Santa Fe is a well-known artist hot spot and foodie hub ensconced in a stark, high desert landscape. With one day to explore, you can enjoy New Mexico's blue skies and outdoor sports, while still making time to see Santa Fe's downtown, replete with high-end eateries and countless art galleries. Here’s how to spend your day in Santa Fe.
Morning: Time in Nature
Start your morning in the great outdoors with a white-water rafting excursion on the Rio Grande River. Most beginner-friendly rafting tours last only a few hours. Typically, you're carried through a few rapids and end the adventure with light refreshments. To experience nature without breaking a sweat, explore the more than 50 acres (20 hectares) of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. You can see New Mexico's stunning flora without leaving the city, and can get skip-the-line entry if you book your ticket in advance.
Afternoon: Santa Fe and the Railyard Arts District
After your morning in nature, spend the afternoon touring Santa Fe's must-see Railyard Arts District on a guided walking tour. Plan for a sightseeing tour if you want to grab your own lunch, or opt for a culinary-themed tour if you want to sample the local cuisine. Since food-and-drink tastings are typically included, you can arrive hungry. Arts enthusiasts should end the afternoon on Canyon Road, visiting the numerous galleries showcasing everything from handmade crafts to fine arts.
Night: Dinner and the Opera
The Santa Fe Opera is a cultural gem. Known for its open-air design and forward-thinking performances, it's a must-see attraction for theater lovers that want to take in a show or book a backstage tour. If you prefer to stay around the downtown area, try a quirky scavenger hunt—or holiday-themed scavenger hunt—exploring the city. Because you'll use your smartphone to keep track of your finds, you can take your time sightseeing and avoid being rushed by a guide. After working up your appetite, eat a dinner featuring famous New Mexico chiles. Be sure to order a dish swimming in green-chile sauce.