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Guide to Neighborhoods in Downtown Santa Fe

Updated on August 19, 2010

Looking for a home or vacation rental in Santa Fe that’s walking distance to the Plaza and don’t know which area of downtown is right for you?

With so many hidden treasures tucked away down narrow streets, it can be hard to choose. Fortunately, downtown Santa Fe is so small, once you’re there, pretty much everything is walking distance. There are some advantages, though, to choosing one area over another based on what draws you to the City Different.

Stay in one of Santa Fe's old neighborhoods close to downtown.
Stay in one of Santa Fe's old neighborhoods close to downtown.

Quick Overview

Look on this Google map of downtown Santa Fe and find Paseo de Peralta. It’s shaped like a horseshoe lying on its side and intersects St. Frances (Hwy 85 and 285) twice. Everything inside that circle is considered downtown. The neighborhoods outside the loop but immediately northeast, east, and south are all walking distance to the Plaza. The closer you can get to Paseo de Peralta the easier the walk. The west and northwest neighborhoods are within that circle between Guadelupe and St. Frances and are also walking distance to the Plaza.

The Plaza in Santa Fe is a grassy park right in the center of downtown, but the shops, restaurants, hotels, and historic sites that people come to see fill several blocks around the Plaza. So, the “Plaza area” is everything between Alameda and Marcy, Sandolval and the eastern curve of Paseo de Peralta. But the attractions hardly stops there. There’s plenty to do and see in the whole downtown area.

Moving counterclockwise, here’s a closer look at each neighborhood:

Northside

The neighborhoods north of the Plaza can be divided into three areas that are all very different.

Northwest: The area between St. Frances and Guadelupe, Alemeda and Paseo de Peralta has a quiet and secluded feel with very little foot traffic beyond people in the neighborhood walking to and from the Plaza. There are no restaurants or shops inside the neighborhood, but there are several on the edge, along Alemeda and Guadelupe. This area isn’t as exclusive as the east side, so homes and vacation rentals tend to be more moderate in price.

  • Pros: Secluded feel but convenient to major roads and De Vargas Shopping Center. Easy walk to the Plaza.
  • Cons: A further walk to Canyon Road and the Railyard District, but both are doable.


North Inside the Loop (Paseo de Peralta): This area is the most convenient to the Plaza with plenty of shops, galleries, museums, and restaurants right around the corner, if not right next door. If you like to be in the middle of the action, this is the area for you. With all that actions, however, comes pedestrians and traffic.

  • Pros: In the middle of the action.
  • Cons: Traffic.


The cross at Ft. Marcy Park with view of downtown Santa Fe.
The cross at Ft. Marcy Park with view of downtown Santa Fe.

Northeast, Fort Marcy: As soon as you cross Paseo de Peralta, the terrain instantly begins to climb. This is why it was picked as the location for Fort Marcy, which was built on hill overlooking the town. Artists Road, which runs right behind the site of the old fort, leads to numerous hiking trails, picnic areas, scenic drives, and the ski basin. The further you go up Artist Road, the higher you climb. There are many exclusive, large homes with grand views of Santa Fe, but they are not walking distance to downtown. Close into town, you’ll find homes on hilly streets, some of which offer good views of town, the mountains, and nice vantages for watching the sunset. Walking into town will be all downhill. Returning home, it’s all uphill.

  • Pros: Proximity to the Plaza, Artist Road, Ft Marcy Complex, Ft Marcy Park, easy walk to Canyon Road.
  • Cons: Traffic in the summer and snow in the winter can make getting in and out of this neighborhood more challenging. Further walk to the Railyard District, but doable.


Canyon Road abounds with shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Canyon Road abounds with shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Eastside, Canyon Road

Historically, the neighborhood due east of Paseo de Peralta has always been considered “the” place to stay or live. Canyon Road is lined with old houses that have been turned into art galleries and restaurants. Canyon Road itself is frequently jammed with pedestrians, especially in the summer, and cars move at a snail’s pace. But the neighborhoods surrounding it have surprisingly tranquil pockets where you can sit the courtyard and soak up the fresh mountain air. Towering cottonwoods shade ancient adobe walls, and narrow dirt roads (considered a plus in Santa Fe) lead to exclusive Territorial style homes. I’m especially found of Acequia Madre and the little stream that runs nearby. Be prepared to pay a premium for anything on the east side.

  • Pros: Numerous galleries, shops, and restaurants from trendy to exclusive. Easy walk to the Plaza. There’s a small locally-owned grocery store at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail.
  • Cons: The prices and the maze of narrow, winding streets and traffic in the summer are a small challenge.


Southside

Like the Northside, this area has distinct neighborhoods that are very different.

The Capitol area, inside the loop: Here again, you’re close to all the action with restaurants, shops, and businesses all around you. The Plaza, Canyon Road, and the Railyard District are all an easy walk away. There’s also a shady, grassy park that runs along the river and Alameda Street.

  • Pros: Convenient to everything.
  • Cons: Traffic.


South of Paseo de Peralta: The neighborhood between Old Santa Fe Trail and Cerrillos Road has a quiet, residential feel. Actual yards, rather than walled-in courtyards, are more common, as are garages and even basements.

  • Pros: Less traffic, easy to get to in and out of the neighborhood, and close to Whole Foods.
  • Cons: Slightly longer walk to Plaza, Canyon Road, and the Railyard District, but still convenient.

Westside, the Railyard and Guadalupe Street District

This is the new hip and happening neighborhood in Santa Fe. Numerous shops and restaurants line Guadelupe Street from Paseo de Peralta to the Santuario de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Church) on the corner of Guadalupe and Aquia Fria. The Railyard has several large, new art galleries and hosts the famous Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. The Railrunner (commuter train) links Santa Fe to Albuquerque and the airport. There’s also Sanbusco with more shops, restaurants, a Border’s Books and a World Market. The residential part of the Westside is behind the Santuario de Guadalupe, between Aquia Fria and Alto Street. Here, houses and vacation rentals are still surprisingly affordable and new construction blends seamlessly with old adobe homes.

  • Pros: Ideally situated between the Plaza and the Railyard. Quiet yet close to lots of action. Easy access to St. Frances.
  • Cons: Longer walk to Canyon Road but very doable.


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