Canyon Road & Around Santa Fe Gallery-Hopping

Originally a Pueblo Indian footpath and later the main street through a Spanish farming community, Santa Fe's most famous art avenue embarked on its current incarnation in the 1920s, when artists led by Los Cinco Pintores (five painters who fell in love with New Mexico's landscape) moved in to take advantage of the cheap rent.

Today Canyon Rd is a top attraction, holding more than a hundred of Santa Fe's 300-plus galleries. The epicenter of the city's vibrant art scene, it offers everything from rare Native American antiquities to Santa Fe School masterpieces and in-your-face modern work. If gallery-hopping seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, just wander.

Friday nights are particularly fun: that's when the galleries put on glittering openings, starting around 5pm. Not only are these great social events, but you can also browse while nibbling on cheese, sipping Chardonnay or sparkling cider, and chatting with the artists.

The following is just a sampling of some Canyon Rd (and around) favorites. For more, pick up the handy, free Collector’s Guide map, or check out www.santafegalleryassociation.org. More contemporary galleries around the Railyard are definitely worth checking out as well.

Adobe Gallery

Economos/Hampton Galleries

Gerald Peters Gallery

GF Contemporary

Marc Navarro Gallery

Morning Star Gallery

Nedra Matteucci Galleries

Downtown

Downtown Santa Fe still centers on its historic Plaza and the grid of streets that surrounds it. It’s easy to while away a full day within these few blocks, punctuating visits to the art and history museums with downtime in the countless cafes, restaurants and shops.

Across the Santa Fe River – dry for much of the year, but lined by verdant footpaths – lie the official buildings of New Mexico’s state government. The Guadalupe and Railyard districts, home to lively bars and restaurants, are immediately west, while gallery-lined Canyon Rd stretches away east.

Museum Hill

Four of Santa Fe’s finest museums stand together on Museum Hill, 2 miles southwest of the Plaza. This low but beautifully situated mountain-view hillock is not a neighborhood in any sense – all the museums hold superb gift shops, but there’s nothing else here, apart from a research library and a good cafe. The Santa Fe Pick-Up runs here from downtown.