When the Santa Fe earth thaws, the lilacs blossom, and the junipers blare their trumpet song into our sinuses, it becomes increasingly clear that the winds of spring have left the New Mexican winter in the dust. Short days — and truncated business hours — make way for more outdoor activities, extended slope time, and appealing hotel rates!
If you’re interested in gorgeous median temperatures, plenty of activities discounted from peak season, and a town abuzz after its self-prescribed hibernation, springtime in Santa Fe is the place to be! Here are a few suggestions for where to eat and drink and potential pursuits to enjoy during this invigorating time of year…
The season of renewal and rebirth typically begins right smack in the middle of spring break. However, spring break in Santa Fe is less of a “Spriiiiing Breaaaak!” and more of a place where you would be happy to bring your family. In fact, from March 1 through April 21, there are a number of “Kids Free” deals happening all over town, including one for Meow Wolf via La Fonda on the Plaza! But whether you want to teach your kids climbing, show them some International Folk Art, or take in a show at the New Mexico Performing Arts Society, there are plenty of ways to do so — affordably — during the Santa Fe spring!
Speaking of fun with the family, those who celebrate Easter will find the Easter egg hunt at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden particularly beautiful and enchanting. Of course, Easter has greater significance to many, and northern New Mexico plays host to the largest ritual pilgrimage in the United States: The Easter Pilgrimage to Chimayó. Each year for over a century, during the week before Easter, this historic event brings thousands of people from Santa Fe, Española, and even Albuquerque to a small adobe church — The Santuario de Chimayó — to offer prayers and receive words of blessing. It’s an increasingly popular journey for those who are moved to make the journey!
Once the snow finally melts and eyeballs thaw, everyone in Santa Fe prairie dogs out of their homes to eagerly enjoy the warmer weather, and that means markets and festivals start popping up left and right! The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is a popular gathering spot in the Railyard on Saturdays, and spring means that a greater variety of produce will start sprouting up at the market, but the fantastic local farmers — including ranchers, beekeepers, shepherds, and more — truly provide something for everyone.
When you inevitably find yourself souvenir-hunting downtown, the Palace of the Governors is often lined by Native American artists selling jewelry, and a new show opening is a great excuse to check out Currents New Media Gallery and wander down Canyon Road. However, if you visit Santa Fe a little later in the spring, the Taos Lilac Festival is only a short drive from The City Different!
While the city of Santa Fe itself offers plenty to keep you occupied during the spring months, many find that the surrounding areas offer some of the best attractions in the form of active, outdoor fun! As spring begins, there should still be snow in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, meaning skiing is still in the cards at places like Ski Santa Fe. Maybe you’re more of a cyclist, though, and despite the possibility of some mud, there are a number of appealing bike trails around the area, such as the Dale Ball Trails, Aspen Vista, or Windsor!
For those of us who have enough trouble staying upright on foot, though, you might find a hike of Diablo Canyon or a stroll through Patrick Smith Park to be more your speed. There’s also the Cathedral Park in downtown Santa Fe, which is a short walk from the Loretto Chapel and its famous “miraculous staircase.”
While there are plenty who equate vacation with adventure, there’s an equally strong contingent who just want to relax! If you consider yourself to be among the chillest of Santa Fe visitors, might we suggest the relaxing vibes of the Santa Fe Salt Cave, the healing powers of the Spence Hot Springs (just north of the Jemez Springs), or an educational tour of the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary!
Maybe you’ve already been to Santa Fe and you’ve hit all of the most popular spots for art, hiking, and shopping. For you regulars, or for anyone looking for something different, the Santa Fe area offers an increasingly diverse set of attractions, like the ever-changing exhibitions at SITE Santa Fe. There’s also the Allan House Sculpture Gardens and Gallery, which is open by appointment only, but features over 80 monumental works! Also, while Meow Wolf itself hosts diverse music acts year round, there’s nothing like seeing (or hearing) a concert at the Santa Fe Symphony!
Finally, if one of your vacation goals is to saunter away from Santa Fe for a day trip, this spring will see the inaugural season of Meow Wolf’s partner, the professional soccer club New Mexico United. The United play their home games just down I-25 at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, but we think it’s worth the trip just to see their sweet jerseys!
All of these amazing activities will undoubtedly build up your appetite, but not to worry! We’ve got restaurant options for all taste buds and all times of day, starting with brunch, of course! If you weren’t convinced by the name, we’re here to say that, yes, Cafe Mimosa specializes in new American brunch, which is actually a little unusual in a city that mostly draws clear lines between breakfast and lunch.
Not to be outdone, our second spring brunch suggestion, Dolina, is a fairly new addition to Santa Fe, but they’re quickly winning over diners with their Eastern European influences. Here, you’ll find items like Hungarian paprikash and Slovakian langos mixed effortlessly alongside the chicken and waffles or ricotta pancakes of a typical American brunch.
Santa Fe locals know that plenty of the city’s favorite restaurants aren’t open late, or open for dinner at all. With that in mind, here are a few great options for evening dining that won’t greet you with shuttered doors. For instance, if you just want a local beer and some red chile chorizo pizza, Upper Crust is just the thing.
However, Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen offers fresh, natural foods with an international flair, and is a great option for folks who have dietary restrictions. Plus, Sweetwater doubles as a great Sunday brunch location. Try everything from quinoa cakes to huevos rancheros and vegan chocolate cream pie! Finally, there’s Dinner for Two, which is our choice for when you want a nice, elegant steak and seafood dinner from a place that specializes in memorable table-side presentations. We’ve all had that exact desire, right?
Okay, now we’re on to the wild card round in which we suggest a variety of new and/or interesting Santa Fe restaurants that are sure to satisfy specific cravings, or at least offer a diversion from the same old-same old. One such option is Cafe Atalaya, a downtown crepe joint that offers both sweet and savory options. Then there’s Sabor Peruano, a Peruvian-centric place that’s open every day but Sunday, and a great location for those who seek an empanada or aji de gallina (chicken in spicy sauce).
If you like international cuisine, Jambo Cafe is a local favorite for delicious soups and African-Caribbean fusion, while Tibet Kitchen offers flavors that are somewhere between Indian and Nepali. Finally, there’s the undeniably American BBQ of Uncle DT’s Smokehouse, a take-home barbecue service that boasts vacuum-sealed, all-natural meats!
There is no shortage of coffee and tea options in Santa Fe, including Holy Spirit Espresso, The Teahouse on Canyon Road, and Opuntia, which offers a greenhouse-like environment that hosts some of the best natural light in the city for enjoying a cup of brew. For something a little outside-the-norm, though, there’s Lion & Honey, a place where you can get a delicious waffle to go with your coffee, and there’s also Remix Audio Bar, which provides headphones for listening to a DJ at your preferred volume while you knock back a cortado or two.
When the sun goes down on your spring days in Santa Fe, the best way to unwind is with a cocktail and some jazz music at Tonic. It’s dark, they have food, and the smooth music offers some of the most fun, yet laid-back vibes in the city.
So that’s it! We hope you enjoy the lovely, unique, and diverse offerings that Santa Fe provides every spring. We’ll see you soon!