The Best of Santa Fe, According to a Local

Our readers named this New Mexico city one of the top 15 in the U.S. Executive director of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Kim Peone shows T+L around town.

"Art forms, from beadwork to bronze sculpture, are how we continue to tell the story of our people and our tribes, and move forward to the next generation," says Kim Peone, the first Native American woman executive director of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. Nothing embodies this sentiment better than the Santa Fe Indian Market (, the organization's marquee event, which marked its centennial in August.

The market, which is an annual cornerstone of Santa Fe's identity and a Native American arts hub, includes selected traditional and contemporary works by 800 artists from more than 250 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and Canada. Shoppers can find everything from intricate heritage pottery to abstract paintings on display.

After working for 35 years with tribal enterprises and governments in Washington and North Carolina, Peone, an enrolled member of the Coville Confederated Tribes of Washington, moved to Santa Fe in 2020 to helm the association. One of her principal aims: to reclaim the market's narrative after decades of leadership by non–Native Americans.

"We're constantly taking back the messaging as a Native organization, instead of allowing a non-Native voice to speak for us," Peone says. In addition to helping the market survive the pandemic, she's also launched an e-commerce platform, Indigenous Collections. Here, Peone recommends the best places around town to take in arts (and food) with a strong sense of place. — Ashley M. Biggers

New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
On view at the New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Courtesy of New Mexico History Museum

New Mexico History Museum

"I always learn something at the New Mexico History Museum. Once, in the gift shop, I saw a photo of Albert Einstein having his picture taken with some Pueblo Natives — I thought that was very cool. At the museum you'll experience not just Native culture, but see how other types of communities interacted with us. There's a lot to learn."

Santa Fe Indian market

Native American Artisans

"The Native American Artisans Portal Program is a wonderful way to meet locals. People sell their work under the covered entrance to the Palace of the Governors, and you can talk to them about the stories and customs behind each piece. One Zuni Pueblo craftsperson specializes in inlaid gemstone bracelets, while a Navajo jeweler makes silver necklaces with traditional squash-blossom symbols."

Manitou Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico
"Wish Upon A Star" Canvas Wall Art by Kim Douglas Wiggins at Manitou Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Courtesy of Manitou Galleries

Manitou Galleries

"Manitou Galleries carries an array of contemporary artists from lots of different classifications. I see the names of people I know from the Santa Fe Indian Market there over and over, whether I'm looking at sculpture, 2D, or jewelry."

The House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Mastadon immersive art at The House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kate Russell/Courtesy of Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf

"Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return is an interactive art experience. The company commissions painters or sculptors, including Native artists, to curate murals or installations. Being in a space and looking at things that you've never seen before, such as an Alice in Wonderland–like fireplace that's a portal into the next room, and having that experience with my children and my grandchildren has been really fun."

The Shed, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Shed restaurant's classic margaritas with chile salt rim in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Doug Merriam/Courtesy of The Shed

The Shed

"If I want to get a really good bowl of pozole stew, a dish in Santa Fe that has pork shoulder, hominy, lime, and garlic, I go to the Shed. They'll ask you if you want red or green chile sauce. As New Mexicans, we tend to go the 'Christmas' route and order both."

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