My name’s Davide Micciulla and welcome to my guide on the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m a Video Art Director from Siracusa in Sicily, Italy. I had a unique start to my filmmaking career.
As a child I dreamt of discovering new things – especially in the field of archaeology. All of my passions revolved around art, antiquity, temples and treasures, especially Egyptian. This childhood aspiration led to a deep fascination with photography.
My passion overwhelmed me – I wanted to travel, explore different cultures and photograph everything. It was such a strong passion that my father called it my “second skin”. During my studies in university, I learned more about video-making. It was something that I really loved.
This new technique of expressing myself and my point of view struck a chord with me more than normal pictures. I decided to transform my passion for photography into videography.
At this stage of my career, I was delighted to share more about my travels and work closer with brands through video production. I have now had the pleasure of creating commercials for H&M, booking.com and Elle. I can’t wait to explore more of the world and work alongside more great brands.
A Special 4-Day Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico
Last year I moved out to Los Angeles. Living in California allowed me to explore many parts of the West coast and all of its beautiful national parks.
I was looking for a place to visit for my birthday and one of the places that my friends suggested was Santa Fe. They loved this city. So I decided to email the tourism center of Santa Fe to ask for more information.
From the moment I landed, believe me, I could already feel that it was different from any other city in the United States. The airport is one of the smallest I have ever seen. It was impossible not to take a picture or two.
I stayed in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a long weekend – just 4 short days in total. It didn’t feel like enough time to visit everything, especially because most of the national parks are a bit of a drive away from the city.
After exploring the beautiful city of Santa Fe, renowned for its pueblo-style architecture, I decided to rent a car and visit Bandelier National Monument and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The information online for these two places captured my attention and they were nearby.
My Favourite Place: Bandelier National Monument
Considering that I was born and raised in Siracusa (founded in 733 BC), I’m very passionate about everything ancient. I guess my favorite place to visit was Bandelier National Monument because you can still see all the old homes dug into the rocks by the Native Americans.
You can hike in the middle of nature, walk through beautiful trails and pass through old villages. The highlight is reaching the top of a mountain with amazing views and a ceremonial cave. Certainly a highlight of the trip!
Meeting the Artists of Santa Fe, New Mexico
I loved Santa Fe because fortunately we stayed with two of my friend’s family friends that live there. I shared in their everyday life which made me feel less like a tourist and more like a local. They love art and they make art too – belonging to an art association called Glass Alliance New Mexico.
It’s common to see glass art in Santa Fe and New Mexico in general. I met all of their artist friends and was invited into their beautiful homes. I met the owners of some of the best galleries and I saw the best hidden corners that common tourists wouldn’t necessarily see.
The thing I noticed about Santa Fe is that it attracts people who love art, aesthetics and peace. Deciding to live there is a choice to live a more calm, relaxing life. No matter what your background – whether you were born in Santa Fe or immigrated there – everyone lives in harmony with each other.
10 Best Things To Do in Santa Fe
I think everyone has a different opinion on what a Top 10 of Santa Fe would look like. Since I went in December, it was cold and it snowed. Some of the local events were closed too. Nevertheless, here are my recommendations.
1. Get Lost in Santa Fe without a Plan
The first thing I recommend for Santa Fe, New Mexico is to explore without a specific plan in mind. I advise you to walk around and see all of the amazing architecture – pueblo-style architecture and traditional brown houses and buildings throughout the city. It’s a fun place to get lost.
2. Discover Bandelier National Monument
As described above, Bandelier National Monument was my favourite place in Santa Fe. The Ancestral Pueblo people lived in this national park from 1150 CE to 1550 CE and carved these amazing homes from the volcanic tuff. The landscapes of Bandelier National Monument are stunning!
3. Explore Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is located on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico. It’s a fantastic place to go hiking, bird-watching and explore remarkable landscapes. I was struck by the cone-shaped, volcanic tent rock formations which were so beautiful!
4. Visit Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, located in downtown Santa Fe within easy walking distance of the historic plaza, is dedicated to the legendary artist Georgia O’Keeffe who made the Ghost Ranch her home for over 40 years. The museum holds the largest collection of O’Keeffe’s work in the world.
5. Immerse in the Art of Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment company that creates incredible art installations with their headquarters in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Discover the House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe which is a 20,000 square foot art playhouse that features over 70 rooms of interactive, hands-on art displays.
6. Walk around the Plaza of Santa fe, New Mexico
The most historic part of Santa Fe – the plaza and downtown area – is a great place to go walking with quaint winding streets featuring boutique shops, restaurants, bookstores, art galleries and more. You can feel the Old-West atmosphere here as the plaza has kept its traditional Spanish flavour.
7. See the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
If you’re an architecture buff, then you can’t miss out on the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi located a block away from the Santa Fe Plaza. This magnificent cathedral will catch your eye as soon as you arrive in Santa Fe as it stands out amongst the city’s adobe skyline.
8. Visit the San Miguel Chapel
The adobe-style San Miguel Chapel is known as the “oldest church in the United States” spanning back to the early 1600’s. It was built under the direction of Franciscan friars to serve a small congregation of soldiers, laborers and Indians who lived in the Analco Barrio.
9. Shop at the Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors is located on Palace Avenue near Santa Fe’s main plaza. Not only is the Palace a beautiful architectural spot but you can also go shopping here with Native American artists and artisans selling their wares under the historic portal that runs along the front of the Palace.
10. Learn History at the New Mexico History Museum
Three and a half floors of exhibitions at the New Mexico History Museum tell the stories that made the American West. Learn about the early lives of Native Americans, Spanish colonists, Santa Fe trail merchants, cowboys, outlaws, scientists and hippies. An amazing place for history buffs!
The Flavoursome New Mexican Cuisine
In Santa Fe there is a lot of New Mexican food and you should try it all! The top places I ate at for brunch were the classic local Cafe Pasqual’s. Everything is so colourful and you can even buy pieces of art there.
For a wonderful dinner – or if you need to celebrate something (as I did for my birthday) – I suggest one of the best restaurants in town: Santacafè. It’s a super chic place with quality food and even better cocktails!
My last tip is to find some good Margaritas. Santa Fe is famous for this cocktail. The tourism board of Santa Fe was kind enough to give me a Member Margaritas Card which gives you a discount on Margaritas at bars. I recommend getting your hands on one of these cards for your visit.
Tips for your Visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico
My number one tip is to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico at the same time as the cultural events. I’ve heard a couple of events are amazing. One of which is an event called the Santa Fe Indian Market.
This market really captures the culture of Santa Fe. So if you are planning on visiting in August, I recommend checking out this festival. I would love to come back at this time of year and experience it for myself.
That’s all from me. Thanks for reading my guide on the best things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I hope it has provided you with some insights and inspiration for your trip to Santa Fe. It truly is a gem of the United States!