Zozobra's Insider Travel Tips
Colorful and creative Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been a legendary destination for eons. Indigenous Native Americans roamed New Mexico's panoramic landscape for millenia before Spanish conquistadores arrived in the 1600's. In the centuries that have followed, Santa Fe, whose nickname - The City Different - reflects its unique qualities, has truly earned its reputation as a authentic bucket-list destination.
Santa Fe Culture & Customs
Santa Fe, NM, has preserved its historic feel. Home to age-old traditional pueblo-style architecture, ancient churches, world-class museums and over 200 art galleries, all perched at the tail-end of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe is a feast for the senses. The city has long been recognized as one of the nation's healthiest and friendliest small urban areas, and the locals are happy to help when visitors need directions. Slow, organic growth and the dedication of an active historical styles committee have created a graceful low-lying city with quaint, narrow streets winding past centuries-old adobe buildings.
Home to just under 70,000 people, Santa Fe possesses both small-town charm and big-city sophistication, and the heart of the city, the Santa Fe Plaza, is a vibrant hub for locals and visitors alike. New Mexico is renowned for its trio of cultures - Native American, Hispanic and Anglo - but in the 21st century, hearing a conversation in German or Hindi is as likely as hearing a poetry slam sprinkled with Old World Spanish idioms passed down from ancestors.
Dress is casual, but when you pack to visit Santa Fe, keep in mind the 7,000-foot altitude, which can mean cool nights even in summer; light layers for sudden temperature changes is the best way to be comfortable. And being that much closer to the sun means a hat and sunscreen are ideal.
Getting Here and Getting Around
While Santa Fe has its own airport, most visitors fly in the Albuquerque Sunport, approximately 60 miles south. Every major car-rental company has a desk at the airport, and the drive up to Santa Fe is a straightforward trip north on Interstate 25. Those with extra time should consider taking NM State Highway 14, the Turquoise Trail at least one way for a fun scenic detour through the New Mexico landscape. There are plenty of additional transportation options. The New Mexico Railrunner Express runs between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and a shuttle bus runs from the Sunport to the Albuquerque train station. Once in Santa Fe, it's easy to catch a ride downtown on the Santa Fe Pick-up vehicles waiting at the Railyard.
New Mexico is a car-loving culture, and the City of Santa Fe has easy-access parking lots all over downtown. During the Burning of Zozobra, parking in city lots is a flat $5 for the night. City bus service covers all areas of town. One cab company, Capital Cab, serves the whole city, and Uber drivers are available lickety-split for anyone who has the app.
Staying Overnight in Santa Fe
As befits a popular global travel destination, Santa Fe possesses a full range of overnight accommodations. From private homes and sweet little B&Bs to chain hotels and grand luxury properties, there's a bed for every head.
Staying overnight for the 92nd Burning of Zozobra on the Friday before Labor Day, September 2, 2016, means you're staying over the last big holiday of summer. No worries, though, since the travel experts at Santa Fe Selection have already created the best Zozobra deals around at select lodging properties with special Zozobra packages that include event tickets and extra treats.
Dining City-Different Style
Santa Fe's restaurant scene is incredibly diverse, from humble Mom-and-Pop joints to James Beard award-winners, so you can be assured of a great meal almost anywhere you eat. New Mexico's signature ingredient, chile, is a staple on Santa Fe menus from take-out to prix-fixe delicacies. Keep in mind that red and green chiles come from the same plant; the color and flavor just depends on whether the peppers are fresh (green) or dried (red). If you want to try both, ask for "Christmas-style." Debate over who serves the city's best green-chile cheeseburger is always hotly contested!
While classic New Mexican fare - not to be confused with Mexican dishes from south of the border - is a must, Santa Fe has earned kudos for its diversity in dining. Asian food, French and Italian specialties, vegan and vegetarian dishes - the choices are as exciting and unusual as Zozobra himself!
The new 2016 City of Santa Fe Margarita Trail introduced on Cinco de Mayo is a great way to celebrate with friends, but Old Man Gloom suggests asking specifically for the 2016 version of his ZozoRita. Proceeds from the collectible glass go to support the Kiwanis mission of improving life for Santa Fe kids, and the
signature margarita ranks right up there with Santa Fe's best!
Uniquely New Mexico...
- Santa Fe, NM, is the oldest capital city in America: The city celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010. New Mexico's history here is impressive and worth a deeper look. The downtown city library has a Southwest Reading Room, a quiet respite with an intriguing dose of historical fact.
- Santa Fe is the highest capital city in America: Perched at 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe has an elevation high above that of other state capitals. It also means no mosquitos! Be aware that altitude sickness is a possibility. Take time to acclimatize, and be sure to drink plenty of water, especially when consuming alcohol.
- Santa Fe is surrounded by an ancient Native American Pueblo culture: America's indigenous peoples still live on their ancestral lands in northern New Mexico. Visitors are always welcome, but proper Pueblo etiquette should be observed: Do not take notes or photographs of Native Feast Day ceremonies, and never enter a home unless you are invited in.
- New Mexico is not Arizona: While the climate is low in humidity, the altitude keeps it comfortable, and the verdant juniper- piñon landscape looks nothing like the desert.
- New Mexico is not a part of Old Mexico: Although online retailers still seem to get confused at times, New Mexico is not a foreign country, and you don't need a visa to visit.
...With So Much More To Discover!
We look forward to welcoming you to Santa Fe for the 92nd Burning of Zozobra on the Friday before Labor Day, September 2, 2016, but we'd fail in our advisory duty if we didn't let you know it's worth it to stick around for a while longer! Between the singular museums and cutting-edge galleries, the Farmers' Market and food-to-table dining, and the unique shopping and fun outdoor activities, one weekend of gloom-busting is simply not enough to find out why savvy travelers return to Santa Fe year after year. Zozobra's hot party may be the coolest introduction to the City Different, but we know you'll love it all!