This summer, Austin-based travel blogger Haley Plotkin traveled to Santa Fe for an adventure in The City Different. Check out her experience below.
If you’re looking for an awesome getaway that’s only a quick flight from Texas, might I suggest Santa Fe? I’m Haley Plotkin, the writer and photographer behind
ReadySetJetSet, an Austin-based travel and adventure blog. I just got back from the most incredible Santa Fe vacation and I’m excited to share my favorite highlights of the trip with y’all. From exploring the psychedelic Meow Wolf to having afternoon tea on Canyon Road, here are just a few things you can find in The City Different.
Sky Railway: The first stop on our whirlwind tour of Santa Fe was for a “Cocktails & Rails” adventure on the Sky Railway. This two-hour journey left from the Santa Fe Railyard district and took us a bit out of the city to enjoy the golden-hour desert vistas as we sipped cocktails and listened to live music. I highly recommend updating your ticket to enjoy the beautiful Acoma Lounge Car. And fun fact: Game of Thrones author and Santa Fe local George RR Martin is one of the co-owners of Sky Railway!
Paloma: Santa Fe is definitely a destination for foodies, so I was super excited for all the restaurants we planned to hit up. First up was Paloma, a “vibrant Mexican-inspired kitchen and bar” as the restaurant describes itself. Everything we tried here was delicious, from the pollo en mole (my favorite chicken dish of the trip) to the crispy fish tacos and flight of mezcal, tequila, and sotol that we sampled.
Hotel Santa Fe: Staying right in the heart of town at Hotel Santa Fe was extremely convenient—we probably could’ve walked almost everywhere if we’d wanted to! I also loved that the hotel is run by the Picuris Pueblo—in fact, it’s the only Native American-owned hotel in downtown Santa Fe. And you can really see it in the details of the property, especially the multi-million-dollar Native American art collection on display throughout the hotel. For an elevated experience, I recommend staying in one of the suites of The Hacienda like we did.
Craft Donuts & Coffee: Since we had an early museum entry booked for day two, we decided to try local food truck Craft Donuts & Coffee for breakfast. They make all their donuts made-to-order, so they’re super fresh and delicious. Some of their most popular flavors include the Cinnamon Roll, Cookies & Cream, and Maple Bacon.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: If you’re a fan of the art of Georgia O’Keeffe, do not miss out on the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum! On display is a wide variety of her works, a look into her life (during my visit, there was even a special photo exhibit of her life in Northern New Mexico), and some of the very last pieces of art she created. FYI: The museum does require advance booking and timed entry, so make sure you plan ahead on this one!
Plaza Shopping: I’m not sure if it’s possible to go to Santa Fe without buying a beautiful piece of turquoise jewelry, Native pottery, or a rug in the Plaza—at least, not for me, but I am a bit of a shopaholic! One of my favorite stores is Malouf on the Plaza—they have beautiful rugs to admire and an amazing jewelry selection (I walked away with a new turquoise ring). Also, don’t miss out on the Native American artists who sell outside the Palace of the Governors—they have some of the best stuff!
Cafe Pasqual’s: After depleting your wallet of funds, make sure to head over a block from the Plaza to Cafe Pasqual’s. This colorful and homey restaurant serves up Mexican fare and has even won the coveted James Beard award. My favorite part of dining here is the community table that you can choose to sit at. I absolutely adore this idea, as it’s so much fun to meet other people while traveling, or maybe even get to chat with a local and get their recommendations for your stay.
Meow Wolf: If you visit Santa Fe and don’t do Meow Wolf, you’re really missing out. This is my absolute favorite thing to do in the city, and every time I go, I discover new parts of the storyline and more little hidden details amongst the art. Meow Wolf is an experience that rewards you the longer you explore and search every nook and cranny. How does one even describe the chaos that is Meow Wolf’s The House of Eternal Return? You start in a home with a storyline of a family gone missing—and from there, who knows what you’ll find as you enter portals into the multiverse…
Horno Restaurant: One of the newest restaurants on the Santa Fe dining scene is Horno from Chef David Sellers. This gastropub is all about affordable fine cuisine without the fine dining experience (and prices). Pictured here is their squid ink capellini, which I would definitely recommend!
Opuntia Cafe: A friend recommended we check out Opuntia Cafe in the Santa Fe Railyard District, so we started off day three with a coffee pitstop here before our 4×4 tour later that morning. I’m so glad we found this place! The cafe also doubles as a plant shop, making it super photogenic and dreamy. They have a large tea menu to enjoy, and great breakfast options like their delicious cinnamon toast or Mexican classics like huevos rancheros. Next time I’m in Santa Fe, I’ll definitely be stopping back in to pick up a plant and a cup of breakfast tea.
Santa Fe Mountain Adventures: Time for an adventure! We headed off with Santa Fe Mountain Adventures for an off-roading experience in a Swiss Pinzgauer military vehicle to Diablo Canyon. They’ve filmed lots of movies and TV shows out here, like
3:10 to Yuma and Walker, Texas Ranger, so you may even recognize it! But as much as I loved the scenic canyon (which is made of lava rock, a super cool fun fact), the highlight of this tour was definitely the rollercoaster-like ride across the sandy arroyo—think the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. That said, be prepared to get a bit dirty on this escapade!
Teahouse: If you’re a fan of teas, don’t miss Teahouse out on Canyon Road. It’s a great place to stop and relax while browsing through the many art galleries lining this famous street. They truly do offer an overwhelming amount of tea options, as well as breakfast and lunch options like paninis and salads (I really like the goat cheese, roasted pear, truffle honey, and arugula panini myself).
Ahmyo Wine Garden: Another great stop as you shop along Canyon Road is Ahmyo Wine Garden. They do have their own gallery there, but as you pass through it to the back, you’ll find a gorgeous patio space perfect for enjoying a glass of wine. If you want to try a good sampling of New Mexico wines, definitely get one of their wine tasting flights!
Tomasita’s: If you’re looking for classic New Mexico cuisine and a laid-back restaurant environment, Tomasita’s has got you covered. They’re regularly voted the best margarita in town, as well as the best red chile and green chile (and we all know Santa Fe prides itself on their chile). Don’t leave without trying a sopaipilla!
La Plazuela At La Fonda: Inside La Fonda Hotel you’ll find the beautiful courtyard-stye restaurant that is La Plazuela serving up New Mexico cuisine. They call themselves the most romantic restaurant in Santa Fe and I’m inclined to believe them—honestly, I challenge anyone to find a prettier dinner date atmosphere than this in the city.
Bell Tower Bar at La Fonda: A beautiful Santa Fe sunset seemed like the appropriate way to end the trip. Luckily, the Bell Tower Bar at La Fonda provides epic views over downtown. I felt so lucky when we were treated to one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen as we sipped our cocktails on the rooftop bar. Since this is a popular bar, if you want a seat along the railing that faces the sunset, I recommend getting there early. The good news is, they have appetizers to munch on and great cocktails to enjoy while you wait for the main event.