Santa Fe has lots to offer the visitor whether you are interested in culture, history, natural wonders, or just a little peace and quiet. Here's what you need to know:
Elevation and weather
Living at 7000 feet elevation, we enjoy 300 days of sunshine per year but expect a 25-degree swing between day and night-time temperatures. Layered clothing allows adjustments for changing conditions, so pack several thinner layers instead of bringing the single, giant coat. Summertime features abrupt, localized but brief afternoon rainstorms, with clear mornings and evenings. Fall brings more settled weather with freezing temperatures (at night) by the end of October. Winter gives us snow in town (and more in the adjacent mountains) with blue skies and sunshine between snowy days. And although Spring may bring us windy days, we seldom have much rain.
Our elevation also affects lowland visitors. Plan on taking it easier for a day to allow your body to adjust. Saunter around town or take a little driving tour but avoid scheduling an arduous activity the morning after you arrive. Drink plenty of water, too. It will make you feel better. Our high elevation affects the very physically fit as well as everyone else.
History and culture
Although our "historic" period goes back over 400 years to Spanish colonial days, Native American influences abound in our foods, architecture and art. We can boast some mighty nice museums, top-notch galleries and great restaurants. Over 200 restaurants in town vary from mom-and-pop places featuring traditional northern New Mexico foods to fine dining establishments offering award-winning nouvelle cuisine. Our official state question is "Red or green?" which asks which type of chile sauce you'd prefer with your meal: the one made from roasted, green chile peppers or from ripe, dried red chile peppers.
We're casual both in our dress and our approach to life. Don't bother with fancy clothes, even for the most upscale restaurants, but do plan on taking your time to enjoy each vacation activity you choose. We've been called "the land of mañana" because we don't try to rush things. We're also a big state, 5th-largest in the nation, and many of our local attractions (like Bandelier National Monument) require some travel to visit. Consult Santa Fe Selection's "Day Trips/Activities" category for places to visit. You can also check with your hotel Concierge. Don't try to squeeze in too much--even if you're here for a year, you can't see and do everything.
Photos by Karen Denison.
Art Image: "Moonlite" by Robb Rael.