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The Best Time to Visit Santa Fe in 2023 | When to Go

The Best Time to Visit Santa Fe in 2023 | When to Go

Are you thinking about traveling to Santa Fe? This capital city of New Mexico is one of the best travel destinations in the American Southwest. Santa Fe is among the oldest cities in the country.

The town has had settlers since before the 17th century, from Pueblo Native Americans to Spanish Conquistadors. Today, it’s a vibrant, multicultural city that attracts tourists from around the globe.

Make your trip to Santa Fe spectacular with our helpful tips. We’ll reveal the best time of year for traveling and how to score deals on flights and activities. Read on to learn more about the best time to visit Santa Fe!

Why You Should Visit Santa Fe

From fantastic food to adventurous hiking trails, there’s something for everyone in Santa Fe. The culture is unlike any other, and you’ll see influences of Spanish, Latin American, Anglo, and Native American traditions.

Learn about the area’s complex history at a Santa Fe museum, or attend a local cultural festival. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is famous for its spectacular food, and the city is a must-visit location if you’re a fan of diverse foods.

Sample street food or food trucks near the city plaza, or head downtown to a classy evening restaurant with Southwestern meals. Sante Fe is also an ideal place for adventurers who love outdoor activities.

There are dozens of hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic areas to enjoy during the summer. And we’d be remiss if we forgot Ski Santa Fe, a winter resort with ski lessons and fun things to do!

Overall Best Time to Visit Santa Fe

The shops lining the street on a cloudy day at dusk pictured during the Fall, the best time to visit Santa Fe New Mexico

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Santa Fe is in the fall, from September to November. The weather is beautiful and ranges from about 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the gorgeous weather, from outdoor festivals to hiking trails, and of course, you can end the day at a tasty restaurant or relaxing spa. Santa Fe weather is crisp and chilly in the fall.

It’s ideal for strolling through town or crunching autumn leaves under your shoes as you hike. Santa Fe’s elevation is over 7000 feet, and cool temperatures come early, with the first frost around October 10th.

There’s no shortage of things to do in Santa Fe in the fall. The annual Harvest Festival takes place the first weekend of October, and the local renaissance festival takes place in September.

Don’t forget to head to Ski Santa Fe for activities like live music, disc golf, and ski lift rides through the orange and red aspen trees. Fall in Santa Fe is truly magical.

Get outside and see the brilliant fall colors, walk through town for some shopping in the Plaza, or book a guided tour to learn more about the area. If you’re looking for the best time to go to Santa Fe, we think fall in the city is the best time of year.

Cheapest Time to Visit Santa Fe

Guy riding his bike in the Galisteo Basin Preserve in April, one of the best times to visit Santa Fe

Galisteo, New Mexico/USA – April 6, 2020: Man and dog Mountain biking in Galisteo Basin Preserve near Santa Fe, New Mexico/Tara Kenny/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Santa Fe is from February to April, the offseason in Santa Fe.

Many tourists aren’t crazy about the snow or facing travel delays, but you can take advantage of the winter weather and find cheaper rates. Enjoy lower prices at hotels, resorts, ski lodges, and more when you visit in late winter.

Score deals on flights by booking well in advance. We suggest booking at least three weeks before your trip. Keep in mind that nearby Albuquerque has a larger airport, and it may be more cost-effective to fly into Albuquerque and take the train to Santa Fe.

However, prices vary, and we recommend checking with your local airlines for the most accurate fares. Santa Fe’s weather in February ranges from 21 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s rarely sunny, and you might see some rainy days.

March is also rainy, and temperatures range from 21 to 51 degrees. You can see more sunny days in April, with temperatures hovering around the 40s. Compared to the best time to visit Santa Fe, the cheapest time has fewer things to do.

You might deal with weather-related issues, and there isn’t much to do outside. That said, it’s still an okay time to visit, as you can hit the ski slopes, visit the folk art museum, or go to an iconic pub like Fire and Hops.

Least Busy Time to Visit Santa Fe

Photo of the exterior of the New Mexico Museum of Art pictured in front of a blue sky during the least busy time to visit Santa Fe

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, USA, April, 4, 2014: Exterior view of the New Mexico Museum of Art, downtown, Santa Fe, New Mexico/LizCoughlan/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Santa Fe is from December to January. The weather is cold, scaring away most tourists, but the ski season isn’t at its height.

Take advantage of this portion of the offseason by booking a trip in December or January, but be aware that prices may hike on Christmas week. The weather in Santa Fe is chilly in the winter.

Expect temperatures to hover around 27 degrees Fahrenheit, with 19 for a low and 38 for a high. It rarely gets above freezing, and you’ll need to prepare with cozy winter clothing. Combat the winter weather by bundling up in a blanket in a cabin or ski lodge.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate, watch the snow fall, or head to an indoor gallery like the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. You can also go to Meow Wolf for an interactive art experience and live music shows.

Compared to the best time to visit Santa Fe, the least busy time isn’t as spectacular. The weather is cold and snowy, and you might deal with flight delays or icy roads. However, there are still plenty of fun activities, like skiing or indoor museums.

Worst Time to Visit Santa Fe

The desert valley pictured during the Summer, the worst time to visit Santa Fe, with heat reflecting off of the valley

Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Santa Fe is in July or August. The tourist season is at its peak, and the hot weather can make your trip miserable.

However, if you decide to visit Santa Fe in late summer, we have all the information you need. The best way to get a good deal in July or August is by booking ahead.

Prices will get expensive if you wait until the last minute, and we suggest getting accommodation and flights at least a month in advance. Also, be flexible with your dates because you never know when a deal may pop up. The weather during the worst time to visit isn’t great.

August temperatures range from 55 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and July can reach 80 degrees. Also, these months are the rainiest of the year, with around 38 to 39 inches of rainfall. There are still some fun things to do if you dare to go during the worst time.

Head to the historic Plaza, shop from local vendors or see the Cathedral Basilica from the 19th century. Or you can attend an annual event like the 4th of July Pancakes on the Plaza, the Indian Market, or the Folk Art event.

Things to Consider

Check out these helpful tips about traveling to Santa Fe:

  • Bring sunscreen. Whether you’re visiting in the summer heat or hitting the snowy slopes, you can be at risk of sunburn. Consider packing a hat for extra skin protection.
  • Stay safe. Santa Fe is a big city, and it’s important to stay vigilant. We suggest traveling with a friend and avoiding downtown late at night.
  • Dress appropriately. The weather in Santa Fe might surprise you if you’re traveling from far away, and it’s crucial to pack for the weather. Bring a heavy jacket for the winter and lightweight clothes for the hot summer and early fall.
  • Experience the local culture with a music night. Santa Fe has many music venues, but you can find restaurants with mariachi and Tejano music.
  • Pick up some unique jewelry. Santa Fe is among the best places to purchase Southwestern jewelry, and the distinctive turquoise colors are the perfect gift or addition to your collection.
  • Sample ancient chocolate. Kakawa Chocolate House is one of the top tourist destinations, and the shop deserves the title. You can try Mesoamerican and Pre-Colombian hot chocolate or pick up a box of chocolates to enjoy on the flight home.
  • Go mountain biking with a group of friends. Santa Fe has countless biking trails and is full of bike rental agencies.
  • Check out the city’s margarita scene. If you’re a fan of tangy margaritas, you’re in the right place, so head to a local restaurant and ask for their best mix.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yucca Art Gallery pictured during the worst time to visit Santa Fe New Mexico, in July, with few people on the path

Santa Fe, New Mexico – 27 July, 2008: Yucca Art Gallery entrance from the sidewalk in old town Santa Fe/Baiterek Media/Shutterstock

Get all your queries answered with these frequently asked questions about Santa Fe.

What is the tourist season in Santa Fe?

The tourist season in Santa Fe runs from July to early September. Many people are on vacation from work or school, and the town is hopping with tourists, events, and festivals.

You’ll pay more for flights, hotels, and activities during this time. We recommend you skip the bustling crowd and visit in the fall or winter instead.

Do you need a car when visiting Santa Fe?

Having a car is optional in Santa Fe. There are many opportunities for day trips from Santa Fe, like arty Taos or desert city Albuquerque, and you may find it valuable to have a car.

Santa Fe has plenty of options for people without a car, from rentals to trains to taxis. You can also hire rideshares like Lyft or Uber if you’re in a pinch and need a car.

Is Santa Fe expensive to visit?

Yes, Santa Fe is more expensive to visit than many towns in New Mexico. Restaurants and hotels have potentially steep prices, but there are ways to save money on a trip to Santa Fe.

Eat at a local dive like Cafe Castro or The Pantry instead of an upscale sit-down. You can also save money with free activities like the New Mexico State Capitol Roundhouse or the local Audubon Center.

Why is Santa Fe famous?

Santa Fe is famous for its diverse art scene and rich history. As the oldest capital city in the United States, Santa Fe is one of the top historical attractions in the area, and art galleries and music concerts make it a relevant and vibrant place to visit.

Santa Fe was famously the home of world-class artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Gustave Baumann, but the city isn’t just for art lovers. It’s also famous for Indian culture, beautiful architecture, and excellent food.

What airport do you fly into for Santa Fe?

Santa Fe has one airport, SAF Airport, which serves the Santa Fe and Los Alamos region. It’s just 10 miles south of the city center. The AIS field Albuquerque is also a nearby airport with more international flights.

Is it better to stay in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque and Santa Fe are both great cities, and which place you visit depends on what you prefer to do. Santa Fe has more arts and culture, but Albuquerque has more museums and restaurants.

The landscape in both cities is widely different, and Santa Fe is the best choice if you like hiking or skiing. Albuquerque is a desert city with fewer outdoor activities.

Is Santa Fe a walkable city?

Santa Fe is walkable, but it depends on what part of the city you visit. Most travelers stay in the city center, which is very walkable and has crosswalks and sidewalks.

You may need a different form of transportation if you’re staying in another area. If walkability is important to you, consider the Guadalupe, Don Diego, or historic neighborhoods.

What is the best area of Santa Fe?

The Historic District is the best place to stay in Santa Fe. It’s among the most beautiful areas and has historic architecture and many top sights.

The area is close to most tourist attractions, and fantastic restaurants and museums will be at your fingertips. The Historic District is also relatively safe and full of other friendly tourists.

Is it hard to breathe in Santa Fe?

Santa Fe sits at a high elevation, and you may have trouble breathing if you’re not used to the atmosphere. Avoid altitude sickness by staying hydrated, and avoid exercise and alcohol for the first 48 hours.

If you feel lightheaded, nauseous, or have a headache, reach out to a local doctor in Santa Fe. They can prescribe you medication or recommend treatments.

How can I spend four days in Santa Fe?

Four days is plenty of time to spend in Santa Fe, and you can see most of the top sights in just a short trip. Consider staying in the city center, and you can be close to all the best things to do.

The Plaza, Cathedral Basilica, and Meow Wolf are a few top places you can squeeze into a four-day trip. Don’t forget to try the cuisine at a spot like Tia Sophia’s or the Pantry Restaurant.

Does Santa Fe have a dress code?

Santa Fe is a casual mountain town, and the city doesn’t have a strict dress code. It’s an artsy area, so you may see some people who like to dress up. That said, how you dress is up to you. All fashion styles are welcome, from hiking clothes to dressy suits.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Santa Fe?

The best time to visit Santa Fe is in the fall, around September, October, or November. However, you might want to go in the winter if you’re looking to save money or skip the tourist season. Whenever you choose to visit, we think your trip to Santa Fe will be memorable. Happy travels!