With a population of 70,000 primarily Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American people, Santa Fe, which means Holy Faith in Spanish, is New Mexico's fourth largest city behind Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Rio Rancho. Situated at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains, it was founded between 1607 and 1610, making it the second oldest city as well as the highest and oldest capital in the U.S. In 1912, it officially achieved statehood, and today its unique offerings of art, culture, and ancient traditions make it a world-class tourist destination, drawing more than one million visitors each year. In 2005, Santa Fe became the first U.S. city to be chosen by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a Creative City, one of only nine cities in the world to hold this designation.
Santa Fe has long been a center for arts and culture. It ranks as the country's third largest art market with nearly 300 galleries and dealers. There also are more than a dozen major museums showcasing an array of art, culture, history and traditions, as well the world-class Santa Fe Opera. In recent years, the city has also earned a reputation with food-lovers. Whether you're hankering for basic New Mexican food, creative Southwestern cuisine, or authentic Italian, French, Asian and other world cuisines, the city offers more than 200 choices.
Take it easy. Santa Fe’s high altitude (7,000 feet above sea level) means air is rarefied, thinner. It usually takes about 48 hours to adjust and staying hydrated helps. Watch your alcohol intake. One drink is the equivalent of three at sea level.
Santa Fe’s climate is generally dry, with sometimes less than 20 percent humidity, but it can change rapidly and often. Nights and early mornings are cool, even in the summer months. During the month of June, expect an average daytime high temperature of 83° (Fahrenheit) and evenings of about 51°.
Santa Fe averages 300 sunny days per year, with 14 inches of rain and 17 inches of snow annually. The hottest days arrive in June, when temperatures soar into the high 90s. Because of the altitude, temperatures can change by 30 degrees in a single day, and sometimes all four seasons seem to pass through in a 24-hour time period. Expect sudden rain showers and cool evenings in summer and snow from November through April.
If you’re planning to go outside the downtown area, your best bet is to have a car. Santa Fe has a city-wide taxi service and a public bus system, Santa Fe Trails (http://www.santafenm.gov/index.aspx?nid=498), that serves the city with six routes, including specially decorated buses to Museum Hill. Buses operate from 06:30 to 19:30, Monday through Friday, and from 07:00 to 19:00 on Saturdays. There is no service on Sundays or holidays. Schedules are available on each bus, at libraries, and at locations throughout the city. For schedule, rate and fare information, call 505-984-6730.
Parking can be tight in Santa Fe in June, though most attractions are within walking distance of downtown hotels. Metered parking spots in downtown Santa Fe cost $1.00 an hour and are in operation from 08:00 to 18:00 Monday through Saturday, excluding major holidays. For additional information on public parking, including lot and garage locations, please see http://santafe.org/images/Embed/5/195-2009_downtown_parking_map.pdf
Be patient in traffic and mindful of pedestrians. Obey all traffic rules and be alert, whether driving or walking. Many Santa Fe streets in the downtown area are narrow with an abundance of foot traffic.
Using hand-held cell phones while driving is illegal, but hands-free devices are allowed.
Reservations are always recommended for upscale restaurants. Busiest dining hours are from 18:30 to 20:00. Casual dress is acceptable in most restaurants.
For more information on what Santa Fe has to offer, go to: http://santafe.org/Visiting_Santa_Fe/Things_to_Do/index.html