design still perplexing architects today and was constructed with wood and square wooden pegs, without nails or glue.
Now a private museum, the Loretto Chapel is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 10:30 AM to 5 PM. Admission is $2 per person. Children under 6 receive free admission.
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts and Culture was founded to inspire appreciation for and knowledge of diverse native arts, histories, languages and cultures of the greater Southwest region. Resting at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the museum boasts a collection of classic and contemporary Southwestern Indian paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, basketry and weaving, all of which are a perfect complement to its permanent Here Now and Always Exhibit. Here, guests can trace the life of American Indians through stories, songs and artwork.
Additionally, the museum features a collection of more than 75,000 objects, including some of the first artifacts collected from Southwestern Native Americans and some of the earliest known Navajo textiles. An impressive historic and contemporary pottery collection dates from the mid‐ 17th century through the present and offers examples from all of the pueblos and tribal communities of the Southwestern region.
The museum offers private event rentals for up to 800 people. The 100‐seat O’Keeffe Theater, sculpture garden for 15 people and performance circle for 360 people are among the venue options.
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is also open Monday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Regular admission is $9 for adults and $6 for New Mexico residents. Guests under 17 receive free admission.
Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art is home to the largest collection of its kind in the world. The museum’s collection spans over 130,000 objects from over 100 countries, with a strong concentration in textiles and Latin American folk art. In fact, the Hispanic Heritage Wing is one of few museum wings in the country devoted to the art and heritage of Hispanic/Latino cultures.
Private events may be held throughout the museum. Spaces available include the atrium, 165‐ seat auditorium, outdoor classroom and patio.
The Museum of International Folk Art is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is also open Monday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Regular admission is $9 for adults and $6 for New Mexico residents. Children under 17 receive free admission. Docent‐led tours are offered daily.
New Mexico History Museum
Opened in May 2009, the New Mexico History Museum features permanent and temporary exhibitions that span the state’s early history from indigenous cultures to Spanish colonization to travel and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail. The museum was once a storage facility for the nearby Palace of the Governors, which served as the state’s history museum from 1909 until the opening of the New Mexico History Museum. Today’s museum is a 96,000‐square‐foot interactive investigation of the clash and melding of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, French and Anglo‐American cultures.
The New Mexico History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM with extended hours Friday until 8 PM, during which time admission is free. Regular admission is $9 for adults and $6 for New Mexico residents. Guests under 17 receive free admission.
New Mexico Museum of Art
Located just west of the downtown Santa Fe Plaza, the New Mexico Museum of Art is home to an impressive collection of works by early Santa Fe and Taos artists. The building itself is a work of art as well. Its design is based in simple pueblo architecture that established the Pueblo Spanish Revival style, for which Santa Fe is known.
Inside, the core of the 20,000‐item collection is artwork inspired by the Southwest, particularly New Mexico, made by artists who have worked in, lived in, or been inspired by the region.
Famous New Mexico artists represented in the museum include Georgia O’Keeffe, Elliot Porter, Gustave Baumann, Fritz Scholder, Maria Martinez, Bruce Naumann and Luis Jimenez.
The museum offers private event spaces throughout its grounds. Venue options include the 450‐ seat St. Francis Auditorium and the museum lobby, which features hand‐carved vigas, a latilla ceiling and space for 100 guests. The sculpture gardens accommodate 100 guests, while the courtyard, graced with covered portals and an elegant fountain, accommodates 125 guests.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM with extended hours Friday until 8 PM, during which time admission is free. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is also open Monday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Regular admission is $9 for adults and $6 for New Mexico residents. Guests under age 17 receive free admission.
New Mexico State Capitol
In addition to being the seat of government for the state of New Mexico, the New Mexico State Capitol is the only round state capitol building in the United States, designed to resemble the Zia Sun symbol when viewed from above. A blend of New Mexico Territorial and Neoclassical style, the capitol building consists of four levels, one of which is below ground.
The building’s first level houses the Senate and House chambers, and is therefore not open to the public. The third‐ and fourth‐level committee rooms and offices may be toured. The fourth level is also home to the Governors Gallery, an outreach facility of the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Visitors to the capitol building can take self‐guided tours Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 6 PM; guided tours are available by reservation. Admission to the New Mexico State Capitol is free.
Palace of the Governors
Built as a government building by the Spanish in 1610, the Palace of the Governors is the country’s oldest continuously‐occupied building. Following its construction, the Palace of the Governors played a role in the Spanish Colonial, Mexican, territorial and statehood eras of New Mexico’s history. The adobe building features four‐foot‐thick walls, a secure courtyard and long galleries that are now home to period rooms and exhibitions.
Guests can explore the palace’s 15,000‐plus item collection, which includes such objects as a 16th century helmet believed to belong to a Spanish solider and a 1912 state seal made of assorted pieces of hardware, such as spoons, quills and tacks. The Segesser hide paintings on display are the first‐known depictions of Spanish colonial life in the United States.
The Palace of the Governors is available for private events. The interior can accommodate up to 300 people, while the outdoor courtyard, lined with holly hocks and shade trees, can host up to 500 guests.
The Palace of the Governors is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM, with extended hours Friday until 8 PM, during which time admission is free. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is also open Monday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Regular admission is $9 for adults and $6 for New Mexico residents. Guests under 17 receive free admission.
San Miguel Mission
Built by Tlaxcala Indians between 1610 and 1628, the San Miguel Mission is considered the country’s oldest church. Today, the Spanish colonial mission’s original adobe walls are still largely intact; in fact, the church holds Mass weekly. Artifacts displayed throughout the church include Bible paintings on buffalo hides and deer skins, a 780‐pound San Jose bell cast in Spain in 1356, a late 18th century altar screen, and a carved wooden statue of St. Michael brought from Mexico in 1709.
The San Miguel Mission welcomes visitors daily. Admission is $1 for adults. Children under 7 receive free admission.
Santa Fe Children’s Museum
The Santa Fe Children’s Museum features a variety of interactive exhibits, diverse programs and a beautiful outdoor learning garden. At Make and Take, kids can create art from recycled materials, while Looms allows kids to design patterns with beads and fabric. The Climbing Wall and Toddler Climbing Structure allow for safe, adventurous play for small visitors of all ages.
The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is open Tuesday 10 a.m,.-5 p.m. (summer only), Wednesday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m, and Sunday 12-5 p.m. Admission is $7.50 for adults and the museum offers $5 admission for anyone 17 years old and younger; free admission for infants. For more information, visit the museum’s website.