There are many unforgettable things to do in Santa Fe: explore its history, learn about its culture, and shop world-renowed art markets and galleries. Discover the art, the history, the cuisine and the landscapes that made Santa Fe #3 City in the U.S. 2020 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards.
Just 30 minutes north of Santa Fe tucked between fields, orchards and rolling hills you'll find the village of Chimayo, home to the famed Santuario de Chimayo pilgrimage church and nearby sacred sites, internationally renowned weavers, artists and craftsmen, and savory northern New Mexico cuisine.
Just 30 minutes north of our Santa Fe hotel is a historic 17th-century Spanish village that is rich in New Mexico culture. Nestled among fields, orchards and rolling hills, Chimayó gives visitors a glimpse into a way of life steeped in tradition and folklore. Chimayó is home to a pilgrimage church and nearby sacred sites, internationally renowned weavers, locally crafted artwork and savory northern New Mexico cuisine.
One legend tells us that Chimayó means "the place where three rivers meet" in the ancient Tewa language. Other storytellers claim that the village is named after T'si Mayoh, the Hill of the East which overlooks the valley. Whatever tradition appeals to you, Chimayó is undoubtedly an incomparable opportunity to immerse yourself in New Mexico heritage and tradition.
Founded by the Ortega, Martinez, Chavez, Trujillo, Lopez, and Vigil families whose 3,000 descendents still live there, Chimayó's heritage encompasses collective struggle and triumph, self-sufficiency and interdependence, spirituality, culture and art.
SUGGESTED READING AND REFERENCES ON CHIMAYO BELOW...
Santa Fe's Canyon Road is home to more than 100 galleries, boutiques and restaurants in one magical half mile. Stroll along this picturesque road for a day of Santa Fe outdoor activities, fine art, antiques, sculptures - and unparalleled shopping.
Go inside the history and culture of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico with any one of an array of guided tours and Santa Fe outdoor activities lead by our partner Heritage Inspirations.See New Mexico from above with a hot air balloon ride or from the water with a white water adventure or river float.
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Phone: 1-888-344-TOUR (1-888-344-8687)
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Heritage Inspirations offers half and full-day excursions, multi-day adventures, and custom-crafted itineraries. With more than twenty tours across Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces including active outdoor expeditions, specially curated walking tours, and roving glamping adventures, Heritage Inspirations has a unique and dynamic option for every traveler. As a partner of Heritage Inspirations, Heritage Hotels & Resorts provides an exclusive discount to those who stay at one of our properties in Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces before or after a tour.
Take our signature Magical Heirlooms of Chimayó Day Tour where you can step back in time to a holy magical place filled with handcrafted heirloom wonders. After meeting at Hotel Chimayó, you’ll travel North via the high road through the Nambé Valley. Ascending through horse pastures, orchards and red stone canyon ways speckled with green dots of piñon and juniper, you’ll see why many movies have been filmed in this quintessential landscape.
Santa Fe is a great place to get active. Enjoy our clear mountain air while cruising bike trails in the city or hiking trails in the nearby mountains. There are five golf courses in the area and opportunities for Santa Fe outdoor activities such as rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in Santa Fe you will return home rich in memories of this unique “City Different.”
Canyon Road Galleries (0.4 miles)
Santa Fe is known for its art. Canyon Road in Santa Fe has over a hundred art galleries in a mile-long stretch of road. Find art created by internationally acclaimed artists in both traditional and contemporary traditions.
Santa Fe Opera (6.7 miles)
The Santa Fe Opera is a world renowned performance venue. The striking, open-air theater features performers in a wide-ranging and challenging repetoire in a striking setting that is recognized as one of the world's leading cultural attractions.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (0.4 miles)
Located adjacent to the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum collection features over 3,000 works with 1,149 pieces created by the famous artist. The museum also presents special exhibitions and has shown works by more than 140 other artists.
New Mexico Museum of Art (0.2 miles)
Experience the art of New Mexico from a fresh perspective. Exhibitions range from the richness of New Mexico's art and history, to innovations in contemporary art to exploration of art in general.
Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (2.1 miles)
With 3,700 objects, the collections are the most comprehensive compilation of Spanish Colonial art of their kind. Among the various media featured are santos (painted and sculpted images of saints,) textiles, tinwork, silverwork, goldwork, ironwork, straw appliqué, ceramics, furniture, books and more.
Museum of International Folk Art (2.2 miles)
Since its opening in September 1953, the Museum of International Folk Art has gained national and international recognition as an accredited museum that is home to the world's largest collection of folk art with more than 135,000 artifacts.
Wheelwright Museum (2.4 miles)
The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian offers unique exhibitions of contemporary and historic Native American art. The museum is famous for its focus on little-known genres, and for solo shows by living Native American artists.
Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (2.1 miles)
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a premier repository of Native art and material culture and tells the stories of the people of the Southwest from pre-history through contemporary art.
New Mexico History Museum (0.2 miles)
Relatively new to the Santa Fe museum scene, the New Mexico History Museum is located on the Santa Fe Plaza, where interactive exhibits illustrate the history of native peoples, Spanish colonialists, New Mexico’s Mexican Period, as well as travel and commerce along the historic Santa Fe Trail. This museum includes the Palace of the Governors, the Palace Press, and the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library and Photo Archives. For more information, visit nmhistorymuseum.org.
San Miguel Mission Chapel (0.5 miles)
The oldest church in continuous use in the US, Mission San Miguel, has been used for Christian worship since 1610. Its thick adobe walls and stately bell tower are iconic images for Southwestern Catholics.
St. Francis Cathedral (0.2 miles)
Built on the site of two earlier churches, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is one of the historical cathedrals that sprang up in the footsteps of European expansion into the Southwest. Constructed by French and Italian masons and completed in 1887, this cathedral also features an old adobe chapel built in 1714. Its beautiful stained-glass windows were transported to Santa Fe by ship and covered wagon.
Loretto Chapel (0.3 miles)
Built in 1878, legend states the Sisters of the Chapel prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and a man appeared who insisted upon building a circular staircase and refused any payment. When he had completed the staircase, he left and was never seen again. The staircase remains as his masterful and intriguing legacy, designed with no visible means of support despite its two complete 360-degree turns.
Chimayo's Santuario (26.9 miles)
About 30 minutes North of Santa Fe lies the historical village community of Chimayo, New Mexico. Known as "the Lourdes of North America," the Santuario de Chimayo's is one of the most sacred pilgrimage places on the continent. Each year, thousands make pilgrimage to the Santuario with prayers to remove their suffering. The tiny shrine, devoted to the legendary, miraculous return of a crucifix found by Bernardo de Abeyta in the early 1800s, features a small pit of sacred soil to which many ascribe curative powers.
Northern New Mexico's Catholic spiritual tradition arises from the Spanish saying, “Tiene uno que sufrir para merecer,” or “One must suffer to be worthy.” Chimayó is a prime example of this New Mexico spirit, which manifests in both private and public places throughout the community.
New Mexico spirits, as well as those who arrive from afar on spiritual retreats in New Mexico, are rejuvenated here, where the Santuario de Chimayó's holy dirt works healing miracles every day. Each year, thousands make pilgrimage to Chimayó, the “Lourdes of America,” entreating Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas (Our Lord of Esquipulas) with prayers to alleviate their suffering from both minor and serious illnesses. The tiny shrine, which is dedicated to the legendary and miraculous return of a crucifix found by Bernardo de Abeyta in the early 1800s, features a small pit of sacred soil which is said to have curative powers.
Steps away from the Santuario de Chimayó sits the Shrine of Santo Niño de Atocha, also built in 1856 by Abeyta, who was one of the founders of the New Mexico Penitente Brotherhood. Even today, tens of thousands of individuals of every faith and lifestyle make a pilgramimage to Chimayó during Holy Week, walking along roadways and highways toward the community.
On the west side of the Plaza del Cerro (Old Plaza) near the Santuario is the small chapel constructed by Abeyta's son-in-law, Pedro Ortega, in the early 1800s. Originally built for family use, the Oratorio de San Buenaventura, or simply the Oratorio, quickly became a community treasure and alternative worship site for local residents. Acquired by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1963, and lovingly restored 30 years later, the Oratorio features a new bell, elegantly simple altar screens, and chandeliers which were the pattern for the Hotel Chimayó de Santa Fe's guest room light fixtures.
Chimayó authentic food and Northern New Mexico cuisine are based on the chile pepper, which appears in time-tested recipes handed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next. Chile has been a staple Chimayó crop for centuries, as well as a major trade good in generations past. Today the small, crooked heirloom Chimayó chile pepper, which has a mild but robust flavor, is on the brink of extinction, although an agricultural growing project is working to revive the strain by encouraging local farmers to plant and preserve it.
Chimayó's early growing methods relied on directing river water to small fields via acequias, a linked system of water ditches that in some areas of New Mexico predate the arrival of the Spaniards. Today, this same traditional method brings water to the fields for the short growing season of about 150 days. Local agriculture centers on the “three sisters” that were grown together on indigenous New Mexico farms—squash, beans and corn—as well as garlic and onions, and wild greens called quelites or lamb's quarters.
Authentic Chimayó cuisine that every visitor should taste includes homemade tamales, tortas (egg patties), hand-formed yellow, white or blue corn tortillas, posole (hominy stew), and enchiladas filled with beef, chicken or cheese. No visit to Chimayó is complete without answering the State Question: “Red or green?” Referring to different sauces, made with chiles at different stages of ripeness, one reply might be "Which is hotter?" Adventurous diners might also ask for a serving of both, called “Christmas” because of the combination of colors.
If the Santuario de Chimayó is the "Lourdes of America," so Chimayó is the "Lourdes of Low Riders," the unique, contemporary Hispanic car culture of Northern New Mexico.
“Low and slow” refers to the cruising style of custom automobiles whose bodies hover only inches above the ground. Lowriding requires no destination, no deadline, nowhere to be. It is about being seen, living large, and about cars that display feats of acrobatics—some of these hydraulic-equipped creations can jump 10 feet or more into the air. It's not unusual to see entire extended families piled into a single lowrider for a leisurely drive through the streets of Northern New Mexico towns such as Española and Chimayó.
While it is possible that the history of New Mexico lowriders reaches back to the early 20th century, recorded lowrider culture dates to the 1950s. Artists of lowriders explore the importance of their faith, family, culture and creativity through their distinctive custom cars. Lowrider artists, such as Randy Martinez of Chimayó, spend thousands of hours expressing their personalities through these cars. Naming cars is popular, with names like La Bomba, Royal Elegance and Stitches. The car name is a point of pride among these artists who lovingly airbrush religious imagery onto glossy hoods, install powerful suspensions and tricked-out hubcaps and outfit spotless interiors with diamond-tuck upholstery and chain steering wheels.
One of the best examples of lowrider culture, style and artistry is rooted in Chimayó but on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This '69 Ford LTD, called Dave's Dream, commemorates the life and faith of David Jaramillo and includes a family portrait of the Jaramillo family on the doors. The car was blessed by a priest at the Santuario de Chimayó in the presence of more than 500 well-wishers before it was transported to Washington, D.C.
Lowlow's Lowrider Art Place, a gallery located near the Santuario de Chimayó, displays and sells the work of Chimayó artists LowLow and Joan Medina. Their paintings, murals, handmade jewelry, culinary products and other items illustrate the passion and artistry that goes into each car.
Experience unique tours of Downtown Santa Fe and the historic Plaza in our custom '64 Chevy Impala lowrider. Tours leave every hour, on the hour, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. and are available to all Heritage Hotels & Resorts guests. Please register at the front desk to book a tour. Up to four people per tour. Based on availability. Weather permitted.