Are you excited to talk about exploring Santa Fe in one day today?! It’s been a minute since I did an adventure post which is pretty ridiculous because I’ve been traveling a bunch lately (already been to Chicago, LA, Marco Island, Denver, and Santa Fe this year)! I’m a pretty obsessive traveler in that I get serious FOMO if I don’t have an extensive list ahead of time of the best of the best places to eat/drink/see. This means that I can go a little overboard with my planning and have tons of documents with info about all the places I want to visit and a google map that outlines the best route to maximize my time while there.
Last week I visited Santa Fe for the first time ever and really loved it! Santa Fe has never been on my bucket list and we really only went because of a family reunion taking place there. And boy, am I so glad we did! Although we were only exploring Santa Fe in one day, I totally fell in love with it. My must-see / eat list was pretty extensive and I’m proud that we were able to get to at least half of it.
Since I’m not totally sure what you all are into, I ended up including both the places we were able to visit and also the places that I had on my bucket list based on suggestions from friends, family, and online folks. Although I titled this as Santa Fe In One Day, the list of places to visit would actually take a few days because I wanted to give you as much info as possible in a ‘choose your own adventure’ way. I made sure to mention specifically in the descriptions below if I didn’t make it to a place as to not mislead you but I did want to include them in case you wanted to visit one place over another.
- Chef Mamou – Wander over to this charming french cafe for breakfast first thing. It’s close to the city center so there’s a good chance you can walk if you are staying in one of the many downtown hotels. They have a large case full of pastries (try the almond croissant!), sweet and savory crepes, and several Eggs Benedict to choose from. Since I can’t ever pick just one thing, we all split a veggie Eggs Benedict, a savory crepe (which had egg, gruyere, and spinach in it), and an almond croissant. They also had a large selection of coffee drinks and the latte I sipped was fantastic. This quiet little spot is the perfect spot to wake up to.
- Whoo’s Donuts – Yup, that’s right. My Santa Fe in one day trip includes donuts RIGHT after breakfast…because food! If you’d rather choose one or the other, it’s worth noting that you will most likely have to drive to this donut shop so you’ll want to account for that. They have a lot of really fun and unique flavors and I highly recommend trying the Green Chili Apple Fritter, Blue Corn Blueberry Lavender (tasted like deep fried cornbread!), Orange Cardamom Cream, and/or the Dark Chocolate Crunch. I mean…really you probably couldn’t go wrong with any of the flavors but those are the ones I tried and loved.
- Modern General – Don’t be a goof like me and forget to stop here after picking up donuts. It’s nearby and looks like a super cute little shop (which includes a cafe). It looks like they have home goods, books, and outdoor items.
- Santa Fe Art Institute – I’m including this on here because it was by Whoo’s Donuts and I was OBSESSED with it’s architecture. As a photographer, I wanted to spend all day photographing the shapes and lines that were intentionally created by the sun beating down on this gorgeously geometric building. With all of that being said, the college recently closed down so the building is actually abandoned and I don’t know how long you will continue to be able to access. It might be worth trying to find some up to date info before heading there if you do decide to stop by since…who knows what the building will be being used for if you end up reading this way past when I published this post.
- Meow Wolf – Alternatively instead of the Art Institute, it could be a good time to visit Meow Wolf while you are out and about driving. We actually ran out of time and missed this place but all the reviews are insane and I’m pretty bummed we couldn’t find the time. The website says to expect to spend around 2 hours here. I’ve also read that it can get pretty busy so I’d recommend going early.
- Tent Rocks Trail – This is another place I had on my list that we just didn’t get to in one day but I wanted to include in case Meow Wolf isn’t your thing. It’s a bit of a drive to get to (I think around 30 minutes outside of town) but a lot of reviews I found said it was well worth it. If you do get around to going on this hike, let me know – I’d love to know if you liked it!
- The Shed – This place is a Santa Fe staple and for good reason. The enchiladas are a must (they have a veg one too!) but my favorite was the Green Chili Burrito which was just spicy enough and so so so delicious. They also have an extensive tequila menu for you to get crazy with because…why not? You are on vacay.
- Downtown – I’d recommend blocking off some time to walk around downtown. There is a little something for everyone – architecture around the city is really fun to look at, there are a ton of little shops to go into along with lots of outdoor vendors around, and there is a good chance that if you are there on the weekend then there could be some sort of festival going on. When we were there, they had a really cool car show going on with decked out cars parked all over the downtown area. I’m not a car person but it was pretty cool. This is all to say that you could probably easily blow threw a few hours wandering around downtown if that is your things.
- Kakawa Chocolate House – This place was recommended to me by several people but after 2 breakfasts and a lunch, I couldn’t convince anyone in my group to do anymore food related activities. So, if you like chocolate, this seems like a good option for you.
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – if the weather is gross or museums are more your thing, you could head to this museum instead of wandering downtown. I opted for the downtown option but some people in my group went to this museum and really enjoyed it.
- Coyote Cafe – Another spot on my list that I didn’t manage to get to BUT if you aren’t tequiled out (guess I’m making up words now) from The Shedd, I heard they have Green Chili margaritas and you should probably try one.
- Dinner options: Paper Dosa (Indian), Paloma (modern Tex Mex), or Il Piatto (Italian). Santa Fe in one day means having to make hard decisions when it comes to the perfect restaurant and these were the top 3 that I chose from. My group opted for Italian but I really wanted to try the Indian place. Ah well – just going to have to go back!
We stayed at La Posada de Santa Fe which was a great location to walk downtown from and the hotel itself was really nice. I’ve also heard good things about El Rey Court but we decided against staying there since it’s on a major road and a bit hard to walk to places from.
Have you been to Santa Fe before and what are some of your favorite places that I didn’t cover? Do you think you could enjoy Santa Fe in one day or would you need more time? Based on this list, it’s pretty obvious that you should probably spend at least a weekend there if you can! I’m already itching to go back to check out all the places I wasn’t able to cover in 24 hours.33