Santa Fe is a magical town filled with a rich and spirited history. Santa Fe means “Holy Faith,” and I have faith that after reading this, you will want to live there. It’s no wonder that travelers from around the world descend upon Santa Fe in droves. It is a bucket list destination in our backyard.
Settlements date back to the ancient Puebloans, Spanish Colonization, and Mexican Occupation. Santa Fe became a United States Territory in 1846 and eventually became the Capitol City of New Mexico. Eventually making it through reconstruction after the Civil War, Santa Fe has seen it all and then some.
Thank you to Montessori ONE Academy for sponsoring this moving guide.
Montessori ONE Academy is a private, AMI-recognized Montessori school serving infants, preschool, and elementary students. These award-winning programs are based upon the internationally celebrated and scientifically-supported Montessori Method: an individualized, experiential approach to education whereby the child’s needs, curiosity, and interests are prioritized leading to a lifelong love of learning.
The Infant Program fosters freedom of movement, fine motor development, early socialization, and language development in a nurturing environment.
The Toddler & Primary Programs introduce Montessori fundamentals such as universal values, practical life, and academic curriculum materials in a mixed age group setting–a key to providing opportunities for leadership development.
The Elementary Program continues these elements with an emphasis on executive function and soft skill development–independence, confidence, focus, leadership, collaboration, abstract thinking, problem-solving, and time management.
Plus, in partnership with AMARAN Senior Living, a luxury senior living and memory care residence, Montessori ONE Academy’s students engage with seniors in a variety of activities designed to nurture participants, young and old alike.
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General Neighborhood Info
Santa Fe has always been on the higher end of price points for the state of New Mexico. It’s got historic charm and small-town vibes along with a mild climate and incredible views. It is no wonder that Santa Fe continues to top the charts for home prices throughout the state.
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Santa Fe has a median home value of $975,000 with homes listed as high as $28,000,000 and around $400,000 on the low end.
Here are some of Santa Fe’s most popular neighborhoods:
Historic Eastside: The Historic Eastside is one of Santa Fe’s most prestigious and sought-after neighborhoods. It features charming adobe homes, winding streets, and proximity to the Santa Fe Plaza. Many historic properties have been beautifully maintained. The area exudes a classic Santa Fe feel.
South Capitol: Located just south of the Plaza, South Capitol is known for its historic architecture, tree-lined streets, and proximity to the State Capitol. It’s a popular choice for those who want easy access to downtown and a sense of community.
Downtown Santa Fe: Living right in the heart of downtown offers the convenience of being close to shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. It’s a vibrant and bustling area, perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the city’s energy.
Tesuque: A more rural and upscale area, Tesuque is located a short drive north of Santa Fe. It offers larger properties with spacious homes surrounded by natural beauty and stunning views.
Historic Guadalupe District: This district is known for its blend of historic and contemporary architecture. It’s close to the Railyard Arts District, which is home to galleries, shops, and restaurants. The area has a lively arts scene.
Santa Fe offers everything from high-end, affluent neighborhoods to more affordable, family-oriented areas.
Old Pecos Trail: Situated on the southeast side of Santa Fe, Old Pecos Trail is a quiet and upscale neighborhood with a mix of architectural styles. It offers easy access to hiking trails and the Santa Fe Country Club.
La Tierra: If you prefer a more rural lifestyle, La Tierra is a community northwest of Santa Fe. It offers larger lots and a sense of tranquility.
Aldea de Santa Fe: Aldea is a planned community located just outside of the city center. It features a variety of home styles and amenities, including parks and walking trails. It’s known for its sense of community.
Historic Westside: The Historic Westside offers a blend of historic and modern homes. It’s an area where you can find a mix of cultures and traditions. It’s known for its colorful adobe houses.
Tano Road Area: Tano Road is a more secluded and serene neighborhood on the northwest side. It’s surrounded by nature and offers a quieter pace of life.
Park, Recreation, and Family Fun
Santa Fe Plaza: “The Plaza” is one of the oldest public spaces in the United States and is the heart of the city. It was founded in 1610 by Spanish explorer Don Pedro de Peralta when he established Santa Fe as the capital of the Province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. The Plaza offers an abundance of history, shopping, dining, and art. Native Americans sell their amazing handcrafted jewelry on The Plaza daily. The smells emanating from the restaurants draw you in like a moth to a flame. You will be captivated!
Canyon Road: Known for its art galleries, Canyon Road is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. You can stroll along this charming street and admire the artwork. People travel from around the world to experience the art of Santa Fe. You can immerse yourself in so much of it on this historic street. Plus grab a bite to eat at a local eatery.
Pecos National Historical Park: Take a drive to the beautiful mountain town of Pecos, NM and visit the Pecos National Historical Park. Drenched in history and breathtaking Pueblo sites, this magical land housed some of New Mexico’s earliest residents. Learn about the history of the Pueblo people and Spanish settlers at this historic site. There are many great hiking trails.
Santa Fe Botanical Garden: Enjoy the beauty of native plants and landscapes at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. It’s a peaceful escape from the city.
Museum Hill: Explore four museums in one place: the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.
Santa Fe National Forest: Explore the great outdoors with hiking, camping, and picnicking in the nearby national forest.
There are tons of options for family fun in this beautiful city.
Meow Wolf: An immersive art experience that’s part art installation, part amusement park, and part mystery house. It’s a unique and unforgettable adventure.
Farmers’ Market: Held on Saturdays and Tuesdays, the farmers’ market is a great place to sample local produce and artisanal goods.
Santa Fe Railyard: This area features shops, restaurants, and a vibrant farmers’ market on the weekends. It’s a great place to soak in some local culture.
Ski Santa Fe: If you visit during the winter months, the ski area offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities.
Among the multitude of historic places to visit in Santa Fe, there is an abundance of extraordinary places to eat. Whether you are craving an authentic New Mexican meal, an extravagant and elegant dining experience by a Michelin star chef, or something completely unique, Santa Fe dining does not disappoint.
A few favorites loved by locals and tourists alike are The Shed, Geronimo, Santacafé, La Boca, Osteria, and Coyote Cafe and Cantina. We would need a separate blog post to go into detail on each of these, but just know that whatever you are craving, Santa Fe has the answer!
If you are short on time and want to try a lot of different options in one day, check out a food tour like the ones offered by Food Tour New Mexico. You will be guided on a walking tour to different restaurants to sample food and learn about the rich culture of Santa Fe along the way. Lastly, don’t forget to stop into the Five and Dime for the best Frito Pie of your life. “Pansa llena corazón contenta.” (“If the belly is full the heart is content.”)
Santa Fe has an extraordinarily diverse selection of schools in every age group. There is a robust selection in every type of education from arts to technology and everything in between.
The Santa Fe Public School District is the largest in the area, serving students from elementary to high school. Some notable public schools within SFPS include:
- Elementary: Carlos Gilbert Elementary, Wood Gormley Elementary, Piñon Elementary, Acequia Madre Elementary
- Middle: Milagro Middle School, DeVargas Middle School
- High: Capital High School, Santa Fe High School
- St. Michael’s High School: A private Catholic high school offering a college-preparatory curriculum. The school’s mission: “St. Michael’s High School, with a college preparatory curriculum, has as its mission to educate each student in the spirit of faith and academic excellence according to Roman Catholic principles of the Christian Brothers.”
- Santa Fe Christian School: A private Christian school providing education from preschool through high school. The school’s vision: “To raise up Christ-like leaders who will realize and pursue their full potential to transform the world for the glory of God. Our expectations are to develop the whole child – spiritually, academically, socially, and physically – through the truth of the Gospel.”
- Tierra Encantada Charter School: This K-8 charter school focuses on a dual-language program (English and Spanish) and emphasizes cultural diversity and environmental education. The school’s mission: “The mission of Tierra Encantada Charter School (“TECS”) is to empower students as citizen scholars within a dual language environment through a rigorous learning curriculum, which will prepare students for post-secondary success.”
- Mandela International Magnet (MIMS): “Mandela International Magnet School is the only equal-access public International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Santa Fe.” From their website: “Teachers have taught or trained in Australia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Greece, Guatemala, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela and Qatar, bringing internationalism to our classrooms.”
- New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA): NMSA is a public-private partnership charter school offering a rigorous arts-focused education for students in grades 9-12. “New Mexico School for the Arts, the state’s only public, statewide high school offering pre-professional arts training and academics, opened its doors in 2010 with 138 students and has since established itself as one of New Mexico’s top-performing schools.”
- The Masters Program: A charter school serving grades 7-12, emphasizing experiential and project-based learning. From their website: “The MASTERS Program is committed to the development of engaged, compassionate students who value academic excellence and education beyond high school, service to others, and creating a conscious community.”
- Monte del Sol Charter School: A 7-12 charter school that provides a diverse and inclusive educational experience. The school’s mission: “Monte del Sol Charter School educates and inspires Santa Fe’s diverse population in grades 7 through 12, by building strong relationships and creatively engaging the local and global community.”
Every year Santa Fe takes part in Fiestas in late September. In true Santa Fe fashion, the Fiestas have been held annually since 1712. The tradition begins with the Entrada when residents dress in historical costumes and celebrate the arrival of Don Diego de Vargas, the Spanish conquistador who led the resettlement of Santa Fe in 1692. Throughout the week, there are parades (including the adorable pet parade where pet owners dress up and groom their pets in the cutest ways), arts and craft fairs, traditional food and culinary experiences, live music and dancing, and historical reenactments.
The night prior to the Fiestas is celebrated with the burning of “Old Man Gloom” himself, Zozobra. This event starts with dancing and fireworks and ends with burning this 50-foot-tall effigy. This tradition is thought to rid the people of their worries and maybe an evil spirit or two.
Santa Fe is definitely a tourist destination so that could cause potential traffic delays for commuters in peak seasons. However, there are options for public transportation to and from Albuquerque for commuters such as the New Mexico Rail Runner. There is also a byway for commuters traveling to Los Alamos for work at the National Laboratory. Many laboratory workers choose to live in Santa Fe even given the commute because of its close proximity and all of the amenities.
Santa Fe is historic and stunning in Southwest beauty with a high-end art scene, delicious restaurants, and so much more. It is a lovely place to live or visit especially if are a lover of art, Hispanic culture, and natural beauty.
For information about other areas in and around Albuquerque, check out our Ultimate Guide to Moving to Albuquerque.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.