Featured, New Mexico, United States

9 Bucket List Things To Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico

February 26, 2024
Gruet Winery Justin Walter Cheryl Walter

I took my mom to Santa Fe, New Mexico on our first ever one-on-one mother and son trip. It was one of the best travel experiences of my life.  I’ve been traveling the world for over 18 years and I can’t believe it took this long! I will cherish our 4 days of quality time together exploring “The City Different” for the rest of my life. There are so many multi-generational friendly things to do in Santa Fe making it the perfect destination for families. Here are 9 bucket list things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico:


things to do in Santa Fe

My mom’s favorite activity during our trip to Santa Fe was the Prairie Dog Glass Experience. The two of us were paired with Margot, a glassblower with over 30 years of experience. Upon arrival we each picked two items that we wanted to make – mom a heart and flower, me two glasses – and for roughly an hour we became glass blowing apprentices. This experience was incredibly hands on! From picking the colors for the art to handling a ball of molten glass at the end of a metal stick, Margot led us through a memorable experience unlike anything we’ve ever done before.  Best part? 24 hours later we picked up our glass pieces and took home a physical memory of the trip. Prairie Dog is open 7 days a week 9 am – 6 pm and in addition to classes, the shop has beautiful glass art for sale.


My favorite Santa Fe adventure with my mom was spending nearly 3 hours at the original Meow Wolf exhibition, House of Eternal Return. Meow Wolf has been on my bucket list for years and it was an unexpected treat to get to explore it with my mom. The immersive art experience made up of over 70 rooms by local community artists throws guests of all ages into a family home ridden with tragedy due to a science experiment. We entered the house clueless as to “the story” behind the house and felt like we were in an escape room-like playground, piecing things together as we explored. I have never laughed so hard watching my mom explore the space with a childlike wonder. It was a gift to play like kids as adults, especially with a parent. Meow Wolf is a must on any travel bucket list.


Imagine 77 beautiful acres in the Northern New Mexico high desert with spring-fed thermal pools, luxurious spa facilities and farm-to-table dining. This is Ojo Santa Fe. My mom and I spent half a day relaxing, pampering and detoxing at the Ojo Santa Fe Spa. We both got 60-minute massages. My body melted on the table and my mom said it was one of the best massages of her life. Afterwards we spent hours soaking in the spring-fed thermal pools tucked away between cottonwood trees and hammocks. We ended the night with a delicious meal at the resort’s on site restaurant The Blue Heron. To say we left Ojo Santa Fe feeling rejuvenated is an understatement. There’s a reason it’s known as one of the best spas in the world.


things to do in santa fe

I had no idea that Santa Fe has skiing! I’m honestly still in shock that Ski Santa Fe is just 16 miles from the city and roughly a 30-60 minute drive depending on conditions. With a base elevation of 10,350 feet, 89 trails and 7 chair lifts, Ski Santa Fe is a hidden gem and ski paradise! I spent half a day on the slopes and felt like I had the entire mountain to myself. Compared to skiing I’ve done in California and Colorado, skiing in Santa Fe lacks crowds yet offers 660-acres of pristine ski conditions. For anyone that enjoys skiing, put this winter adventure at the top of your New Mexico bucket list now!


things to do in santa fe

One of my favorite things to do with my mom is wine-tasting so getting to do it in Santa Fe was such a treat! Gruet Winery is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines. It was established in New Mexico in 1984 by the Gruet Family who previously produced fine champagnes in Bethon, France since 1952. When visiting Gruet Winery’s tasting room, I highly recommend the Winemaker’s Flight and doing a chambong, yes a champagne bong! After we finished our flights the staff could tell my mom and I were up for the challenge. Throwing down chambongs together was a highlight of the trip.


things to do in santa fe

If there’s one thing my mom loves to do, it’s shopping! A bucket list trip to Santa Fe would be incomplete without visiting the Santa Fe Plaza. For more than 400 years, the Plaza has been the heart and soul of downtown Santa Fe. It is home to markets, world class shopping, art galleries and is a gathering place for community events and festivals. It’s the third largest art market in the U.S. with over 250 art galleries. In 2005 Santa Fe became the first city in the United States to be designated a UNESCO Creative City for craft and folk art. After wandering the streets and shops for a few hours I walked away with new alpaca ponchos that I can’t wait to wear!


For over 40 years, Cafe Pasqual’s has been delivering high quality dining experiences to guests serving up organic and sustainably sourced food. With recipes focused on flavors that celebrate Old Mexico traditional fare with a New Mexico modern twist this was my mom’s favorite meal of the trip. And that’s saying a lot from a woman who is the best cook I know! For appetizers, we enjoyed grilled shrimp and pomelo salad. Dinner: pan-seared Arctic char and lamb chops. Dessert: lemon meringue, homemade piñon ice cream and Mexican hot chocolate. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! This vibrantly colorful restaurant, with hand-painted tiled walls in an historic adobe, is a definite bucket list item.


Our first meal of the trip was at Tomasita’s and it left us stuffed and completely satisfied! My mom and I have never had New Mexican food like it. We both agreed it was the most authentic New Mexican meal of our lives. As a locally owned and operated restaurant for over 40 years, Tomasita’s serves up classic Northern New Mexican cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients including GMO free corn for all their chips, tortillas and tamales. Make sure to order the chips, sopaipillas and their famous margarita. Tomasita’s is actually on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail, a trail of spots to hit up for margaritas. Grab your margarita passport at the Visitor’s Center (or download the app online) and begin your mission of getting stamps for 50 signature Santa Fe margaritas. 


The last bucket list item on my list of things to do in Santa Fe is staying at Hotel Santa Fe. It is the only Native American-owned hotel in downtown Santa Fe. The hotel radiates the spirit of the Pueblo people showcasing their culture, art, music and language. The service and facilities were top tier and our room was warm and cozy. It was the perfect home base for our first ever mom-son trip.

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