One of our favorite long weekend getaway destinations is Santa Fe. And, surprisingly, the holiday season may be the best time to visit Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s storied history of bringing together Native culture, Spanish Colonial heritage and the Old West Pioneer spirit makes for a deeply rich Santa Fe Christmas experience.
Header image courtesy Tourism Santa Fe.
Why Visit Santa Fe for the Holidays
A Christmas for All in Santa Fe
Santa Fe, which means “Holy Faith,” graciously welcomes visitors of all faiths to celebrate the season with a cornucopia of unique traditions. Traditions include celebrations of food, song, dance. Graceful light displays from the city’s centuries of warm community spirit, diverse history and culture.
Snow in Santa Fe
If you are lucky enough to visit when it snows, you will see the iconic adobe buildings take on the appearance of life-size gingerbread houses. A layer of snow creates a ‘frosting’ look on the roofs and ledges. You may even be able to spot this unique style of Gingerbread Houses during your visit.
New Mexican Cuisine
Who doesn’t love New Mexican cuisine? Traditions like Las Posadas, biscochitos and tamales smothered in red chile New Mexican enliven the senses during the holidays. It is the perfect time of year to warm up with authentic New Mexican chocolate elixirs. The city different offers unbelievable hot chocolate drinks in the craft chocolate shops along the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. Our family strayed off the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail for a unique chocolate elixir from Terra at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. Rich, delicious steaming chocolate paired with the best spot in Santa Fe to take in a gorgeous sunset is hard to beat.
Want to learn how to prepare New Mexican cuisine? During the holidays the Santa Fe School of Cooking offers a traditional New Mexican Christmas cooking class. Participants learn to prepare shredded pork tamales and poblano & corn tamales both served with red chile sauce, hearty holiday posole with green chile, calabacitas and the famous official state cookie, bizcochitos.
Christmas Eve Farolito Walk
Happen to be in Santa Fe on December 24? Don’t miss the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk on Canyon Road. Thousands of people walk this famous road decorated on one night only with hundreds of farolitos. Farolitos are brown sacks filled with sand and holding a glowing candle inside. They are often called “luminarias” in other parts of the country. Pedestrians warm themselves around bonfires along the way, hot cider and chocolate and biscochitos are served and sounds of caroling fill the air.
What Else to do in Santa Fe During the Winter
Bandelier National Monument, one of the oldest and most fascinating archaeological sites in North America is located just outside of Santa Fe and open year round. During peak summer months it can only be accessed via shuttle or private tour. But once late October rolls around you can enter the park independently. This really is an area with deep history. The cavates built into the tuff of the cliff are fun to climb into. Imagine the ancient Pueblo people living there from 1150 to 1550 AD. It was beautiful in fall with the yellow Cottonwood leaves. I can only image it is just as beautiful with a covering of white snow.
A visit to Meow Wolf is really necessary anytime you are in Santa Fe. This multi-dimensional, multi-sensory place of discovery and imagination is made from art. It is part amusement park and part art experience. In a day and age when kids too often hear “don’t touch that,” Meow Wolf encourages the opposite. Visitors are all expected to open and then explore through appliances, cabinets and anything that could conceivably be an entry. It feels as though one stepped out of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe right into Narnia. On a second or third visit to Meow Wolf perhaps you will have time to start to explore the mystery of the family who lives in the home.
Have you been to Santa Fe for the holidays? What was your favorite thing to experience? Tell us in the comments below!