48 Hours in… Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a desert haven for art, wellness, and natural beauty, making it a destination that has been on my bucket list for a while! This New Mexico hot spot is a wonderful weekend getaway, and I thorough enjoyed the 48 hours I spent in Santa Fe this past August for my bachelorette party.

When I decided to do my bachelorette party in Santa Fe, a lot of people gave me a weird look—it’s not exactly a popular place to spend a weekend partying—but partying wasn’t what I wanted out of my bachelorette party. Exploring a new destination, getting in some relaxation, and eating good food was what I wanted out of my pre-wedding celebration. Looking for a destination bachelorette party that was a little more unconventional, Santa Fe was the perfect place for me!

Flying into Santa Fe can be a little expensive, since it is a small airport. If you’re looking to save your budget to spend elsewhere, I would recommend flying into Albuquerque. There are daily shuttles from the ABQ airport to Santa Fe, so you don’t need to rent a car if you don’t want to. But it’s an easy hour drive from the airport if you do decide to rent a car.

Here is my ideal itinerary for spending 2 perfect days in Santa Fe, New Mexico!

Morning: Take a Cooking Class

I have taken cooking classes during previous travels, so I thought it would be so much fun to take a cooking class in Santa Fe during our 48 hour itinerary! With my gal pals, we attended the “Contemporary Southwest I” course at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Michelle Chavez was our teacher and I have to admit, she is a badass woman! By the end of the course, me and all my girlfriends had girl crushes on Chef Michelle! She started the class by giving us a history lesson of Santa Fe, walking us through the local culture and indigenous ingredients that make up New Mexican cuisine.

The class itself was more of a presentation/demonstration style course rather than interactive, which I didn’t realize ahead of time, but came to really enjoy. We got to sit back, learn and enjoy all the smells emanating from Michelle’s stove top. The kitchen is stunning and is well setup for classes with TV screens, mounted mirrors and a large tables for the guests. Plus, Chef Michelle did an amazing job of explaining everything she was doing as she was doing it.

At the end of the class, of course, we got to enjoy the freshly cook meal. On our menu was roasted tomato soup, green chile mac & cheese, chile-rubbed flank steak and flan for dessert. The green chile mac & cheese was definitely the crowd favorite. It was rich, homey and slightly spicy. I can’t wait to make this recipe at home! We arrived a few minutes early to explore the gift shop that is attached to the classroom. It is filled with unique cookbooks, earthen cookware and delicious local ingredients. If I had a larger suitcase, I totally would have bought stuff!

Afternoon: Gallery Hopping & Museum Visits

Santa Fe has an unrivaled folk and indigenous art scene, which was one of my highlights from our 2 day trip. There is so much handmade beauty to see and appreciate in Santa Fe, so I would recommend dedicating at least a few hours to hopping between galleries and visiting museums. Most of the galleries are clustered around Santa Fe plaza and the nearby streets, so it’s easy to park and explore by foot. It’s fun wandering in and out of the galleries seeing all the different art styles and curation tastes.

For museums, there are quite a few to choose from such as the New Mexico History Museum, Palace of the Governors, New Mexico Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keefe Museum (more on that below), IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Gib Singleton Museum of Fine Art and New Mexico State Capitol. Your days could get very long if you plan to visit all of these spots, so I would recommend choosing one or two that are really important to you and aim to hit those all afternoon.

If you plan your trip intentionally around art visits, you’ll want to check the city’s events calendar to see if you’ll be there at the same time as an art market! These are a local highlight in Santa Fe and bring in flocks of visitors every year. There are lots of folk fairs throughout the year, and we happened to be there on the weekend of Indigenous Fine Art Market. We didn’t even bother going into most galleries, because the streets were basically galleries! There was some incredible work from Native American artists, who are typically very underrepresented in the fine art world. It was so inspiring to see their work and I even came home with the handmade mandala you see below.

Evening: Enjoy a delicious locally-inspired dinner

Santa Fe has a delicious restaurant scene with lots of great options clustered all around the downtown area, so you will be eating well during your 48 hours here. We had a hard time choosing our meals in Santa Fe! Most of the cuisine is focused on local + regional cuisine, particularly Southwestern and modern Mexican. Our favorite dinner was at the refined New American restaurant Radish & Rye. I was a big fan of the corn chowder, fried green tomatoes and lamb chops, but they also have rock star cocktails! Other good dinner spots include Geronimo, Luminaria,  or Sazon.

Morning: Visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum

I included the Georgia O’Keefe Museum separately from the others because 1) it is the most popular museum to visit in Santa Fe, but also because 2) it was the most memorable museum for me personally. We started our second day in Santa Fe at the Georgia O’Keefer Museum to avoid the late morning + afternoon crowds. It turned out to be a great plan! Prior to starting another packed day of activities, grab a quick brunch at colorful and charming Tune-Up Cafe. Their hearty scrambles, huevos rancheros, or burritos will keep you full all day!

The Georgia O’Keefe Museum is housed in a modern yet traditionally built Santa Fe adobe house just off the main street in town. It is entirely separate from her home + studio in Abiquiu which are also open to the public, so don’t get them confused. The museum catalogs the life and creative process of one of America’s most influential female artists, proving to be an incredible inspiration to me. I loved seeing her sketches, early work, and more obscure pieces, as well as some of her more famous works of art.

Afternoon: Relax at Ten Thousand Waves

One of the nicest spas I’ve been to in the United States, Ten Thousand Waves is well worth the price—it was definitely a highlight from my 48 hours in Santa Fe! Only 10 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, Ten Thousand Waves itself is inspired by Japanese mountain hot spring resorts and overlooks a national forest. Having been to Japanese onsens and hot springs before, I can confirm that this place is the real deal. The setting couldn’t be more serene & beautiful! They did an amazing job integrating the spa environment into the natural environment.

From the second you walk in, you’ll feel more peaceful. Ten Thousand Waves offers a full selection of spa treatments including facials, massages and skin treatments. My massage was in a private Japanese cabana overlooking the mountains, making for a relaxing ambiance. Another highlight of my afternoon here was the bathing pools. There are communal pools, private pools and women-only pools. I spent most of my non-treatment time in the female-only pools hopping between the sauna, hot pool and cold pool. With a good book at my side, this was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

ten-thousand-waves-spa-santa-fe

Evening: Take in the Amazing Meow Wolf

When my maid of honor tried to explain Meow Wolf to me, I honestly didn’t even understand what exactly it was. I had no idea what to expect because I couldn’t get a good feel of it from the photos. But now having visited, this is an absolute must-visit stop during your 2 days in Santa Fe. Meow Wolf describes itself as “an arts production company that creates immersive, multimedia experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of storytelling. Our work is a combination of jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum, and immersive art exhibit. It is home to Meow Wolf’s first permanent installation, House of Eternal Return.”  

After visiting the House of Eternal Return at Meow Wolf, I can honestly say that this is one of the top 10 travel experiences I’ve had in my life. 

I’ll do my best to explain the experience of Meow Wolf but essentially the House of Eternal Return is an interactive art installation that you can walk, climb and jump through. (If you want to get a better sense of the vibe at Meow Wolf, check out their Instagram feed.) Kids love it, so if you’re not into children, I would recommend going at night. 

The premise of the installation is that you have discovered a house that has fallen through a wormhole in space, and it is now your portal to the entire universe. You will walk into a kitchen, for example, and then open the fridge to a secret hallway that connects you to a room made entirely of bubble wrap. There are other rooms that are made of robotic hands or neon trees or black + white geometric painting. It is such an explosion of uninterrupted creativity and human expression unlike anything I’ve ever been through before. It’s truly amazing and one of a kind!

The installation offers a lot of stimuli so you’ll need to take a decent amount of time to explore it all. I’m not even convinced I saw it all and we were there for over 2 hours! The installation wraps around itself and there are tons of little secret passageways to explore, so it’s easy to get lost or stumble upon something new around each corner, which is why I would have hated being rushed through it. We went at night when there was a concert happening inside the installation, so the music permeated throughout the 20,000 square feet area. 

meow-wolf-black-light-room

Morning: Brunch at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

On your way out of town, grab brunch at the airy & bright Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen. Their housemade kombucha and juice was a delightful way to start my day, and they’ve got good, fresh food to boot! Me and my gals wanted to order just about everything on the menu, as you can see from the photo below. I was so inspired by their acorn squash egg in a hole that I now make it at home all the time!

This post was originally published in January 2017 and updated in July 2018 and January 2020.

Did I miss any of your favorite Santa Fe spots? Comment below with your suggestions! 

Santa Fe is a desert haven for art, wellness and natural beauty, making it a great destination for a getaway weekend. Here is my suggested itinerary for 2 days in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

4 Comments

  • Sharon
    Posted May 6, 2019 9:07 am 0Likes

    You never mentioned turquoise shopping😜I have been times and it is truly the land of enchantment!

    • Megan Arz
      Posted May 14, 2019 2:27 am 0Likes

      Oh that’s a great point! I spotted some at the Native American art festival that I went to, but I didn’t buy any. I guess I’ll just have to come back and shop for Turquoise 🙂

  • Nout @ SandpaperKissesBlog
    Posted January 5, 2017 1:16 pm 0Likes

    I’ve never been to Santa Fe. It looks amazing!

    • Traverse Blog
      Posted January 5, 2017 2:51 pm 0Likes

      It’s a great little gem! I loved it 🙂 You’ll have to add it to your bucket list!

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