Although you could easily spend a weekend wandering around the quaint Santa Fe downtown, taking in historic sites, art galleries, dining at outdoor patios and browsing authentic Native American jewelry, there are also short day trips that shouldn't be missed. You won't be bored in Santa Fe!
Downtown Santa Fe is bursting at the seams with history and activity. The plaza at the heart of downtown, is a National Historic Landmark and marks the city's founding spot. Hotels, restaurants, shops and galleries surround the plaza, which is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Just off the plaza, you'll find the Palace of the Governors, which houses the state's history museum and is the oldest public building is the U.S. Shop for authentic Native American wares along the outside of the palace, where local artists and vendors set up shop. Art lovers will want to check out the Canyon Road Art District, located just out of the downtown area. This stretch of road is a historic pathway and home to the highest concentration of galleries in Santa Fe, making it the city's center for art.
Mystery surrounds the historic downtown Loretto Chapel, particularly the Miraculous Staircase located within the building. Upon completion of the chapel in the late 1800s, there was no way to access the choir loft and none of the carpenters called in could come up with a solution to build a staircase that wouldn't intrude on the rest of the chapel's interior space. After the Sisters of Loretto prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpentry, a man appeared and constructed a spiral staircase with no nails or glue. He disappeared after construction, taking no pay and leaving people to believe that he was St. Joseph himself. Tours are offered to see this mysterious and miraculous masterpiece of carpentry.
The 45-minute drive from Santa Fe to Bandelier National Monument is worth the trip. This canyon, once home to the Ancient Pueblo People, shows evidence of their existence more than 10,000 years ago in the form of cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and masonry walls. Hikers can actually enter some of the cliff dwellings carved into the sides of the canyon walls to experience how the Ancient Pueblo People lived. Check the National Park Service website to get updates on conditions before you visit, as fires and flooding can close areas to hikers.
If you're looking for a low-key and relaxing destination, be sure to visit Taos. About an hour's drive from Santa Fe, Taos offers something for everyone: hiking, shopping and dining, the historic Taos Pueblo and more. Taos Plaza is the heart of the town and the center of the Downtown Historic District, where you'll find festivals, events, shops and restaurants. Just down the road from the plaza, the Taos Pueblo, a National Historic Landmark, is open to visitors who can tour the largest surviving multistory pueblo in the U.S.
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