MILLENNIAL'S GUIDE

Things
To Do in
Santa Fe

Two hikers walk up through grassy trail toward mesas with sun behind clouds in the sky.

Santa Fe has a wealth of events, outdoor access, interesting activities, and organizations that make it ideal for those of you interested in recreation. The flip side of that, though, is that Santa Fe has very little nightlife and jokingly “shuts down at 8 PM.” Regardless, here are some starter ideas for the active lifestyle.

Two people skin up Gayway ski slope at the Santa Fe ski basin. Extensive view to the horizon.

Outdoor Recreation

The Santa Fe lifestyle almost always includes a generous serving of outdoor pursuits. You’re likely to find a mountain bike next to the skis with a fishing rod hanging in your buddy’s garage. We take advantage of the abundant sunshine, easy access to the mountains, and crowdless trails as much as we can.

  • Skiing: A short drive (13 miles from downtown) up Hyde Park road and you end up at Ski Santa Fe. As our local hill, it’s easy to catch the good powder days and share a pint with other friends and locals on the slope. Within a days drive are Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in Los Alamos, Taos Ski Valley up past Taos, and the snowiest resort in the Southern Rockies, Wolf Creek outside of Pagosa Springs.
  • Mountain Biking: Right alongside skiing, mountain biking is a popular outdoor sport here. We have trails accessible from town: La Tierra Mountain Biking Trails to the north, Dale Ball to the east, with access to our upper mountain trails via Hyde Park Road, Galisteo Basin PreserveGlorieta Camps, Los Alamos Trail, the entire ABQ region and Taos, including world-class riding at Angel Fire Resort Bike Park. From cross country to downhill, there’s a lot to enjoy here!
  • Hiking: Those same trails are great for hiking, but what is really special is the Pecos Wilderness Area and Bandelier National Monument, both within easy reach of town and offering either a mountainous wilderness experience or deep canyon exploration. Throw on your backpack and you can disappear for days at a time, often times not running into another person. Also, there are plenty of alpine lakes in the Sangre de Cristo range, in stark contrast to the desert floor below.
  • Rafting: The Rio Grande is the lifeblood of New Mexico and offers various rafting and kayaking opportunities. The Taos Box is rough and tumble, especially in good water years, and you can even float sections near Bandelier and the Caja del Rio area. Likewise, many folks take a day trip to Abiquiu and spend time amongst the red rock cliffs at the reservoir or the Upper Chama.
  • Fishing and Hunting: Just up the road is the Pecos River, one of the best fly-fishing spots in New Mexico. Likewise, the Jemez Mountains provide many streams for fly fishing and have some smaller lakes, such as Fenton Lake, which provide awesome trout fishing. Folks fish the Rio Grande and smaller tributaries year-round. Our northern mountains provide downright epic hunting as well, with elk setting national records for size. You’ll just as likely see some turkey, grouse, mule deer, bear and the likes in our mountains.
  • Camping: With ample open space and federal lands, this part of New Mexico is a camper’s paradise. The nearest major campground is a few miles up Hyde Park road, where you can camp at Hyde Park among the aspens and spruce trees. The entire Pecos area offers abundant camping alongside the Jemez on the opposite side of the river. Even in the winter months, camping can be fun in the Caja del Rio or further south in the Rio Puerco badlands area west of Albuquerque.
  • Rock Climbing: No need to dirtbag it here in the Fe since most of our great rock climbing spots are within easy driving distance. Diablo Canyon, just outside of town in the Caja del Rio, has top-rope, sport, and trad climbing with properly technical features. Likewise, up in the Jemez in White Rock and the Las Conchas trailhead there are many excellent top-rope routes. A little further north, El Rito has some topshelf routes and great camping! For the winter, we have an excellent indoor gym, the Santa Fe Climbing Center.
Man fly fishing stream in New Mexico.

Santa Fe Events

Realistically this section could be its own website. Santa Fe hosts A LOT of festivals and events and they bring a lot of energy to the city. Even if your interest is not in Native art or your budget doesn’t agree, attending major events such as the Indian Market can be fun, inspiring, and enjoyable.

Awarding prizes at the Santa Fe Century in the Railyard.

Santa Fe's Music Scene

Santa Fe has a varied track record with hosting musical events. Currently, the Santa Fe Brewing Bridge is a great venue for bands with other breweries hosting live music such as Second Street (all locations) and Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. Word on the street is that other venues are opening up, but nothing we can put in writing as of yet. Alongside those venues, Santa Fe hosts two major music series and Meow Wolf created their own alternative festival up in Taos.

  • Santa Fe Bandstand: Diverse music throughout the summer months on the stage at the Plaza. Enjoy music for free during the evenings!
  • Music on the Hill: Hosted by St. John’s College, Music on the Hill happens for a few Wednesdays in the summer with jazz, rock, and country music. Free to all to enjoy laying in the grass and watching the sunset over the Jemez.
  • Taos Vortex: New to the scene, but already becoming (in)famous, the Taos Vortex is a hip, wild, and colorful music festival hosted in Taos by Meow Wolf.
A lit stage with musicians in the Railyard.

Santa Fe Nightlife

As mentioned before, Santa Fe lacks a proper nightlife scene. This is partially due to the median age in Santa Fe, but also related to the above information: Many people are spent by the time late night has come around! Regardless, here are some bright spots for you night owls:

  • Meow Wolf: The trippy art space purchased a liquor license and hosts concerts. The vibe, intimacy of the space, and quality of the artist all make this an exceptional spot to go see a show.
  • Tonic Bar: A hip, downtown bar that is a nostalgic nod to the heyday of jazz dens.
  • The Matador: Classic punk vibe bar, downtown and under street level.
  • Violet Crown: Beer and a movie? Our local theater has over 25 beers on tap and great food.
  • Tiny’s: This old-school gem of a restaurant hosts karaoke and other events on the weekends.