this article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of So Scottsdale! magazine.
World-renowned for its exquisite Native American handcrafted goods, art, sculpture, and Southwestern cuisine, Santa Fe is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. Situated 7,200 feet above sea level in New Mexico's high desert—with summer temps in the mid-80s—it's the perfect weekend getaway from the Arizona heat.
As the oldest city in New Mexico, Santa Fe (which translates to “holy faith”) was founded in 1610 and holds a rich history to discover. Be sure to plan time to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi that dominates the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe. Art enthusiasts will enjoy walking Canyon Road, a street lined with art galleries, as well as exploring the museums along Museum Hill. The Santa Fe Opera performs in a breathtaking outdoor venue every July and August.
Historic Walks of Santa Fe offers daily tours of downtown, as well as specialized tours for art, shopping, and food, along with a fun evening ghost tour.
Shop 'til You Drop
Shopping in Santa Fe draws international crowds as there is no shortage of unique trinkets to peruse and purchase. Start with the Native American vendors selling their merchandise at the Palace of the Governors just behind the Plaza.
After that, wander through the unique shops throughout the Plaza area. Trujillo Plaza was once the intake office for the top-secret Los Alamos Scientific Lab in 1943. Today it houses some quirky artwork.
To find a special gift head to Doodlet's, an eclectic shop that's been making people smile for 61 years with hidden treasures spanning folk art, toys, books, cards, and nostalgic keepsakes for the young and young-at-heart. Next door, Sign of the Pampered Maiden offers on-trend clothing and jewelry for women.
New Mexico Noshes
Santa Fe is well-known for its innovative, made-from-scratch cuisine using regional and seasonal ingredients. In fact, you could plan an entire trip to Santa Fe around food! A visit to the Santa Fe School of Cooking affords an up-close-and-personal experience with new Mexican cuisine. Here, you can roll up your sleeves and help prepare your meal, or you can simply watch a demo and enjoy the mouthwatering food.
For an authentic meal, dine at Gabriel's of Santa Fe, located a few minutes north of town Gabriel's serves some of the best Old Mexico food you'll taste and is considered one of America's best restaurants by Zagat. Along the Plaza, you won't want to miss Café Pasqual's, which serves creative cuisine with New Mexican flair in an intimate setting.
Staying in Santa Fe
There are a variety of accommodations in downtown Santa Fe. One of the best is La Posada de Santa Fe, a AAA Four-Diamond historic property with elegant rooms, beautiful artwork, a welcoming spa, and one of the best patios in town.
Another option is Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, a luxury boutique inn inspired by the region's early Native American inhabitants. Dinner at Anasazi Restaurant is the perfect end to an idyllic weekend in Santa Fe, a town that truly embraces its mixture of cultures.