10 Best Free Places to Visit in Santa Fe

The best things in life may not be free, but some of the best things in Santa Fe are. Each summer the historic Plaza hosts annual events such as Indian and Spanish Markets as well as Santa Fe Bandstand concerts four to five evenings a week. Or you can just sit in this vibrant town center that’s been a gathering place for centuries and people-watch or strike up a conversation with a stranger. There are some interesting characters out there! There are times at the state-run museums where entry is free to all and other times when admission is free to New Mexico residents. The city has over 200 galleries to explore. Window shopping and browsing are free and The City Different is chock full of boutiques offering a range of eye-candy from Native American silver and turquoise jewelry and pottery to flowing clothing and unique accessories. Walk around the downtown area and adjacent Eastside. Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the USA and boasts a few “oldest.” The oldest house and oldest church in the country are here as well as the historic Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the country. Take a ride into the countryside and see the landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe and other artists and still does today. The great outdoors offers hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and remarkable sunsets. You don’t have to spend money to have a great time in Santa Fe.

Photo courtesy of Steve Collins

People are drawn to ghost towns. Some are bare bone remains of long deserted towns and some like Madrid, NM (pronounced MADrid) have been revitalized. This old coal-mining hub turned ghost town after WWII has morphed into a vibrant enclave of...  Read More

Historic East Side
Cross of the Martyrs Park
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins

Love great sunsets? Head for Cross of the Martyrs Park atop a Santa Fe hill on the historic Eastside. The site commands one of the best west-facing views in the city. It's adjacent to Prince Park, once home to Fort Marcy which was built by the...  Read More

Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Audubon New Mexico

The Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary is for the birds and the people who love them. Randall Davey, a Santa Fe artist, left his 135-acre property at the top of Upper Canyon to the National Audubon Society to be used as an educational,...  Read More

Music on the Hill
Photo courtesy of St. John's College

On Wednesday evenings in June and July, Santa Feans flock to the St. John's College campus for the free Music on the Hill concert series. There are six of them each season. 8pm. These weekly offerings, held from 6 to 9pm on the school's grassy...  Read More

New Mexico History Museum
Photo courtesy of Kitty Leaken

Friday evenings between 5 and 7pm are free at the New Mexico History Museum as well as the New Mexico Museum of Art just around the corner on West Palace Avenue. These two state-run gems are part of the Museum of New Mexico along with the Museum...  Read More

Canyon Road Arts District
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins

Santa Fe is an art town with over 200 galleries. The largest concentration is on historic Canyon Road. Stroll this charming byway and check out the galleries that call to you. Know what genres interest you? The Santa Fe Gallery Association lists...  Read More

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi, begun in 1869 and completed in the mid-1850s, is at the end of San Francisco Street a block from the historic Santa Fe Plaza. You may recognize it from B-roll footage for any TV show ever shot in...  Read More

La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site
Photo courtesy of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing

New Mexico's American Indian heritage is strong. Many visitors ask about visiting a pueblo while in Santa Fe. Visit one of the ancestral pueblos, abandoned for centuries, or a site where you can view petroglyphs. These messages carved on rocks...  Read More

Santa Fe Bandstand
Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Bandstand

Santa Fe Bandstand has been bringing diverse music to the historic Santa Fe Plaza, a gathering place since 1610, each summer since 2003. Outside In, a non-profit organization produces over 70 free concerts four to five nights a week, from June...  Read More

Santa Fe Railyard
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins

Take a walk in the Santa Fe Railyard. This trendy area, home to the Santa Fe Farmers Market and SITE Santa Fe famous for its cutting-edge art exhibitions, has been attracting development, including a park, for the last half-decade. When the...  Read More


Meet Billie Frank

Billie Frank is a freelance travel, food and feature writer based in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, is a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the...  More About Billie

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