Chris Alan Selby / Alamy
Stephanie Pearson
August 25, 2014

If I have plenty of time, I prefer to discover a new city on my own without the use of a map, a guidebook, an app, or a fellow human. This arcane habit stems from the fact that I love to believe that there are still restaurants, shops, museums, and attractions out there that haven’t been bludgeoned to death by Tripadvisor ratings. But in my 20 years of traveling for a living I have also learned that there’s a lot to glean from local experts who have lived, studied, and explored their own city for years. Plus, in a place like Santa Fe, where the first Pueblo Indians settled in 900 A.D., there’s more than a millennium’s worth of art, history, and culture to study, and local expertise is essential. So while I may get a thrill out of exploring solo, it’s probably much smarter to hire a local guide. Here are a few of the best in Santa Fe. 

Santa Fe Mountain Adventures

Whether you want to raft the Rio Grande, take a geocaching adventure with your kids, ride the best singletrack in Santa Fe, or fly-fish for brown trout in the Pecos River, Santa Fe Mountain Adventures will make it really easy to get outside. Spice up the action and add a Southwest cooking class to the itinerary.

A Taste of Santa Fe—Food Tour New Mexico

One of the best ways to eat your way through Santa Fe is to sample a little bit of everything on this walking progressive lunch that hits some of the hottest restaurants and cafes in town, from La Casa Sena to Kakawa Chocolate House. With stops at historic sites like Loretto Chapel along the way, there’s time between tastings to walk up an appetite.

Loretto Line Tour Company

Plying the narrow streets in open-air trams, Loretto Line tours feel a little like an amusement park ride at Disneyworld. But the driver-guide has an impressive grasp on the history, archaeology, and architecture that you’ll pass along this eight-mile tour, which includes Canyon Road, Museum Hill, and the Plaza.

Santa Fe Pedicabs

There’s no better way to see the inner workings of a city than from the vantage point of a bike seat. You may not get aerobic benefits from this particular ride, as someone else will be pedaling the two-seater ride, but you will get a close up, open-air, view of fragrant gardens, 400-year-old adobes, bronze sculptures, and any other sight on your must-see list in Santa Fe.    

Historic Walks of Santa Fe Ghostwalker Tours

Given its 1,000-year-old history, it’s no wonder there’s a ghost or two who linger in Santa Fe. One of the most famous is Julia Staab, the imported German wife of merchant Abraham Staab who died in 1896 and is said to still inhabit her Palace Avenue mansion bedroom, which is now a guest room at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa.  

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