Tribune Print Share Text

Santa Fe

One of America's most colorful destinations

Created date

May 28th, 2014
Writer and traveler Jane Durrell with grandson William in Santa Fe.
Writer and traveler Jane Durrell with grandson Wil

Santa Fe is its own place. Walking its inviting streets, you are not likely to think, “Oh, this reminds me of Dayton, Ohio. Or San Francisco. Or Indianapolis.” I was in Santa Fe recently—not for the first time—and found it as individual and pleasurable as on my previous visits.  

My visit was in the company of family members, enough of us that we rented a modest house for a week and could enjoy the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market instead of our usual supermarkets. Because our group included three generations, we sampled the city’s offerings up and down the age range, and I can report that everyone had a good time. 

Locals are loyal

About 7,000 feet above sea level and ringed by mountain peaks, Santa Fe is a town pleased to have visitors but savored by home folks, who tend to come back if they make the mistake of moving away, I was told by a resident who had done just that. 

Since the early twentieth century, the architecture has deliberately reflected Spanish origins and the original widespread use of adobe. On an earlier trip some years ago, I paused on my rented bicycle to observe an adobe wall in the process of being built. “Just wanted to see how you do it,” I said to the man on the job. “Same old, same old,” he replied, smiling.

A good town to visit is likely to be equipped with museums and interesting shopping, including art galleries. Santa Fe is well-supplied on all counts. We are museum goers and particularly enjoyed Museum Hill, outside the city on Camino Lejo, where several museums are clustered. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a good starting point in understanding where you are and what the Native American culture springs from. Nearby, the Museum of International Folk Art reflects not only what was produced here but is, as its name indicates, a worldwide look at the subject. The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, also on Museum Hill, is a specialized look at Native American culture and has a well-chosen, interestingly stocked shop. 

In Santa Fe itself, walking its streets, I suggest stopping in whatever museum, gallery or shop catches your eye. Chances are good you’ll enjoy it. One choice: the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, with the largest collection of her wonderful paintings found anywhere.

Hot chocolate heaven

In a town that likes visitors, the restaurants are likely to be of interest, as indeed they are here. Southwestern food is widely featured, of course, but by no means dominates. A very special place is the Kakawa Chocolate House, on 1050 E. Paseo de Peralta, where there are more varieties of hot chocolate than you have dreamed exist and the chocolatiers are artisans.

Accommodations range from simple B&Bs to hotels of considerable luxury; Santa Fe is ready with whatever you are looking for. For visitors interested in special deals, Santa Fe’s official website offers a Deals and Specials newsletter. Visit for more information on the newsletter, the weather, and ideas on what to see and do during your visit.