Around Town: Santa Fe, N.M.
Part of our series on great towns in the U.S. to explore and enjoy.
It’s a city with a sunbaked 17th century plaza—the site of bullfights, gunfights, political rallies—and now brimming with arts and incredible cuisine. No, you’re not in Spain.
Santa Fe, N.M., is famous for nearly four centuries of Spanish and Mexican rule (though the region’s Pueblo people preceded both cultures by hundreds of years). This city’s galleries, restaurants and market culture never swerve too far from its heritage. However, hikers, painters, photographers, alternative healers and retirees have carved their own niches in this vibrant city.
Don’t miss these finds in one of America’s oldest cultural gems:
Todos Santos Chocolates and Confections, hidden away in a corner of Santa Fe’s historic Sena Plaza, carries delightfully funky edible religious figures (santos and Milagros), coated in gold and silver leaf. If you feel they’re just too collectible to eat, give them as gifts and try owner Hayward Simoneaux’s signature chocolate bar and truffles. [125 E. Palace Ave. #31]
Ortega’s on the Plaza has been one of the city’s icons for 35 years, selling handmade jewelry by local and regional designers in the southwest corner of the historic plaza. (The family itself has been selling native jewelry and crafts since 1871, so you’re in good hands.) In addition to showcasing the most traditional Native American styles, the store owners love introducing new artists. [101 W. San Francisco St.; ortegasontheplaza.com].
If it’s Native American rugs you’re looking for, you’ll find them at G. Coles-Christensen. You’ll also discover a vast array of beautiful handmade rugs from around the globe by names like James Tufenkian and Stephanie Odegard. Visiting the store is part shopping experience and part lesson in global labor. Owner and founder Gary Coles-Christensen chairs the board of Rugmark International, which ensures its rugs are made without child labor in the global market. [125 W. San Francisco St.; therugmerchants.com]
Widely held as the oldest church in the United States, the adobe San Miguel Mission was built between 1610 and 1626. It was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, rebuilt in 1710, and it served as a chapel for Spanish soldiers. It’s seen its share of changes, but the original adobe walls are largely intact. It’s a Santa Fe must-visit. [401 Old Santa Fe Trail]
The 1940 church of Cristo Rey is considered one of the best examples of the Pueblo style and was constructed by parishioners, who mixed the quarter-million mud-and-straw adobe bricks by hand and hauled them into place. [1120 Canyon Road]
You can’t claim a visit to Santa Fe without visiting the museum dedicated to its most famous resident, Georgia O’Keeffe. Nearly half of its 3,000 works are by O’Keeffe herself. [217 Johnson St.; okeeffemuseum.org]
The only comprehensive museum of folk art in the world, the Museum of International Folk Art comprises more than 135,000 artifacts from Tibet to Sweden. [706 Camino Lejo; internationalfolkart.org] Or construct your own stroll of Santa Fe’s myriad galleries. Find information at the Santa Fe Gallery Association’s website.
There has been an inn at the site of La Fonda on the Plaza since 1607; its current iteration—saturated colors, adobe, tin panels—has been untouched since legendary designer Mary Colter decorated it in 1924. Thoroughly charming and luxurious. [100 E. San Francisco St.; lafondasantafe.com; doubles from $399]
The Rosewood group now manages one of the city’s most sought-after properties, Inn of the Anasazi. Once a juvenile correction facility, it’s now a chic boutique hotel. A 2006 remodel included new bedding and décor; ask for a room with a gaslit kiva fireplace. [113 Washington Ave.; innoftheanasazi.com; doubles from $275]
With its historic and artistic core, visiting Santa Fe is a treat for the senses. There’s always more to explore and enjoy.
Image © Media Bakery/Walter Bibikow