Santa Fe is a sun-drenched city in New Mexico that’ll captivate you with its specific architectural style, lively atmosphere, and stunning landscapes.
If you want to experience the perfect blend of Native American, Spanish, and American culture, and visit world-famous art galleries, read on and learn where to stay in Santa Fe. Let us be your guide!
The 3 Best Parts of Santa Fe
Santa Fe is somewhere between a small and a medium-sized city. It’s what makes it so perfect for visitors who want to see enough to get a good grasp of the whole city on a shorter stay.
We fell in love with three areas that we think embody the eclectic and fun spirit of Santa Fe:
- Santa Fe Plaza and Downtown: Perfect place for Santa Fe’s first-time visitors who want to experience the city’s blend of the old and the new.
- Canyon Road: Ideal for art enthusiasts because of the countless galleries and art museums present in this neighborhood.
- Railyard Arts District: Great spot for partying or just soaking up that special Santa Fe spirit from a local café.
Where to Stay in Santa Fe: Best Areas & Hotels
Santa Fe is a city of about 89.000 people, so it’s not a huge metropolis that’ll drive you crazy, but just about right in size if you want large city amenities with a small-town vibe and coziness.
It’s also not the cheapest among US cities. In terms of accommodation options, they mostly consist of private guest houses — hotels are harder to find, especially more affordable ones.
Your best bet for reasonably priced accommodation is outside the city center (the Plaza and Downtown) and more towards the Railyard Arts District. Canyon Road also has some affordable accommodation but is more on the mid-range side.
And, of course, the central area around Santa Fe Square is the most expensive. Here it’s hard to find budget-friendly places to stay. If you want to stay in the center, we think the best thing is to ask around for guest houses that offer rooms to rent among locals.
1. Santa Fe Plaza and Downtown
The Plaza and Downtown are the heart of Santa Fe. Here you can find some of the best eateries in the city alongside galleries, museums, cute bookstores, and interesting boutiques.
The Santa Fe Plaza holds great cultural and social significance for Santa Fe residents, as it has served as the main gathering place and central square for more than 400 years.
So if you want to explore this wonderful city, start from the Plaza, then walk over to the Palace of the Governors, which stands proudly on the north side of the square.
Throughout the year, there are also a number of events happening on the Plaza — festivals with musicians from the region and beyond performing live and outdoor markets selling Native American arts and crafts.
All of this adds to the lovely and lively atmosphere of the city.
You can continue your stroll alongside the Santa Fe River and even throw a look towards the New Mexico State Capitol (or the Roundhouse), which is considered the only circular state capitol building in the US.
If you’re interested, you can also take a tour of the New Mexico Capitol Art Collection. The Downtown district is the area around the Plaza. Here you can find a mixture of Pueblo Revival and Spanish Colonial architecture and lots of art galleries, restaurants, and historic landmarks.
If you want to be surprised at every corner, just take random walks through its narrow streets and surrender yourself to the hidden courtyards and colorful adobe buildings.
All in all, you can get anywhere in no time from the Plaza and Downtown, making them a great place to start your Santa Fe adventure!
Things to Do
- Palace of the Governors is one of the oldest continuously used buildings in the US, built in 1610 in a characteristic Pueblo architectural style. It has two main functions — as the government seat for New Mexico’s state administration and New Mexico’s history museum. It’s an unmissable spot for those who want to learn more about the history of the city.
- The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-see for those of you who love art. It features a lovely collection of this great painter’s artistic legacy. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm (Tuesdays opens from noon), and the tickets cost $20.
- New Mexico Museum of Art is a few minutes walk from the Plaza, and it’s also a perfect choice for art enthusiasts who want to learn more about New Mexico’s artistic production.
- San Miguel Chapel is the oldest church in the US that still runs services. The catholic church was built around 1610 and has a distinctive look. It’s constructed from adobe (earth and organic material), a very characteristic material for this area. It’s open for visitors every day until 3 pm.
- Loretto Chapel is famous for its wooden spiral staircase with no newel (or central pole), called the “Miracle Stair.” Legend says St. Joseph himself built the stairs. The church was built in the second half of the 19th century in the Gothic Revival style, based on the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle 13th-century church in Paris. Believer or not, the church certainly deserves a visit, if for nothing else than to admire the superb craftsmanship of the mysterious staircase builder.
Where to Eat
- Cafe Pasqual’s is a popular eatery in central Santa Fe. They serve French and New Mexican cuisine, use locally grown goods, and offer a vibrant, friendly atmosphere in a historic adobe building.
- Del Charro is a beloved pub five minutes from the Plaza serving brilliant Tex-Mex food and margaritas (plus other amazing cocktails).
- The Shed Restaurant is another local’s favorite. Placed in a late 17th-century hacienda, it serves budget-friendly Southwestern classic dishes in a homely, welcoming atmosphere.
- Upper Crust Pizza Downtown and Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza are two fantastic pizza places in Santa Fe’s Downton that also offer outdoor seating.
Santa Fe Plaza and Downtown Budget Hotels
We couldn’t find any budget hotels we liked in Santa Fe’s plaza and downtown area. If you’re after more affordable accommodation options, check out our budget recommendations in Canyon Road and the Railyard Arts District.
Santa Fe Plaza and Downtown Mid-Range Hotels
- Old Santa Fe Inn is a three-star hotel just an eight-minute walk from the Plaza. Decorated in a Southwestern style, the rooms have Wi-Fi, coffee-making facilities, and a private bathroom. If you’re a fitness freak, you can also use the hotel’s gym.
- Hotel St. Francis is a three-star hotel just two minutes from Santa Fe’s Plaza. It’s a lovely hotel decorated in a minimalist, southwestern style. It has a gym for those of you who don’t want to miss out on your exercise while traveling. It also offers in-room massages for those who want to relax.
Santa Fe Plaza and Downtown Luxury Hotels
- Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi is a five-star hotel very close to Santa Fe’s Plaza. It’s a fantastic hotel decorated with a mix of the Pueblo and contemporary styles, allowing you to feel the old and modern spirit of Santa Fe right in your room. It has a bar, a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms — everything you could wish for a luxury stay.
- La Fonda on the Plaza is a four-star hotel overlooking the Plaza. It’s similar in style to the Rosewood Inn, making you feel truly at home in Santa Fe. It has an outdoor pool where you can enjoy the warm sunny days of the New Mexico climate, as well as a gym and a spa.
2. Canyon Road
Canyon Road is a dream for art enthusiasts. Did you know there are more than 100 galleries just along this 6-mile Santa Fe street? Yes, here you can find Native American and Traditional style art, as well as contemporary and modern works created by artists from around the globe.
And the best part is that these galleries once housed artists or art enthusiasts and have since turned into places where other people can visit, admire and buy art, and get drunk on inspiration by taking in the unique feel of this historic street.
Most of the places here also have beautiful lush gardens open for visitors, adding to the oasis-in-the-desert kind of charm of Canyon Road.
Canyon Road is home to a number of festivals throughout the year, one of which is the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk — this is when the famous Farolito lights are lined up on every building creating an authentic family atmosphere for the Yuletide season.
For the foodies reading this, there are also many cafes and eateries on Canyon Road that offer brunch and dining options for every taste and budget.
Things to Do
- The Historic Santa Fe Foundation, or El Zaguán, is a great place for those who want to learn more about the Santa Fe area. The place also has an interesting history — it was built by the Santa Fe trail merchant James L. Johnson in the 1850s, and then in the late 1920s, it was operated as a hotel by the suffragette Margretta Dietrich who also fought for Native American rights.
- Adobe Gallery is a charming place on Canyon Road that displays Southwest Indian Pueblo pottery and art, as well as Native American paintings. It also functions as a dealership, so you can buy some of this art and take it home.
- Walk along Canyon Road — one of the best experiences you can have in Santa Fe. Just walk along this six-mile stretch of Pueblo houses adorned with outdoor sculptures from the numerous galleries and enjoy the sun if you don’t feel like getting stuck indoors in a gallery or a museum.
Where to Eat
- El Farol Restaurant is a Spanish-Mexican restaurant offering tapas food and great local drinks. It also features live music and flamenco dancers!
- Geronimo is a very upscale dining place on Canyon Road. It will instantly transport you into the mid-1800s while you enjoy the best of New American cuisine.
- Kakawa Chocolate House is a remarkable chocolate place just a few minutes off Canyon Road, perfect if you have a sweet tooth you need to satisfy.
- Caffe Greco is a charming place surrounded by countless museums on Canyon Road. An awesome option if you need a quick bite in between galleries and museum sessions.
Canyon Road Budget Hotels
- El Sendero Inn is a three-star hotel with a restaurant, an outdoor pool, and free Wi-Fi. It offers great value for your money — the perfect location, a place to swim and unwind, and lovely, air-conditioned rooms to relax in.
- Casa Culinaria – The Gourmet Inn is a three-star hotel furnished in a Southwestern style with a dash of more color. It has Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and access to a beautiful garden with a terrace.
Canyon Road Mid-Range Hotels
- Inn on the Alameda is a three-star hotel just five minutes away from Canyon Road. Rooms are cozy and have a warm feel to them, perfect for relaxing after a long day of browsing galleries and museums. The hotel has free Wi-Fi, and the rooms have a private bathroom, air-conditioning, and coffeemakers.
- Four Kachinas B&B Inn is a pleasant three-star hotel just ten minutes away from Canyon Road. The rooms have private bathrooms, as well as private patios with garden views. American-style breakfast with juice, pastry, coffee, yogurt, and fresh fruit is included in the price for each morning of your stay.
Canyon Road Luxury Hotels
- The Inn of The Five Graces is a wonderful five-star hotel decorated in the East Indian and Tibetan styles. The rooms are the true epitome of luxury, offering you mosaic-tiled bathrooms, huge beds, in-room refreshments, and whatnot. The hotel also has a spa, a pool, and a gym for your enjoyment.
- Inn & Spa at Loretto is a four-star hotel that’s located near Canyon Road. It has a spa and outdoor pool where you can relax in the summer months and a charming restaurant serving New Mexican food. The hotel has free parking, free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms.
3. Railyard Arts District
The Railyard Arts District is a neighborhood of Santa Fe that’s recently renovated. It used to be a coal and fuel storage for the railroad (hence the name), but now it’s one of the best and most youthful parts of the city.
It’s actually pretty close to the Plaza — a five to ten-minute walk towards the southwest of the city will bring you to this beautiful district.
Much like the whole of Santa Fe, it’s full of contemporary art galleries, local breweries and cafes, some really quirky restaurants, and a variety of shops.
Because it’s a very vibrant district, throughout the year, you’ll be able to find countless outdoor events, live music performances, art installations, and farmers’ markets filled with delicious local goods and tasty artisan food.
The Railyard Arts district is also an excellent neighborhood if you always take your holiday with a side of shopping. The Railyard Artisan Market is one of the best places in Santa Fe where you can find unique artisanal products.
The Santa Fe Artists Market is a non-profit organization that provides a place for local artists to sell their arts and crafts in one of Santa Fe’s most creative districts.
And if you want a bit of respite in nature, then visit the ten-acre Railyard Park. You’ll find community gardens and outdoor performance spaces where a lot is happening throughout the year.
Things to Do
- The Jean Cocteau Cinema is an eclectic movie house established in 1976. It’s now owned by the famous Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, making it perfect for quirky film enthusiasts that want to see stuff they can’t see anywhere else.
- SITE Santa Fe is an 18.000 square feet contemporary non-profit art space and culture center that is home to innovative art and conferences and workshops on the latest topics in technology and art. Perfect for people who want to discover the latest and the greatest artists.
- The Santa Fe Rail Trail is an 18-mile trail that follows the historic Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway line to Lamy. It’s great for people who want to explore the outskirts of Santa Fe with a bike. Just be prepared — the first 3.5 miles are asphalt, and the remainder is rocky terrain so you’ll need a proper rough road bike.
- Sky Railway honors the former Santa Fe railway by offering tours with old, artfully re-designed rail cars. There are so many different tours for young and old — perfect for those railway enthusiasts or kids who just want a fun ride while vacationing with their loved ones.
Where to Eat
- La Choza Restaurant is a mid-range Mexican restaurant offering amazing tacos and burritos that also has a superb separate vegetarian menu.
- Sage Bakehouse, a European-inspired bakery, is the perfect place for brunch when you want to make a midday pause from your exploration of the city.
- Paloma Restaurant is another great Mexican restaurant offering a creative cocktail menu and a colorful atmosphere. Here you can casually sit at the bar, sip your cocktail and take mental notes of the great day you’ve just had in Santa Fe.
- Cowgirl is a popular place offering American-style food — great barbecue and steak in a typical cowgirl Southwestern atmosphere.
Railyard Arts District Budget Hotels
- The Sage Hotel is a three-star hotel in the Railyard district. It’s a nice, affordable hotel that also has a bar and a swimming pool open when the weather is warm. All rooms have private bathrooms and a coffee machine. And the best part is — breakfast is included in the price!
- Motel 6-Santa Fe is a two-star hotel in Santa Fe’s downtown area. It’s a standard, decent motel that gives you all the comfort you need for a very budget-friendly price. It has free Wi-Fi, a TV, as well as a fridge and a microwave in every room.
Railyard Arts District Mid-Range Hotels
- The Parador Santa Fe is a three-star hotel in a 200-year-old former farmhouse. It’s a colorful, charming hotel that operates as both a hybrid hotel and a non-profit for artists. It’s perfect for people who want a more independent stay (the front desk is open only from 10 am to 6 pm) and especially for artists who want to find their kin.
- Santa Fe Motel & Inn is a three-star hotel decorated in the Pueblo Revival style. It’s a nice and cozy place to stay near important Santa Fe attractions. Each room has a private bathroom, Wi-Fi, a fridge, and a working desk. Some rooms are even equipped with a kitchenette and a dining area, so you can save some cash on homemade food.
Railyard Arts District Luxury Hotels
- Hotel Santa Fe, Hacienda & Spa is a beautiful five-star hotel owned by Native Americans who really know how to make a memorable experience of your stay there. The hotel often organizes ceremonial dance performances and historical storytelling events where guests can familiarize themselves more with Santa Fe’s Native American past. The hotel is also very luxurious, with an outdoor pool and spa services. You’ll absolutely love the Amaya Restaurant and its Native American-inspired dishes.
- Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza is a four-star hotel from the famous Hilton brand. It has an outdoor pool for hotel guests and luxury rooms featuring TV, Wi-Fi, a coffee maker, and a private bathroom. For those who don’t want to miss out on their working out routine, there’s a 24-hour gym, as well as a hot tub with a fireplace for relaxation.
So, Where Should You Stay in Santa Fe?
Santa Fe is an amazing city — sun-drenched, lively, full of artistic energy, and complex native and colonial settler history.
It’s a city of galleries and art museums, a city of specific Pueblo architecture that you can’t see anywhere else in the world, and a city filled with great food, a mixture between Southwestern, Tex-Mex, and Mexican food.
|🍽️ Best for Shopping & Dining||Santa Fe Plaza & Downtown|
|🎭 Most Artistic Area||Canyon Road|
|🎉 Best Area for Nightlife||Railyard Arts District|
The Plaza and Downtown District are best to stay in if you’re a first-timer in Santa Fe. However, because this is the most central area of the city, it’s pretty hard to find affordable accommodation, so you should be prepared to spend an extra buck.
If you’re not up for spending too much on a hotel room, opt for the Railyard Arts District. It has a wider array of budget-friendly accommodations while still within 15-20 minute walking distance of the city.
And if you want a middle ground, go for Canyon Road — a fantastic neighborhood adjacent to the Plaza and Downtown, filled with galleries and perfect for art enthusiasts. You’ll be close to the center, and you’ll still be able to find more affordable accommodation.
However, when it comes to Santa Fe, don’t expect too many budget-friendly accommodation options. If you can, save a little more money for a hotel because accommodation in the city is expensive.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip and experience for yourself all that this picturesque desert oasis has to offer. Happy travels!