Santa Fe –“the best small city in America”

Santa Fe –“the best small city in America”

If you’ve ever wondered what Santa Fe, New Mexico in the USA is like, it has recently been awarded “the best small city in America,” by Conde Nast Traveler’s Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards.

Santa Fe

They had this to say, “No other place in the country, so beautifully reflects the art, architecture, food and crafts of centuries of Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican influence.”

Sculptures by Susan Stamm Evans in Canyon Road

Having just spent five days in Santa Fe it’s an inspiring town especially if you’re interested in art and architecture.

But this title, “the best small city in America,” didn’t happen by chance. The folk of Santa Fe have been working on creating a culturally rich town, embracing all its history for some time.

Museum of Art – Santa Fe

In the 1910’s they decided their traditional adobe architecture was an asset, bringing tourists, so they passed a decree for all new structures to be built in the adobe style, modeled on the local Indian pueblos’.

adobe house
Typical adobe housing in Santa Fe

Today, the old part of the town is an impressive sea of earthy coloured, softly rounded abode buildings.

At about the same time the art scene was just beginning too.

Galleries on Canyon Road

Five impoverished artists named the “cinco pintores” moved into the ruins of some of the old adobe houses in Canyon Road painting scenes of the Southwest in the famed New Mexico light. The town has not looked back and today it is the 3rd largest art market in America after Los Angeles and New York with over 200 galleries, many of which are located in Canyon Road.

New Mexican landscape

We spent a couple of days meandering through the Canyon Road galleries and the myriad of museums in the town, including the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.

A gallery in Canyon Road, with a blue door, to ward off the evil spirits

Dotted throughout the town are many enticing restaurants to match this very stylish town. With a booming art scene, a sophisticated “out-of-town” clientele visit regularly. Don’t go past The Compound Restaurant on Canyon Road and James Campbell Caruso’s modern Spanish Tapas restaurants, La Boca and Taberna.

Tapas at Taberna Restaurant, Santa Fe



Jane Jeffries

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There are 24 comments on this post
  1. jayant
    October 08, 2014, 3:50 am

    Great little town did not know been to sf so many times

  2. October 09, 2014, 4:17 pm

    I was born in SF and live in Abq, Great shots cool page, BUENO!!

    • admin
      October 29, 2014, 2:12 pm

      I’m very pleased you liked the blog on Santa Fe and thank you for sharing it on your website.

  3. November 03, 2014, 4:45 pm

    Wonderful blog on Santa Fe! We have Estrella Del Norte Vineyard just 15 min north of Santa Fe. For anyone who wants to learn more about New Mexico’s wine history come by our winery! We’ll treat you to a tasting of our “world famous” Holy Molé. Salud amigos!

    • November 12, 2014, 2:57 pm

      I’m only sorry we did not have more time to indulge in the local wines.. next time we’ll be there.

  4. KD Hummingbird
    November 14, 2014, 12:47 pm

    I’ve lived here since Time Began & I’m glad to see Santa Fe get this award. My first time guests are always treated to dinner at El Farol on Canyon Road, due to it’s 200 year old bar and the savor of the tapas. Joan Baez enjoyed her first meal so much she sang in appreciation after lunch. Robert Redford courted Sonia Braga in the back room during the filming of the Milagro Beanfield War. Actors Wes Studi and Val Kilmer used El Farol as their playground along with many high profile Native American artists and musicians. Great place to dance!

    • March 22, 2015, 2:33 am

      The music scene in Santa ‘re is a hidden treasure finding musicians here you dint the same creativity as the thousand artists and two hundred passionate chefs that also live here it’s the place that feeds the soul of creativity Tuesday night jam at el Carol brings out many of them can’t wait till the Eldorado lounge opens up again and other new nightclups to showcase the best music scene in the best small town in America too!!

      • March 23, 2015, 8:27 am

        I’m sorry Cynthia we didn’t have more time to explore the music scene as well – next time.

  5. Drew Scott
    March 21, 2015, 12:37 am

    Jane, thank you for your kind and accurate description of Santa Fe. We have lived here for 17 years and find new scenes with the ever changing light. When asked what I like the most about SF, I simply reply “for me it’s the end of the trail.”

    • March 23, 2015, 8:31 am

      Hi Drew, it must be fantastic to find a place you feel so ‘at one’ with and I can understand why.

  6. jen
    March 21, 2015, 4:30 pm

    Shuts down in the winter. Diversity is selective. But I guess that is most places

    • March 23, 2015, 8:29 am

      Thanks for you comment Jen. Many places shut down in winter but I guess it’s because we are better travellers in the warmer temperatures.

    • Mel
      October 18, 2015, 3:07 pm

      Santa Fe does not shut down in the winter! The plaza lit up with christmas lights on trees dotted with snow, hot cocoa in hand… it’s a beautiful place year round.

    • JesL
      October 20, 2015, 3:18 pm

      I grew up in Santa Fe and my family had been for generations. Santa Fe and most of NM are pure magic- unlike any city in the US. The music, the art, the FOOD, the tradition. Every season is a good season to visit, and don’t believe it shuts down in winter! Winter brings the magic of snow to the southern Rocky Mountains! Grab some gear and hit the slopes!

    • Kash
      October 22, 2015, 4:48 am

      Not sure why Jen thinks it “shuts down”…. Our family has lived here for generations and as far as I know, the only time anything shuts down is when the snow STOPS and the ski season closes! Love Santa Fe!!!

  7. Margie
    March 22, 2015, 4:30 pm

    Hi Jane, nice piece, especially the photos. I live in Santa Fe. What do you think “Best Small City in America” means? Are they just looking for tourist sights? Santa Fe is a great place and has much to offer culturally, but it’s also a complicated mix of economic, educational, racial troubles. Come back sometime and venture away from Canyon Road.

  8. March 25, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Freemont Ellis is one of the “cinco pintores” referred to in this article….my grandpa, Charles Broome, of Broome Furniture Co. in the 1950s accepted oil paintings by Freemont Ellis and Sheldon Parsons (the stunning paintings me and my family grew up with) as payment for furniture….nice barter, eh?!

  9. March 25, 2015, 2:12 pm

    Everything was going good on this article then you had to mention the blue door!! Lol

  10. Joan Carroll
    March 26, 2015, 1:02 am

    Wonderful…..enjoyed all your comments and throughly agree with you. As a member of Bienvedidos, the volunteer division of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, we work to help the tourists with our downtown information booth during our busy season. We meet wonderful people from all over the world and hope they will love our hometown as much as we do. We feel so fortunate to live in a city with such a culturally rich history.

  11. March 26, 2015, 5:02 am

    Your lead sentence is so apt. You really do have to continually remind anyone you use to ship something to Santa Fe that it is in NEW Mexico and that it is part of the UNITED STATES. We love our 125 year old adobe, which was the guest house for the first Director of the Art Museum, Sheldon Parsons. And most of the time, things we send to our house do end up there, not in Mexico. But I have been told by Citibank that I should have let them know I was leaving the country!
    Thanks to the new Mayor, the town is really perking up, finding ways to appeal to not just the traditional Santa Fe tourist but the young tech savvy crowd.

  12. Mark Massick
    October 18, 2015, 10:25 am

    Been going to Santa Fe for over 20 years, sometimes twice a year, for vacation. It’s the only place we’ve ever been that feels like home. Love the art, architecture and food. Not as pricy, but we love The Shed and its sister restaurant La Choza, plus The Chocolate Maven, which wins best of Santa Fe almost every year. Hope one day to move there. I know they have issues like everybody else, but it truly is the City Different.

  13. Ennis Ibarra
    October 24, 2015, 1:26 am

    And regarding food, me having lived in Santa Fe for 4 years, don’t miss the new-mexican couisine, not just tapas and spanish heritage, but probably as important and people is quite proud about their October Hatch Chile roast at the mall’s parking lots. My favourite La Choza, on Cerrillos, but there is pletora of places you can try some food with a bit of a kick.

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