Santa Fe Vacation on a Budget

By Eileen Richardson

Santa Fe has been known as an exclusive and perhaps expensive town to visit and stay in. That does not have to be the case and that is what you will learn in this article.


The first concern you have is lodging. On a Santa Fe vacation there are different parts of town to stay in. The closer to the Plaza, the more expensive the rates are. As you go further out in circumference from the Plaza it gets cheaper. The accommodations described here within 4 blocks are walking distance from a lot of the sites downtown and wouldn’t require a rental car unless out of town trips are planned.

The Silver Saddle Motel is an affordable family owned motel that tries to preserve a little bit of the early Western American History in décor, attitude and hospitality. All the staff is extremely knowledgeable about the area, history, culture and wonderful New Mexican food.

Santa Fe Sage Innis Across from Santa Fe Railyard Park and 2 blocks from the galleries, shops, and restaurants on Guadalupe Street, this casual, southwestern-style hotel is 0.9 miles from Santa Fe Plaza.

Santa Fe Motel and Inn is across from Santa Fe Railyard Park and 2 blocks from the galleries, shops, and restaurants on Guadalupe Street, this casual, southwestern-style hotel is 0.9 miles from Santa Fe Plaza.

Guadalupe Inn is a property owned by the same family for more than 150 years, this B&B near shopping and dining in the Guadalupe District is a 4-block walk from the Santa Fe Railyard Arts District.

El Paradero B and B has rooms and suites in a 200-year old farmhouse and a landmark coachman's house. This B&B is a 3-block walk from the Santa Fe Railyard Arts District and a 6-block walk from Santa Fe Plaza

Transportation and Tours

Walking tours are available such as “Santa Fe off the Beaten Path” On this unique 3.5-hour walking food tour of Santa Fe's Railyard Arts District. You'll get a chance to learn about the arrival of the railroad in Santa Fe in 1880 and the rapid change this brought to the surrounding area. The Railyard Arts District is one of Santa Fe's most vibrant and up and coming neighborhoods that's home to some of the best restaurants in the city. With so many things to do here Santa Fe Historic Walks ensures that visitors experience the very best of the city's attractions. Led by professional guides/art historians, museum docents and seasoned actors recreating the past, our unique tours showcase Santa Fe's rich history and exciting contemporary scene.

The Santa Fe Pick-Up shuttle service is a great way for train passengers to get around once they step off the Rail Runner Express at the Santa Fe Depot or for others who want a fast, free way to get around downtown, Museum Hill and Canyon Road.
If you are looking for professionally-guided day tours in and around Santa Fe with experienced and passionate tour guides Loretto Line Tour Company is the right place for sightseeing in historic Santa Fe. These guides are extensively trained, and many have in-depth knowledge in specialized areas such as archaeology, architecture, Santa Fe art and galleries, and the history of Santa Fe.


Ojo Caliente is by far the best value for a spa. They have specials that include spa treatments and lodging as well as always having lower prices for their treatments than most spas. They are also a mineral springs with healing waters discovered by the Tewa peoples- the original people of the Southwest. It does require a rental car or a service such as Santa Fe Valet or Accent Chaffeured Transportation because it is an hour to hour and a half drive, but well worth it.

Ten Thousand Waves Spa, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is a unique Japanese style Spa that offers specials year round. Although the normal prices may be prohibitive on a budget, the specials and unique services and environment would be a unique treat. The before mentioned SF Valet and Accent Chaffeured Transportation will get you to this spa as well.


Del Charro Bar in the Inn of the Governors is open from 11:30 am Midnight and serves snacks, sandwiches and desserts. This bar has a reputation for some of the best margaritas! Their drink specialties bring in the Santa Fe locals and are priced very reasonably.

There are an enumerable number of great restaurants and there is a wide range of pricing. But meals on a budget can be had. Prix Fixe menus are a way to go in some of the high end restaurants. These menus are limited to a few choices, but they give you three courses of a good restaurant’s food for $25 to $35 a person. Some of the restaurants that offer this option are Old House Restaurant, and The Restaurants at The Inn at Loretto, Lumanaria and Julias. The Old House limits the hours the menu is available. Call to find out hours. REMEMBER DEPENDING ON THE SEASON THESE MEALS MAY NOT BE OFFERED. CHECK WITH YOUR CONCIEREGE ON THESE AND OTHER RESATURANTS THAT MAY OFFER PRIX FIXE, OR CALL THE RESTAURANT DIRECTLY.

Since Mexican and New Mexican food are the specialty here in Santa Fe, I will steer you towards a few very good restaurants that are low to moderately priced. Los Mariscos (two locations one on Cerrillos Rd. and one on Cordova) offers family style dining and serves Baja Style Mexican Seafood. Weck’s is a local Restaurant that offers breakfast and lunch with local flavors and very large portions. The Cowgirl Hall Of Fame (Guadalupe Area) just began serving breakfast. (at least on weekends. I don’t think many people know about it.) Tecolote Café on Cerrillos Rd. is a great family breakfast place too. Rio Chama Steakhouse says they have the hottest happy hour in town. Marias has reasonably priced authentic Mexican food and strong margaritas. This is where the locals eat! Check it out and let me know!

Shopping and Entertainment

For authentic Pueblo arts, gifts and jewelry I recommend Tin Nee Ann on Cerrillos Rd. They know their stuff and are much more affordable. On the plaza you may find the Natives have very authentic handmade items, but pricing is individual- some can be bargained with, others cannot be.

The Lensic.(theater), the Santa Fe Opera house, Santa Fe Chamber Music, and other cultural venues offer discount pricing for late purchase of tickets just before a show. Call to find out availability.

Some outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, snowshoeing and fishing are always free, but some companies give great family package pricing as well. This of course would be a whole other article. Until then, enjoy a Santa Fe vacation on a budget.