A walking tour of Santa Fe, the city of enchantment

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Sunny Sichi/Staff

During winter break I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico with my family. I went into this trip knowing nothing about what we were going to do or really anything about the place. My lack of knowledge of the city translated into a lack of excitement for the trip. But Santa Fe is a gorgeous gem of a city that quickly turned my apathy into wonder with its luminarias (paper lanterns) and vibrant sunsets. I walked almost everywhere I went in Santa Fe, so follow me as a I take you through some of my favorite spots! 

Head down to the Santa Fe Plaza, where you’ll find a town square filled with shops, restaurants and — during the winter — holiday lights. The look of the plaza reminds one of the old west, but the cars and art galleries remind you that you’re living in the present. It’s clear from the tan adobe and dusty streets that Santa Fe holds remnants of its past close to its heart. After wandering around the plaza, head over to Loretto Chapel. Outside, there are vendors selling clothes and jewelry. Inside, you’ll find a beautiful Catholic chapel and the “miraculous staircase,” a staircase that was miraculously built by a stranger and has no visible means of holding it up.

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Once you’ve finished that, head over to Café Pasqual’s for a bite to eat. The restaurant serves fresh New Mexican food that will be sure to fill you up. Everything on the lengthy menu was unique and looked incredible, so I had a hard time deciding. I ended up choosing the smoked trout hash with gruyere hash browns, and I was not disappointed. Inside it’s cozy, and there are beautiful murals, lights, papel picados and red peppers strung up.

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A short walk away from the plaza is Canyon Road, a long street dedicated to art galleries and incredible sculptures. I wandered down lazily one day and was amazed by all the colors and creativity I saw. Backyards had open gates for one to stroll through and look at sculptures, and doors were open for everyone to come through to enjoy the art. After my trip, I am not surprised Santa Fe is such a hot spot for so many incredible artists. It’s hard to not feel inspired after spending time near the gorgeous mountains and colorful sunsets, and that is reflected in all the art in the city. Georgia O’Keeffe is one person who was drawn in by New Mexico’s natural beauty, so if you’re a fan of her, you can also go to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum nearby. It houses some of her best work and takes you through her life and the art she made during each period of it. Santa Fe also houses more incredible museums like the the Museum of International Folk Art and the New Mexico Museum of Art, so be sure to check those out as well!

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Close to Canyon Road is Kakawa Chocolate House, where I had some of the best hot chocolate in my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, either. There are multiple choices of hot chocolate to choose from, each with a different level of chocolate, spice, and milk. They give you as many free samples you want, so I’d recommend trying all of them! The house-made whipped cream has vanilla beans in it, and every sip is magical. I stopped in twice and just sat with a beautifully painted blue mug of hot chocolate and read a book.

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While I kept myself cozy during this trip, I also got out of my comfort zone at Meow Wolf, an immersive art collective and narrative mystery house that defies definition. It’s a little farther than the other places, so maybe take a car or bus to this bowling-alley-turned-art experience. It’s financially supported by the author George R.R. Martin, who wrote the series of novels that inspired “Game of Thrones,” and more than 200 artists whose skills vary from architecture to narrative writing contributed to it. I don’t want to spoil too much, but inside you get to explore a house that is filled with clues of the strange happenings of a family that mysteriously disappeared. In the back, a fantastical world of art and secret passages is open for visitors to explore and enjoy. The experience was something that I had never been through before, and I came out feeling intrigued and still not totally sure of what Meow Wolf was. If you want to have an experience that is a little crazy and unlike anything you’ve probably ever been through before, I would highly recommend Meow Wolf!

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The city of Santa Fe is a place rich with history, stories, art and beauty. It’s nearly impossible to not fall in love with New Mexico. For my entire stay, it kept me under its spell. The “Land of Enchantment” was aptly named. Santa Fe’s enchantment is all-encompassing and leaves you breathless, despite the fresh air. So don’t be like me before my trip, apathetic and unexcited, because there is nothing not to love about it. So next time you’re planning a getaway, consider Santa Fe and all it has to offer!

Contact Sunny Sichi at [email protected].

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