When one imagines the Wild West, one pictures adobe houses, dirt trails, Native American spirituality and a lot of Mexican food. Well, maybe that’s just me. Santa Fe not only met my western expectations, but exceeded them with its beautiful history and friendly hospitality. If you’re heading west for a short amount of time, here’s how you should spend 24 hours in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe was a bit of a spontaneous trip. My Mom was visiting family and all three sisters went to visit her one week at a time. So the jig is up: I was in Santa Fe a lot longer than 24 hours.
But if anyone knows my family, you know that they travel at their leisure. Breakfast has been known to occur at 12 pm with dinner starting at 10 pm. My family loves to spend hours at restaurants and takes short yet steady strolls around town. The Von Muellners go at an incredibly slow pace.
Most of this was my own speed until I traveled abroad and started to become a much more active traveler.
But if you find yourself with a lot more time than I did, you’ve got plenty of additional options. You can easily spend an entire day in the Historic District, hike the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument or spend multiple days figuring out the “story” at Meow Wolf.
8:00 am Start Your Day With a Frenchy Breakfast at Clafoutis
Being in Santa Fe, you’re going to have your fair share of Mexican food. Try something different and start your day with the city’s famous French pastries at Clafoutis cafe. Clafoutis is known for just about every pastry on the menu, most notably their croissants and french toast. There are also quiches if you’re looking for something a little more substantial. This place is also well known for its incredibly long line. The earlier you arrive, the better!
10:00 am Interact with Art at Meow Wolf
Who knew that one of the most exciting and interactive art exhibits could be found in the charming city of Santa Fe? Meow Wolf is an artist collective, but the installation itself is called the House of Eternal Return. The concept is quite hard to wrap your head around. The installation takes place in an old bowling alley and consists of mind-blowing installments that don’t quite make sense. Any age can come to explore and immerse themselves in art with technology and fantasy.
Beginners can simply walk around and enjoy the house thrown into another dimension. If you have the time, try the “story.” The story is an interactive puzzle about the installation with over 200 hours of narrative. But if your time there runs long, don’t be surprised to find a concert and many individuals in an altered state of mind, if you know what I mean.
1:00 pm Eat All of the Mexican Food at The Shed
Drive over to the Historic District where you will be spending the remainder of the day. Amongst the adobe houses you’ll find The Shed. Locals know this spot as one of the best restaurants in all of Santa Fe for its delicious Southwestern fare and colorful setting. Watch your head as the restaurant’s building is an original adobe hacienda (from the 1600s) with incredibly low door frames.
You can’t go wrong with any option here, but speaking from experience the margaritas and tacos are absolutely delicious. The low-light ambiance paired with the colorful presence of Santa Fe makes this the perfect date spot or place to bring the family.
3:00 pm Enjoy Mayan Chocolates at Kakawa Chocolate Bar
You might feel as though you stuffed yourself at lunch, but make sure you save some room for Santa Fe’s local chocolate shop, Kakawa Chocolate House. This family-owned shop creates specialty chocolates including truffles, drinking chocolate elixirs, agave caramels, solid dark chocolates and homemade ice cream.
Their most famous items on the menu are their chocolate elixirs based on historically accurate hot chocolate recipes. These recipes are pulled from various eras including Pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican, Mayan and Aztec, 1600’s European, Colonial American and Colonial Mexican. That means each elixir is free of cane sugar, whole milk and other harmful ingredients. And while you might assume that hot chocolate is best enjoyed before bed, these particular recipes will actually make you perky!
4:00 pm Wander Around Downtown Historic Santa Fe
You’ve probably been to several old towns in all of your travels, but none like Santa Fe Historic District. This historic center is full of original, adobe houses since it’s very beginning, some of which are considered the country’s firsts. The Palace of the Governors (opened in 1610), San Miguel Mission (built from 1610-1628), and Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (built in 1869) are just a few of the architectural wonders that can be found here.
When you’re done taking in the historical sites, be sure to do some window shopping. Pottery, local art and crystal shops are found at every corner of this town. Make sure to bring your credit cards as the prices here are a bit out of hand!
6:00 pm Recharge at the Santa Fe Oxygen & Healing Bar
There’s no doubt that the altitude has rocked your world a little bit. Nothing will heal your body and spirit quite like a trip to the Santa Fe Oxygen & Healing Bar. The moment you walk in you will feel instantly relaxed and happy with the help of the various crystals and calming energy of the staff.
There are several ways to spend the afternoon here. Whether you’re here for just the oxygen, a healthy elixir or a complete reiki package, you’ll walk out feeling better than when you walked in. If time permits, go for the entire healing package. Start with a flower essence mocktail (chosen for you based on your current ailments and vibe). Take a few minutes to breath pure oxygen before receiving a personal, reiki treatment where healing energy and stones will make you feel like new. Finally, unwind at the cafe or bar with a hot, adaptogen elixir.
8:30 pm Finish the Day with Dinner at La Fogata Grill
Days end early here so don’t be surprised to see a ghost town this time of the day, thus an early dinner is required. Not far from the healing bar is La Fogata Grill. Don’t let this simple interior fool you, this has some of the best Mexican food in town! If you’re looking for a place to hang with locals and tourists alike, and maybe enjoy the game on TV, this is your spot.
The Oaxacan Barbacoa (pictured above) was so deliciously spicy and flavorful, my tastebuds were overwhelmed. But I can’t say enough about those delicious plantains. (After endless plantains in the Dominican Republic, I was happy to enjoy a new and sweeter take on this starchy fruit.)