When visiting Santa Fe, a stop at the Meow Wolf is an absolute necessity. The space functions as an interactive museum/art exhibit/fun house that is perfect for all ages. Meow Wolf also features renowned Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin's House of Eternal Return. The 20,000 square feet (1858 square meter) space allows visitors to choose their own adventure while walking, climbing, crawling and creeping through the Victorian Selig house. Here, both adults and children choose appropriately aged adventures through this fantastical place. The entire complex in which artists create their work is always buzzing with activity, from galleries and installations to workshops and live music and performances. Overall, it's one of the best kept secrets in Santa Fe.
Bishop Jean Lamy commissioned this Gothic Revival-style chapel, which was completed in the 1880s. The stained glass window was made in Paris, France, and delivered to Santa Fe in a covered wagon. The most outstanding feature of the chapel is the famous Miraculous Staircase. The circular staircase winds its way from the floor of the chapel to the choir loft above. The Loretto Chapel is no longer a place of worship and is now a private museum with a gift shop on the premises.
The Museum of International Folk Art features artists who represent traditions from Hispanic and Latino cultures. The museum opened to the public in 1953 and was the brainchild of Florence Dibell Bartlett, who was a folk art collector. The exhaustive collection is unique and is believed to be one of the world's largest collections of folk art. Over 130,000 artifacts form the basis for exhibitions in four distinct wings: Bartlett, Girard, Hispanic Heritage and Neutrogena. The Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts, Museum of International Folk Art, and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture are all on Museum Hill. Additionally, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of the Governors are worth a visit as well.
Commissioned by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy in the year 1869, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi exemplifies Romanesque Revival architecture like few structures in the world. One of Santa Fe's most recognizable structures thanks to its handsome design, ornate rose window, captivating main facade, and stunning New-Mexican embellishments. This local landmark houses many religious relics, including the chalice used by Lamy and the oldest Madonna in the United States. Its interiors are as impressive as its exteriors, with exquisite, stained glass windows sourced all the way from France being one of its most eye-catching features. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, San Damiano Crucifix, and the primary nave are few of the church's other remarkable sights.
Since 1957, the Santa Fe Opera has been a summer oasis for internationally-acclaimed operatic talents and opera enthusiasts. The Opera's magnificent mountain backdrop and amazing construction have always been major draws. Santa Fe Opera's performance offerings encompass dance, theater, opera, choral and chamber music, all performed under its iconic open roof. The opera house has seen performances of all the most famous operas, beginning with Puccini's Madame Butterfly on the opera house's opening night, and also including La Traviata, Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro, among many others. The Santa Fe Opera has even commissioned 10 original operas since its inception. Catching a performance at the Santa Fe Opera should be on every opera lover's bucket list.
Known as the Plaza, this historic area is marked by a central park lined with huge shade trees and benches. The Santa Fe Plaza is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Many of the buildings surrounding the park stand just as they did during colonial Spanish times. Aside from the numerous shops, hotels, and restaurants, you will also see a number of famous landmarks. Be sure to visit The Palace of the Governors, St. Francis Cathedral, and Loretto Chapel. The Spanish Market and the Santa Fe Indian Market are held here.
Built in 1966, this government center is shaped like the Zia symbol, and is known as the Round House. The four-story building houses government offices and the state House and Senate chambers. From the ground floor, you can enter the rotunda and see the state seal and rotating art exhibits that are often on display. The visitors center is also located on this floor. On the fourth floor, the Governors Gallery offers more works of art. Take a free, self-guided tour during the week, or call to make an appointment for a guided tour.
One of the oldest and most-revered places of worship in the continental United States, the San Miguel Chapel gracefully stands on a prominent promontory located on the southern banks of the Santa Fe River. Originally built by Native American slaves, this one-of-a-kind Spanish Colonial building was completed in 1625, then nearly destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. In 1710, the Spanish once again took control of Santa Fe and rebuilt the San Miguel Mission. The intricate artwork found within the building is truly inspiring, with its extraordinary wooden reredos being one of the chapel's most-notable embellishments. Its resonant thick-walled bell is believed to be from the early 1300s.
The coveted title of being one of the oldest houses in the United States is given to De Vargas Street House in Santa Fe. Parts of the foundation of the house dates back to 1200 ACE, belonging to native Pueblo tribe. Today the house has a gift shop and a museum exhibiting artifacts and remains of the native Indian Pueblo tribe and enriching visitors, with its culture and history.
This historic, adobe playhouse lays claim to being the oldest theater west of the Mississippi. The Santa Fe Playhouse is an attractive and intimate venue in a central location: Barrio de Analco, home to some of the oldest urban buildings in the United States. Ticket prices vary: Thursday shows are "pay what you wish", while evening shows may cost up to $25. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and groups of 10 or more, and flex or season passes may be a good option for regular attendees. Shows frequently sell out and the theater has specific requirements regarding methods of payment, so be sure to call ahead.
Nedra Matteucci Galleries showcases contemporary and historic art from the 19th and 20th Century. The gallery is influenced by, and specializes in, impressionism and modernism along with Russian Realist paintings. The gallery buys and sells artwork and displays monumental sculptures by international artists. On the way to the garden, check out the huge collection of Native American artifacts, fine jewelry and collectibles. The garden is open year round and has a beautiful waterfall.
Located in an adobe-style structure, the Historic Kaune Bandelier House, Sherwoods Spirit of America is an ideal place to glimpse into the artworks from the region. Offering authentic artifacts from the American Southwest, their extensive inventory includes Native American pottery, baskets, jewelry and bead work, as well as Civil war artifacts. Each item in the store is a genuine collector's piece and comes with a certificate of authenticity.