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8 Things to Explore Off the Beaten Path in Santa Fe

By Carol Cassara October 31, 2022 Travel

Fall in Santa Fe is golden. Shimmering cottonwood trees take over the city, their leaves almost molten in beautiful shades of yellow and gold.

The smell of pinon burning in kivas is everywhere, as is the aroma of roasting chili peppers. And the adobe! We’ve spent three fall seasons in Santa Fe, and I can say there’s no place like it.

If you’re planning a visit, here are a few Don’t Miss activities.

Extraordinary Farmers’ Market

The Farmers’ Market at the Railyard runs every Tuesday and Saturday. But it’s not just a farmers’ market. Beautiful ristras (wall hangings made of dried chilis), sage smudge sticks, wreaths, baskets, artisan cheeses, handmade jewelry and more are on offer besides the usual fares.

We love to have a cup of coffee and a pastry on Saturday mornings, then wander the stalls to buy our week’s vegetables, while buskers play guitar and sing. It’s the gold standard of farmers’ markets and worth a stop.

 Santa Fe

Immersive Art

A visit to Meow Wolf should be saved for a day when you’re ready for, well, anything. It’s an immersive art installation unlike anything else in town.

Visitors enter a 22,000-square-foot ‘house’ and are asked to examine journals, computer entries, newspapers and more to find clues to solve a big mystery. The mystery is complex, and the clues can be both subtle and obvious.

As I stood in front of the kitchen refrigerator examining papers posted there, the refrigerator door opened from the inside, and out walked other visitors! Of course, I had to enter the refrigerator myself, to see what was inside. I found a long corridor leading to more rooms.

Visitors can crawl through a fireplace, walk through a closet and more as they search for clues. It’s absolutely worth a couple of hours, at minimum. We were well on our way to solving the mystery when we had to leave, but we’ll be back next time for more.

 Santa Fe

The Teahouse

End your mile-long art walk through the galleries on Canyon Road with lunch or tea at The Teahouse. The food is delicious and reasonably priced, but the tea blends are magnificent.

Scores of teas from China, Japan, Sri Lanka, India and more are on offer, as well as flavored teas brewed in-house. The matcha latte with honey and vanilla is exquisite, and you can buy their teas to take home, which we did. We stay quite near the Teahouse when we’re in Santa Fe and it’s a favorite stop.

Teahouse Santa Fe

Green Chili Burgers

Locals know that the very best green chili burgers in town can be found at Santa Fe Bite. Bite also makes a mean onion ring and milkshake. Enough said; just go, at least once.

The Plaza

By all means visit the Plaza. You’ll want to peruse jewelry on offer by Native American craftsmen in front of the Palace of the Governors and browse shops for other jewelry, leather goods and art. The Palace is now New Mexico’s history museum and is worth a visit.


Museum Hill offers four amazing museums, a botanical garden – and a café! – and is worth two half days at least, all by itself. The small Museum of Contemporary Native Arts on the Plaza is a favorite of mine, offering progressive art that is often confrontational.

The Food

New Mexico cuisine is heavy on chili peppers and traditional Mexican fare, and you’ll find it everywhere. My recommendations are Tomasitas, The Shed and La Choza, but if you’d like a change, try Jambo Café. It offers delicious African food with a Caribbean twist. It’s really yummy.


If, like us, you spend an extended period of time here, you might want to catch a movie. You won’t find a better movie venue than Santa Fe’s Violet Crown. It features comfy seats, a liquor bar, espresso bar and as gourmet a menu as you could find at the movies.

Better yet, you can bring your food into the theatre, where your seat is equipped with a tray table similar to those on board airplanes.

Even though we’re frequent visitors to Santa Fe, we always find something new and interesting to do in this historic and beautiful city.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever travelled to Santa Fe? What were your strongest memories of Santa Fe or New Mexico? Please share your experiences and memories below.

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Recommendations of where to stay, please.

The Author

Carol Cassara founded A Healing Spirit on Etsy, where she offers supportive, encouraging products/services to those healing from illnesses and coping with grief. A lifelong writer, she spent 35 years as a corporate communications executive and many semesters teaching writing and business at universities.

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