3 ways to see Santa Fe with Venture X
Whether you’ve come for the city’s classics, dining or outdoor adventure, there’s an itinerary for every type of traveler.
January 11, 2022 7 min read
America’s oldest capital city punches far above its weight as home to one of the nation’s largest art markets, an influential Southwestern food scene and some of the most iconic high-desert landscapes around.
Blended with a unique mix of Native American, European, Mexican and American frontier traditions, Santa Fe has drawn countless visitors. From artists and wellness seekers to the latest next-gen creators and entrepreneurs, they’re all energizing northern New Mexico’s picturesque “City Different.”
Before you go exploring, check out Venture X, a travel card from Capital One designed to take you further.1 With Venture X you can earn unlimited miles, enjoy exclusive airport benefits and receive bonus miles after each anniversary.
Plus, you can earn even more miles when you book through Capital One Travel.
And with so much to explore throughout Santa Fe’s adobe-lined streets, these three themed itineraries can help you sample the best of what the city has to offer.
If you’re looking for the classics
Downtown Santa Fe centers on the Plaza, a perfect introduction to the city’s history, culture and architecture.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at Café Pasqual’s, the festively decorated old-meets-new Mexican institution, where orders of huevos rancheros or chorizo burritos prompt the question “red or green?”—chile sauce, that is—from your server. Then head to the Palace of the Governors. This adobe structure, built in 1610 by Spanish colonists as their administrative HQ, houses the educational New Mexico History Museum. Outside, Native American vendors sell handcrafted silver and turquoise jewelry and Puebloan pottery daily.
For outstanding vintage versions of traditional crafts, pop into Shiprock Santa Fe to browse a thoughtfully curated selection of tribal rugs, blankets, jewelry and ceramics.
Next, drive over to Museum Hill to browse three art collections that define the city’s artistic heritage. First is the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, an intimate trove of paintings, furniture, tinwork and santos carried to Santa Fe from Old Spain (Mexico). Next is the neighboring Museum of International Folk Art, with its extraordinary selection of toys, dolls, textiles and other handmade treasures. Last but in no way least is the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, exhibiting traditional and contemporary Native American art.
Alternatively, spend an afternoon wandering the quaint, tree-lined Canyon Road, with more than 100 art galleries showcasing both established and emerging artists. It’s also home to The Teahouse Santa Fe, a local fixture that serves hearty soups and sandwiches along with steaming pots of exotic teas.
Looking for something stronger? Sip a glass of Malbec at Geronimo, set in an elegant, historic hacienda, still earning rave reviews 30 years after opening. And if you can score a table, stay for a taste of their legendary elk tenderloin with roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
If you’re craving something sweet after dinner, Kakawa Chocolate House is just a few blocks away. They focus on historically accurate recipes for chocolate elixirs, spanning millennia. From Mayan and Aztec drinking chocolates through modern concoctions using pure, antioxidant-rich chocolate.
During the summer, a night at The Santa Fe Opera, where the sun sinks into the backdrop behind the open-air stage, is magical. And be sure to join the elegant tailgating tradition by picking up a picnic supper and a bottle of champagne.
Afterward, you’ll sleep like an angel at Hotel St. Francis, the oldest hotel in the city. It was just recently restored, and now features a chic monastic lobby decorated in calming neutral colors, candlelight and Spanish religious art.
If you’re looking for what’s now and next
Santa Fe’s Railyard Art District has been steadily attracting edgy, upscale galleries to this former industrial neighborhood.
Get started at Opuntia Café, a jungly, glass-and-steel space. Fuel your day with a breakfast of your choice of toppings heaped on house-made toasted bread or grain bowls alongside an extensive tea menu.
Prefer to do some quick shopping before you dine? Grab a table at clean-eating outpost Modern General Feed and Seed. Browse the shelves for sustainable-chic items like vegetable brushes and handmade baskets. Then enjoy assorted chais and immune-boosting supercakes—savory flapjacks packed with kale, cabbage, flax, dashi and scallions.
From either restaurant, you’re near SITE Santa Fe, a free exhibit space in a converted beer warehouse. Housed in shiny pleated metal, they showcase provocative works and installations from both global and homegrown visual artists.
From there, explore the Railyard District’s other galleries, such as Form & Concept, featuring diverse up-and-coming multidisciplinary creators.
An afternoon of shopping should definitely include WMV Visvim Santa Fe, Japanese designer Hiroki Nakamura’s collection of handmade apparel inspired by his dual passions for sportswear and global craftsmanship traditions. On Canyon Road, Hecho a Mano is a colorful curation of handmade contemporary printmaking, ceramics and jewelry crafted by both New Mexican and Mexican artists.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite and are ready for dinner, head to the city’s most plugged-in dining scene. Paper Dosa is a locals’ favorite serving tropically bright South Indian food, including its namesake rolled crepes with flavorful sides and fillings.
After all that, hopefully you’ve booked a room at El Rey Court, a classic midcentury motor lodge refurbished in desert-cool prints by the duo behind California lifestyle brand Wonder Valley. Once you’re checked in, you can keep things going until late at La Reina, its mezcal-forward bar where live music brings together guests and stylish locals every Wednesday.
If you’re looking for outdoor adventure
Before your day of exploring, how about a hearty brunch at Cowgirl BBQ? Think slow-grilled ribs and brisket in a down-home dining room covered in Wild West memorabilia that honors—you guessed it—the American cowgirl.
One of the most influential figures to memorialize the timeless landscape around Santa Fe was artist Georgia O’Keeffe. It’s worthwhile to book a timed entry for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum near the Plaza to browse her bold abstractions of the land and light that she loved. Then spend an afternoon touring her adobe-style home and studio in Abiquiú, filled with her modernist furnishings, as well as the 21,000-acre Ghost Ranch, where she had a summer home. Book a Landscape Tour to visit a restricted area of the ranch where the artist painted some of her most renowned works, or saddle up for a trail ride across the familiar red-rock scenery, including the soaring spire of Chimney Rock.
After your morning hiking and shopping, you may prefer to spend a few hours relaxing. You can enjoy a spa session while still relaxing outdoors. Ten Thousand Waves is a beloved tradition in Santa Fe inspired by the onsen pools of Japan. You can follow a shiatsu-style massage with a soak in a private hot tub and sauna while the scent of juniper lifts your spirits. Then stay for tapas at the izakaya restaurant, Izanami. And be sure to check out the extensive tea and sake menu.
Staying at the newly renovated Bishop’s Lodge, just 10 minutes from downtown, puts you on the doorstep of the Santa Fe National Forest and makes a great base for fly fishing, skiing or trail rides from the hotel’s stable. Their Skyfire restaurant hosts guests by a roaring outdoor fireplace before serving up flavorful dinners of green-chile stew and locally sourced Apache strip steak with jalapeño creamed corn.
Or head to Radish & Rye, an elevated farm-to-table restaurant that serves American classics like corn chowder enriched with smoked bone marrow and green chile with a huge selection of small-batch bourbon.
Venture X travel tips
Ready to start packing? Here are some things to know before you go.
If you book your flight, hotel or rental car through the Capital One Travel booking site, you’ll get:2
- Flight price predictions with 95% accuracy, saving travelers an average of 15% on flights.
- Price alerts when the price of the flight you’re watching drops.
- Free price drop protection if you book based on Capital One Travel’s recommendation. You’ll get a travel credit up to $50 if the price drops within 10 days after you book.
Using your Venture X card to book on Capital One Travel? You get a $300 credit for bookings through Capital One Travel every year. Plus 10X miles on hotels and rental cars and 5X miles on flights. And no matter where you use your card, you’ll earn 2X miles on every other purchase.
Plus, you can elevate your stay at luxury hotels and resorts from the Premier Collection with a $100 experience credit, daily breakfast for two and Wi-Fi on every booking—plus other premium benefits like room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout when available.
The small Santa Fe Regional Airport currently supports daily nonstop flights from Dallas-Fort Worth. So be sure to check out the Capital One Lounge at DFW.3 The thoughtful design and unique amenities provide a premium experience. From regionally inspired food and curated cocktails to a cycling and yoga room, shower suites, and more, there’s something for everyone looking to escape the rush of airport crowds.
If you’d like to read more about everything Santa Fe has to offer, check out Capital One’s full destination guide.