Santa Fe is an unusually magical town, in the best possible way. I have never experienced a place quite like it, which might explain why the motto is The City Different. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how and why Santa Fe is so special, but believe me spending a weekend here might just have you daydreaming about moving to this magical town one day. The food, the culture, and the history are reason enough to inspire a visit, but you will find so much more than that here. The pueblo-style buildings, centuries-old Missions, a buzzing plaza, Native American markets, and the live music will captivate you from the moment you drive into town.

This level of magic can only be experienced with your own eyes, ears, and soul, so what are you waiting for? Plan a long weekend in this majestic town. You won’t regret it. I only have one question for you: red, green or Christmas?

What to Do

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The eight Northern Indian Pueblos surrounding Santa Fe hold strong to their traditions and language to this day. Visitors may even have the opportunity to attend a ceremonial dance or feast at one of the pueblos if the timing is right. This offers an inside look into the culture and community that few have the opportunity to experience. The etiquette is important for these events, and visitors are encouraged to brush up on appropriate behavior before attending.

It will come as no surprise that Santa Fe is home to the third largest art market in the country. That artistic spirit carries throughout this community in so many inspiring ways. A visit to the Native American market across from the town plaza is a must. These artisans bring new appreciation to art and great pride to their craft. You will be buying from the artist themselves, so feel free to ask questions about pieces you are interested in. They are delighted to share their techniques with you, as well as the materials used for each piece. Hop over to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum next, as this is a really unique opportunity to see the work of this iconic American artist. Continue the homage to the history of Santa Fe with a drive up to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art. Both are incredibly well done with nicely preserved artifacts going back centuries.

In the warmer months, enjoy live music and dancing on the plaza, the Artisan Market and Farmer’s Market, and you can even tailgate at the Opera. That’s right, Coloradans will love the unique combination of upscale performances with laid back tailgating. Unlike the foothills in Colorado, Santa Fe rarely experiences the “mud season,” making it the perfect escape for outdoor adventures year round. Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities in the surrounding hills, with the Dale Ball trail system topping the list of outdoor destinations. A short drive from Santa Fe, this network of trails spans 22 miles and will lead you through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Fall is one of the best times for an outdoor visit, as you will be greeted with one of the largest Aspen groves in the country. Once those leaves turn golden, it will make for a beautiful hike through the foothills.

With the hopes of painting a complete picture of The City Different, you should absolutely plan a visit to Meow Wolf while in Santa Fe. This immersive artistic experience is unlike anything you have ever seen. Their goal is to “transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of storytelling,” and they deliver in the most creative and incredible way. You will feel like you have been transported onto a movie set as you are trying to follow the clues left behind by the missing Selig family. The 20,000 square-foot exhibit will lead you through equally awe-inspiring and unexpected dimensions. Though the recommended minimum stay is two hours, you will easily get sucked into this adventure for much longer so plan ahead! If you get hungry, you can hit up one of the food trucks found outside.

After a say spent exploring and soaking in the culture, I definitely recommend hitting the Margarita Trail. No, this is not some cleverly misleading hiking trail, it really is just what it sounds like: a trail of margaritas. This brand new offering allows visitors and residents alike to follow their passports to 31 different locations (sorry, only two can be redeemed per day!) for handcrafted margaritas that will surprise and please your tastebuds. This is really fun to do with friends, and you can share your passport as they are fully transferrable. The best news? Once you fill up your passport, you get your very own margarita bartender kit to take home.

Where to Eat

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The fact that Santa Fe has amazing food is not much of a surprise. It’s one of the first things that people talk about when it comes to this place. But the nice thing is you can really get the full spectrum for whatever your budget may be. Cowgirl Hall of Fame is a fun, laid back spot with great food, friendly service, and a fun atmosphere. With live music most evenings, this is a great place to meet up with friends for a bite or even just a drink while you soak up the music. Tomasita’s is an equally fun and lively environment in a more traditional restaurant setting. The service topped the charts and the portions are large, so be sure to come hungry (and order the salted caramel ice cream dessert!). If you want to really treat yourself, or are celebrating a special occasion, make a reservation at Sazón. A new restaurant, with a seasoned chef, you will be on the edge of your seat waiting for what comes next. Every detail has been accounted for at this gorgeous restaurant, from a purse pedestal to a water glass that is always full, you will leave feeling very well taken care of. If you like surprises, order the chef’s speciality for dessert and have fun guessing what the ingredients are.

Some more fun spots to visit if you have the time include Duel Brewing, New Mexico Hard Cider Taproom, and Sage Bakehouse.

Where to Stay

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La Fonda on the Plaza is centrally located to the main town square, along with dozens of shops and restaurants. With everything on your doorstep it makes planning your days out very easy, though leaving the hotel isn’t required. With several dining options, a coffee stop, and plenty of shopping to be done from the comfort of the hotel you could spend the entire visit just exploring indoors (though it certainly isn’t recommended). The rooms are luxurious and quiet, with all of the amenities you could possibly hope for and the service is top notch. We highly recommend the breakfast in the restaurant in the lobby, and an evening drink at the rooftop bar for the best views and atmosphere.