ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Free Things To Do In Santa Fe, NM

Updated on April 15, 2013

Santa Fe, Home of Southwestern Style Design and Art

Canyon Road provides visitors with a chance to view many works of art
Canyon Road provides visitors with a chance to view many works of art | Source

Santa Fe Overview

Before the Spanish arrived to the Santa Fe area in the 1500s, the region was home to various groups of Pueblo Indians. Many remnants of the Native Americans' former homes still exist in the form of cliff dwellings. These structures can be viewed at places like Bandelier National Monument in the nearby Jemez mountains.

Around 1600 the Spanish created a small city here and named it Santa Fe or "Holy Faith" in English. The Spanish Colonials abandoned the settlement for a few years during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, but re-established the town around 1700, when better aboriginal relations returned.

Santa Fe really took in the early 1800s, when American pioneers arrived from St. Louis by traveling overland on the Santa Fe Trail. The resulting trade between the pioneers, the Spanish and the local Indians has been instrumental in making Santa Fe a major cultural center of the Southwest. Following are some suggestions for free activities while visiting this fascinating state capitol.

Walk a History Trail

Cross on the path up Fort Marcy Hill
Cross on the path up Fort Marcy Hill | Source

Old Fort Marcy

Near the main square of Santa Fe sits a distinctive hill that overlooks the sprawling city of Santa Fe. This is Old Fort Marcy hill, named for the 19th century fort that adorns the top of the hill. Built during the Mexican war by the Americans, the urban hilltop currently serves as scenic overlook. Those with vehicles can drive to the top, but hikers are awarded a free history lesson as they negotiate the lengthy set of stairs and paved walkways that lead to the top. The lesson is courtesy of the city of Santa Fe, who has installed a series of plaques explaining the city's colorful history.

A Santa Fe Cathedral

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is located in downtown Santa Fe near the main plaza
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is located in downtown Santa Fe near the main plaza | Source

Visit A Church, Chapel or Cathedral

One of Santa Fe's most visited sites is the Miraculous Staircase that was constructed inside the Loretto Chapel, not far from the state capitol grounds. This visit will set you back you three dollars, but Santa Fe abounds with large stately churches, which allow daytime visitors. No admission fee is required, but a donation box is always available for those who contribute. Some of more places to visit include the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, the San Miguel Mission, El Sanctuario de Guadalupe and the Cristo Rey Church. All these religious venues are situated very close to the plaza.

The Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe plaza on a quiet summer day
Santa Fe plaza on a quiet summer day | Source

Check Out The Plaza

Whether it be checking out the Christmas lights and luminarias in winter or visiting the extensive outdoor Indian Market in early August, the main plaza in Santa Fe is always worth a visit. On quiet days visitors just stroll around perhaps checking out the Native American artisans underneath the portal of the Governor's Building or maybe walking through the high end galleries and curio shops that abound in the area. At other times the central square can be buzzing with the music of local ensembles or filled with booths of various styles of craftsmen. No matter how you look at it the plaza provides a great opportunity to view splendid examples of Southwestern art.

Canyon Road Sculpture

Two faces displaying a small accumulation of snow, picture taken on Canyon Road
Two faces displaying a small accumulation of snow, picture taken on Canyon Road | Source

Strolling Canyon Road

Canyon Road is a narrow picturesque lane that curves through the north side of Santa Fe. For most of its length the street is lined with a eclectic collection of art galleries. Southwestern, landscape and Native American motifs dominate, but a surprising number of places feature abstract or modernist artworks. An especially apropos time to go here are Friday evenings during the warmer summer months. Not only does get to look at some of the best art in the nation, but live music, wine and food are also available for free consumption.

Santa Fe Museums

New Mexico Museum of Art, side view
New Mexico Museum of Art, side view | Source

Visit An Art Museum

Santa Fe art museums are both numerous and well stocked with high caliber works of art. Unfortunately, entrance to these prized institutions can be rather pricey. However on the flip side most offer at least one time period a month, when admission is free. The prestigious New Mexico Museum of Art opens it doors without charge every Friday night beginning at 5 p.m. On the other hand the Georgia O'Keefe Museum just offers two free hours (5-7 p.m.) on the first Friday of each month. Site Santa Fe, which is located near the railyard,has free hours every weekend on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, while the Wheelwright Museum of Indian Art is always free, though donations are encouraged.

Bus Shelter

Blue bus shelter at the Ohkay casino just north of Espanola
Blue bus shelter at the Ohkay casino just north of Espanola

Ride the Blue Bus

New Mexico has a neat transportation program known as "the Blue Bus". Officially known as the North Central Regional Transit District, this innovative ride system provides free rides from Santa Fe to such locales as Espanola, Chimayo, Chama, Taos and Los Alamos. Buses run several times a day from Santa Fe and include visits to many of the Northern pueblos or casinos that situated north of Santa Fe. Be sure to visit the above website and plan your trip carefully. Occasionally, a return trip may require a ride on a Park & Ride vehicle. This may set your back a few dollars, but still makes a journey a good deal..

Blue Door embedded in an adobe wall

Santa Fe is loaded with charming scenes like the one pictured above. Look around and you will see many.
Santa Fe is loaded with charming scenes like the one pictured above. Look around and you will see many. | Source


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)