While the vibrant city of Santa Fe is a must-visit destination on its own, there are many other incredible places to see nearby! Whether you’re a local resident in search of fun day trip ideas or a visitor hoping to fill your itinerary with unique activities, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our best recommendations for short drives from Santa Fe that you definitely need to try at least once!
While you’re here, don’t forget to request our complimentary Vacation Guide! It’s filled with fantastic ideas for things to do during your getaway to The Land of Enchantment including outdoor recreation opportunities, museums, shopping, dining, and more.
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Our Favorite Short Drives From Santa Fe, New Mexico
1. Santa Fe Scenic Byway
Santa Fe is surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring natural beauty in the state. If you’d like to explore and admire the landscape from the comfort of your own vehicle, then a trip down the Santa Fe Scenic Byway is a must. This 15-mile route is one of the best scenic drives in New Mexico and rewards its travelers with stunning views of the state’s vast vistas, azure mountains, and amber-tinged badlands.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to make pit stops at various Santa Fe attractions including the New Mexico History Museum, Hyde Memorial State Park, and the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
2. Chimayo, NM
Located just 35 minutes north of Santa Fe, Chimayo, NM is a quaint and historic village rooted in Southwestern tradition. It’s also the home of our charming countryside bed and breakfast, Casa Escondida!
During your visit to Chimayo, there are several local activities and attractions that you won’t want to miss. The El Santuario de Chimayo is a legendary Catholic chapel that serves as the final destination for the annual Holy Pilgrimage and the site of the famous Chimayo Holy Dirt. History buffs may also enjoy a visit to the nearby Santo Nino Chapel and the Chimayo Museum. For all of your shopping needs, you’ll find unique gifts and souvenirs that you won’t find anywhere else at the El Potrero Trading Post or Centinela Traditional Arts.
After a full day of Chimayo adventures, enjoy a fabulous meal at Rancho de Chimayo, the very restaurant that is credited with bringing traditional Southwestern cuisine into the international spotlight. No matter how you decide to spend your days in Chimayo, NM, we guarantee it will be well worth the short drives from Santa Fe.
3. Taos, NM
Did you know that Taos was once believed to be the fabled “City of Gold” by nomadic tribes? This small town in New Mexico is one of the state’s must-see destinations, and it’s for good reason! If you’re planning a day trip here, we highly recommend taking the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos. This breathtaking drive will lead you through even more tiny New Mexico towns and gorgeous scenery on your way to Taos.
Once you have arrived, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of things to do such as visiting the Taos Pueblo Indian village, exploring the historic Taos Plaza, or taming the slopes at Taos Ski Valley, one of New Mexico’s top ski resorts.
4. Puye Cliffs
Located approximately 40 minutes from Santa Fe, the Puye Cliffs are ancient cliff dwellings carved by the Santa Clara Pueblo Indians thousands of years ago. Today, you can explore these fascinating ruins for yourself and discover traces of ancient life in New Mexico.
A short hike is required to reach the Puye Cliffs, and there are two trails for you to choose from. The Mesa Top Trail is ideal for beginners and is generally level-grounded while The Cliff Trail is recommended for more experienced hikers. However, you can be assured that whichever trail you choose, you’ll enjoy an incredible cliff viewing experience that will leave your jaw on the ground.
If hiking isn’t exactly your forte, the Puye Cliffs Scenic Byway is another popular option for reaching the historic site. Visitors who take this drive will find four of New Mexico’s seven life zones along the way. Upon reaching the Puye Cliffs, you will be welcome to explore the dwellings and surrounding structures.
5. Santa Cruz Lake
Santa Cruz Lake is a hidden oasis located just under an hour from Santa Fe! This natural feature is a popular summertime destination and forms after the winter snow has drizzled from the mountainsides.
For only $5 per day, you and your family can take part in all the outdoor fun just waiting to be had at Santa Cruz Lake! Enjoy a leisurely boat ride with a view, trek the trails that wrap around the lake, or cast your line into the water for freshwater fish. Whatever you choose to do, it’s sure to become one of the highlights of your New Mexico getaway.
Get Away From It All During Your Stay With Casa Escondida
If we’re talking about short drives from Santa Fe, we can’t forget to leave Casa Escondida off the list! Our unique bed and breakfast in Chimayo is ideal for romantic getaways, family vacations, and extended stays in the New Mexico countryside. During your stay with us, you will be treated to warm hospitality, charming guest rooms adorned with authentic Southwestern flair, and a delicious hot breakfast served each morning.
With so much to see and do in Northern New Mexico, you’ll certainly need more than a single day or weekend to experience it all! That’s why we’re excited to offer our Extended Stay Discount to visitors like you. When you book your favorite room with us for seven nights or more, you’ll instantly receive a 10% discount on your entire stay! It’s the best way to enjoy more of New Mexico for less!
Check our availability right now and we can’t wait to welcome you to Chimayo soon.