Santa Fe has something to offer all year long. From skiing in the winter to multiple festivals in the summer, the City Different is constantly humming. So choosing which season you’ll visit is really a matter of personal preference.
Each season also attracts different types–and numbers–of visitors. Decide what you’d like to do as well as how comfortable you are with crowds, and you’ll find the best time to visit Santa Fe.
Santa Fe In Winter
My recent trip to Santa Fe was in winter, and now I’m eager to encourage others to visit during this chilly, but quieter season. Keep in mind that this town is at 7,000 feet elevation, so winter temperatures are likely to be in the 40’s in the day and may dip below 20 degrees at night.
While I don’t ski often, I did have the chance to ski while in Santa Fe and would definitely recommend it. I spent two days at Ski Santa Fe, just sixteen miles outside of town. Compared to many other ski resorts on the West Coast, this is a far more affordable option. Other winter outdoor activities include snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and sledding.
Winter is a great time to browse all the museums in Santa Fe. I had the chance to visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, International Folk Art Museum, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, and Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. While the Georgia O’Keefe was my favorite, all were excellent. And believe it or not, I only scraped the surface of museums–there are 16 more.
Continue your art exploration at Meow Wolf, a massive contemporary interactive exhibit featuring 70 artists spread across two floors. Everything can be touched. The lights, colors, and sounds can be a bit intimidating at times, but I am so glad I went to this place. And again, on a cold day, it’s great to get indoors.
Finally, warm up with the perfect cup of hot chocolate at Kakawa, a specialty chocolate company serving chocolate elixirs, truffles, and ice cream.
Winter is definitely a quieter time in the city, thanks in part to the cold weather. But with the weather comes lower prices, most notably for accommodations. It is important to note that many attractions, including museums, have limited hours in the winter. But I really enjoyed exploring the city with hardly anyone there.
Here’s all the Can’t Miss Santa Fe Winter Experiences!
Spring In Santa Fe
Spring in Santa Fe brings warmer weather and the opportunity to get outside.
First, head to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden which celebrates, cultivates and conserves the rich botanical heritage and biodiversity of the region. As the weather warms and flowers bloom, this is a beautiful spot to spend some time outside.
The Santa Fe Farmers Market also gets busier as farmers start to bring their fresh produce. Taking place year round on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Railyard, everything sold is grown and produced in New Mexico. From May to November an additional market takes place on Tuesdays. After you stock up on all your veggies and fruit for the week enjoy a meal or snack at one of the restaurants located at the Railyard.
If you’re a margarita lover like me, why not hit the Margarita Trail? Over 40 restaurants and bars in and around Santa Fe are official participants in this city sponsored program. Some drinks are your basic tequila, lime and cointreau mix, while others get really inventive. There’s Chipotle, Strawberry Jalapeno, and Prickly Pear, just to name a few. To get started purchase the paper passport or download the app for just $2.99. Benefits include $1 off all official margaritas and the chance to earn a whole bunch of prizes.
Spring weather in Santa Fe can be unpredictable, so come prepared with the proper clothing. In early Spring, the occasional snow storm may happen. Average daytime temperatures range from mid-50’s to low 70’s and evening can dip into the 30’s.
Like Santa Fe in winter, the spring is less crowded than the peak summer season, making it another ideal time to visit if you’re looking for a quieter town. And again, prices are likely to be lower as well.
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Santa Fe In Summer
Summer is when Santa Fe really comes alive. It’s been years since I was here in the summer, but I’ll never forget it. The biggest driver of visitors during the summer are the festivals, so if these are of interest to you, book your ticket and start packing.
By far the best known summer festival is Indian Market which takes place the third weekend of August. More than 100,000 collectors, gallery owners, and fans of Indian art flood the city. Booths fill Santa Fe Plaza, galleries stay open late, and throngs of people explore the incredible Native art including jewelry, textiles, baskets, beadwork, quillwork, pueblo wooden carvings, sculpture, drums, hides, and leather goods.
Newer to Santa Fe is the International Folk Art Market taking place in early July. Over 9,000 people are expected at this event which attracts 115 artists from around the world. Here you’ll see textiles from West Timor, hat weaving from Columbia, icon painting from Ukraine, and much more.
The Traditional Spanish Market has been taking place in the Plaza since 1926. Founded by Mary Austin and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society this event is intended to promote local Hispanic traditional arts. Today it is held at the end of July. A wide range of art can be viewed including pottery, ironwork, tin work, weaving, and much more.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Santa Fe Opera with performances taking place in July and August. I have friends who have been coming to see these shows for years and rave about them. The striking, state-of-the-art, open-air theater has won several prestigious design awards and is widely recognized for blending contemporary design aesthetics with traditional building materials.
Santa Fe in summer will deliver day time temperatures in the 80’s and nighttime lows in the 50’s. In other words, some pretty fabulous weather. Do come prepared for rain since this is the time when the city receives most of its precipitation.
With so many world-famous events, you can expect crowds all season long along with higher prices. But if any of these events interest you, then those trade offs are probably worth it.
Fall In Santa Fe
Fall in Santa Fe is chili roasting season. And while I’ve never been during this time of year, my next trip will definitely be in the fall. August to October is the time to celebrate the delicious New Mexico chili and the resulting spicy red and green sauce that is added to many local dishes. The Farmers Market sells these locally grown chilis while restaurants offer specials highlighting them. There’s even a festival to celebrate this auspicious time of year, the Santa Fe Wine and Chili Fiesta.
Fall is also a lovely time of year to hike in the area. Found in the Santa Fe National Forest, the Aspen Vista trail is a moderate out-and-back route of approximately 11 miles offering non-stop views of the Aspen trees as their leaves turn golden.
Art aficionados won’t want to miss the Santa Fe Studio Arts Tour when more than 60 artists open their studios to the public the first weekend in October. Meet the artists, watch demonstrations, and have the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind pieces.
Fall daytime temperatures range from the mid-50’s to 70’s and dip into the 30’s and 40’s in the evenings.
Visitation in the fall is busier than the winter and spring, but less so than summer. So this is a nice season for a balance of good weather, manageable crowds, and reasonable prices. According to U.S. News & World Report fall is indeed the best time to visit Santa Fe.
Where To Stay In Santa Fe–Anytime of the year!
My favorite places to stay in Santa Fe are close to the historic Plaza. Here are a few hotels I definitely recommend;
La Fonda on the Plaza–this 100 year old hotel is centrally located, beautifully decorated, and houses an impressive New Mexico art collection. The rooms are small, but offer every amenity you could want.
Inn and Spa at Loretto–The classic pueblo architecture of this hotel fits in perfectly in Santa Fe. The rooms are stylish, the restaurant excellent, and the bar cozy and inviting.
Hotel St. Francis–Often described as having “Old World Charm” this hotel offers in room wine service and is home to one of the best cocktail bars in the city.