From its natural beauty to its distinctive adobe architecture to its rich cultural history, there’s a lot to love about Santa Fe. Of all the things to enjoy in this intriguing city, we were drawn again and again to its many artistic outlets. From churches to art galleries to immersive, interactive experiences, Santa Fe is positively bursting with beautiful, thought provoking, entertaining art and we enjoyed exploring all of it.

Meow Wolf

In the time leading up to our Santa Fe visit, we received the same advice followed by the same comment over and over:

The advice: “You HAVE TO go see Meow Wolf

The comment: “It’s really hard to explain. It’s super weird, but really cool. You just have to go.”

What we determined is that just about everyone who’s been to Meow Wolf will tell you to go to Meow Wolf, but no one can explain what the hell Meow Wolf is.

So I’m gonna try.

On a large scale, Meow Wolf is an interactive, multi-media, art installation created by a number of artists working in different mediums and technologies. The exhibit, housed in a former bowling alley, creates an immersive, non-linear story that contains elements of a carnival funhouse, an escape room, and a choose your own adventure sci/fi story.

Visitors are invited to make their way through the exhibit – which is a full scale house – and try to determine what happened to the family who once lived there.

Luckily, when we were in Albuquerque, our friend, Ben, gave us great advice which made an enormous difference in how we approached our visit. He said “Read everything! Start with the mailbox by the front door.”

Sure enough, after paying for our tickets and opening the door to the exhibit, we found ourselves standing outside a regular looking house complete with a porch and a freestanding mailbox. Inside the mailbox, we found letters and cards that gave us some clues about the family and important guidance on what to focus on inside the house. (click on the photos for expanded versions).

We headed for the kitchen and started reading the newspapers on the kitchen table. As we did, we started to see names and themes. Buried in the papers were a couple articles that mentioned members of the family and odd events that had been occurring in the town.

What was immediately noticeable was the level of detail in the newspapers – by all appearances, they looked like normal local newspapers filled with authentic stories. And because we weren’t sure what we were looking for, we ended up reading about all kinds of random stuff.

As we continued wandering around the house – most of which looked completely normal – we kept our eyes peeled for clues. And those clues could be found everywhere – in piles of papers on the dining room table, on a TV show playing in the living room, on a bulletin board on the wall of the home office….

And that was one of the coolest parts – realizing that anything could be relevant. A book on the coffee table in the living room might have been authored by an important character, a child’s drawings in his bedroom could contain crucial information about what he had seen or experienced before disappearing, a framed photograph hanging on a wall might show a connection between members of the family and an important character in the story. Just like they did with the newspapers, the artists did a remarkable job of creating an authentic family home full of items that hid important information in plain sight.

And that’s where things get weird.

You see, whatever happened to this family involved the melting of divisions between dimensions and alteration of the time/space continuum.

Remember the intro from the Twilight Zone?

“You are about to enter a different dimension, a dimension not just of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination…”?

Well, it’s kinda like that.

Open the refrigerator door and you’ll find a secret passageway…

Woman walking into secret passageway through refrigerator

Look inside the washing machine for another one…

Man climbing into secret passageway through washing machine

Don’t be alarmed when you see your fellow visitors crawl into the fireplace and disappear…

Living room with fireplace at Meow Wolf

Bookcases, closets, and appliances revealed hidden passageways, and those passageways led to a fantastical world…

Once visitors cross into the other dimension, they are treated to a mesmerizing, and at times confusing, series of ornately decorated, themed rooms and hallways. There are multimedia elements here, too… audio recordings, music, video-games, etc. All of these items tie in, some more closely than others, with the larger story of what happened to the family.

There is seemingly no end to the colorful….

Colorful neon tree display at Meow Wolf


Room covered in black and white drawings at meow Wolf

psychedelic…Colorful pink room with angled walls at Meow Wolf

and just plain strange rooms and passageways we encountered.

A kitchen that looks like a cartoon drawing at Meow WolfWe spent at least two and a half hours exploring the museum and we loved it. While it’s certainly not for everyone, I think a lot of the people who don’t love the experience would like it a lot more if they tried to follow the story and unravel the mystery. And I put fault for that issue on the museum itself. Absent Ben giving us the advice he did, we would have been completely confused. The museum provides no guidance when you walk in the door, so absent some other source of information, visitors are left to their own devices – which is pretty tough in such a strange place.

Anyway, if you enjoy a good mystery, are open to an immersive Sci/Fi experience, and you don’t mind crawling through a washing machine to try to determine what the hell happened to this family’s bathroom….

A bathroom with a wavy floor at Meow Wolf

you’ll probably enjoy a visit to Meow Wolf too.

Our verdict: Really weird, hard to explain, but you should definitely go.

Canyon Road

Canyon Road is a half mile long art district in the center of Santa Fe. The road is home to over one hundred art galleries, along with numerous boutique shops, restaurants, and artists’ studios. Visitors are encouraged to wander in and out of the galleries and enjoy the numerous types of art available for purchase (by very wealthy people).

I strolled into several of the galleries and found all kinds of beautiful pieces. Two things were especially noticeable. First, the galleries themselves were often quite beautiful and unique…

Second, the staff were always approachable, friendly, and happy to chat. Even though I made crystal clear when I walked in that I was not buying anything (what could I possibly buy that would make my home any more stylish???), they were happy to discuss the artwork, Santa Fe, and whatever else came up in conversation.

One particularly notable gallery is the Nedra Marteucci gallery which is located just a block or two from Canyon Road. It felt a lot more like a museum than the smaller shops on Canyon Road and had an impressive collection of different forms of art. What I kept coming back to, though, were the bronze sculptures.

I’m not exactly “Ms. Art Appreciation,” but holy shitballs, these were incredible!

Sculpture at Nedra Marteucci Gallery in Santa Fe

Sculpture at Nedra Marteucci Gallery in Santa Fe

Sculpture at Nedra Marteucci Gallery in Santa Fe

Sculpture at Nedra Marteucci Gallery in Santa Fe

(adds item to to-do list: “Look into second career as art critic.”)

In addition to the artwork housed inside the building, the gallery is home to a lovely sculpture garden in back.

Sculpture garden

Anyway, if you’d like to see museum quality artwork in a free and unpretentious setting, this is an ideal gallery to visit.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgie O’Keeffe spent a good portion of her life living near Santa Fe, and many of her most well known works originated there. The museum dedicated to her life and career is located just off the historic square downtown. The good news is her dramatic, colorful, and unique paintings are a joy to look at and the museum has an excellent introductory film about her life and work.

The bad news is it’s really expensive for what it is.

The thing about Georgia O’Keeffe, and many other renowned artists, is that the majority of their most famous pieces are housed in museums and private collections around the world. What was available at the Santa Fe museum was lovely, but there just didn’t seem to be a ton of artwork given her prolific career. All of which would have been fine if it didn’t cost $26 for the two of us to visit. For an hour’s worth of wandering around, it seemed excessive.

Additionally, unlike my experience visiting the Canyon Road galleries, where the employees could not have been nicer, at O’Keeffe there was a security guard stationed in every room keeping watch on all of us. They were NOT friendly or welcoming and, even worse, I got yelled at. ME!! This girl! “Ms. Law & Order” herself was on the receiving end of a verbal dressing down. Why? Because I was trying to take a picture of a painting that I was, apparently, not supposed to take a picture of.

It turns out that mixed in among the many paintings in various rooms, there are a handful that are on loan from other collections, and those are not supposed to be photographed.  But rather than actually tell visitors that when they buy their tickets, or put those paintings in a separate area, the museum adds a tiny (what I would refer to as “bullshit-sized”) symbol under the little information placard next to the paintings.

And, not surprisingly, no one notices these signs. So the security guards spend all day every day yelling at tourists to not take pictures of those paintings.

So yeah. I got yelled at for something that was totally not even my fault.

For $26 they should buy a real sign that people will actually notice rather than paying surly security guards to yell at people.

More importantly, they should hire security guards who are actually up to the challenge. I’m like a ninja when it comes to taking photos. So…

Painting at Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe

Too late.

(see the little “no photos” symbol? Yeah, I didn’t notice it either. Nor did anyone else. Hence, the ornery security guards…)


One of the best things about Santa Fe is its tasty local cuisine. We ate at a couple standout restaurants.

Castro Cafe is a hole in the wall place that doesn’t look like much, but man, is it awesome. This is the sign out front:

Hot Chile sign at Cafe Castro in Santa Fe

They are not kidding.

New Mexican cuisine is full of spice. Dishes are often served with either red or green chile, and this is not your mild “salsa from a jar” topping. It’s got serious heat and flavor and, if all goes well, you might be sweating by the end of your meal. It’s delicious! Anyway, Castro Cafe appeared to us to be a much more locals oriented place – away from the main tourist areas in a nondescript strip mall, but the food was fantastic and the price was right. Highly recommend…

Cafe Pasquale’s – This is an institution located right on the historic square downtown. The restaurant is tiny, so there is almost always a wait, but it was so worth it. We both got the Chorizo breakfast burrito, mine with Christmas chile (both red and green), Kevin’s with just green (Commie).

Chorizo Burrito at Cafe Pasqual's in Santa Fe

And yes, we ate the whole thing. And no, we have no regrets.

Paper Dosa – Heading in a totally different culinary direction, we visited Paper Dosa with Celena and Shoam. This is South Indian cuisine, focused on dosas (which are a type of crepe made from a fermented batter), Uttapam (which is a type of pancake), and various curries. We sampled all kinds of dishes off their menu and were thoroughly impressed.

Other stuff

There is a lot to see and do in Santa Fe. We hiked a couple trails in the Dale Ball Trail System northeast of the city as well as the La Tierra Trail System, which is north of the city. We spent some time in the historic downtown square and visited its famous church (featured image at the top of this page), and meandered through the historic streets.

Santa Fe doorway in downtown area

We took most of our cues from Laurel and Eric’s visits, which you can read about here.

We thoroughly enjoyed Santa Fe. It had a little bit of all the things we like (pedestrian friendly, great museums, good options for getting outside, etc). and plenty of its own unique character to make it stand out from other cities. We only scratched the surface of what was there and will undoubtedly return for more.

Next up, we return to the state we totally love when it’s not making us completely miserable – Colorado.


Where we stayed: Santa Fe Skies RV Park


  1. Near stuff! Is Meow Wolf supposed to be a weird take on “Beowulf”? Anyway, interesting. Not sure I’d love it, but would be worth a try. The bronze fish from the other gallery looks similar to something we saw in a gallery in Santorini, Greece. They were cool, just didn’t fit our decor…or budget! Looks like you enjoyed Santa Fee! I love the church in your opening picture, it was lovely! I can see Kevin swearing from the chili like that Thai food when you were up here ????????

    • That church is gorgeous. Unfortunately, it was slate gray, chilly day when we were there, so my photos from outside kind of suck, and I wanted to focus more on the galleries and stuff in this post, but the church was really pretty. It’s in the old town center and it’s absolutely worth a visit if you head that way. Speaking of which, I think you guys would really like Santa Fe. It’s got a bit of everything and it’s the type of city you’d truly appreciate. As for Meow Wolf, I think you would probably have fun with it. It’s definitely odd, but if you’re willing to try to follow the story, it’s a fun stop.. Plus, who doesn’t want to crawl into a secret passageway in a washing machine??? 🙂

    • You guys would definitely enjoy it… and lots of people bring their kids because the kids get to find all the secret passageways, so I’d say give Ethan a couple years and you’ve got a fun family trip ready to go!!

  2. We’ve been hearing about Meow Wolf for the past couple of years, but now it makes sense! Thanks so much for the great guide to such a quirky place—it’s exactly the kind of experience we enjoy. Our taste in art runs to the eclectic—we loved the Nedra Mattuci gallery and wandering the galleries on Canyon Road, but we like equally well weird art. It looks like a total blast—your photo of the dryer tunnel is hilarious. Happy to see that going down the toilet isn’t one of the passages. ????

    Hahaha, I love that you posted your ‘illegal’ photo of that blue fried egg painting at the O’Keefe museum! I find places that don’t allow photos to be annoying—most of the time the prohibition is for no good reason at all. Unless that was a top secret painting?

    I’m so glad you so thoroughly enjoyed Santa Fe. Thanks for the shout out, and most of all, thanks for giving us some new ideas for our next visit!

    • You know, I had a small heart attack when you commented about the art gallery and I realized I must have spelled its name wrong. But then I went to their website and realized we both spelled it wrong. According to THEM, it’s Nedra Matteucci. I, for one, am not correcting either of our spellings, though. If they want people to spell their gallery name correctly, they ought to have an easier name. Like “Fred’s House of Art” or something. If they’re gonna insist on all these vowels, I am going to insist on adding consonants and you are entitled to drop a vowel now and then. HA!

      As for the photo bans, it is SUCH a bummer. I love writing about these places but there are so many that won’t allow photos. Just recently I was looking at the available tour at Celestial Seasonings in Boulder. It’s a free tour, but they don’t allow photos. Are they really breaking new ground in manufacturing tea bags these days? I mean, is that really a hot trade secret that must be protected? I get it when it’s Intel or SpaceX, but tea bags? Really????

      • Hahaha, okay, so from now on I’m calling the Matteucci/Mattucci/Marteucci gallery “Fred’s House of Art.”

        I’ll let them know you suggested the name change. 🙂

  3. Well now I am thinking we need to plan for a longer stay in Santa Fe this fall. Thanks for all the great tips, and also the campground review – that’s where we were planning to stay and it’s good to know about the difference between the older and newer sections.

    • There’s a lot to see and do in Santa Fe. I promise you won’t be bored. Also, check out Trailer Ranch. Our friends were staying there and I think it’s even a bit cheaper for a closer-in campground. In any case, Santa Fe is a great city and I think you guys will really enjoy it. And fall should be absolutely spectacular weather-wise.

  4. Hmm, that Meow Wolf is interesting and honestly did not hear of it when we were there until now! I thoroughly enjoyed walking it with you and listening to your kind of difficult to express commentaries. Did you wash Kevin? ha ha. I bet you were using the stealth feature of the phone to take an illegal photo shoot! Im guilty of those actions too, even if I don’t “get” the art.
    Glad you had a great time in the artsy Santa Fe who knows we might revisit there one day.

    • I never “get” the art either. I’m like “It’s pretty!” or “Meh!” That’s about the extent of my art appreciation skills. 🙂

      Our sense with Meow Wolf was that a whole bunch of artists just wanted to create a bunch of crazy scenes and they were able to loosely tie it all together in this story. Somehow it just works, and even the parts that don’t work, are weird enough to be entertaining. If you guys head back there, definitely check it out!

  5. Meow Wolf looks like it is worth the trip all by itself! Funny that you got yelled at, I would have continued to take stealth pictures as well, what are they going to do?!?

    • Exactly! I mean, technically they could tell me to take it off my website, but since this website is read by about 10 people, I’m pretty sure they’re not gonna find out. 🙂 And yes, Meow Wolf is a worthwhile experience – they’re actually gonna be opening versions of it in Las Vegas and Denver soon. I’m not sure if it will be the same story or a different version, but either way, people love it and it’s expanding to other markets.

  6. Great write-up! Wish we would have made Meow Wolf a priority – because we have heard the same thing from everyone to just go. Your description really helped to give me an idea of what is all about. Gives us another reason to go to Cafe Pasquale’s again – our trip was delicious too!

    • Between Meow Wolf and Pasquale’s, you’ve pretty much got all the justification you need! We would actually love to go back for dinner at Pasquale’s. We looked at the menu and it looked fantastic. And hell, we could have eaten just about anything on their breakfast/lunch menu. So much good stuff!

  7. So is the Security at Pima County Fairgrounds moonlighting at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum, or is it the other way around?

  8. I zoomed in on that stealth painting to see that it’s titled “Pelvis IV.” Good God, it’s apparently one of a series! I have never gotten the appeal of Ms. O’Keeffe or much famous artwork in general, and it has always tickled my dark funny bone that people will pay exorbitant amounts of money for it. Please don’t tell my professional artist mother.

    I’m re-reading this post early in the morning, and now I want a breakfast burrito, and there’s zero chance of me getting one. Thanks a lot!

    • I actually really like a lot of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. Not that I necessarily get the deep meaning behind any given painting. I just like the overall look of a lot of it. Would I pay millions of dollars for it? Nope… but that’s because I buy my artwork on Amazon. And also, I don’t have millions of dollars. But that’s not the point. I don’t actually have a point. But I do like her paintings. Though, now you have kinda ruined the pelvis one for me. Art is weird.

  9. Okay, Santa Fe is now on our list for a stop out west next year. We HAVE to go to Meow Woof . Mike might not appreciate it, but I think it would be cool. As far as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum….”Nah, nah, nah nah, boo boo. You got in trou-ble.” LOL!

    • I think you would absolutely love Meow Wolf… I have no doubt! For anyone who enjoys a good story, which I know you do, it’s a great place to explore. And even if it’s not Mike’s cup of tea, there’s so much in Santa Fe, you guys would find plenty to keep you busy!

  10. I’ve never been to Santa Fe, but now we HAVE to go!!! Meow Wolf looks fabulous. I’m with you about art. Either I think it’s pretty or I don’t care for it, but friendly people make ugly art tolerable, lol

    • Haha, that’s a good point. Like so many of the places we visit, sometimes its the small things that make or break a place – the friendliness of the staff being a huge one. Anyway, I have no doubt you all would enjoy Santa Fe. Go for it!!

  11. Santa Fe definitely has a lot of offer. For the artsy crowd it is a paradise. Meow Wolf was most certainly on the extremely different side. But it looked like so much fun! We try to find those restaurants where the locals eat when in any town. But NM’s locals eat their food SO spicy that it was hard for us to enjoy. No chips and salsa for us. We never did find a salsa in NM that we could tolerate, and we do enjoy spicy food. Hope Colorado gave you some love in the weather. It hasn’t been good by the looks, though!

    • Ugh… Colorado weather… What a mess. Though, really, everywhere we’ve gone this spring has been awful. And before you know it, it’ll be 100 degrees and humid and we’ll be complaining about that too! Anyway, we’ve often found that our best experiences eating out come from finding the cheap locals places. We stay away from the tourist centers as much as possible – unless we get lots of trustworthy reviews like we did for Pasquale’s. Even though it’s in the most touristy part of Santa Fe, we were pretty sure it would be worth it, and it was. As for the spice, they definitely are not kidding about the chile being hot. We love it, but it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. At least they give their customers fair warning!!

    • Unfortunately, your comment got caught in a filter and I just found and released it. Apologies for that. I just hope our “shitballs rating system” idea really takes off. I think it could be a true game changer!!

  12. Meow Wolf looks so cool, not sure if Dave would enjoy it but I would. Since we’re not appreciators of art Santa Fe didn’t hold much appeal to us. I imagine our 1 day there will be all we ever spend there.

    • Haha – I can’t say I truly “appreciate art” either. More like “Wow!~ Cool!! or “Pretty!!” But the high level, ‘meaning of life’ stuff? Yeah, that’s pretty far beyond me. Perhaps that’s why I liked Meow Wolf so much… it’s “art” that involves giant stuffed animals and rooms where someone doodled on the ceiling… 🙂

  13. I have seen a ton of photos of Meow Wolf on Instagram and have never had the desire to go. Now you have me intrigued and I’ve added it to the list. I love solving mysteries! I love that you took the Georgia O’Keefe photo and posted it on your blog! LOL!

    • Yup, I had seen lots of those photos on there too – often the neon tree branches one…. but I likely would have skipped it if not for so many people telling us it was awesome. I’m really glad we went. It was definitely odd, but very fun and unique.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here