Santa Fe: Walking back in time: Canyon Road galleries, shops, restaurants, a sense of time and place

This is part 3 of a series on self-guided walking tours of Santa Fe. Read part 1 and part 2.

“How do you get to Canyon Road?” is a question frequently asked by people visiting Santa Fe. And rightly so; in a city of over 200 galleries, Canyon Road galleries are the best known. You’ll find one gallery after another.  A walking tour of Santa Fe would not be complete without a stroll up this almost mile-long street to visit Canyon Road galleries, shops and restaurants.

The Little Red Schoolhouse

Ventana Gallery, on Canypn Road in Santa Fe (a street known for it's profusion of art galleries)is in the old 2nd Ward schoolhouse dating to 1906, Photo

Ventana Gallery is in an old schoolhouse dating to 1906, Photo Steve Collins

The old First School, aka “The Little Red Schoolhouse” sits at the corner of Canyon Road and Delgado Street. The 1906 red brick building, with the distinctive cupola on the roof , was designed by Rapp and Rapp who also designed the New Mexico Museum of Art. Today it houses the Ventana Gallery.

El Zaguan

Ela Zaguan Canyon Road Santa Fe

Entrance to the historic El Zaguan on Canyon Road, Photo/Steve Collins

The street, one of the oldest in Santa Fe, teems with history. There is one historic building after another. The Territorial-style El Zaguan, circa 1850, is about halfway up the road. The house, now home to an artist in residence program, is named for its long, interior breezeway. It’s been a refuge for artists since the 1920s. Visitors are welcome; the building and lush gardens are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can also visit the garden on Saturdays.

Olive Rush Home and Studio

Olive Rush Home and Studio at 630 Canyon Road is now home to the Santa Fe Friends Meeting. The historic house, dating to the 1850s was bought by Rush in 1920. She added to the original building. Upon her death in 1966 she bequethed the building to the Friends. We were able to tour it when it was featured on one of Historic Santa Fe’s annual Mother’s Day tours.

The Rafael Borrego House home to Geronimo

Geronimo Cayon Road

Geronimo, Canyon Road, photo/Steve Collins

The Rafael Borrego House, dating to around 1753. It was remodeled in the “Territorial Style” some time in the late 1800s. These buildings, built after New Mexico became a U.S. territory in 1821 are distinguished by brick coping along the roof-line, larger windows (double-hung) and doors, square porch columns and wooden pediments over doors and windows. You’ll see Territorial buildings all along Canyon Road. Today it’s home to Geronimo the popular Canyon Road restaurant. Other restaurants along the road include Caffe Greco, The Compound and El Farol which calls itself the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe. While they’ve been serving up tapas since 1968,  there’s been a restaurant in the building since 1835.

Canyon Road Shops

Canyon Road galleries are interspersed with interesting boutiques including Pachamama which specializes in historic Spanish Colonial art, mostly from Mexico, La Mesa in the 225 complex, Nathalie’s, Dancing Ladies, and Silver Sun. You can get more information on these on the Visit Canyon Road website.

Christmas Eve on Canyon Road

Christmas Ever on Canyon Road

Farolitos lit on Christmas Eve on Canyon Road photo Steve Collins

If you’re fortunate enough to be in Santa Fe on Christmas Eve, Canyon Road is the place to be. The street (and surrounding ones) is closed to traffic and people abound; it may seem like the whole town is there. Farolitos (paper bags filled with sand with a candle on top) line the street and there are piñon bonfires (luminarias) here and there. The scent of the burning wood perfumes the air. People visit with friends, spontaneously break into carols and generally have a good time. Some stores and galleries are open for last minute shopping; some offer hot coco or cider to take the chill off. From here, people head to dinner and midnight Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis de Assisi.

Canyon Road galleries: beyond Southwest art

There’s a common misconception that southwestern art dominates Canyon Road galleries as well as the entire Santa Fe art scene. The truth is, while there is some “southwestern” and a lot of world-class Native American art, the galleries represent diverse genres and artists from around the country and the world. The Santa Fe Gallery Association has a listing of galleries by category, on their website.

If you want to get a sense of this historic city, add a walking-tour of Canyon Road to your itinerary and savor the art and history of this centuries-old street.

Read Part One and Part Two of this series.

If you are interested in a private tour of the the historic Plaza area, Canyon Road or any other place in Santa Fe, our travel planning and tour business, The Santa Fe Traveler can  design a personalized for you.

Authors’ note: As a former hotel concierges and owners of a travel concierge and trip-planning business in Santa Fe, the writers may have been guests of business or services mentioned in posts on this site. While these experiences have not influenced us in any way, this information is provided in the spirit of full disclosure.



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One Response to “Santa Fe: Walking back in time: Canyon Road galleries, shops, restaurants, a sense of time and place”

  1. Charles Higgins
    February 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Very cool stuff..thanks..


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