No matter where you are in Santa Fe, you’ll feel surrounded by the city’s historical and cultural riches. Nowhere is that feeling more pronounced, than in Santa Fe’s old town.
Santa Fe and many other New Mexico towns have great, old town squares. Here you’ll find a nice, busy public park, with quite a few people enjoying fajitas. Although I didn’t eat at the El Molero fajita stand, I’m sure it’s good. You just can’t get bad New Mexican food ’round these parts.
Santa Fe’s is especially interesting, thanks to the city’s large population of artists.
Standing at the center of the town square is the politically-incorrect Soldiers’ Memorial. When it was erected in the late 1800’s, its creators paid honor to the men serving in the Federal Army, who battled “savage” Indians. A newer sign asks visitors to consider the time period when the monument was created, before writing a letter to the city in protest.
Count on spending at least an hour or two wandering through Santa Fe’s many galleries and shops. Many of them are (at least partially) outdoors. You can buy almost any kind of souvenir here, from the Ristras (bunches of dried peppers) you see in the photo above, to traditional clothing, pottery, and t-shirts.
Yes, even mirrors!
At first, you may not notice all the businesses on, and near, the town square. Many of them operate out of small courtyards, with just a single passageway opening onto the main street. This courtyard was filled with sculptures (some created from “junk”) created by a local artist. Such galleries can provide you with some unique souvenirs!
Also, as you walk around the town square, look for Native Americans and local artisans selling jewelry and crafts on the sidewalk. Some savvy shopping may allow you to pay less than in a nearby gallery, but in Santa Fe, nothing is cheap.
Mother Road fans: take note of signs like this one, about a block away from the town square. Old US 66 used to run through Santa Fe, before a realignment in 1937. In its earlier days, Old 66 made a letter “S” across New Mexico, following the old Santa Fe Trail between here and Albuquerque. The 1937 alignment straightened out the path, and bypassed Santa Fe.
Note: This trip was first published in 2006.