Everyone has some idea of what Santa Fe looks like. The distinctive Pueblo-style architecture is an iconic component of this creative city, one that has been well represented in movies and media. And although it’s a state capital, the city is also renowned for its enduring reputation as a haven for artists and Southwest bohemians, making it a bit of a wild card. Come here and enjoy a mix of the traditional—architecture, food, mountains—as well as a glimpse into the future of art as it could be.
Hyde State Memorial Park
Just fifteen minutes away from downtown Santa Fe, Hyde State Memorial Park sits along the Little Tesuque Creek in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. With year-round camping and over 50 developed campsites (including seven electric sites with 30-amp power), this is the perfect spot to bed down among the aspens and evergreens and let the New Mexico landscape work its magic.
With a national forest a bit higher up on the mountain, a lot of people pass right by Hyde State Memorial Park, leaving you with peaceful hiking trails and quiet campgrounds. Though electric sites are limited, there’s water and a dump station at the camp, along with group campsites if you’re traveling with friends or family. Vault toilets are the norm here, which is a fancy way of saying there’s no plumbing—so if that puts you off, Hyde Park may not be for you. But if you’re in search of somewhere still, teeming with nature and potential Zen epiphanies, you’re in luck.
Rates start at $14 a night with electric. Click here to book your spot.
If you feel like the worst part about vivid dreams is waking up, boy do we have a destination for you. Meow Wolf is an artist collective that creates interactive experiences, which roughly translates to, they build fantasy lands for real life. The House of Eternal Return, their mainstay exhibition in Santa Fe where Meow Wolf was founded, draws comparisons to falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.
You begin by entering a Victorian house and discovering hidden portals which reveal a psychedelic dimension. With 20,000 square feet to explore, no two paths are the same. Discover dozens of rooms, secret passageways, musical objects, tactile surprises and an inventive method of storytelling as you piece together the mystery of the Selig Family home. Be prepared to walk, climb and crawl through the exhibition; this makes it perfect for kids with energy to burn. The first floor, which houses the bulk of the exhibit, also meets ADA requirements for accessibility, so people with limited mobility can still enjoy the full, immersive experience. Meow Wolf is open to kids of all ages and is not designed to be scary for children. (Just bonkers, trippy and wild as heck.)
The James Beard Award-winning restaurant, The Shed, has strong feelings about chiles. And with good reason. Combining Spanish, Pueblo and Mexican influences, The Shed’s most popular dishes feature a hearty helping of red or green chile sauce, made from chiles plucked fresh from a local farm.
Despite the accolades, there’s no pretension to be found inside this colorful, relaxed restaurant. For instance, although they do take reservations, they only open the books at 4 p.m. for the 5 p.m. dinner seating, which gives everyone equal opportunity to jump on the chance for the meal of a lifetime. Just keep your eyes peeled, because this little restaurant keeps an unassuming exterior and is set back from the street, just opposite the Saint Francis Basilica. Look for the colorful sign or butter up a local to show you the way.
Diablo Canyon Recreation Area
This moderate-rated hike through Diablo Canyon will gift you with stunning basalt cliffs and cinematic views. In fact, several Hollywood movies were filmed here. The trail itself is closed to motorized vehicles, but open to both dogs and horses, and offers several opportunities for rock climbing to those who are so inclined. The trailhead begins at the designated parking area and continues four miles down to the Rio Grande for an eight-mile round-trip journey. The facilities at the recreation area are spare; there are no water facilities or restrooms onsite. There are no garbage cans, either, so plan to pack in your own water and food and pack out any trash when you go. The trail is open year round.
Note: The road leading to Diablo Canyon Recreation Area is unpaved and can become heavily washboarded at various times of the year depending on weather conditions. County crews re-grade the road about four times a year, so be sure to scope out current conditions before you attempt the drive in with your RV. Or you can play it safe by taking a vehicle with four-wheel drive and good suspension to the trailhead.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Good things come in small museums. Though modest in size, at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, you’ll have access to nine galleries that span the lifelong achievement and growth of this classic American artist. With paintings, drawings, pastels and watercolors from each decade of her life, you’ll get an unmatched view into O’Keeffe’s artistic process and inspirations as she contributed to the rise of American Modernism.
A short movie will get you up to speed on the finer details of O’Keeffe’s biography, and the museum houses several personal possessions from the artist herself. Be sure to linger in the gift shop—it’s the perfect place to pick up postcards or gifts for friends and family that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.